Help a (Clueless) Guy Decorate his Small 1930s Living Room

911fanSeptember 27, 2012

Hi Everyone,

Great forum here and I was hoping you could steer me in the right direction in regards to design and inspiration�.

I�m a 30 year old guy who just bought his first home � it�s a3 level all brick end unit townhouse built in 1935 right under 1200 square feet. I love the character of the home with original hardwoods and fireplaces, however due to the small footprint and it being built in the 30s the rooms are pretty small. Also, due to that fact there are a lot of walls that I can�t use to anchor furniture due to doorways or fireplaces. I know that it can be a showstopper in the right hand but as this is my first place (and using a guy�s eye to design) it�s hard for me to envision.

The room I�m having the hardest time with is the living room which is 11 x 13 with an exterior door on one wall, a fireplace on another and an entrance to the dining room on the 3rd. As such, I have NO IDEA how to decorate the small space and its driving me nuts!! I�ve attached a layout of the first floor below and was hoping someone could help with lay-out and furniture. I�d like to do something that looks correct in the older style home because I love the character but am trying to stay away from anything too antique looking, I�d like comfortable, classic style (picture a less over the top Ralph Lauren Brookfield vibe). Any pics would be great as I�m still having a hard time picturing.

Anyway, ramblings aside HELP!!!


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One more layout for good measure

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 3:06PM
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And one more....

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 3:11PM
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Do you plan to put a TV in the room?

Just realizing that you need to be careful with the size of the furniture puts you ahead in this process.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 3:15PM
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As of now I don't think I want a TV in the room, I was playing with the idea of built-ins next to the fireplace and a small TV there however I want to keep the fireplace as a focal point.

Also, that furniture is gone as it was the previous owners - its now a completely blank slate (for better or worse! haha!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 3:20PM
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Let's see:

The RL Brookfield collection is indeed a classic English country house ....

Soooo ... in order to seat a number of people in a cozy "circle" ....

How about a dark brown leather sectional (with dark brass tacks) -- one with quite clean lines -- in the corner. Add a tufted ottoman in front of it (with sturdy trays to hold drinks) Place a tall thin floor lamp behind the corner of the sectional.

Then add a couple of smaller clean-lined wing chairs on each side of the window. Add a small thin cabinet between them to hold the bar. Place a lamp on the cabinet.

After playing with the furniture (this is where inches and angles count!) -- and seeing how the arrangement works for you -- then invest in an oriental-style rug to add visual texture, color and warmth to the room.

Yes -- after living in the room/s for awhile -- consider custom-built white-painted shelving around the fireplace and its windows. Rooms do tend to be more used if there is an option to watch TV .... just a thought!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 3:48PM
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Teacats - thanks

Do you think I should be concerned about keeping the floor plan with defined traffic areas? Also, were you referring to the corner on the same wall as the dining room and the steps on the other side? I'm not sure it's big enough since the whole room is only 11 x 13.

I never realized this would be so tricky!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 3:58PM
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Are these your things in the room already?
It's a lovely house. But I'd be careful about getting too enamored of English country house style. Those houses are enormous. However, you can certainly bring the warmth and patina of old things into the room to make it feel timeless.

I agree with teacats about a sectional in the corner, and I think it should be as big as you can fit in. In your small space, I'd be more inclined to keep it lighter in color. You could do a traditional stripe, or if you like leather, a butterscotch/saddle color rather than dark brown, which I think might dominate too much.

A generous ottoman, or a pair of them which you could move around, with good-looking mahogany trays to serve as the place to put a drink down, would work. I'd use wall lamps to illuminate that corner.

I'd put comfy club chairs rather than wing chairs, to keep from calling attention to the 8' ceiling with a too tall back, and I'd put them on either side of the fireplace, to keep the circulation through the room from front door in and past into the dining room. I think a chair of any substance to the left of the window would be in the way. Those chairs might be upholstered in a tartan with a light field, or in khaki with dark navy welting.

This is one of those small rooms that needs big (not overstuffed or overscaled) furnishings. Otherwise, you run the risk of making a Smurf house.

I also think building our around the fireplace is a fine idea. I have never had a television in my living rooms, and I wholeheartedly support that idea! You could take off that mantel shelf to allow you to build straight up, and replace it with a substantial chestnut beam that stops at the sides of the brick. Then you could take the shelving right straight up to window sills, keeping them at 11" deep up to table height, where you could put a pair of lamps, and stepping back to 9" above.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 4:17PM
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brownysmom - thank you! No these items are not in the room anymore. I took the picture during the open house because I like the "vibe" for lack of a better word. One thing that was left was the long table under the mirror so I have that to work around it I'd like. If you could, expand on what you mean by the chestnut beam and shelves? I'm not quite sure I follow.

Interesting though that you and Teacats are embracing what I thought was somewhat of a lost corner since it was so small. I'm going to take some measurements to see if its at all realistic to find a sectional. One thing I've found with these forums is the need to drop my assumptions and preconceived notions on where things should be placed.

