Q: I'm having trouble arranging the furniture in the living room of our new house. It's a narrow room, just 13 by 20 feet, but it has both a fireplace and a picture window, and I can't decide which I should face when I arrange the furniture. Which is correct?
A: Both . . . although most designers agree that the fireplace is the logical center of attention in a room. During the cold weather months, I'd go along, but come spring, it's only logical that you'd prefer a pretty outside view to a dark, lifeless fireplace.
Of course, you can always have it both ways, as you can see from the room we show here. It is smallish with both a fireplace (not seen in the photo) and a large picture window. The designer has worked several new angles in arranging the furniture so it focuses both ways at the same time. Ideas worth stealing:
A love seat is a better choice than a full-size sofa in a narrow room, especially if the room is less than 13 feet wide. In that case, you must put it against the longest wall, rather than at right angles to the fireplace.
Besides, only two people will sit on a sofa at a time -- everyone hates the middle! -- so a love seat serves just as well and looks more in proportion to a small room.
Use an area rug to underscore the seating arrangement. Not only will it add cohesiveness to the arrangement, the cater-cornering of the rug lends animation underfoot.
The narrow console table against the far wall makes smart use of limited room. The large artwork flanked by wall lights forms a composition that is visually important and spatially conservative.
Cross-reference colors in adjoining rooms. Here, for example, the colors in the sitting room wall covering are repeated in the stripes used in the entry hall. Since both are from the same source (James Seeman Studios' "Somewhere in Time" collection), you can be sure of the color match.