Family Room Disaster-Need Advice on Organizing/Decorating

miranezJuly 17, 2012

Hi, I'm pretty new here and have uploaded a pic of one wall of my family room. This is the one room of our home that is a disaster because there is no way to organize it and the setup is awkward.

The wall in the pic has a fireplace to the left of a south-facing window. TV under window. Shelves on either side of TV lined with books (left) and boxes of DVDs (right). To watch TV, the sofa must be moved to a weird place, in the path of the hall that leads to the room. There is no centering possible.

I have a large mirror that I want to hang over the fireplace. And I've tried to remove clutter, but it just multiplies from the other rooms.

Any thoughts on arrangements here? I would appreciate any advice.

P.S. The wall directly opposite this one is all floor-to-ceiling bookshelves with a north-facing window.

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Annie Deighnaugh

It would be helpful to see pics of the other walls.

Yes there is no centering. You have 2 separate seating areas and it needs to be arranged as a more cozy space in front of the fireplace, and the other a more casual space in front of the tv. That large table just doesn't belong.

Also, there is just a lot of visual clutter in the space. I would work on simplifying that. I would get doors added to the front of the shelves along the bottom, similar to what's done in the cabinet at the right. That can be used to hide the less attractive stuff like games. Then arrange the books and DVD boxes above in a more deliberate fashion.

Too much stuff over the fireplace....get one thing...not sure a mirror is the best as it will just reflect more stuff. Maybe a couple of things on the mantle, but that's it.

Over the tv, replace the fussy curtains with very simple white honey comb shade or plain wood blind. I would move the speakers out one bay and then hang the blind from the very top of the box there to give a clean flat white look. Then simplify and pare down what is on the shelf over the tv.

Center the sofa in front of the tv. Get a couple of single chairs and a table in between for in front of the fireplace. Add a lamp to make more of a seating/reading conversation area.

I can't see what's going on on the left but it looks like there might be a window...drapes are dragging on the floor, not good.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 7:54AM
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Do things end up in this room because it is the entry room to the house and things get dropped there?

It looks like you have a large cabinet on the left with doors that is underutilized. Could you add shelves there for more storage? And you could add doors to cover the lower three shelves on the bookcases.

As for help with arranging the room, could you post more photos of the room?

And finally, are there 10 things in that room that you could right now put in the garbage? If so, do that. Are there 10 DVDs or video games that are no longer being used/watched that could be put in the garbage or given away? Think about moving things out of the house, not just from room to room.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 7:56AM
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I think that this space is very unsettling. From too much clutter.

For some immediate and free ideas.
1 remove all items from the shelves
2 remove curtains
3 put nothing back to the left of the fireplace
4 put nothing back on the mantle.
5 group books by spine color, and arrange symmetrically in the shelves to the left of the fire place. Adjust the shelves to be even in spacing if they are not.
6 put white storage containers 2 across on the shelves below the TV
7 remove some of the shelves by the TV if you can
8 remove any storage containers that are not white-be consistent
9 post a layout of the room, and where your windows and outlets are. Also pictures of pieces from other rooms you might use in here
10 paint the fireplace area a darker color to set it off. a creamy coffee color or restful greige comes to mind.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 8:11AM
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Unify the shelves somewhat by replacing the curtains over the t.v. with bamboo blinds in a light shade so as not to look like a dark square and then get baskets in the same light shade to use on the shelves with items stored neatly inside of them. The repetition of that texture and color bounced around the area will help make it look cohesive. I also think there's too much white which doesn't work. Some painting would help with the visual. Please let us see the rest of the room.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 9:57AM
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In a perfect world, I would start over. This is just my fantasy mind you, but I would rip everything out and start all over. As much as I like fireplaces, I myself removed one because like yours, it was located in an odd place.
I would then center the tv and build around that.
I agree with Annie. This needs to be made into two seating areas. And I agree with the other ideas about getting a bamboo shade and possibly covering over some of the shelves with doors.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 10:15AM
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I think I see a couple of areas where you painted yellow samples on the back of the bookshelves. It doesn't look like any shelves are adjustable or you have just lined them all up. I agree you should take it all out and put back only what's needed (post pics as you go for support/ideas). At any rate, instead of painting the backs, you might want to try fabric covered cardboard. I did this recently and although it will take some time, it makes a nice difference. I'll try to find some photos.

