Focus on the Fireplace

Decorators tell us that in order to accentuate a room, we should choose a focal point and build everything else around it. If you’re fortunate enough to have a fireplace, you have a built-in focal point.

For generations, families have gathered ’round the fireplace to while away time, visit, and relax. You can celebrate the history of the fireplace by making it central to your decorating scheme. You can accomplish this in five simple steps:

  1. Pare down your belongings. When there are too many elements in one room, they compete for visual attention. Remove those pieces of furniture that rarely get used, the old collection you spend more time dusting than appreciating, and other extraneous items that do nothing to add to the function of the room.
  2. Play favorites. Choose the seating that is most loved and most used. It might be a comfortable chair and ottoman, sofa, or loveseat. Consider this piece of furniture your “anchor,” and place it so that it is parallel to the fireplace and just far enough away to receive a comfortable level of heat on a cold night.
  3. Decide how you’re going to use the room and arrange remaining seats accordingly. If the room is primarily used for conversation, place the remaining pieces so that they face the anchor piece. If you plan to watch television in this room, turn the remaining pieces slightly so that everyone can view the screen, but conversation can still take place.
  4. Once your seating is in place, position coffee tables, end tables, shelves and other storage. Again, the trick is to make sure that no other element competes for visual attention with the fireplace. If you have a large, dramatic piece, you might want to consider relocating it to another room.
  5. Keep the lights low. Harsh light too close to your fireplace can diminish the magic of natural firelight. Position lamps around the room in a way that creates ambiance without clashing with the fireplace.
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