Every so often, a room comes along where using a sofa is impossible. This can happen for a couple of reasons.
The room can have windows at oddly spaced intervals-there's no single wall against which a sofa can logically be placed. This same room may have a shape, long and narrow, for example, that makes it impossible to use my favorite solution: a diagonal floating sofa grouping.
In this situation, I would probably choose two small facing love seats, placed at right angles to the length of the room, and adjacent to the long wall furthest from the room's entrance.
But there are also living rooms that have compound problems -- such as the one I looked at recently. The room was square in shape, which can be a plus, if it's a large square where almost any kind of furniture grouping is possible. ithis room, however, was small and square. And to make matters worse, the windows were dotted all over the map, with no rhyme or reason.
To deal with this almost impossible space, I decided to forgo the traditional seating grouping. Fortunately, this was a first home, and no sofa existed. There were no preconceptions about this venerable tradition. My first thought had been to use two small love seats, one in a small space between two of the windows and the other facing it, with a coffee table between them. This could have worked in the space, but I rejected the idea because the back of the second love seat would have seemed a forbidding barrier in so small a room.
To have an open, inviting grouping seemed more desirable. To accomplish this, I choose a continental height coffee table, about 25 inches above the floor, ideal for coffee, cocktails or informal dining.
The table itself is set on a thick pedestal that gives solidity and stability to the group. Around it, I placed four generous armchairs, not to deep or wide, because they would have overwhelmed the small room, but ample for a large individual.
To emphasize the tropical look of the chairs, I use hinged panels of diagonal trellis in their natural wood finish, self-supporting. These stand at the outer edge of the two windows. They provide a pleasant setting and, at the same time, work well with white canvas Roman shades. A ceiling fan, in natural wood, reinforces the tropical look; so does the addition of a tall tree and many smaller plants.
I used colors to dramatize the group: The wood floor, stained dark, contrasts with white woodwork and deep green walls. White linen upholstery on the chairs contrasts with the dark marble top of the coffee table.