“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln
And so goes the successful process of selecting just the right sofa. In a word, what Abe meant was prepare. Well, more over; prepare, prepare, prepare. If you visit my blog on any regular basis I am sure you have read here, “No one element is important unto itself”. It means that as you work through the puzzle and scavenger hunt of putting together a successful room design you must weigh each selection against other possible selections for the room.
Outside of the focal point (view, fireplace, architectural feature ~ you get the picture) the sofa is generally the anchor to the room. The sofa will provide the place where much of the time will be spent whether watching TV, reading a book, entertaining friends. Regardless the function, careful consideration should be given to style.
Contemporary, modern, transitional, traditional, this you already know when developing your concept. The range of style possibilities are endless. Within that however there are three basic styles of sofa of which to consider:
The Lawson Sofa
Skirted, on legs, with a plinth base, contemporary or otherwise, the Lawson sofa is typified by an arm that tracks lower than the hard frame back of the sofa.
If you land on a Lawson style sofa, beware the placement. A sofa placement where it will float in the middle of the room requires a nice transition from the hard frame of the back to the arm. Sometimes the transition from the back to the arm is not attractive and may have been originally designed to be placed against a wall ~ like the one pictured to the right. No carefully selected sofa table will ever camouflage that!
The Tuxedo sofa is typified by an arm that tracks evenly with the hard frame back of the sofa. This alone makes the Tuxedo style perfect for floating placement. The back of the Tuxedo sofa is usually quite architectural and thereby attractive
Typically traditional but often updated the Chesterfield is characterized by rich, deep diamond tufting. Usually with a rolled arm, again sometimes updated, with or without nail heads, usually on legs but sometimes skirted, there are a myriad of Chesterfield sofas from which to choose.
So, before you start chopping away at your spendable dollars do like Abe and take some time sharpening your axe!
Some design elements are just “a natural”. Take for example the entry hall mirror. The importance of a mirror in the entry, thoughtfully placed above a hall table or chest flanked by a pair of distinctive table lamps is many fold. As the entry can often be a tight space, the reflectivity of a mirror can bring light and life to the entry, thereby expanding the space; visually expanding the footprint.
Compliment the mirror with a pair of lamps and you’ve got those elements doing double duty. Lighting the entry from one side will widen the feel of it. And again, the reflectivity of the mirror will nearly double the amount of light in the space.
Outside of mere aesthetics the job of the mirror allows you to take “one last peek” at yourself before greeting guests. Back in the day before we exited through the garage, the entry mirror provided a final moment to inspect one’s self before entering the world; adjust the hat, don the gloves, check the broach.
Finally, the entry mirror provides guests the opportunity to make final adjustments after stepping out of the world and into your home. Regardless of your design style the impact of a perfectly placed entry mirror can add so much to your interior design statement.
Reflect on that!
Picture this, a small gathering for cocktails on a Friday night. You walk in the door, are greeted cheerfully and handed a cocktail. The usual of course. The crowd is intimate. Your bestie is slingin’ drinks and serving up some tasty hors d’oeuvres. Love on a Friday night! Right? You take a seat in your favorite chair and there it is. The chow table! The perfect pirch for your frosty adult libation and your “small plate.”
Don’t let its diminutive stature fool you though. The chow table is huge in its importance in your gathering space. Always within arms reach of a most comfortable chair, the chow table allows us a spot to set things down. Have you ever tried to juggle a glass, a napkin and a plate?
The one pictured above is from Charleston Forge. In this vignette it is delightfully paired with a relatively “backgroundy” occasional chair. Shown with another Charleston Forge table from the same collection it wouldn’t necessarily have to be.
As functional as it is aesthetic this accent piece should be just that. It needs to at once back up your overall design style and yet playfully nod to something unexpected. It needs to be harmonious enough with the other furnishings in the room while remaining interesting enough to contrast upholstered pieces.
The chow table is one of the elements in the room that can anchor a pair of chairs, provide contrast and counter point and “play well with others.” Just like your bestie, at a cocktail party, on a Friday night!
To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment. Jane Austen
We thank Ms. Austen for that but just what shall serve as the respite for your posterior? Upholstered, carved, streamline, steadfast or transportable the options for your keaster are limitless. Whether you go for comfort or style these finely crafted pieces will sure give you perfect refreshment.
This armchair as part of the “Steam” series, Korean designer Bae Se Hwa utilizes a steam bending technique in which he distorts and deconstructs very linear wood elements and then recombines them into new pieces that are bent and curvilinear in form.
