A room without a centerpiece lacks focus and place.

A centerpiece doesn't mean that whatever it is must be in the center of the room. On the contrary, centerpiece can mean "a central article," according to Webster. And there are plenty of centerpiece candidates.

A large antique, such as an armoire, is an easy answer to the centerpiece quest, especially if it is tall enough to dominate.

Another candidate could be any piece of furniture that dominates the room by its color. A tall, red lacquer screen, for example, is an otherwise monochromatic room, would obviously claim the centerpiece title. Even a brilliant Oriental rug would be a centerpiece, combined with furniture with chrome or wood frames and upholstered in off-white fabric.

A third way for a centerpiece to be recognized is by its shape. In a room I worked on, the owners found a truely remarkable Victorian wood mantel for their fireplace. Set between two narrow windows, it was easily recognizable as the centerpiece. It dominated the room by a shape entirely different from the surrounding furnishings.

To fit this marvel into its space, we decided to make the windows seem longer by treating them with a simple, elegant window covering. A narrow wood frame fastened to the outer edges of the windows, and running from the top of the window to the floor, made it possible to hand pleated paper pull-up shades within the space defined by a new frame. It gave the windows a neat, built-in look, tall enough to balance the mantel, yet plain enought not to conflict.

The furniture itself was simple. Everything was purchased new, but with an eye to the future. The loveseat, a simplified Chesterfield, is a good piece, and small enough to be useful in any home. Like the mantel, which could fit around a future fireplace, the loveseat can travel.

A pair of wicker and chrome classic arm chairs are also a sound investment. More of these can always be purchased at a later date, when there is a dining room, and used around a glass-topped dining table, or even combined with an antique table. For the moment, their rounded shape is a perfect balance to the oval mirror of the mantel, as well as an easy foil to the style of the loveseat.

The Parsons coffee table, in white laminate, goes well with the tall, white antique pedestals in front of each window, capped with a pair of graceful Boston ferns. Lamps and accessories combine with furnishings against a background of dark forest green, to match the carpet, and incorporate the centerpiece into the design plan of the room.