On a side note, what do you two think if the picture molding? I've always lived in houses with crown molding through-out and find it a bit dull although period correct....

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 4:35PM
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Congratulations on your new home! It looks like it's in great condition, and I love all the natural light you have inside from being an end unit.

Have you looked on for ideas? I just love that site for inspiration. I saw something there the other day that reminded me of your fireplace and windows, especially since you're thinking of built-ins on either side. After you open this link, also look at the photos on the right under "People who liked this photo also liked." The windows on either side of your fireplace are very much like those in a Craftsman bungalow, so you can search for more ideas under that heading. You don't have to go with that style of decorating, just look at furniture placement, etc.

Here is a link that might be useful: fireplace and attached bookcases

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 4:35PM
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When you subtract the door from the wall, your room is more like 10x11, than 13x11. What are the dimensions in the dining room?

A few options come to mind:

Depending on its size, I would consider reversing room usage. You could have round table near fireplace with a couple of comfy chairs, and a few light weight chairs around the room. The dining room seems to offer more wall space for sofa (although you didn't draw the windows, so maybe not?)

You've also probably seen photos of living rooms with 4 comfy chairs grouped near fireplace, rather than a sofa -- that would be a possibility too.

Lastly, have you considered widening the opening between living and dining room? That might buy you some flexibility for furniture arrangement.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 4:40PM
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Chickadee - what a great site. The doors and drawers on the sides of the fireplace are a great touch. I'll have to dig down deeper but thats certainly along the lines of what I was thinking.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 4:41PM
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MJLB - The dining room is 9 x 11 with a window on both exterior walls. Its not going to be an option though to use that for seating as I'm in the process of ripping out the wall between that and the kitchen to open everything up. My Italian side of me needs a good place to feed everyone! That said, I would be OK with expanding the door way between the two rooms so I'd certainly entertain that possibility.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 4:49PM
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This is from houzz... I could see a similar furniture layout for you: sofa on wall opposite window; chair and ottoman to left of fireplace; tv on staircase wall.

Traditional Living Room design

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 4:50PM
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Chickadee that could work - although I might have to move the sofa to the wall under the window since its the only one long enough then the chair to the right of the fireplace.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 4:59PM
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I think you'd have to reverse mjlb's idea, to keep from running the sofa in front of the door to the dining room. But with the sofa under the window, it could work.

But I still like the idea of a sectional wrapping the corner (staircase and interior wall). If it's too tight, a sofa with a chaise as the right hand seat might work.

Imagine an aged, stained 9" X 9" X the-width-of-the-brick-part beam of old chestnut or some other sturdy wood replacing the mantel shelf. You get the turned back corners of the current mantel shelf out of the way. Then you add built-in bookcases from the side wall to the brick surround on both sides.

For the built-ins I imagined, the depth of the shelves would be 11" up to the height of 29" or 30" (standard table height), and the shelves above up to the windowsill would be 9" deep, which gives them more interest, allows you a little surface near the chairs, and doesn't push too far into the space. The beam is a stronger look, rather than the delicate shelf that's there now.

Is that clearer?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 5:13PM
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What a beautiful home! I think you have a few layout options. And you're definitely ahead of the game thinking about layout and furniture size before buying.

I do like the idea of a small-scale sectional. I think an orientation against the corner between the stair wall and the dining room wall would be nice. You could put some chairs flanking the fireplace.

Alternatively, I think a sofa under the window or a small sofa against the stair wall would be nice. You could then add chairs across to straddle the fireplace or the doorway.

I would definitely include a rug to tie the space together as the previous owners did. And then certainly some occasional tables, though you'll have to be careful about placement and size to make certain they don't interfere with the traffic path from the stairs and the door to the rest of the living space.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 6:01PM
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Wow great ideas everyone - PLEASE keep them coming! So I came home and measured the corner where the sectional was suggested and its 8 x 7 - 8 feet from the corner to the banister and then 7 feet from the corner to the opening for the dining room. I'm coming around to the idea.

One thing thats tripping me up is the idea of opening the front door right into a sectional. For some odd reason it screams frat house to me (without tipping my hand about me past too much...). Can this be done tastefully?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 6:57PM
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Brownysmom - that does make more sense about the mantle, I think I need to find an example of one similar so I can start getting the gears turning. I'm coming around to the sectional idea as well, I just need to determine if it would be practical since this room will also be where guests are received.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 7:14PM
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I don't like the idea of walking into a house and being greeting by the orphaned feet of a chaise longue that's part of a sectional. Possibly a full and somewhat more traditional sectional would work, if it left room for an end/lamp table by the door, which could also serve as your hall table, in a sense.

I do agree to steer clear of the overstuffed look. If this is a '30s house then it's the age of Deco and the very dawn of modernity. Not to say you have to do a Deco house at all--your house isn't Deco--but something a bit lighter and more streamlined would feel more at home in such a small space.

