The client has a large sectional sofa placed down the right wall splitting the room in front of the fireplace, but it doesn't fit well in the room. Privacy is not a requirement as the window wall looks out to a very wooded view. What suggestions do you have for beginning a plan for furniture placement, covering the wall of windows and enhancing these very domineering blank walls.
Answer: Working with a blank canvas can be a challenge -- one of creativity and energy. You have many blank spots to fill. The advantage is you can start from the beginning. You have no existing limitations to hold you back from really experimenting with new and different ideas.
From your description, it appears the two focal points are the fireplace and wall of windows. Think about the area around the fireplace as the main conversation space. It is longer than it is wide, but there is enough room, I would design a conversation area that centers on a fireplace view. You may need to divide the space into two areas, the main conversation area and a secondary, more intimate area. Instead of choosing long, large pieces of furniture, try pieces that can be placed on an angle or together on one side facing one another. This will make the space more comfortable and offset its vastness.
To aquaint yourself with the wall treatments, begin with defining the space and making it livable with colors from the warm side of the color wheel. This will tone down the room's size and emptiness. Wallpaper three feet up the wall, divided by a chair rail and then another coordinating pattern, also can bring the walls down to size. Possibly add crown molding which can serve as small shelving around the room for highlighting accessories and collectibles. This will help contrast the wall's height and allow for some decoration that can be personalized to the owner's taste -- traditional, country, Southwestern, etc. If wallpaper is not an option, try an interesting faux finish, one made to resemble a particular style. This will help narrow the field for creating a personalized theme that aids in fabric and furniture selection. Paint Magic, by JoCasta Innes offers really innovative ideas, as well as many other books you can find on various painting techniques such as stenciling, sponge textures and murals.
For the final solution on the window wall, one of the most important features of this great room, it sounds as though it would be best not to block the view entirely. Some energy efficient window treatments such cellular shades or custom soft shades would be ideal. Each of these treatments can be custom fit to the windows and will stack to a minimal height to allow the view and natural light when desired, and protection of the room's interior when lowered. Depending on the shape of the window wall and whether any space between the windows exists, you can try a creative decorative treatment such as a swag that cascades to the floor supported by decorative hardware or a valance that runs across windows to tie them together into a unified design.
Finally, bring various textures, patterns and some color variety to add interest. You will need to vary the scale of these accents to provide some balance and unity to the large room. Adding the final touches will really make the space feel complete and beautiful without taking away from the fireplace or window wall. Good luck and let me know how it turns out.
Sharon L. Anderson, Associate Member, Interior Design Educator's Council (IDEC), has more than 14 years experience as a commercial and residential design professional. She has taught numerous courses at colleges and universities throughout Southern California and is a published author and frequent public speaker.