DESIGNING EYE, "For Big Rooms, Think Anchors Before Accessories"


"I just moved into a new home. Though I love the new floor plan, my furniture and accessories don't seem to work as well as they did in our old home. I think I need more accessories as these rooms are larger than the rooms in the old home. What can I do to make it look right?"

Often, the problem is not the lack of accessories. It's too many accessories and not enough furniture. What is missing in many cases is a piece or two of large scale furniture acting as an "anchor" in the rooms.

Every room needs at least one or two anchors, depending on the size and scale of the room. These anchor pieces should be large enough to be the heavyweight in the room. A room without one of these large pieces will look unfurnished or make all the accessories look like a lot of misplaced floating objects.

The solution is easy enough. Take these real-life examples.

-- The dining room has a lovely glass table, four fully upholstered chairs and a little console table with a small mirror over it. I replace the small console and mirror with a large credenza, displaying all the dishes hidden in the kitchen. The credenza's large scale fills the wall's length and width more appropriately and becomes the anchor piece in the dining room.

-- The living room has a lot of small accent tables with small lamps and four small occasional chairs, making it too fragmented, busy and cluttered. I replace the chairs, tables and lamps with two larger arm chairs, one larger table and a table lamp. Accent lamps work in small spaces but they cannot do the job of a good-size table lamp.

-- In this room the couch, functioning as the first anchor piece, is done in rich burgundy chenille and has a handsome command of the room. The coffee table, however, is dwarfed in its presence. So off it went to another room and in comes a wonderful old square pine work table from the den.

Well-worn from years of use and full of family memories, all it needed was shorter legs. No problem, we just shortened them. That's right. We literally sawed them off. This larger scale table became our second anchor in the living room. All the accessories on this table made more sense because the space around the accessories could be seen and appreciated.

Bottom line, this client has all she needs to make the rooms work. We just shuffle some of her existing larger pieces of furniture around, add some new pieces and redesign some old pieces.

So remember, always start with the anchor piece and accessories around them, not the other way around.