Surroundings include:
Home and Office

....and let's talk about
interior design


September is a good time
to talk about


September    Surrounding—office and home and tips on interior design

Your surroundings dictate how you feel or, is it that how you feel dictate your surroundings?  Either way, it justifies the effort to make your surroundings as pleasant and comfortable as possible. 

This is not a revolutionary concept.  We decorate children’s rooms with cheerful happy colors and objects.

Your room must be balanced to be comfortable.  The heaviest or most imposing object in the room anchors the room. You may also have a focal point that is different from the anchor piece. For example, in the living room, the sofa is necessarily the anchor but the fireplace may create the focal point.  If the focal point is an architectural piece such as the fireplace, you will have some design limitations.  You can use some tricks to modify the situation and create illusions of more (or less) space, however, you are really rather limited in your room arrangement.  To ignore the fireplace and arrange the furniture in a manner that does not use the fireplace will create an imbalance in the room.  Better to use it to its maximum benefit.

The anchor in the living room will be the sofa, the anchor in the bedroom is the bed and the anchor in the dinning room is dinning room table.  Once again, the focal point can be different from your anchor.  If you have a large china/buffet with elaborate displays on open shelves or behind glass doors, this will be your focal point.  By contrast, if the anchor is also the focal point you must do some work to make that clear.  If your dinning room table is the focal point as well as the anchor, the table must have something to call attention to it.  This will come naturally, as you set the table with a bright cloth and fabulous centerpiece.  The sofa as the focal point may be a bit more difficult.  You will probably need a bright appealing fabric on the sofa.  If you have a solid dark color the sofa will clearly be the anchor but will not provide the needed focal point leaving the room without focus. 
Another rule of thumb that everyone, including professional decorators, completely ignore is the rule about furniture placement on carpets or rugs.  The rule clearly states that furniture will be placed either completely on the carpet or completely off.  This is not difficult to understand.  It means that if you have an area rug, all four chair legs are on the carpet.  If you want the chairs off the carpet then all four legs must be off the carpet.  So, there you have it.  You now know the rule and you can choose to apply it or not.  However, if you don’t use it and something looks wrong about the room, you may have a clue why.  
Though they are your surroundings and you can do anything you wish you will learn that there are certain factors you must comply with to make the arrangement functional.  If you ignore the basics your room will lack the necessary flow and traffic patterns.  Once again, the consequence is an unsettling feeling and you won’t use the room or if you try to you won’t be able to relax. 

We will supply you with suggested measurements for furniture placement on a separate page. ( See the Bonus Section) You can fudge somewhat, but using these will insure the necessary movement to make the room functional and comfortable. Realistically, we don’t have unlimited space so you have to make decisions using scale.  For example, if you have a small dining room, you are forced to select a small table and only the number of chairs the room will accommodate.  If you think you can squeeze everyone into the room and all will be well once they are seated, you are sadly mistaken.  Accept what you have and make the very best of it.  If you simply must have large dinner parties either arrange with a restaurant or you can serve buffet style with places for guests to sit in various rooms.  No, it is not the lavish formal dinner you would like, but the importance is that your guests are comfortable.  You can still serve an intimate formal dinner in your dinning room, just limit it to those that the room and table can comfortably accommodate.

Though it is a tremendous amount of trouble and completely disrupts the household, you might find that you could switch the dinning and living rooms for an event.  Caterers can arrange for tables you can set up in living room or family room.  Then, the dinning room could serve as a “parlor”.  Once again, you will still have limits but you might actually have more flexibility as the “parlor”  will not need the usual furniture and you can focus on just the essential seating, lighting and side tables.  In this arrangement, it might be forgivable to have wall to wall chairs with a coffee table in the center and small pull up tables.  In this way, you can invite your guests to gather in the “parlor” for after dinner coffee and conversation.  Since it is likely, they will have had dinner at several tables, this will give everyone an opportunity to visit together as one group.  Such an arrangement will require outside help and caterers are very skillful at pulling together such an unconventional arrangement.  They may even have some suggestions and tricks to create an illusion of grander proportions. 

Remember, however, this will necessitate hiding a lot of  furniture and then it all has to be put back.  Don’t  expect the caterer to help with this, however, you are on your own.  They will arrange for the extra tables to be delivered, set up and removed the following day.  Typically, they don’t do this themselves, but can make the arrangements.  Be sure you know if you pay the caterer or the rental company.  Often the element of comfort is sacrificed for aesthetics? This is truly unforgivable as your environment whether it is your home or workplace must be comfortable and functional.  If it is not comfortable, it won't be used and there is no reason to waste the space.  A good analogy is an uncomfortable garment.  Think of something that you bought that just was so perfect except it wasn't comfortable.  You told yourself you could endure it for the sake of looks.  Did you really get your money's worth for the garment?  Did you wear it as often as you thought you would? Or, when you did wear it, were you absolutely miserable and not at your best?  The very same applies to furniture and furniture arrangement.  There really isn't much more we can say...except we warned you!