It looks like you have a nice big room to work with. If your kids help with the project, they might be more inclined to keep it neater. I now have two grown kids but when they were younger, my house looked like yours. Some people can have 6 kids and have the neatest homes. I don't know how they do it (topic for another thread). Post more pics please.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 11:08AM
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Fori is not pleased

It's not so bad. The floor bothers me though. I know it's practical but I'd still put an area rug down. Figure out the furniture arrangements first so you can nail down what size(s) you need. A rug will also keep chairs from sliding when someone small and energetic sits in them.

The "stuff" actually looks fairly organized--looks like there are places for things and just some things are being used at the moment (I just know they're going to finish that art project on the table some day, right?).

Do check the Organizing forum--not as busy as this one but lots of inspiration and advice.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 11:43AM
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I agree that we need to see all four sides of the room to better know how to place furniture, and to see what furniture you have in the room. If you want a sofa opposite the TV, then TV location will drive the furniture arrangement.

The one thing that really jumped out at me was that the TV is same size and placement as the fireplace, which looks really odd. It would look somewhat better just to remove the wood framing around the TV. But it would be even better to find a different spot for the TV. If your end walls are not available (due to window, etc.), maybe the TV should be placed away from the wall, dividing the long room into one larger area, and one smaller area. The smaller area could perhaps be the heavy-duty storage area, to leave a more calm larger area.

For arranging your shelves, I'd try the containers on the bottom, and books --interspersed with some decorative items/art -- on the higher shelves. One single blind or shade hung as high as possible above TV.

Good luck, and I hope you post photos of the other walls, and maybe overall dimensions for the room.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 12:24PM
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Thanks everyone! I would LOVE to get rid of the fireplace, but we use it for heat in the winter. The dining table in the left of the pic is used for homework and art projects (me and three kids!) but I agree it's an eyesore. :-( I can't center the couch because it would end up in the hallway that leads to the den. Maybe put a loveseat there?

I need budget-friendly ideas, which I should have said in my previous post. Single mom and student, and all that. :-) I have a cream sofa cover but don't use it because the dog hair gets all over it.

This pic is the wall opposite the TV/fireplace. As you can see, floor-to-ceiling bookcases with that one window. Tried to organize books according to color which is a pain when I'm trying to look for a book, and there are so many books it doesn't seem to work. Sigh.

I tried interspersing objects between books.

You guys have great ideas and I so appreciate this! By the way, if you know how to add more pics without taking up forum space, please let me know.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 5:04PM
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This wall wall looks at the entrance to the family room. Not sure how well it shows how close the couch is near the entrance to the family room.

By the way, this room is usually not this messy. I'm cleaning and filing and throwing out.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 5:06PM
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And finally, the wall that has a sliding glass door and window, with the art/homework table and a cabinet that holds art supplies. Which I probably need to get rid of.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 5:09PM
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Fori is not pleased

(Just do a fresh post for every picture or use old skool HTML and insert them all in one post. Either way is fine.)

You probably need the art supply cabinet. So this room is the TV room, library, office, homework room, puzzle room, and play room, right? (Doesn't look too bad when you take all that into consideration!) So you probably need all those tables in there I'm thinking.

Can you do a floorplan sketch with approximate measurements?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 5:23PM
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Wow, I would LOVE to have all those bookcases! And I definitely keep my books grouped by subject, not color. (But a lot of my gardening books are green...) About to make dinner, but will come back to this later.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 5:25PM
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If I'm looking at correctly, the only part of the room I don't see in photo would be the corner to the right of the TV. Looks like there might be another chair? Trying to match that corner to the entry to the room (that has a small closet next to it).

