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Move Away from the Wall

Room look cramped? Pushing all of the furniture against the wall to create more space might be making your living space appear smaller

Woman on a sofa

It’s the natural solution for a number of design problems: a small room; too much furniture, not enough space; the desire to create a more open room; “just because.” This design faux pas, of course, if shoving all the furniture you got smack-dab against the wall.

“When everybody puts their furniture all around the of a room, most often in a living room … they just don’t feel connected to anybody in the room because it’s this big open space ¬– and the coffee table sits in the middle of the room where nobody can reach it,” says Grace Ann Simoni, an interior redesign specialist and owner of Yours Redesigned, Naperville, Ill.

Far too often – and for far too long – homeowners flush the sofa alongside the longest wall in the room, and then follow suit with other furniture pieces.

“I try to encourage homeowners to pull [the sofa] off the wall and face the best feature in the room or the most functional thing in the room,” says Simoni, who also is a trainer for the Midwest School of Interior Redesign.

Highlighting functions or focal points – TV, a view, fireplace – makes the room much more interesting and actually can enlarge a space. Facing a blank wall does nothing.

When Simoni redesigns a room, she often does so out of the corner in an L or V shape. Here’s a look at the two (it can help to sketch this out while reading):

• L shape: Move your sofa so that it goes straight across the corner of the room – in essence, connecting the two adjacent walls. Then, coming out from the edge of the sofa, place your love seat or chair so that the furniture pieces form an L.

• V shape: Making a V with your furniture is the same concept, except for the V you’re going have the second piece at a tighter, 45-degree angle, hence forming the V.

• For both arrangements, Simoni adds what she calls a “kick-across chair” to the other side of the room to offset its weight.

These arrangements give the room a more open, more inviting feeling and allow it to breathe.

“Unless you’ve got a kid doing cartwheels across the room, there’s no reason to have it open,” says Simoni.

She says she even does an H-shaped arrangement – two sofas facing each other with a coffee table in between – but it is a more formal arrangement that some may find uncomfortable.

With pieces off the wall, things like bookcases could be placed against the wall behind the sofa or chair. Floor lamps, a sofa table with a small lamp, or a tall plant also can work behind or alongside the new arrangement to bring some life back into the room, says Simoni, noting that it’s important to have at least three lamps in the room for various levels of light. Finish the room off with some artwork and accessories, and you’ve got yourself a new, space-friendly room.

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