When Henry and Sharon Lienau moved from New York to Chicago, Mr. Lienau moved up to a vice-presidency in his firm, and the couple moved up into a high-rise apartment with spectacular views of Lake Michigan.
Other than the views, the apartment had little to recommend it. All the walls were a dead white. There was little lighting, but lots of glare off the lake. And the important living-dining area was an architecturally plain, long, somewhat awkward room 30 feet in length and less than 16 feet in width. It seemed bleak, cold, and uninviting.
The Lienaus set out to warm it up and wake it up with the right furnishings and decoration. That meant moving up the budget (still modest, but increased) to enhance their apartment and give them what they needed for living and entertaining at this point in their careers.
They decided to keep the wall-to-wall celery-green carpet that came with the apartment and decorate around it. Rich aubergine, they felt, would warm up the space and make it cozy. So aubergine paint went onto all the walls of the big room, and a flowery Jay Yang print on aubergine background was chosen to cover all the modular seating units.
The couple chose modulars in order to get the most flexible arrangement. They rearrange the units often, they say, according to the kind of entertaining they are doing. The corner arrangement is made up of one armed unit, one corner unit, and three armless units. Across the room, two more armless units combine to make a loveseat, and a big ottoman floats where needed. Print pillows are interspersed with plain pillows, covered in peach, mauve, and light blue, repeat colors out of the floral print.
Thin-slatted blinds at all the windows are also peach-colored, as is the velvet that covers the chrome tub chairs around the dining table.
A favorite new acquisition is the peach acrylic egg-shaped table designed by Milo Baughman for Thayer Coggin. The top portion swings around to any angle, so it is a neat complement to the corner upholstery arrangement.
Another purchase that pleases them is a huge painting of poppies hung over the sofa (not shown). An artist friend came in for days, and painted it right on the spot, making sure that it fitted in mood, color, and pattern.
''Only a friend would give such custom service,'' Mrs. Lienau laughs, ''but it delights us when visitors exclaim with wonder that we ever could have found a piece of art that suited us and our home so utterly.''
The last thing the couple added was track lighting in the ceiling. This enables them to highlight what they wish and spotlight the little arrangement of potted ficus tree, pedestal with flowering plant, and small square table with bibelots, which manages to break the space between living and dining ends of the long room.
The Lienaus think they have accomplished their purpose, which was to make a plain, cool, uninteresting room into a warm, dramatic, and comfortable one.