There are definitely rules to follow in design such as don't push all your furniture up against a wall, ambient lighting is always a good idea over harsh overhead lights and balance, scale and proportion are elements that cannot be overlooked.
However, there are rules you can and sometimes should break such as everything does not have to be symmetrical (try using odd numbers 3,5,7 etc), negative space can be as powerful as positive space, and the one rule I want to talk about today is that a space doesn't always require a sofa. I'm a firm believer that a room will often tell you what it wants....you just have to listen to it, and a room should function based on how you and your family live in it, not based on what all the blogs or magazines are showing.
So to exercise my point, I want to share a project I finished up last year. My clients had just relocated from a loft in Chicago to a row house on Capitol Hill-two very different spaces. As much as I love the patina, character and quirks of old row houses, they can also pose some challenges to modern day living like really small rooms and off-centered fireplaces.
Exhibit A: The Before
EEK! The house had been "flipped" by a developer, and my clients loved the house except for this front room. Don't let the floor to ceiling bathroom tile around the fireplace charm you, because we ripped that sucker out. It was like a huge, ugly wart that "welcomed" you into the house. Apparently, the said developer was very proud of this masterpiece. I wish I had a picture of the "fireplace" in use as it was basically a mirror that reflected an orange light when the switch was flipped. Are you kidding me??? My clients and I had a lot of fun laughing over that one.
Besides the fireplace, the room was also a bit challenging because the fireplace was in the corner, a radiator sat between the windows on the opposing walls, and the other four walls were open to the hallway and kitchen. Thus, leaving us no suitable wall to place a sofa or even float a sofa as we'd cut off the entrance to the other adjoining rooms.
My clients said this room would be for entertaining as they used another room as their TV/family room. So the solution....
We used four, comfortable chairs around a fabulous coffee table instead of the usual sofa and chair combo. This round floor plan maximized the space in the room without making the room feel crammed. I'm sure you also noticed the wart is gone and replaced with a custom, traditional mantle and stone surround. We added a console along the back wall and tucked two small storage ottomans underneath that can serve as additional seating if needed.
Phillip Jefferies wallpaper that really makes that area sing upon entering the house.
So if you are stuck on the layout of a room, think outside the box a bit. It's more fun to break the rules anyway:)