Where you could give a nod to Deco is with a club chair, as someone astutely mentioned above.

Remember in your furniture placement that a good lounge chair and ottoman can be made to use up a nice long area of space when needed, when you want to make conversational groupings tighter.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 8:11PM
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Marcolo - thanks, I like that chair whatever the style. I'm going to play around online to see what sort of smaller sectionals I can find. Great advice everyone, I really do appreciate it!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 9:09PM
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Congratulations on your new house! From the pictures you posted it looks just lovely.

I find it's easiest to start with some good inspiration photos. Color is one of the hardest things about decorating and when you find photos you love, then the color schemes are all picked out for you, often by professional decorators. You can also get a feel for the size of furniture as well as styles appropriate to a room. You can never copy any room precisely no matter how much you try so don't worry about that, and you'll put your own personality into things as you go.

If you're on a budget, keep your eye on Craigslist as well as your local thrift stores and garage sales. You can find some really cool stuff either in pristine condition or needing just a little elbow grease.

We have a Gallery attached to this board. You can find it from the main board page with a link at bottom center, and at top right just above all the posts.

Once in the Gallery, you can do a search of that board only (at the bottom of the page) and try searching on room names, i.e. bathrooms, living rooms, bedrooms, foyers, and sometimes special areas like fireplaces have their own threads too. The Fireplaces thread might have great ideas for you if you're considering doing some built in work around yours. There are kazillions of photos in the Gallery.

Also be sure to try the "Cottage Decor" thread because it's fabulous, from the very expensive to on-a-shoestring. Tons of great ideas there. Some is very feminine but some is quite masculine too.

I like to consult the Gallery if I have a specific question too, like what kind of drapes would look good, or what on earth do people put on their coffee tables? You can come up with loads of good ideas very quickly.

Here is a link that might be useful: Here is the link to the Living Rooms thread for you

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 9:42PM
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possible smaller sectional -- clean lines and neat squared arms .... might work!

Here is a link that might be useful: PB -- small sectional

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 10:49PM
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Check out Ethan Allen's website. At the top of the page click on the heading "Design and Inspiration" and go to their 2D room planner. You can play around with furniture placement on there. There are other sites like that with 3D planning, but I could never figure them out. You can also get brown craft paper, cut it to the size of the furniture pieces and lay it down to see how much floor space you're using up.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 1:05AM
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MJLB's pic immediately brought to mind the famous "Zuzu's Room" for a different arrangement. Much too feminine for you, but a good layout for the room. HTH.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 4:42AM
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I wonder if your room was staged for selling or did they really live with it that way? The pictures have it staged to be a hall way it seems. You have some great ideas to get started with here. Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 6:11AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I understand what Bronwynsmom was saying about not ending up with a smurf house, but it's going to be difficult for you to find modern furniture that won't seem oversized in your room. I've seen so many rooms with great potential that are blown because the furniture was designed for a mc mansion and not an older, smaller home. So, measure, measure, measure. And just because it fits, doesn't mean it will be the right want furniture that leaves some breathing space too. Look for apartment furniture lines as they tend to have smaller scale stuff that might work better for you.

Perhaps an upholstered chair to the left of the fireplace and a small wooden arm chair on the right of the fireplace so you don't block the dr entry, then float a love seat/sofa facing the fireplace with a narrow bookcase behind, to help define a bit more of an entry space and to encourage the traffic to flow around the conversation area rather than through it. It will give you a place to put lamps without end table and it will help separate the entry from the rest of the LR.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 10:10AM
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I agree that the seller's furnishings treated the room like they didn't know what to do with it or didn't use it for more than a hallway. I am afraid putting a sectional in the stairwell corner would be as bad or worse. You want to sit around that fireplace, not look at it from a distance.

I have seen built-ins around a fireplace in homes of similar age. I would take them up tot he mantel height and you could hide a flat panel TV where a tube one would not have worked. A TV could also go above the mantel disguised behind a mirror or painting that slides off to the side(perhaps I have seen one that shines through -- like a car wrap window treatment?)

What use will you want the room to have and what will make you want to come into it with guests? Are you more formal or casual? Will you and the guys want to watch football or other TV (then those built-ins or hiding a TV become an important part of the design)? Are you more likely to be sipping cocktails and having conversation? Are you a poker or bridge (or other card/board games) guy? Does the room need to serve a second purpose (work station, occasional guest sleeping, expanded dining for larger dinner parties? Do you just need a place for 4-6 people to sit? What do you want the room to do for you? That's your starting point, keeping your fireplace as a focal point plays with along with that.

I like sectionals, but you will find few that will work in a smaller room. Be careful to check all the measurements. If you like that look, don't put the sectional in the stairwell corner. That makes the middle of the room a hallway and orphans the fireplace worse than it is now with the chairs in the corners because you can't pull it up closer and you will want to sit closer to the fireplace. You would probably need to work off the front wall under the window and across the room without blocking the traffic. The lang table could go behind one side of the sectional.

