The room: A living room in a house near Minneapolis' Lake Calhoun.

What works: Good proportions, original hardwood floors and a fireplace.

What doesn't: A confining furniture arrangement and lack of light that cast a somber tone over the space, doing little to enhance the positive features.

Designer's comment: "The sofa blocked the buyer's entry point to the room and made the space feel smaller than what it actually is," said Lori Matzke of "The goal was to visually open up the space, brighten it up, and place attention directly on the fireplace and hardwood floors."

What was done

Moved bookshelves that took up too much space and were stealing attention from the fireplace to an upstairs hall. Excess accessories were boxed and stored. A leather club chair was moved to the den to keep the space from feeling too heavy. A wine cabinet was also removed to show more wall space and prevent the room from feeling boxed in.

The dining room table was positioned at an angle to create better flow. To create a more inviting layout and to reveal more of the wood floors, the sofa was repositioned 8 inches away from the picture window.

An upholstered side chair that had been near the entry into the room was angled in front of the fireplace to add texture and interest. The second leather club chair and a small glass side table created a balanced conversational area.

To draw more attention to the fireplace, fireplace tools were stored and the brick surround was polished. On the large mantel, one-dimensional artwork was replaced with a round mirror in a heavy carved wood frame. An oversized silk orchid added drama. Additional accessories, including bright green candles, a basket, framed photos and greenery, created a substantial arrangement without being overpowering.

A large decorative mirror on the wall opposite the picture window helps bounce natural light around the room. For additional lighting, two table lamps were added at opposite ends near the entry point of the room (not shown).

A floor lamp behind the upholstered chair directly opposite the entry helped brighten the space.

A small modern art print draws attention deep into the room, but still leaves plenty of visible space on the wall to create the sense of a larger room.

Bright green ivy on the coffee table and basket of cheery mums on the dining room table and side table add color and move the viewer's eye throughout the room.