Robert hadn't lived in his 1960's high-rise apartment in Chicago very long when he called me for help. Nothing looked or felt right to him he recognized that his eclectic furnishings weren't being well used in this space.
Similar to many apartments of this era, this one featured a 21' x 16' living room with a L-shaped dining room, standard 8 1/2' ceilings, parquet flooring, and large, if architecturally undistinguished windows.
The first thing I noticed was the odd placement of the butler's table behind the sofa, which had been positioned in the middle of the room with its back to the main entranceway. The table was a lovely piece that deserved more attention. It needed to take center stage to become the anchor for the conversation area.
The transformation began by rotating the seating arrangement 180 degrees. With the sofa in front of the windows and the wing chairs opposite, the major visual and physical obstacle to the flow of the room was immediately eliminated.
Next, we moved the butler's table in front of the sofa, where it would be accessible and become the centerpiece for the new conversation area. The upholstered ottoman was centered in front of the two chairs. The tall bookcases, which made the standard height ceilings appear low, were moved to the entrance foyer, where they were placed side by side.
A long console table was brought in from the dining room and placed behind the sofa to support a pair of celadon crackle-finish lamps. A couple of extraneous end tables and a chair were banished, and a Oriental-style area rug was borrowed from another room to further define the newly configured arrangement. Later on, Robert had a low unit made for the long wall to house audio/video equipment.
Excerpted from: Use What You Have Decorating by Lauri Ward.