Admittedly, I’ve been putting this post off. Much to my dismay, my living room has not yet reached my unattainably high perfectionist standards. My sheers haven’t been hemmed; the hand-me-down teak side tables look awfully orange; and my DIY upholstery job is still unfinished after more than a year. Still, I’ve finally managed to convince myself that it’s good enough to share. Along the way, I’ll tell you a little more about my design process.
Here’s where we started.
Beyond the doilies and the traditional draperies, this room has pretty amazing bones. A large, nearly floor to ceiling wood window on the north side of the room lets in wonderful diffuse light all day. The long, linear gray brick on the fireplace, though maybe not my finish of choice (my in-laws liken it to Hokie Stone), mimics the low, streamlined proportions that are signature of mid-century style. Gorgeous original wood floors, which we had stained a little darker, provide the perfect foundation for this potential-filled space.
Near the front door, this quirky niche adds even more architectural character and, along with a change in floor material, delineates the separation between the entry and the living room. The stone planter, though it also reiterated the separation of the spaces, seemed like more of a tripping hazard than anything.
After over a year of progress, we’re here.
This is how we arrived.
Initially, when I walked into this space I visualized the sofa across from the fireplace, with a sofa table behind (almost like this).
The more I processed my plans and thought about flow, I realized that this would be a much better floor plan.
Here’s why: With the seating aligned parallel to the large window, traffic can easily flow from the front door, though the living room and into the dining room. Knowing also that I would eventually open up the kitchen and have bar stools at one end, this arrangement facilitated the best sightlines for conversation. If the sofa were placed parallel to the fireplace, it would become a barrier for traffic and conversation.
Once I had established a basic layout for the room, I started selecting colors/fabrics and shopping for furniture. Before committing to anything, I like to start with an inspiration board. I use tools like Photoshop and Pinterest to help myself visualize different elements of the room together. My inspiration for the color palette was a painting by artist, Lindsey Oberg. With that as a basis, I selected a paint color (Sherwin Williams Waterscape) and browsed online to find items that fit the room and my budget.
The current result is a carefully curated blend of both purchased and inherited vintage furniture that have been or are being reinvented. The sofa is a long, low, streamlined 1960s Drexel sofa that we bought on CraigsList and had reupholstered in a menswear-inspired gray fabric from Sunbrella. The chairs are also from the 1960s, purchased for $20 a piece, that I reupholstered in a commercial-grade teal fabric. The teak side tables and trunk are all things that were passed down to us. The floor lamp (Target), table lamp (Ikea), coffee table (Ikea – Vittsjo), curtains (West Elm), and rug (La-Z-Boy employee discount purchase) are all new.
Thanks to careful planning, I think the space is well on its way (even if everything in the room hasn’t risen to my standards yet).
If you’re in the process of a redesign, here are some tips:
3D Modeling tools, like Sketch Up, are a wonder when it comes to these sorts of decisions. By creating my room digitally and to scale, I was able to play around with the layout and make more informed decisions about my furniture selection and placement without any extra lifting.
Using Pinterest or Photoshop to create an inspiration board will allow you to be more intentional about your purchases. Making sure that everything works together ahead of time will help you create a more cohesive space. When you’re shopping, remember: if it doesn’t fit your vision or your budget, don’t buy it.
April 17, 2014