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 6:17PM
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Without thinking too hard I am going to throw out a crazy idea.

Move the TV to the other side of the room. Make the side with the fireplace more of a sitting/reading/socializing area and the side with the TV the place to watch (obviously) and also play, do little craft projects, etc.

I just feel visually confused with the FP and TV on the same level and so close together.

Anyway, that's my knee jerk thought, just trying to look at it another way. Others will have much better advice, I'm sure.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 6:48PM
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My first impression is to move the TV under the window to the left of the fireplace. Sofa would face TV, with fireplace on the right.

OR maybe mirror image of above on the wall to the right of existing TV (that's the part of the room I can't see).

Either way, the seating and TV are rotated 90-degrees.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 6:56PM
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love all the bookcases and am jealous of the size of the room as well!
though i am just like you and my shelves always look like that too. i've learned to put everything behind doors or fabric.
so here i'd collect cheapie long sheers from kmart or christmas tree shoppe. i can find a pair for under five bucks on sale occasionally. they are super useful, just hang them all in front of the bookcases and hope the cats don't shred them,lol.
i'd also find another place for the tv and keep the craft/homework/game stuff all on that end of the room in front of the fireplace.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 6:57PM
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I just have to say that it looks like a wonderfully rich environment for kids. But I think everyone would probably do and feel better with less clutter (visual and otherwise).

First thing I'd do is send that guy without a head to his room. Doesn't look like he can help much. I'd embrace the bookshelves as bookshelves and forget about deco stuff in them. Pretend it's a library. Can you hang the musical instruments on the wall (maybe by the closet) and free up more book space up high? I'd also move all the red boxes onto the lowest shelf or maybe 2nd lowest around the room, freeing up more room for books. Then I'd get more boxes for the lowest or second lowest shelves and get all the toys and kids' stuff you need to keep into them, labeled and out of sight.

Would it be possible to move the large table into the computer corner with the computer on one end and the other end for homework? Get rid of the littler table? That would free up some space by the fireplace.

Is mounting the tv over the fireplace out of the question? Not usually my favorite, but would really help you out for seating arrangements. Or could the TV go on the wall to the right of the one it's on so the couch could be floated the opposite direction from where it is now?

Think about some kind of other arrangement for all the little pics you have sitting about. Could you (someday) put them in similar/indentical frames and do an arrangement down a hallway, where people could actually look at them? Until then, maybe put them into an album to cut down on so many little things in the room?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 7:07PM
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Are there two blue sofas or just one?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 7:29PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

The book cases are great, except for the visual clutter it adds to the space. It's really overwhelming. Rather than arrange books by color or try to intersperse objects with the books, I would dedicate some of the bookcases to nothing but books... put those all together to give more of a library feel in one corner. Then get a round table (the square one will do temporarily) and put it away from the wall but in the library area and then get some chairs around it for kids/people to sit at to do your homework and/or gaming, etc. Ideally, you'd want a light fixture over the table. Even if you cable one temporarily, it would be good. It looks like if you slide that table away from the fireplace into that corner, across from the computer, there is a light fixture already above that area which could be swapped out for a pendant fixture.

That would leave room for a better seating arrangement near the fireplace. You can put a small love seat (maybe that green one in the picture for now) or a couple of chairs with a table in between with its back to the window. Then get a cross linking piece between the tv area and the fireplace area. This would be a low piece of furniture that can be used facing either the fireplace or the a backless sofa or even a long padded ottoman. As money allows, you may want to replace that sofa with one that has a chaise on that side. You would then have room for a low square table that can be a coffee table or a game table for the kids in front of the fireplace, especially if they have pillows to throw around and/or sit on.

Whatever you do to simplify the window treatment over the TV, do the same on the back wall.

The paint swatches of yellow look way too bright to me. The room is so busy now, that it needs some calm from the color you would add...think soft blue or green or a gentle beige.