The club room look could also work very well for you -- four comfy chairs (leather or a more masculine fabric) and a round table. You can even find a table that can be raised or lowered so that it serves as a coffee table for everyday but can be raised to dining height for more dining space, a change of pace from the dining room, or card or board games -- even double duty as a work space if you need it on occasion.

I'd look at adding a couple of chairs and a table or bookshelf in the stairwell corner and making that a second conversation area or reading nook.

Start by thinking about how you envision the room being used and what purposes it needs to fill, then the feeling you want to enhance those purposes, and build around those ideas.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 10:32AM
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I usually think lascatx is right on the money, but this time I do disagree - I don't think a room must be centered on a fireplace. Sitting by it can be as nice as sitting in front of it, and the room is small enough that a sectional like the PB one recommended above wouldn't look orphaned.

Stubborn me.

Actually, that's what we did in a long rectangular room that we built as the library (and that you've seen eighty-two zillion times...). We used a light colored sectional in the corner, and two chairs by the hearth, and we loved it.

Our room was larger, but by the time we set the old secretary where your staircase wall is, and added a table at the other end of the sectional (which was longer than yours would be), and took up two feet of the width of the room and two feet on both sides at the fireplace end with cabinetry, we had a very similar proportion of space.

If you can bear to see that room yet again...our entry hall was to the right of the sectional, like yours, and the doorway to our dining room was in the same position as yours, to the right of the club chairs, and there was about three and a half feet of walking space between that round table and the club chair...if I'd shifted the camera a whisper to the right, you'd have seen the far edge of that round table.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 10:57AM
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I came across this sectional this morning and thought of this thread. I don't know your budget but this is a really good buy and I've dealt with them before. Read the reviews on it.

Here is a link that might be useful: sectional

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 11:14AM
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browynsmom: Let me state for the record that I could look at your rooms again and again .... !!! :)

Yes -- that style of sectional (in the pale color OR in a dark toned leather) would work so well in the OP's room .... and on the OP's window wall -- either a matching loveseat OR a chair (or two - depending on shape and size) with a cabinet .....

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 11:14AM
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Wow - I must say, I am extremely glad that I posted here as its making me think in layers far deeper than "hmmm that corner is 9x7, can I stick a sectional there?". I must admit I like the idea of some sort of sofa and sectional, as pretty as a few club chairs could be I'm a sofa guy - perhaps I need to look at more pictures to find something in that style that speaks to me as right now I just envision a card room off of the men's locker room at a country club.

However to answer a few more questions to put this into context:

- Although a TV would be nice, I have a basement with a heavy section more for lounging with a glass of wine and curling up for football. The TV would serve more as background noise as I prepared breakfast or cooked dinner. I'd also like to use it as a means for music as I cooked or ate dinner
- I see this as more of a sitting area than a full TV room, I want it to be somewhere I walk into and feel warm and at home - while its not a primary TV room, I'd like something comfy enough to lounge in with the dog when I'm banished during the "real Housewives of yada yada yada".
- Finally this room doesnt need a purpose beyond those, the rest of the home is functional enough to make it work.

All in all, this is greatly helpful and we're getting closer to a match. I love the palettes suggested and the furniture seems to fit my vision

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 11:18AM
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A room doesn't have to be centered on a fireplace, but it is an obvious focal point for both this room and your library, brownysmom. Your rooms also have some significant differences. For starters, the placement of the OP's dining room door gives much less depth for placing anything before you have to worry about traffic patterns. The stairwell and entry are more open to the OP's LR, which makes seating near the door less inviting. I don't know if your built-ins were already there or if you added them, but they are a huge difference. And then I see the use of the space for a 30 year old guy differently than I would for a family or more established homeowner (not sure of your situation, but your room, lovely as it is, doesn't say 30 something or young single guy to me).

The OP also said he wanted the fireplace to be a focal point, and while it's not the only way to play a room, it rarely seems to be a wrong one. You actually did it too, even though it isn't your only seating area. ;-)

Anyway, it's not my idea or your idea that matters as much as giving the OP lots of ideas to help him find what fits his purposes. We've done that.

Now, I'm sure it's been posted somewhere else, but mind me asking what your wall color is? I need to repaint my entry and LER and am looking in that general direction. Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 11:41AM
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911fan, you posted while I was typing. Sounds like you need music more than a TV, and something as simple as an ipod and quality speakers can accomplish that for you in most any room. You can even get a system that will allow you to play the music in any of those rooms without blasting it from another room.

