The Low-Down on Low Furtniture

Q: Our heirloom couch is long and low. It dates back to the l960s, when people must have liked their seating closer to the floor. Anyway, the couch used to look fine in our old house where we had it under a big window. In our new house, there's no window wall, and it doesn't work. It just looks lost against the bare wall. What to do?

A: You've got to accentuate the negative. Put something important on that bare wall so it forms a unit with your low couch. Give it stature, if you will.
A couple of easy suggestions: Stand a tall, attractive screen behind the couch (you can make one yourself from wood shelving boards hinged together and then wallpapered). A variation on that theme: Hang a large tapestry, quilt or other interesting fabric on that wall.

Even more dramatic, take a leaf from gifted designer Jennifer McConnell of Pearson Furniture, who turned a ho-hum wall into a focal point, creating visual architecture with a dozen reproduction woodcut portraits of ancient Roman rulers. The portraits are actually quite small, but Jennifer aggrandized them with oversized picture mats and frames, hung close together so they form a unit over the sofa.

Who could resist coming in for a close-up look at the art (from Chelsea House, Inc., and then lingering on the elegant tufted sofa below it? This study in red, white and blue also features classic tufted chairs, benches that prance on little bronze hooves, and a centerpiece of a red ottoman, a surprise stand-in for the usual cocktail table, all new from Pearson Furniture (

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