What happens when you take everything you know about a chair (stable, sturdy, comfortable) and put it on its side? You of course get the works of Paris-based Dutch sculptor Sebastian Brajkovic who designs distorted chairs that look more like digital graphics produced by Photoshop than physical furniture.
At first you might ask, why? But why not? It’s quirky, innovative and serves as functional art. Each decision in the development of this piece is perfect from the way the sinewy legs meet one another to the way the floral fabric is distorted in order to appear as though it is smeared across the surfaces of the chair. This in a foyer sidled up to the perfect console table and contemporary piece of art would make a sublime entry statement. Brajkovic has permanent collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. Perhaps less statement without compromising style is more what you are looking for. Baker furniture is my go to for chairs that are at once stylish and timeless. The Jasper designed by Jean-Louis Deniot exudes fresh classic contemporary elegance.
Available in a myriad of fabrics, Chocolate Mink is the preferred frame color with choice of accent at the front legs of rich oil rubbed bronze, antique silver or antique bronze. Imagine, martini in hand, a few of your ‘closer’ friends and Jasper all taking in a chatty afternoon. Cheers!
Of course, no discussion about chairs is complete with out at a nod to the classic Eames chair. Although immediately familiar, when the set (chair and ottoman) was introduced in 1956, there was nothing like it, and there is still nothing to equal it.
The Eameses’ modern take on a nineteenth century club chair has not only endured for more than 50 years, it has become one of the most significant furniture designs of the twentieth century—instantly recognizable and enduringly fresh.
Earlier on in this blog I mentioned ‘transportable’ as a possible chair option. Popularized by Napolean, the Campaigne chair is one of the earliest notions of “take it with you” furniture. Napoleon’s Egyptian Campaign fired the imaginations of the European public with exotic imagery. Designed specifically for Napoleon’s crusades across Europe, the Campaigne chair became a fixture of the Directoire Style.
Jane almost had it right about taking in the view. Perhaps she should have mentioned something about upon what to take in the ‘verdure.’
Architectural digest greenroom at the Oscars
In show business, the green room is the space in a theatre, studio or similar venue which accommodates performers not yet required on stage. The green room functions as a waiting room and lounge for performers before and after a performance, and during the show when they are not engaged onstage.
Baker furniture will again adorn the Architectural Digest Greenroom of the Academy Awards ceremonies. This backstage space at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre is a prime spot for celebrity interviews, presenter pre-stage prep and refreshment.
To celebrate the Chinese New Year, Baker Furniture presents five auspicious pieces with elements of chinoiserie, a style developed in seventeenth-century Europe paying homage to Asian design. Many people think “chinoiserie” refers to figures painted in an oriental style, but it’s actually a broader class of design motif drawing on a range of Asian techniques – from painting to carving to fretwork. Happy New Year! — Chinese New Year: A Celebration of Chinoiserie
A stunning example of craftsmanship, this mahogany cabinet is crowned with a pierced fretwork pagoda. The original was created in England c. 1760 and is included in the Dictionary of English Furniture, Vol. 1. This is the ultimate focal point.
This arm chair with carved and moulded borders features an unusual chinoiserie geometric pattern. English c. 1760.
The brilliant crimson Eglomisé panels have carved gilt borders and are gilded and engraved with chinoiserie designs of trellis work, floral patterns, and scrolling foliage. English c. 1695.
This extraordinary commode goes beyond reproduction to a sense of continuing craftsmanship with hand carving and hand decorating. The expertly-formed serpentine shape is an appropriate way to commemorate the Chinese New Year as we begin the “Year of the Snake.” Peking Cocktail Table The Peking Table draws on the vocabulary of Chinese Chippendale to reinforce the idea that traditional English furniture can live happily in a modern home. The blind fretand lyrical bracket are the kind of texture that many modern rooms lack. The subdued finishes allow it to go more places – and become an immediate classic.
If you are like me you have a favorite room of the house. The den, the family, the bedroom, maybe even it is your home office. Within that room though think about the place you sit. Is that your favorite chair over there next to the sofa, by the window with the good light for reading, in your bedroom or at your desk? That favorite piece of furniture where we like to ‘park it’ means a lot to us ~ usually shown by the signs of wear and abuse it has taken over the years ~ that at the end of a stressful day or during a spare hour on the weekend always remains the spot to ‘make the most of it’.