As you can tell, I am in Texas, and we don't have basements so the ground floor is most often the general living space. The only basement I saw growing up had a piano and sleeper sofa where we were sent to be out of the way and a laundry/storage area that was not at all inviting. I forget people have basements, much less live there. :D

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 11:46AM
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OK - I have my initial marching orders and am going to start scouring flea markets & estate sales this weekend to see what I can find. On a silly note - is there a common thread running through all these different designs that have been posted? I like them all and they seem to fit my vision however if someone asked me "whats your style?", I'd have no idea what the style is called. Is this traditional?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 12:24PM
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Lascatx, the color is Martin Senour's Spiderweb, and the ceiling is their Peach Tulle, with a now defunct Fuller O'Brien trim and cabinet color called Bleached Ivory. Similar B. Moore colors are Ivory Tusk and Honied White (which I can never mention without complaining that it ought to be spelled "honeyed...").

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 1:13PM
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Yes, it's traditional, but there are many traditions!
I think you might be liking the classic American well-to-do country or village house - which has English aspects, but with a colonial bent.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 1:22PM
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OK again - this has been invaluably helpful and after measuring again and again and looking at the traffic patterns plus how I know the room flows I think I've come up with a tentative design idea. Please be as critical as you'd like, I've got thick skin.

I was thinking on the wall under the window a smaller sectional with a sofa table behind to create an entrance way when you walk in. I'm picturing a lamp on each end of the table to create a visual divide from the space. In the corner off the wall the stairs are on, a chest high server or bar which I could fix drinks or grab a cigar (I'm picturing a beefed up secretary's desk). Next to that wall a collection of photos, I've always collected old maps so I could arrange them here flanked by sconces on each side. Perhaps chair railing under to help balance the heaviness of the map collection and sconces. In front of the couch I'd like a heavy tufted leather ottoman where I can set drinks - the kind the more you beat up the better it looks. Built-ins on each side of the fireplace.

Thoughts? My only concern is lack of balance with everything being set on one side of the room to save the traffic pattern. Also, I'd love a leather winged-back chair but the space is so small, it reads larger on the photos I posted due the the fish eye lenses.

Although its not as English country house as I originally imagined I think I can accomplish a happy medium with the right accent pieces and a heavy plaid throw or something of the like....

Please tear this design apart haha!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 2:12PM
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I'm going to keep my eyes out for a light blue or tan oriental rug as well. After playing with the Ethan Allen room designer, it looks as though my design above might be too heavy on the one side of the room.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 3:58PM
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I think that's a fine idea!

Using a sectional to create an entryway is a good way to manipulate the space - I'm assuming you mean a table not along the window wall behind, but in front of you as you walk in? A slender desk table would be great - you could put your mail and keys down, keep stamps and the tip envelope for the pizza and Chinese food delivery guys (you do have those, don't you??) and your tickets to the ball game and things of that ilk in the drawers.

Google "writing table" and look at images to see a bunch of styles.

Here's a great old art deco bar for you. It's shown open - the top raises and the front drops down to reveal bar tools fitted in, and room for all sorts of doo dads. We have one, and it works great!

And hang a zippy stylish mirror over your bar chest, with a wall lamp on the adjacent wall but close to the corner, to mitigate the dead end feeling you can get in a corner.

Here are some mirrors:
A federa-style square -

A sort of Asian-inspired thing:

...and a nutty stick thing, if you are in the mood for a little over the top style:

If you leave off the bookcases, you can run the sectional up pretty close to the hearth, with just a table between the end of it and the window wall, which could hold a nice fat lamp and a martini...and then a chair in the other corner that has all its bulk allocated to the seat and not the arms, so you can be comfortable but still get by it.

Like this style:

or something sort of British tropical colonial, like one of these:

Okay - I'm through being the big buttinski-mother-person that you don't need one of...!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 4:27PM
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I did a search for club chairs earlier on Houzz and found this sofa/club chair combination that has some similarities to your room.

Traditional Living Room design by Minneapolis Interior Designer Design By Lisa
Check out the windows and built-ins flanking the fireplace. Note how window treatments carry the line all the way around the room. You can't see the doorway, but you can imagine that there is one right behind the lighter side chair pulled up for an extra seat and a bit of balance. The chairs under the window and the sofa facing the fireplace helps balance the weight too. The sofa under the window could make it heavier on that side. Consider color and pattern too -- they help balance things visually.

I like your bar idea too (not the cigars, sorry -- hated the smoke even before starting to see my dad go through pulmonary fibrosis and dementia caused by the lack of oxygen, and he stopped smoking 20 years ago). Keep your eye and mind open and a buffet, secretary or even a smallish armoire might make a great find.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 4:37PM
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Sounds like an excellent decor plan -- I'm a big fan of antique and vintage bars (and martinis)! (LOL!)

Plus you MIGHT hold a wonderful classic film night party to celebrate -- watching the brillant "Nick & Nora" mystery series -- and music, drinks and cigars upstairs!

Do post more photos as you decorate -- always fun to see a room evolve! :)

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 6:50PM
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Everyone - thank you so much, this has been absolutely wonderful. I have my ideas swirling and now I'm just going to keep my eyes peeled over the months to find the gems here and there at flea markets and yard sales - honestly thats the best part!

