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ajaxblu
To clarify my question above, here in the midwest it's rare not to have a fireplace, and a living room without one is, at least subconsciously, considered low-end or unfinished. Yet most people don't use them.

So I'm looking for ideas on how to downplay the visual assumption that my house is "cheap" without a fireplace in living room.
   
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Kristina

Ajaxblu, I'm not a designer, but have had this same need in past homes. You could invest in a substantial furniture piece or a nice piece of artwork in a size appropriate for the room with furniture placed in a way that draws the eye to the art. I've also seen windows as the focal point, either with curtain choice or in framing choices that highlight the view beyond.

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ajaxblu
thank you kristina. I thought of artwork as well - great minds! :)
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