Decorating around a baby grand piano in a small living room

ArlingtonVAremodelAugust 8, 2013

We are very fortunate to be receiving a baby grand piano that has been in DH's family since the 1950's. Technically it is an "apartment grand," which is just a smidge smaller than a baby. It's a Steinway, mid-tone wood, will need to be tuned but is in excellent condition on the outside. I am very excited to put it in my living room. It should arrive in a couple of weeks.

Our living room is small, and we're pretty confident in the layout (because there aren't too many options!). The piano will go in a corner (seat in corner with opening facing out into the room); on one side of the corner is the staircase to the second floor, and on the other there will be a wall of family photos -- probably black and whites in sepia tone to go with the piano.

I'm curious, however, about whether to put anything (framed photos? books?) on top of any part of the piano, at least when it's closed, and I'm leaning toward doing a tufted round ottoman tucked under the curved side. I've done some poking around on the Web for visuals of baby grand pianos and have seen some good stuff, especially on Houzz. However, most of those rooms are a bit larger and fancier than ours.

Does anyone here have a baby grand and, if so, would you mind telling me how you've decorated on/around it and, if possible, post a photo? Many thanks!

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Do put the seating piece in the curve, I agree.

The difficulty in decorating around a grand piano placed in a typical living space is that all the Mass is up off the ground, around seated head level and there is nothing but air underneath.

By placing seating that fits into the curve it compensates for all the negative space underneath the piano, and grounds the whole thing a little bit.

I personally prefer them with the lid up at least on the short prop, and nothing on them.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 9:34PM
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I'm rather a purist on this and perhaps I'm in the minority - but I feel a Steinway can stand on its own without extraneous decorations. You're fortunate that you can place it with the lid facing the room.
The tufted ottoman sounds interesting. What type of floor covering do you have in the living room - area rug, wall to wall, bare floor?

This post was edited by maire_cate on Thu, Aug 8, 13 at 22:07

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 9:38PM
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Thank you both for the responses!

Maire cate, I currently have a large area rug over a hardwood floor (my dog races to bark at the mailman every time he puts mail through the slot in the front door, which opens into the living room -- without the rug, the floor was quickly achieving a level of distress most colonial-era floors wouldn't even have by now!). If it turns out that the piano/ottoman situation just won't work with the rug, I might be able to scale back to something smaller or even a different shape, while still maintaining some level of protection against the hound and her nails. I'll have to see once the piano is in place.

Here is a Houzz photo of the tufted ottoman look. Of course, my piano will not be black, but you get the idea.

Traditional Spaces by Denver Architects & Designers Jill Cohen Interior Design LLC

Palimpsest, that is a very helpful explanation of why this look appealed to me, although I never could have articulated it.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 10:28PM
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We have a 6'3" grand in our living room . It is used many times a day as we both play and my DH has professional jazz piano gigs. That said we never have anything on the piano except music and nothing ever on the lid. The piano is kept open unless we are away. We have several rugs layered in the room for the sound control as we have 12 foot ceilings and wood floors. Our home is an 1890 Bungalow. We have only 2 chairs in the room as the piano is the main focus. The chairs are for reading or studying. We wouldn't have the ottoman as it would be in the way for walking and also we love the open space under the the pic above, the ottoman blocks the shape and grace of the instrument. c
I see that I don't have a current pic...I can take one tomorrow.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 11:35PM
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We have a small Kawai in our very small living room. Our couch was moved to our den/music room, and we have a loveseat and chair in the living room. Cramped, but it works.

We never put anything on the piano except for music and a lamp. The lid is sometimes closed, sometimes open all the way, normally open half way as in the photo.

The picture above our piano is too high, IMO, and the piano needs to be moved closer to the wall. We're planning on changing the flooring in the living room/dining room; we'll make those changes then.

Enjoy your Steinway! Lucky you!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 12:40AM
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Here's another view, from the dining room (also a small room).

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 12:43AM
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Thanks, trailrunner and wags! Very helpful.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 9:31AM
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Here are two pics from this AM...hope this helps. You are lucky to get such a wonderful instrument ! I hope that someone plays it or is planning on learning. A true gift. c

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 9:53AM
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Just want to say that I love the tufted ottoman with the grand piano -- the inspiration photo is lovely! :)

I also love the idea of keeping the top bare -- but perhaps adding a standing lamp behind/next to the player .... and perhaps an artwork on the walls?

No pianos here -- no talent at all -- just a true admirer of such a wonderful gift -- both the instrument and the player! :)

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 11:15AM
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Thank you again, trailrunner - that's a beautiful piano!

You asked whether someone plays or is learning. The piano we are getting was bought for my MIL by her parents when she was young. It lived in a Brooklyn third-floor walk-up apartment throughout her childhood and then moved with her when she got married and moved away. She's had it since then, but doesn't play it much. She still has the original bill of sale and a delivery letter from Steinway & Sons.

My 5 year old son has now been taking lessons for a year, and I used to play, from the time I was 4 until I graduated high school. My MIL is thrilled for her grandson to play her childhood piano. So my son and I are both very much looking forward to having this treasure in our home, and I am particularly excited to start playing again. Thanks to our addition/renovation, we now have space for it!

Thanks again for the feedback and photos - I'll post a pic once the piano has arrived and is settled in.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 5:58PM
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Teacats, thanks - any suggestions for a particular style of floor lamp? I wonder if I did that if I would still need a lamp on the piano to light the music?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 6:00PM
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I am so glad you shared your absolutely wonderful for you all. I hope you have many hours of enjoyment. About the lighting. You will note that we have a lamp sitting on the left side of the piano. You will find that there is no floor lamp that will adequately light the music/keyboard. You must have a lamp on the piano. A floor lamp has to have the shade tilted at such an angle that you don't get the light where you need it. If you Google piano lamps for grands you will find what you need . I look forward to seeing your pics when the piano arrives. I too started taking when I was 4..I am now 62 ! c

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 6:42PM
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The piano has arrived!

(In this very blurry iPhone photo, the room looks very white -- technically, BM Marscapone -- but the wall opposite is BM Espresso Bean, and the dining room that opens to it is Behr Mexican Chile.)
I would love any further thoughts that anyone has on what to around/near the piano. I do like it open (this is the lower setting; it can also open significantly more), so am strongly leaning against putting anything on it other than a lamp. Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 5:41PM
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What a beautiful addition to your home! Can you get the dog to sit up a bit and cock his head like the RCA Victor dog? That's all it needs... :)

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 1:12PM
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Beautiful !! c

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 2:01PM
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Thank you, trailrunner and bpathome! Bpathome - love the RCA dog reference :-)

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 10:05PM
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Did you find a round ottoman?

I've been searching for one to do the same thing as you. I would like it tufted and maybe even skirted. I think if it has legs, there will be too many "legs" (piano legs + ottoman)

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 2:26PM
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Holly- Kay

It's beautiful! How lucky you are to have it.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 4:07PM
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Just lovely! And the wood tone of the piano is perfect for your carpet / rug! You may want to find a standing lamp to go in the corner that casts light over the player's shoulder, in conjunction with a small focused lamp that illuminates the music itself. The former would shed light on the keyboard as well as an additional source of light for the music.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 4:34PM
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