After the last pic lascatx posted thats my design plan and I'll just play with the weights and colors to make sure it comes together correctly so I know I'll have more questions.

Also, on a personal note to Lascatex I'm sorry to hear about your father and meant no disresect, at the end of the day I'm more of a fan of the looks of a humidor in a room than the contents.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 12:11PM
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Yes, I agree that Lascatx's plan is perfect for you.

Have a ball! I envy you, sort of...starting out and scouting is so much fun, and it sounds like you are doing it just right - holding out for one good thing at a time, rather than rushing to completion.

And please give us progress reports!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 12:18PM
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Congrats on your new home. I love's charming.

The kitchen wall (where the stairs are)-- what's on that wall, on the kitchen side? The first thing I thought of was that you need to make a opening (right next to the steps on that wall -- going into the kitchen.
It could be a small opening (not to loose wall space)24-28" wide. I could also have a French Door
that opens onto the wall by the stairs.

If this is doable, it save you from having to walk through
the LR and DR to get to the kitchen as it provides a clear path to the kitchen from the front door...also nice cross
ventelation...Could you show us some kitchen pic's?

Brownysmom...I love your style of decorating, it's inspirational.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 12:32PM
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Cliff and Joan - unfortunately thats not doable as it backs to the fridge etc. Currently the kitchen is ripped out and in the process of a never ending reno. However, here is a pic of what it will look like. Since the townhouses all have the same floor plan it was easy to pic and choose the best components in each kitchen:

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 12:50PM
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Thank you. I'm touched that you say so.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 1:32PM
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911fan, no offense taken, and non intended by my comment. I probably should have left the aside out, but my father is being very difficult right now and I beyond my limits.

On a better note, I am glad you have a plan. As you find your furniture pieces, things could shift but you have several basic layout approaches that will work for that room to start with. If you go with chairs and a sofa, you will have some added versatility over a sectional. That was something I meant to mention before -- this looks like the room where a Christmas tree might go, and if you prefer a tree at the front window a sectional on that side of the room could make it very difficult or impossible. With a pair of chairs, you might be able to leave on on the window wall, and rearrange the others. Anyway, if that will be a Christmas tree room, do consider how you will deal with the seasonal change.

Good luck and have fun pulling it all together. I second bronwynsmom (who does have a warm and classic style -- I remember the peach ceiling now) about a certain amount of envy. Enjoy the process and your new home.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 10:33AM
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Love the pic lascatx posted. It's cozy, versatile, and provides a traffic pattern around the room, rather than through it. A server or bar in the corner would be perfect for that spot!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 10:52AM
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Well after a weekend of searching high and low a starting point, I think I have found a nice bachelor's chest to use as a bar against one wall. The price literally couldn't be beat (free) and after looking through antique stores all weekend I like the clean sturdy lines of this far better. Here is our first bit of progress - let me know how everyone likes it:

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 10:34PM
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Next (since I dont know how to post multiple pictures in a post) here is the large loveseat I think I may use. It's about 72" long so it should be comfortable enough for 2 people and again at $100 if I hate it 6 months from now I can get rid of it without feeling like I have to endure it for a few years.

Next I need to find a leather ottoman which is proving to be somewhat harder than expected, even online I can't exactly find something to match what I'm picturing in my head...all the leather ottomans I find look so new and lacking of character - I'm playing with the idea of finding a shape I like and then trying to reupholster it myself with some nice distressed leather although I doubt I'd be able to tuft it well. Oh well, we shall see.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 10:41PM
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Oh my gosh! That chest is so similar to one my parents have from their early marriage years. I think my dad bought it for their first anniversary or Christmas together. Theirs has pullout supports on the sides of the drawer, then the top opens up for a serving area with what I believe is a stone (maybe black marble or granite) inlay. That sucker is heavy! My dad didn't have the movers take it and then decided he wanted it after my brother left town. DH and I had to move it, and I think it may have been the heaviest piece in the whole move.

It is a beautiful piece and a great price. Looks like it is in really good shape too. It can also be a versatile piece and serve in many rooms down the road. Nice find.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 10:46PM
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Progress! I decided against the couches seen above - I thought the pictures weren't taken well and I'd be able to "tighten" them up. However that turned out not to be the case. I ended up getting a big loveseat and arm chair from Crate and Barrel in a sage green velvet. The lines are pretty clean and its a standard rolled arm. I'm not crazy on the idea of having a matching chair and loveseat but I suppose I can always reupholster and know the shape will still match.

Next, I need to work on finding a good ottoman and chair. I've been searching Houzz high and low.

Here are a few questions. Do you think the cherry wood of the chest will end up matching the sage green couches? And next, what color rug? I'm picturing a tanish-beige oriental rug....

