'We are completely stumped with this room as far as how to arrange furniture in here," said my client Sylvia as we stood in her living room. "We really want to maximize the seating but as you can see there is only one full wall on which to place furniture."
I scanned the room and took in all of its positive attributes. It was a welcoming space, boasting a large bank of windows commanding a great view of the yard and the golf course beyond. Opposite that wall it was completely open to the foyer and formal dining room. A nicely detailed fireplace flanked on either side by a built-in bookshelf and a large passage to the adjacent family room was perpendicular to the windows and opposite the only solid wall in the entire room. And, although nicely proportioned, this room was not really big enough to "float" furnishings in the middle of it.
"What about a sectional sofa?" I offered, waiting for the inevitable reaction of confusion at the suggestion of that type of seating in any room other than an informal family or media room.
"I love sectional sofas, but aren't they too casual for this kind of room? I do not want it to look like a conversation pit from the '70s," she jokingly replied, just as I had suspected.
"Not at all," I assured her. "It is all about how you treat it, and this is the ideal application for a room where you want to provide a lot of seating but the space presents a few furniture placement challenges."
I often find people have a prejudice in regards to sectional sofas, thinking they need to be relegated to basements, media rooms, and "man-caves" as if they are just not suitable for more "fancy" spaces like living rooms. In fact, there almost seems to be an embarrassment in the use of a sectional sofa which is on par with that of buying a recliner. Nonsense, I say. In many instances, a sectional sofa is not only a functional choice but can be an aesthetically pleasing one as well. There is no shame in using one in your living room.
For the design scheme, I proposed a sectional sofa to be placed on the long solid wall, but I scaled-back the proportions so it allowed for space at each end. On one end I left room for a lamp table and at the other end, where the chaise projected into the room, for another accent table. The chaise element allowed for the sectional to wrap the space without blocking off the window wall. It hardly resembles a conversation pit at all.
To further lighten the composition and keep the sectional from overwhelming the space, I chose a bun-foot base and upholstered it in a luxurious, celery-hued chenille fabric. For some contrasting pops of color and pattern, I provided throw pillows in silky damask and textural circle-motif fabrics. As for the accent colors, turquoise and coral, I took inspiration directly from Sylvia's wardrobe and jewelry. She always is sophisticated and elegant in her attire and I wanted this entertaining space to reflect that aspect of her.
The sectional easily accommodates four guests and is augmented by a rattan chair and ottoman on one side of the fireplace. A generously scaled lounge chair and matching ottoman on the other side of the fireplace balances the sectional. These pieces provide flexible seating for a crowd or lounge-like accommodations for more intimate gatherings. A large marsh painting on the wall behind the sectional echoes the colors used in the upholstery as well as the tones of the area rug anchoring the seating arrangement.
In the end, Sylvia and I conquered her "spatially challenged" living room and created a beautiful and welcoming area for her and her husband Bill to entertain their guests. The non-traditional choice of a sectional is the star of the show but does not cast a shadow on its supporting players. Instead it works in perfect harmony to the overall composition of the room.