It looks like you might have room for a sofa table behind the couch. if there is a floor outlet, that'd be a great place to add some lamps as the room could use some better lighting. What's nice is when the space under the sofa table is used to store some more ottomans which can be slid around for extra seating and have storage inside. These would be helpful as it seems there isn't enough seating around the computer table, and there's not a lot of room there.

Not sure what's going on behind the curtains...are those sliders out to the back?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 9:56PM
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Wow, you are all amazing! I'll try to reply to questions/comments:

1. Agree that there is too much clutter. Visual and physical!

2. I have thought about adding doors to the bookcases, but have been hesitant because of size. They were custom-made and not sure how that would work.

3. I can easily clear the mantel, and will do that right away.

4. Would love to remove curtains, but my mother likes them for privacy (she lives with me but generally doesn't care what I do with the family room except she feels "safer" with the curtains).

5. Space between window next to sliding glass doors is 36" floor to bottom of sill. TV is 26" and feel that would be too tight a squeeze and TV would be too low. Thoughts?

6. I have an area rug, but have waited to put it down because a) don't have non-skid pad and b) want to remove floor clutter.

7. TV and fireplace drive me crazy.

8. Can't put TV over fireplace because fireplace gets soooo hot and probably would damage TV.

9. Yes, this room is used for play, reading/library, art, homework, train table.

  1. I will move the pics above the TV. I so want to knock that built-in TV stand/case out. It's so awkward.

  2. Yes, one blue couch. Three seating chairs. One ottoman.

  3. I would LOVE floor outlets because I love the idea of a sofa table with lamps.

  4. Lighting in this room is poor during the day and worse at night.

  5. I have thought about moving that dining table to the library area and putting a pendant lamp above it.

  6. One big reason for not having painted this room is that because it's so dark, I've felt like yellow is the best color. I've thought about taupe, mushroom and light beige but wonder if that sort of shade would contribute to the dimness of the room.

  7. I feel like this room looks like a student apartment.


    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 10:21PM
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I think you do need to divide up the spaces into functional areas. Can the TV be placed on the side wall where the craft table is now? The entire corner could be set up for TV watching and cluster around the fireplace rather than having them both on one wall. I think that is your biggest problem - and since you say it drives you crazy I think you should fix it!

Remove the framing around the TV it boxes it in and there are plenty of boxy bookshelves already.

I don't think anyone meant you should leave the window bare, but perhaps another kind of window cover would look cleaner. The gathered in the center curtains add fuss and clutter. A simple roller shade would provide privacy and reduce the number of shapes in the room.

Move the craft table over to the library area and make it a game/reading/homework area. A pendant lamp above the table will help for lighting.

A rug can be used to hide cords for lamps, too!

Ikea has lots of ideas for dividing up spaces and storing things out of the way - for not much money.

I would not paint the room yellow, that will make it even more loud. I think a pale grey or blue-grey would be nice. How about BM Wedgewood Grey? I painted our bedroom this color and it is so relaxing and spa-like. It would go well with all the white in your room.

Here is BM Wedgewood grey in our bedroom (the room is not finished yet in this picture but it is a good representation of the color)

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 10:48PM
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Moved chairs into corner by fireplace and brought a little table to fit between. Not sure if it's too small. Problem with this area is when we bring wood in from sliding glass door, we track in chips, dirt and debris, so it's hard to put an area rug down. Guess that's what vacuum cleaners are for! Would love new cover for ottoman to match seat (both IKEA). Cleared mantel of most stuff, but couldn't rid it of mom's two antique irons and Gauguin prints.

The mirror I wanted to place above fireplace doesn't fit. Wanted mirror to reflect window opposite to add a bit of light.

Next up is the corner opposite fireplace where it was suggested I put homework/crafts/gaming dining room table.

Tinan, what a gorgeous room! Love the paint!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 12:35AM
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As suggested, moved table to other corner under light. Assume we can take that ugly fisheye light out and put in a pendant lamp.

Plan is to paint chairs the same color. They have matching cushions. Cleared window of curtain and pictures. Moved red box out so that we have books only (per suggestion that it be strictly library).