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 3:43PM
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Do you have a picture of the sage green color? I don't think there will be a problem clashing with the chest. Are you repainting the room? It's easier to match a paint color to the rug than vice a versa so get your rug first. If you think you'll be working with various paint colors throughout the house, buying the fan decks from the paint company you'll be using is a good investment. It will save you some trips to the paint store, and you can take them with you when you shop for curtains and bedding, etc. Most people on this sight refer to Benjamin and Moore and Sherwin Williams paints the most, and when someone suggests a paint color to you, it's nice to have the paint chips on hand. Another website for you to check out is You can "pin" pictures from other websites to your board there. Did you remove the oriental runner going up the stairs? Did you get a fabric swatch of your sofa fabric? Ask them for one if you didn't.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 7:28PM
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I have only read your original question and scattered responses, so I may be out of turn, but here goes. I would remove that area rug (it may be gone) and the stair runner. I think that it overwhelms the space and takes over the decorating scheme. And, yes, cherrywood with sage is beautiful. Good luck.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 9:21PM
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Hi Everyone!

Well its been a long road thus far and I thought that I would update everyone on my progress. Its been interesting though since I realize now where I have ended up is no where near the place I started in terms of design! Oh well - it all started with some antique lamps I saw and fell in love with and they provided the inspiration of my work in progress.

What you see here has been pieced together from Craigslist primarily with a few fleamarkets here in there. I'm still trying to find the right ottoman and need a TV for over the fireplace (I gave in!). Anyway, since its slow and everyone was SO nice here I wanted to update the progress.

A few questions abound so again I throw myself to the sage advice for the GW forum. namely I'm still trying to figure out the following:

1) Window coverings? I am ABSOLUTELY clueless about what to get...I dont even know where you buy them. Any thoughts?

2) I'm (think?) keeping the long table with the mirror over but am at a loss of how to decorate. The green lamp thats currently there is going to find a new home when I determine how to decorate that side table.

3)What to use as a coffee table?!? Its SUCH a small room that decorating has been a challenge and most coffee tables are too large of a scale. I found that trunk and it fits although I don't love it...I feel like its too visually heavy for such a small room. I'd still like to find a cocktail ottoman but ugh, good luck finding one that works. I'd love to hear thoughts here too.

Oh and the last pic is my new co-decorator Scout.

Thanks everyone!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 8:25PM
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Another pic

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 8:28PM
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still dont know how to post multiple images

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 8:29PM
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Oh and feel free to lay on harsh criticism - I intentionally bought Craigslist stuff so I could toss the components that didnt quite work guilt free!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 8:32PM
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It looks very comfortable and cozy!

Where is the chest you bought that you were going to use as a bar?

I know I'm not going to be a lot of help, but I do have one thought: why not put the tv where the mirror is? Either mount it in place of the mirror, or a piece of furniture to house the tv and components would be nice too. The way your room is arranged, watching tv above the fireplace will only be comfortable for the person in the chair.

If you are set on the TV above the fireplace, then maybe rotate your furniture so the sofa faces the fireplace. And then you can use the long table as a sofa table behind the sofa.

I think a round ottoman would be nice as a coffee table. It would break up all the square angles of the room.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 8:53PM
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Thats not a bad idea - I like the round ottoman idea. I had to sell the chest. It was a too deep and screwed up the traffic pattern so as much as I loved it, I had to get rid of it.

The room is sooooo small it s really a challenge not overpowering it.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 9:05PM
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Any one else care to chime in:)

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 10:36AM
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Love your house-- gorgeous. Only suggestion would be a bigger rug. As far as a coffee table, you might think of 2 sets of nesting tables with legs. That would be lighter (see through the legs) and give you a lot of flexibility.

I know what you mean about visualizing something and not being able to find it. This happens often with me and it is frustrating!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 10:37AM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

Looking good and I too would have fallen in love with the lamps. I've enjoyed your posts and seeing how things have come together for you.

Have you maybe scouted some antique/collector malls and shops for a table or something to repurpose as a table? Possibly something like an old cobblers bench coffee table?

Here is a link that might be useful: Google images - cobblers bench coffee table

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 12:01PM
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Chemocurl - No, but thats a great idea! Thats exactly the type of advice I need since I literally have no idea what I'm doing haha!

Maybe I will try a bigger rug too. I thought that was the right size to define the area of the room but it is somewhat uneven.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 1:13PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

The link below shows a repurposed item for a table. Browsing antique malls and thrift stores might give you other ideas of something that with some legs added by a woodworker, would be perfect.

Here is a link that might be useful: Love this Threshing tray coffeetable

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 1:57PM
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ok...LOVE the slim table with the mirror over it..that area looks great. Overall I like what you have going on except the chest..I like the idea of a chest for a coffee table but just not that one. (but that is my personal taste)...I totally get the need for something slim for your coffee table. I have a tight LR space in condo if I use a standard depth coffee table, it just takes up too much space.

I like the idea of cubes or glass tables too. Right now I'm using knock-offs of the Tanner cubes from Pottery Barn.

In regards to the rug size, I am ok with the size. I know alot of people say the furniture needs to sit on the rug, but I don't mind the look of a smaller area rug.

