The second apartment that I decorated from top to bottom with a mix of garage sale/flea market finds and furniture that I took with me after my divorce when I was 29 was in downtown Vancouver. OMG is that a run-on sentence or what!
Anyway, my ex-husband and I had decorated in the 80’s forest green trend and I left with a large upholstered forest green chair (and ottoman) with huge rolled arms, typical of the 80’s. Kind of like this one below (but picture something even bigger, more like a chair and 1/2):
Then when I moved into my apartment, I still needed a sofa so I went out to a local department store and chose a taupe and cream fabric in a leaf texture with a tuxedo style arm and I was happy.
Until it arrived.
And when I arranged them together in an L shape I was totally horrified at how they looked together. Bad. Very bad.
source http://pinterest.com/pin/29203097555815655/ (it looked similar to this one)
Although I should say that it’s rare that the oversize furniture of the 80’s works with any classic styles.
Even though it was a custom order, I was just about to take advantage of the very generous return policy they had at the time, however, lucky for me, my designer friend Pat Wickware saved me that weekend.
She came over and re-arranged my furniture, moved the offending green chair to the opposite corner of where my sofa was placed and after a quick shopping trip to antique row for some end tables, it all came together.
That was my very first expensive-mistake design lesson.
When I went out shopping for my sofa, it did not even occur to me that I should consider coordinating the arm style of my existing green chair to my new sofa.
So here are some general guidelines to keep in mind:
Keep traditional arm styles in the same room.
There are always exceptions to every rule in design but remember my advice in this post. If you are not a professional interior designer, or a super creative, my-house-looks-like-a-designer-lives-here kind of person, stick to the rules for a result you can trust will work out.
Here we have two wing chairs with rolled arms and a french style rounded arm.
You can always repeat the style of the sofa arm to the chairs even if you use different fabrics like in this image above.
The english arm sofa here is paired with two rolled arms which is a very common combination that works very well.
When you choose a sofa with squared (track) arms, keep the ams of the chairs square as well.
Interior Design by Maria Killam
This loft that I designed has regular track arms on the chairs and the sofa isn’t the same but the lines are contemporary and linear instead of rounded like the traditional styles.
Here’s a couple of images where the rules are broken:
This sofa is hard to see on the left but you can see that it has large rounded arms. We might feel differently if we could see the entire room properly but one of the reasons why this works is the arm heights are the same. And the track arms on the chairs are not too skinny.
Here again we have two small rolled arm chairs with two sofas with square arms. Both have a t-cushion and both are not visually heavy.
Also, interesting about both these images, the chairs are in a highly contrasting dark colour. Maybe that’s the other reason why it seems to work.
However, now that I’ve pointed it out, if you keep looking at other images, you’ll notice that usually contemporary more squared off furniture is organized together and round goes with more traditional looks.
Have you made any style blunders while buying your main furniture pieces?
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