The train table used to be where that table is now, so I will put it behind the couch. The two youngest haven't outgrown it yet. :-)

Whew! I feel better already. I will do a little bit each day and will start a new thread to post new pics. Thank you so much for all of your suggestions! This has helped a lot. I've put cluttery stuff on craigslist as free or to sell cheap. I'll give them a week, then on to thrift store to donate.

Suggestions for tweaks? I will love them!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 12:41AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Looking better already!

You can look at lowes to get very inexpensive roller blinds to cover the windows in the bookcases as a temporary fix...esp if Mom needs the windows covered (i can understand that.)

When you get the pendant put in, make sure you know where you want the table and then regardless of where the base of the fixture is, you can swag it to get it over the center of the table.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 7:40AM
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Your newest assignment for an art project for you and the kids is old fashioned book covers like you used to do in school out of paper grocery sacks. You can buy a big roll of brown kraft paper for not very much money. Get a label maker with the clear tape. Make an assembly line out of it. One person start at one end of the room and take down a shelf of books, one person measure out the size needed for the kraft paper, one person to use an utility knife or X-acto to cut it out on a cutting mat (Older kid or adult), one person to make the label for the book, one person to wrap the book and apply the label.

Once you get all of the books uniform in the brown kraft paper covers, a LOT of the visual clutter will simply disappear. And you can now alphabetize the books by title or author or subject or however you want to do it. And your decorative items will show up against the uniform brown and white background.

I'd also consider painting the interior of the bookcases, as the too much white is also contributing to the visual noise by increasing the contrast level in the room. Color match the beautiful wood ceiling or choose a slightly darker color than the brown kraft paper so that most of the contents read as one harmonious color block.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 8:45AM
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Would turning the homework table with the long side parallel to the bookcases give you more open floor space?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 10:01AM
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Your books look great. They are not clutter, they are important tools. I would never try and defeat the purpose of books by arranging them by size and color or covering them for uniformity for the sake of "decor." The books themselves are beautiful, well used, and they belong on bookshelves.

You have the right idea by grouping them according to genre. I would not add the clutter of "things" to the bookcases just for the sake of
adding things. Your kids are lucky to be growing up in such a lovely, rich room, with a mom who understands the importance of books and creativity.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 10:10AM
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Great start! I'm impressed that you got so much done in such a short time. Just watch that homework improve!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 10:11AM
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I'm thinking this needs to be the dedicated library/craft room and you need to find another spot for TV viewing. A library with a nice sofa and fireplace is a classic look. It's the TV that's creating the awkward furniture arrangement. The only other solution would be to lower the mantle some and put the TV over the fireplace. That would unify the seating focal points of the room and then the other half could be the crafty section.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 11:16AM
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It's looking great! I bet you feel better already.

I see four "zones" in the room that you can make: TV/fireplace, play, homework, and office. For the TV/fireplace, I'd do what mjlb suggested "My first impression is to move the TV under the window to the left of the fireplace. Sofa would face TV, with fireplace on the right." The shelves around the fireplace and the mantle can be for display. Behind the sofa is where I would put the train table and make the play area. And I would place games and toys and kids book on those shelves. The homework area looks good. You just need a light over the table. I'd move reference books to this area. The office area is in the right spot, but I'd arrange all the office supplies in those storage boxes you have and arrange them neatly around the desk.

Get all your books where you want them and organize and arrange storage boxes so like is with like and all the shelves will take shape. Then you can decide where to add a few decorative accents or doors.

We have a room that is the kids' art room/library/homework area too and I love it, and most importantly, the kids love it too.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 12:47PM
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It definitely is looking better! Do you have a large painting you could place over the fireplace (something with color).... Window looks much better without the stripe curtain. Also, on the wall that has all the books, have you considered maybe placing one of the globes and maybe something else on a different shelf & then just move those books onto a different wall of shelves?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 1:18PM
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If you are looking for slipcovers for your Ikea furniture, have you looked at Bemz?

