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Managing space in Living Room efficiently

Sreelekha N

It`s an expression of your personality, on display to all visitors and it makes both the first, and the last, impression. It`s also where family members congregate to lounge around, to watch television, to read or simply for a relaxed chat. Designing this space correctly is crucial.

FURNITURE:Consider the focal point and arrange the rest of your furniture around it. If you have an imposing statue, for instance, or a grand piano, let this be the center of attention, and set the other furniture around it. It`s important to consider traffic in the area; does the arrangement allow free movement and give an uncluttered look? Try off-square angles, for a warmer and more casual look. Also, instead of having your sofa touch the wall, you could consider placing it a foot or so away and install a plant or a lamp. To create a lived-in aura for your living area, position small furniture in the room. This can be a small bench, or a low sofa table. Place magazines, journals and newspapers under the table. Placing flower vases, baskets and small plants on your table also creates beauty and livens up the room. For people who have space and want to make a statement, a 12-ft running sofa in artificial leather and off-white will get your guests talking. There is a growing preference for antiqu e furniture used in consonance with contemporary furniture for instance, a straight-line sofa set with an ornate center table. Today, furniture suitable for different segments of society is available.

COLOURS: Do you want your hall to be a vibrant, or a restful, space? Colours can intimidate, invite or irritate. Green is a relaxing colour and there are several shades to choose from. At the other end of the spectrum, there are people who like orange and red on their walls. Choose a shade that goes with your personality, and ensure your carpets and furniture are well-coordinated. Of course, for the most classic, elegant look, creams and whites always work best, providing the perfect canvas for experimentation with upholstery and furniture.

MIRRORS:If your room is small, particularly, mirrors can add space and depth.

LIGHTING:This can really create or affect the mood in your living room. Don`t go in for harsh tube-lights in your living room; they may seem more practical, but do not do anything to bring in a soothing atmosphere. Try focus lighting for items like artifacts and paintings.

WORKING WITH A BUDGET:If your budget is low say, about a lakh for the living room, opt for basic, minimalistic furniture cane sofas can also be truly elegant. Colourful mosaics or simple kotah or Jaisalmer stone slabs should be used for flooring to give warmth. Rugs or colourful chatais or durries can be dramatic. Use earthy cottons for upholstery so that stains aren`t too visible, and stack colourful cushions around to make your space welcoming. Carry the terracotta theme further with pots and other artifacts. Straight lines, with minimum maintenance and materials are quick to work. Try ceramic or vitrified tiles in an economical range. For the walls, velvet touch emulsion paint can be used. Instead of opting for expensive materials like marble, play with colour and texture. Avoid false ceilings since they can be expensive and will need maintenance. Of course, if you have a high budget, there is nothing like Italian marble and expensive artifacts to make your living room special.

Faure: Piano Quartets Nos. 1 and 2.- Emanuel Ax, Isaac Stern, Jaime Laredo, Yo-Yo Ma - sound recording reviews

National Review , Sept 20, 1993 by Ralph Robert Toledano

Now that Lady Hillary has taken to discoursing on the meaning of meaning, are critics empowered to write on the meaning of music? Composers have said us nay for many years, and I delight in two expressions of their disdain. The great musical ironist Erik Satie could address a critic: "Monsieur et cher ami: Vous n`etes qu`un cul, mais un cul sans musique." And Max Reger put it even more bluntly: "I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me." Louis Armstrong, for whom musical expression was like breathing, was more tolerant. "There are only two ways to sum up music," he said. "Either it`s good or it`s bad. If it`s good you don`t mess around with it. You enjoy it."

You can sympathize with these three when critics hold forth on Les Six, as if Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, Georges Auric, and the others were all formed by the same cookie cutter. About all they had in common, other than a dislike of Wagnerian Teutonism and the Impressionism of Debussy, was geographic. (What link is there between the Swiss Protestant Honegger and the Provengal Jew Milhaud?) Honegger`s roots were much like those of the middle and later Stravinsky, though his rhythms were stronger and more regular, his counterpoint richer. The work for which he is best known is Le Roi David, an oratorio for voices and orchestra, heavily reliant on brass and percussion.

The text and context are a series of psalms - though not like Stravinsky`s symphony of same - powerful and rousing, and with a suggestion of a jazz beat that makes me wonder how it would sound if performed by a Gallic Hall Johnson choir. A beat, but not the modalities of jazz, and a controlled dissonance which is the more affecting because of its restraint. The recording at hand is particularly rewarding not only for the musicianship of Jean-Claude Casadesus and the Orchestre National de Lille, which is comfortable the score, but for the clear enunciation of speakers and singers which makes any accompanying text unnecessary. [EMI Classics 7 54793 3.]

The post-Romanticism of Claude Debussy, if such it may be called, and his efforts to translate into sound what the Impressionists did on canvas - and the grisaille of their French sky - have little to do with sixes, sevens, or tens. Nor, to my limited ear, should we dive like loons for consanguinity with the Germanic as we listen to Debussy`s Le Martyre de Saint Sebastien. His Sebastian, I would say, has more in common with the young saint caught in pigment by Velazquez. The first form of this work was as incidental music for a play by Gabriele dannunzio, the bravura figure who confused womanizing with revolution and Mussolini with Caesar. As an oratorio of sorts it is something of a patchwork of orchestral statements, unaccompanied choruses, solos, and narrations - deriving with Oriental overtones from medieval folk balladry and Renaissance polyphonics. Oddly enough, the disjointedness of the work adds to its strength, as if it were a brilliant improvisation. In the discerning hands of Michael Tilson Th omas and the London Symphony Orchestra, with narration by Leslie Caron, Le Martyre achieves a curious cohesiveness and a spiritual profundity. [Sony Classical SK 48240.]

Gabriel Faure, among the finest of the composers whose work made the turn of the century and beyond an epoch, was downplayed by his generation for being at once too "smooth" and "popular" yet lacking in ambition and arrivisme. His gently consoling Requiem was deplored, perhaps because unlike Berlioz`s it does not attempt to storm the gates of Heaven. I suspect that his contemporaries focused on the subtleties and ignored the musical assertiveness of works like his Piano Quartets, of which No. 1 in C Minor and No. 2 in G Minor have been recorded by Emanuel Ax (piano), Isaac Stern (violin), Jaime Laredo (viola), and Yo-Yo Ma (cello) in a beautifully articulated performance of what some have considered the acme in its genre. [Sony Classical SK 48066.] The four who make up the quartet, it is worth noting, are famous soloists, yet they merge their personalities to the greater glory of the score.

That merging and blending is, of course, what makes the artistry of the Juilliard String Quartet so great, like the Budapest before it. More than the digital skills and interpretive abilities of the individual musicians in a chamber group is required to make what they play an integrated whole. The Juilliard, in traversing Verdi`s String Quartet in A Minor, nevers forgets that it is not a vehicle for taking bows, and remembers as well that Verdi was not writing grand opera when, during enforced idleness, he committed to paper this quiet, sometimes moody, but always interesting work. The Quartet reminds us too - though Verdi would write five years after it was composed that he "never attached any importance to the piece" - that Verdi wrote opera because he chose to, not because he could do little else. [Sony SK 48193.]

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