Sometimes, a space is challenging to work with. Perhaps the window placement and/or entryways make it difficult to arrange furniture the way you’re used to. Furniture may block entrances or traffic flow is such that it interrupts the conversational paths. Or, perhaps you have tiny nooks or other architectural details that feel like more of a hindrance than a help.
There are design solutions for every floor plan. It may be that a single consultation with an interior designer is will provide just enough brainstorming power to get you started on your own. Here are some of the things she might suggest.
Pull furniture away from the wall
Traditional home design typically places couches and other large furniture up against the wall so it doesn’t take up usable space. This doesn’t always work with awkward spaces. With awkward spaces, we often pull things away from the wall. You can use the wall space for shelving or decorative furniture pieces to display houseplants, artwork or curios. Then, create conversational and focal areas by grouping furniture together in their own zones, anchored by area rugs and end tables.
Re-think your furniture
Sometimes, it’s not the room that’s the issue – it’s the furniture. Room size and layout should play a big part in the number and size of the pieces you own. In tricky layouts, it often makes sense to have love seats and wing back chairs, creating versatile arrangement options, than it does to have a big sectional couch and recliners. Another bonus of smaller pieces is that they can be rearranged and mixed and matched easier than large pieces, allowing you to play with your design without having to make any large or big-budget modifications.
Prioritize the swivel
If you are going furniture shopping, prioritize chairs that swivel. They are extremely handy in open floor plans because while they may take up residence in a reading nook or conversational grouping, they can be easily oriented to watch TV, join a conversation on the opposite side, or to continue chatting with the busy host and hostess in the kitchen. Similarly, in a family setting, they can be swiveled away from busy or noisy areas to enjoy a bit of serenity or reading time.
Make the nook a focal point
There are nooks (yay!), and then there are nooks (grrrr). The nooks we love are the ones that grant us that perfect space for two chairs and a table between them, or a chaise lounge with a lovely view out the window. Then, there are the nooks that complicate things. These nooks are often created to hide awkwardly placed interior wall stuff – like plumbing or structural supports. Your job is to take that nook (grrr) and make it awesome.
If it’s in your budget, this might be an opportunity to connect with an interior designer who provides custom furniture design, taking advantage of her connections with local furniture builders and artisans. If not, the nook can be an ideal place to install bookshelves, build a wet bar, create a gallery wall from your art collection or use houseplants to mimic a mini greenhouse effect.
Think in the round
Round tables are much less awkward in tricky spaces than their square or rectangular counterparts. If you’re having a hard time figuring out how to place your rectangular kitchen table in your new breakfast nook, or your square end tables just don’t seem to work in the living room, it might mean it’s time to shop for circles. Circles work to soften angular spaces, and you can get them right up against the wall, placing two or three chairs around them rather than four.
Could you swap spaces?
I was once called in to remodel a home that had beautiful, separate living and dining room spaces. The problem was that the living room was laden with lots of windows and inconvenient entryways that made it tricky to place furniture in a way that honored the fireplace as well as a TV area. All of a sudden, I realized that the dining room would make a very cozy family room and TV area, while the living room would work perfectly as a formal dining room with a comfortable sitting area at the other end of the table. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to start completely from scratch and re-think your rooms and furnishings to come up with whole new solutions.