Here is another place, Knesting ottoman cover

Here is a link that might be useful: Bemz ottoman covers

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 8:23PM
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It looks much better already, for sure! I think the striped curtains, when closed, are too much pattern in a room already full of horizontal and vertical lines from the bookshelves. Perhaps solid curtains would be better, or keep the curtains but put a functional plain blind behind them to use for actually closing, and only have the curtains as side panels.

Ikea sells extra slipcovers for their furniture!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 10:17PM
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Thanks so much everyone, for the encouragement and great ideas! Looked at slipcover websites, then on a whim looked on ebay. Also looked at IKEA website. IKEA sells the standard white slipcover for EKTORP chair for $29.99. Found the beautiful red slipcover for chair and ottoman on ebay, both pieces for about the price of one slipcover on the bemz and knesting sites. HOWEVER, the patterns on the bemz and knesting sites are gorgeous! So will have to see.

I like the idea of installing a pendant lamp above table, then using a chain or swag(?) to move it above the table. I brought the huge atlas my dad gave me years ago and put it on the table, and my youngest pored through it. He loves the atlas but never has room to look at it! So that was nice.

So far, the kids LOVE the room!

Any thoughts on storage for art supplies? Right now they are in a three-drawer dresser and that wood cabinet thing in one of my earlier pics. Looking on craigslist for four-drawer dresser.

Someone had mentioned using the cabinet to the left of the fireplace for art supplies. Would love to, but 1) bottom is for firewood; 2) top currently stores board games; and 3) cabinet is deep, so would have to install drawers. Like the idea of installing drawers, so will look into that.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 11:46PM
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You can use Ikea drawers inside an existing cupboard if it's a similar size (if it's a little wider you can use wood pieces to fit them in).

We used to have an Ikea Ektorp sofa and we bought the cheap white slipcover and dyed it blue with Rit dye (from the drugstore) in a big commercial washing machine (at the laundromat). So you're not stuck with white! I stuck with the Ikea covers because they fit properly, different brands may not fit as well - and I don't think more patterns in that room would be helpful to making it look more orderly and calmer...

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 12:33AM
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You're doing a terrific job with the room. How lucky your kids are to be surrounded by books! If you enjoy having some of the books grouped by color and can find them when you need them, why not!? It's a great look. The rest (or all of them if you decide the color-grouping is too confusing) should be accessible just as they are, on open shelves without covers, IMO. They're a welcoming, enriching feature of this room.

Love the story about your son exploring your dad's old atlas!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 1:13AM
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I tried to quickly scan through. I don't know if someone made this suggestion yet. Can you put doors on your cabinets? We had open shelves on either side of our fireplace. I had my husband make doors for them. He made frames and covered the inside of the frame with cane. (we had to since they hold our tv components and I was afraid that they would melt down if no air got to them.)

But, you can get tons of different sized cabinet doors at the restore or something similar. With the ones my husband made, I just painted them and put them up with regular old hinges. They look pretty good. I was going with a more natural/coastal theme. So, they work well in here. Oh! I was thinking. If you have odd sizes (like we do) you could just have lowes cut you new doors out of that mdf and paint them. Just don't get really super thick mdf. It paints like a dream with a roller and you could get the odd sized cabs covered. Melamine doors if you don't want to paint.

But... you don't have to do all of your shelves. Maybe just the bottom half. It will break up some of the visual clutter. And, you can hide actual clutter (like we do!) which is really the main thing.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 1:27AM
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You've been given great advice on furniture placement, so I'll just tackle the books.

I'm glad you decided not to do the color arrangement of books. For serious readers that's the worst you could do in such a large room.

I'm taking a guess that the three shelves of books under the window are for children? Is there another place in the room to put them where they won't be a focal point?

Are there any shelves large enough to hold two storage boxes instead of putting one box per shelf? I notice you have red boxes too, so I'd find a place to put all the boxes together.

Of course it all depends on how tall and deep the shelves are.

