Modern Living Room With a View Modern Living Room With a View

In this article, we find ourselves fascinated with views, especially urban views.

Of course, you certainly don't need an urban environment to appreciate a wide open view from a big window. In fact, people who love the seaside or the country may argue that there's no point in a view of gritty city life. Actually, having a wide-open view can be even more important in an urban environment than it is in suburbia or in the country. After all, a small window filled with green light from a backyard goes a lot further than a small window looking out onto an alleyway.

And in a city, light is at a premium, as the tall buildings shade your little piece of paradise from the sun. This is particularly true in winter months, when the arc of the sun is lower, meaning that more often than not the weak winter sun is blocked by a building.

Let's take a look at this room in terms of the Sheffield Guidelines to Interior Design: function, mood, and harmony.

Taking function first, we see that the primary function of this room is to provide a place for relaxing and entertaining. The big sofa just begs for guests to fall into it, and there are plenty of other seating options as well, from the gray floor-cushion to the black armchair. If this is a room for a family, the sofa will be a perfect spot for a bunch of kids - sans shoes, of course - to tumble around before dinner, and it also makes a cozy nest for a couple's after-dinner romancing.

Note too that this is actually an open living/dining room, evidenced by the table and chairs to the far left of the photo. This openness adds to the function of the room, because it can be easily used as a dining area, quickly followed by a move to the living area for relaxing conversation after the meal.

The window with that view contributes to this function, providing a natural conversation piece for visitors. The binoculars resting atop the tripod to the left of the living area allow for bird watching, or sky watching, or just admiring the view of the city.

In essence, because of the big windows, the room includes a built-in entertainment center - and not the kind of entertainment center housing a television and VCR. Here, the entertainment comes from the open view, and from the terrace onto which the sliding glass doors open. While we're thinking of function, let's not ignore the fact that in the right seasons, the terrace also functions as part of the living/dining room, and in fact the small dining table is lightweight enough to be easily moved outdoors if there's a sudden warm winter day.

Of course, during the nicer weather, there would be an outdoor table set up on the terrace; but removing the table for the winter allows for a cleaner, less cluttered look.

The mood here is relaxed, welcoming and open, which allows it to fulfill its purpose of a center for gathering friends or family. The plain vertical window blinds, the flotation rug, the black leather and chrome chair, all set the modernist tone. But "modernist" doesn't have to mean cold, or uncomfortable. The low-backed sofa, scattered with plain white and fuzzy-upholstered cushions, is warm and welcoming without being fussy, elaborate, or ornate.

There is also a distinctly Southwestern mood here, with the cactus plants, the terracotta on the terrace, and the Native American-styled pots on the low shelf by the window. This Southwestern look blends quite nicely with the casual, modernist style.

The designer of this room has chosen a palette of neutrals, which is perfect for minimizing the distraction from the view. The tones here are beige, pearl gray, black and ivory, and are warmed up by the terracotta railing and outdoor wall of the terrace, and the green of the plants, which draw the eye because the green stands out so clearly from the neutrals. On a day such as the one when this room was photographed, a gray winter's afternoon, the room reflects the colors of the view outside, whereas on a brilliantly sunny day, the room's colors will provide a cooling respite from the heat outside.

Finally, everything here harmonizes. The colors are carefully chosen to reflect one another, including the flooring, the light wood table, and the white rug. Everything in this room is on the same scale: low and wide, which plays well against the low, wide view. Even a bit of ornate, Elizabethan, or floral frippery would stand out here as simply not fitting in, and the designer has done well to stay away from anything too flowery or over-done, letting the view capture the attention, and providing plenty of comfortable room for enjoying it.

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Interior Design

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