Style comes from the unexpected


Q: How can I furnish an apartment living room that is standard in just about every way? The walls are white, the carpet is cream-colored, and there's a large picture window that looks somewhat off balance due to the duct column alongside it. I don't have a big budget, but I'm hoping to produce something out of the ordinary.

A: The trick is to introduce a few unexpected elements without making the space appear bizarre. Properly proportioned, well-made pieces are essential in achieving that goal. In the room pictured, the large window has been left almost untreated. Because privacy wasn't an issue, no curtains interfere with the view from this high-rise home. Grass-like decorative shades are all that are needed to control the light. That's one unexpected feature.

Also unusual is the three-panel screen, which accents the window and camouflages a duct column in the corner.

Next, instead of a coffee table, there's a Chinese chest elevated on a stand, accompanied by an Asian ceramic garden stool. More exotic than a coffee table, occasional pieces of this sort also provide greater functional flexibility.

The sofa is fairly standard, but not every facet of the room needs to be out of the ordinary. If it were, then the unusual would itself become predictable.

Assuming that your cream-colored carpet is staying, I suggest you paint the walls in a pale apricot and select a sofa fabric that blends with the carpet. Such a combination will provide a good background for vividly colored cushions and artworks.

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