What a fun "problem" to have!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 8:37AM
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I love bamboo blinds. I think they would look great on your smaller windows. Do you have a Lowe's nearby? They have all price ranges. If you don't mind roll-up shades rather than roman shades, you can get the roll-ups for about $12, or maybe a little more depending on your location.

Without the privacy liner, you can see through them, but someone would have to walk up to your house and stand with their nose to the window to do so.

Bravo! You are doing well! I admire your efforts!

Here is a link that might be useful: Lowe's bamboo blinds

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 8:40AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

The bookcase already looks so much better! Getting rid of small items can make such a difference. This is obviously a room used for many things and as so, I wouldn't change much- based on the #16 rule. You live here, do art, homework, read books, watch tv and as such the room needs to stay functional.
I would get rid of those small items on top of the window, the window snowflakes, any window decals and paint the chairs the same color. Get new pads if necessary.
Or find two matching ones and paint them. Something different for wt's on the sliding door.

The one thing that I think would make a huge difference if ever possible, would be new flooring. Even removing what you have, staining concrete or even, painting the existing floor.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 9:01AM
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This is probably OT and I apologize, but I noticed that you said you didn't want to put the TV above the mantel because it gets so hot.

Being a person who heats her house with a wood stove all winter, this concerns me.

If it is that hot, is your mantel made of wood? How close are the bookshelves, furniture and other combustibles to that fireplace insert? Repeated heating of combustibles lowers their ignition temperature significantly so over time, you could end up with a house fire.

We had to install a mantel shield (made by a local metal shop) to prevent our mantel from overheating as we did not have the necessary 36" (manufacturer spec) clearance from the top of the stove to the mantel.

Anyway, I think you've done a great job so far but really wanted to call your attention to that. And a great community to learn more about making your fireplace/insert safe is the forums at

Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: woodstoves and fireplaces forum

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 11:12AM
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Wow, that is a very busy room. Lots of activity. Lots of books :)

Declutter as best you can. Keep the "decor" to a minimum to make room for things that get used.

Forget the nonsense of arranging books by size and cover color or making paper covers for them. Just arrange them so you can find them fast and put them back easily. I suggest putting all your school books in one area (yours and the children's), all recreational reading in another, arranged however makes sense to you. Put books for younger kids on the lower shelves. Have one shelf reserved for "books to reshelve".

As close to the door as possible, set up a basket and shelf for each of you to corral the clutter that needs to go elsewhere.

Craft materials? In boxes or baskets on the shelves.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 8:53PM
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One idea ... make or buy some rolling crates and use them to corral the toys. Shove them under the coffee table. has a plan for a combo toybox and coffee table.

And if it fits with your children's age, make a rule that ALL toys and craft things have to be put back where they belong before bedtime or they will vanish for a while.

Make sure there is a space, and that the space is reachable by the shortest child. Even if they just toss them onto a basket on a shelf, it's less clutter.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 5:13PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Once upon a time, books were leather bound and only came in dark earthy shades like burgundy, brown, green and navy. Even if you had a huge library of books, it wasn't terribly inharmonious visually because of the limited palette. Today's printing inks and paper covers mean that books come in every shade of the rainbow and with patterns. That's a lot of visual noise. Which means that you need everything else in the room to be soothing solid colors. No large print slipcovers on sofas or chair or rugs.

I also think that painting the interior of the bookcases a color that would offer less contrast to the books would help. Or, instead of using kraft paper to cover the books, use it to cover foamboard or cardboard to fit behind the books on the shelves in order to lessen the contrast.

If above the TV is too hot for a TV, then your fireplace may need some attention from a chimney sweep to be sure it's in proper working order, and certainly your wood mantel would be an issue then.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 6:14PM
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I agree with the others about arranging your books. I place my books by category on the shelves. I have sewing books from years ago, craft books, gardening and fiction. I place them on the shelves by category & then I might group by color. I have a collection of Southern Living annual cookbooks and those are all on one shelf, etc. By doing this I immediately know where the book is that I want.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 7:32PM
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