A dazzling piece of furniture can fill out an empty wall space

DESIGN

January 05, 1992|By RITA ST. CLAIR

Q: I can't decide what to do about a living room wall near the arched opening to my dining room. The wall is 6 feet long, leaving plenty of space for a piece of furniture to be placed against it. A chair makes no sense, however, because there are no other seating pieces nearby. What do you suggest I put there?

A: You've already made a good start by realizing what you shouldn't do.

All of us have probably seen a lone chair stationed against a wall, as if to place some unwanted guest in solitary.

Because it's not part of any conversation grouping, a single chair will always look awkward, even if accompanied by a table and lamp.

But your problem really isn't hard to solve. In fact, you now have the opportunity to buy a dazzling accent piece that will not only liven up your living room but maybe provide you with some extra storage space as well.

Most people, when furnishing a living room, think first of the chairs and tables, and rightly so. Unfortunately, however, the design process often stops right there. And the typical result is an attractive waiting room.

Even the addition of decorative items won't be sufficient to make the setting rise above the ordinary. What's needed, I believe, is something exotic, yet well-proportioned in relation to the rest of the space. And your vacant wall offers the perfect place to put this missing item.

The type of piece I have in mind might be a painted chest, an ornamented bookcase or a secretary. I wouldn't suggest a simple console, however, unless you're also willing to purchase an assemblage of decorative objects for its surface or possibly ,, for the wall behind it.

Here's an example of a high-style treatment for a wall that's not as long as yours. It may even be too highly styled for the average home in its use of a painted chinoiserie wall panel and the slender model of a pagoda. Perhaps you will agree, though, that this small Italian rococo server would give a memorable accent to almost any traditional or contemporary setting.

The piece shown in the photo is a copy, by Baker Furniture, of an original whose proportions and details had been modified to conform with American preferences. Furniture this stunning can be placed in just about any room. And its dimensions are such that it will fit an area considerably smaller than your 6-foot wall.

In general, the key to solving the problem of an empty space is to look beyond the predictable options. Only something extraordinary will truly succeed in those situations.

The needed piece doesn't even have to be in the same style as the room. But if it's not, be sure that its appearance is dramatically different so that a decision to be bold is not confused with a poor sense of design judgment.

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