Arranging an Intimate Space

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18 Jun 2012

My friend owns a charming one bedroom, one bathroom apartment on the upper east side of Manhattan. I spent the weekend in New York City, and woke up on her guest daybed Saturday morning. The daybed is on the side of the living room wall near a desk and bookshelf. Against the perpendicular wall is the sofa and across from it, the TV. It was in the grogginess of morning that I noticed all of the furniture was arranged against the edges of the room leaving open negative space in the center. "There is too much space between the TV and the couch." I said to myself.


I could understand why the pieces were arranged this way. It was a small apartment and she wanted to maximize the space, and make it feel more open. Certainly the arrangement allowed for the room to look spacious, but it also felt cold and disconnected and didn't allow for her beautiful furniture to shine. She had a gorgeous chair similar to the Pendelton Chair, and a sofa that reminded me of the Paris Sofa. Next to each were small tables for newspapers, drinks, pens etc. Still in the daybed, I reached down for my sketchbook and started sketching out a layout that could utilize her furniture more, create some more intimacy in the living space and of course, lessen the Sahara Desert between the sofa and TV. I ended up floating the couch in the center of the room, lining up the back with the edge of the doorway. I placed the patterned chair adjacent to the sofa creating an L shape around the TV and a small table at the joint of the L.


While this divided the room, it made the space seem more purposeful and inviting and offered some privacy for the daybed. If you're looking for a way to make your space more dynamic, here are three tips to consider when rearranging/designing your room!


1. Consider furnishings of various sizes. To make anything visually interesting you want to have contrasting shapes, volumes, and sizes. Mix and match hard edges of a coffee table with soft curves on an armchair or sofa. Choose a lamp with a funky, flared shade and pair it with a geometric stand with right angles. On the other hand, if you are striving for something more serene, use furnishings of similar heights and volumes.


2. Balance the room to create a harmonious atmosphere. The last thing you want to do is clutter your furnishings to one side or corner. Consider floating items that you at first will assume to place against a wall. Play with symmetrical and asymmetrical elements, mirroring pieces like a pair of chairs and interrupting the space with a boldly colored ottoman.


3. Break up the space into intimate zones. If you're dealing with a large room, dividing up the room into different functioning zones might do the trick. In the case with my friend's living room, dividing the room in half created more intimacy for the TV watching area, hugged by the L shape created by the sofa, armchair, and two side tables. With the back of the sofa facing the daybed, it gave the other side of the room more privacy. Keep in mind that humans tend to be more comfortable in square spaces than long rectangular ones.