Thanks for coming back and updating on your space. Cant wait to see more.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 2:18PM
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I'm envious, my living room is about that size but I have no fireplace. I love the fireplace! I think I would go for a coffee table with legs, something light. I also would arrange the sofa facing the fireplace, which also creates an entryway by sectioning it off. The way it is now you are just looking into the kitchen. If its too long and interferes with the traffic pattern, then forget I mentioned it. I know with my living room I felt like drapes overpowered it, its so small, so I put blinds up, I love the option to pull them up out of the way or to filter light - my living room faces west so afternoon sun gets intense at times. Funny, I have a lamp I found like the ones you have - I have it on a round "colonial" style table. I think decorating a small room is much more difficult than a large space. Your room is so cosy, the advantage of a small space.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 2:21PM
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(NOT) Clueless Guy,

My living room in my old Cape is long and narrow (10 x 25), so I have a width problem. I bought a coffee table like in the link below, which comes up on eBay occasionally for prices far lower than those shown. I USED to have an antique trunk as a coffee table, and can't tell you how much the small glass and brass table appeared to open up the room. I just love mine, and think something like it would be perfect in your room.

Here is a link that might be useful: MASTERCRAFT Vtg Mid Century Modern Oval Bamboo Brass Glass Side End Coffee Table

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 3:03PM
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I've been using a large brass tray on an iron stand~the stand was from a glass top table. It's smallish, so just a nice size for a drink or two.

Here's a pic, but the design on mine is different. I paid $3 at a flea market, but that was 10 years ago. I don't see them in thrift stores either. Guess there's always eBay or maybe etsy.

Just thought I would throw out another idea that doesn't use up a lot of space. A wood stand from an old tv tray could also be used as a base, or take a beat up top off an old table.

Here is a link that might be useful: Brass tray

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 4:08PM
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Whoops! This should be it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tray

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 4:10PM
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I, too think that you should put your TV where the long table with the mirror over it is. Perfect for viewing from the couch, and if you angled the side chair just a tad, it would work for someone sitting in the chair, also. I just think that putting it over the fireplace would be too high, and not as visually appealing.

I also like the idea of a small oval glass coffee table as a perfect solution to lighten up the room and provide some curves to the space. Looks great, so far!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 7:43PM
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link to Tanner coffee table by Pottery Barn. I think it might be too deep.

How deep is your trunk?

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 9:48PM
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Link to Pia coffee table from Crate and Barrel,

Again 24inches deep..might be to deep.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 9:50PM
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where is co-decorator, scout?

    Bookmark   December 20, 2012 at 10:52PM
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Think of the rug as a floor covering, not a small piece that furniture is grouped around. You can buy an area rug in a size such that there is at least 12" between the rug edge and the wall. I think a large area rug pulls the room together.

I thought one of the earlier inspiration photos with the sofa facing the fireplace was good -- will your sofa fit that way?

You weren't too sure about a TV in that room. Why not wait?

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 12:01PM
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LOL I was looking for "Scout" too. I thought maybe he was the elephant in the room.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 12:46PM
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oops! Here she is!

By the way, I've never made the joke about the elephant in the room but I think it may start coming out at cocktail parties...

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 1:15PM
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unfortunately the room is too narrow to have the sofa facing the fireplace. I'm pretty much stuck with that being there. Great thoughts about the coffee table, I keep trying to love the trunk but its just not happening. Oh well it was only $20 so maybe its Scouts new toy box.

Interesting point about the rug - admittedly I'm not too polished on the rules of design so I end up having to learn along the way. I think I'll try a bigger rug.

Also I'm going to hold off on the TV. Maybe once I finish the kitchen reno and use the room more otherwise I'm fine with just going to the basement which I'm also decorating slowly but surely. Its becoming my favorite room in the house and has another massive fireplace which makes it so warm and cozy. I'll post some pics and get everyone kind help AFTER I vacuum the couch (yellow dog & brown microfiber - UGH!!)....

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 1:31PM
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I can't wait to see your basement!

For your windows I would choose small slat shutters. They would be perfect for the high windows next to the FP.

A painted bench would be nice for the coffee table. It would be the perfect size and you can use it for a hard surface to write on, and it's a nice place to set drinks.

For some reason I've never been much of a fan of ottomans serving as coffee tables.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 2:30PM
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It looks great so far!

For the rug, I would not go bigger (I like to see some of the hardwood!) but center it on the sofa left to right, so that the arm chair will then be front-half only on the rug.

For a coffee table, in small spaces I like an ottoman that can be used as storage or a tray/convertible one. Overstock has many to choose from see link below!

Here is a link that might be useful: ottoman/convertible

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 9:27PM
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Thanks, thats a good idea about moving the rug. I have it where it is since I didn't want to put it over the hearth. I suppose it doesnt really matter though and that was simply some preconceived notion I made have had.

Currently on the hunt for a new coffee table....

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 6:25PM
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