Traditional/Modern living room -- I need help mixing the two!

cploverOctober 6, 2012

So some of you may remember I posted a while back trying to get ideas of color combos that would work with my west elm "otter" color sofa

One of the color combos that I really liked was the gray/yellow combo since I have a lot of blues/grays in the rest of my home. So while shopping on craigslist I came across two Lane Wingback recliners in a tone-on-tone diamond pattern, in a butter yellow color, with small specks of gray and orange (from just a few feet away you cannot see the specks, just the tone on tone of the butter yellow) sorta like a jaquard print.

The chairs are perfect in their overall footprint for what I wanted/need for the space, but now I am not sure if the will work with the sofa to create the space. If I had the $$ I would not hesitate to have chairs reupholstered in a more modern fabric. In my mind I have no problems mixing other designs (ie contemporary and vintage) but for some reason this is really stumping me. I just hope I did not get so excited for a bargain on these chairs--only to not have them work. :( No other items for my living room have been chosen (still need rugs, pillows, end table, coffee table, art/ wall decor, etc). Room notes. This is a 1957 ranch home. The living room is the only "living" space-- no separate den/tv/family room. The one large picture window has natural bamboo blinds and white floor length curtains.

Any suggestions would be appreciated-- TIA!

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Here is my OP:

Here is a link that might be useful: First Post

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 1:01AM
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The only thing that concerns me is that, in your other post, you showed your "favorite room" which is very relaxed. The new chairs you've chosen are more formal although they can look more informal depending on what else you put in the room. If I had a favorite room then I'd try to duplicate it as much as possible. Think about it.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 2:30AM
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yayagal- That was not my favorite room but atkillery's favorite room. However, I do lean towards a more relaxed and comfortable style. I dislike that the chairs are more formal (queen anne legs, traditional material, etc). So is there a way to un-formal them without reupholstering? Can I do so through other elements in the room? Or will they always look weird! I got a great deal (or so I feel on them) and they fit what I wanted -- small footprint comfortable recliners that do not look bulky, etc.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 7:44AM
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JMHO - the chairs are too formal for your couch. Your couch has squared off lines and the chairs are too rounded. I think putting more modern fabric/pillows would clash w/the tradional fabric of the chairs. They are only going to be a bargin if they work for you.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 8:51AM
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The nice thing about the chairs is that they look small enough to fit nicely into a bedroom if you decide that they won't work for your living room. My advice is always to put the pieces together in the room and live with them a little. It would be easy enough to bridge the colors with pillows and/or a throw on the sofa, but I just can't tell from the photo if the scale of the chairs and sofa will work together. Depending on how the chairs are constructed, you might be able to replace the front legs with a straight leg of some kind for a relatively small amount of money.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 11:55AM
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If you painted the legs white, gray, beige, or some other accent color in your room, they might not stand out as much as being "formal".

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 1:08PM
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Can you tell me the height of the chairs and then the height of sofa? If there not close enough, the chairs won't fit BUT, I was just thinking, I wonder how the chairs would look if you removed the legs and put on short straight legs to make it seem more current. It's worth a try but the height has to be right so check that out.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 1:47PM
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Fun2BHere-- Good thoughts! I am trying not to panic and see if they grow on me in the space.

k9arlene-- paint-what a thought!

yayagal--the chairs are taller than the sofa. the sofa is 33" tall and the chairs are 40.5" each. However, the chairs are a perfect height and very comfortable, i was thinking about adding height to the couch?

I think it does not help that the chairs are curvy and traditional (or uber feminine) and the couch is straight lines and steely grey (very masculine). So I am not sure if/how to bring in other elements such as side tables, etc. I also do not want to spend $$$ trying to make something work that is not going to.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 4:17PM
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When mixing furniture styles, I like to match seat heights. Somehow that seems to make everything work together better.

It also helps to have upholstery that is in the same family - the same level of formality, the same personality.

A disciplined color scheme also helps to pull everything together.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 4:37PM
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Do you own the couch yet? When you put the chair next to the couch, are the seats at the same level or are the chairs higher?

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 11:56PM
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I agree with Bronwyn and Yaya. I purchased a traditional sofa and traditional wing chair-- the wing chair was on the floor, the sofa wasnt. When they arrived, the scale of the wing chair was way off from my low sofa. I was furious that they saleswoman/designer didnt point this out.. but now I know to check this.

I have less of an issue with the colors or lines as I do with the height. A high seated chair will dwarf your sofa.

I do like the chairs-- if you can't use them with the sofa, I am sure you can find a nook to hide a great reading chair!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 1:49AM
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Maybe it's just because I watched an episode of Sarah's house where she put an Art Deco desk in a bedroom with a country looking dresser, but I think your sofa and chairs work well together. Just tie them together with accent furniture.

If the seat heights are vastly different though, then it will be harder to make them work. You can easily add big chunky balls or something else to the feet of the sofa to add height and bring in a little traditional.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 12:40PM
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Love the color and style of your new WE sofa. We have a mix of styles in our LR, and have used accessories, etc. to bridge certain gaps that have presented themselves. However, I would not use that height chair combo with your sofa.

Also, painting and/or shortening the legs of the chairs, don't really seem to be great options either. My leather sofa in the LR has sort squared legs, but it came that way. I don't think I would alter a brand new sofa in order to make it work with CL chairs. You've just purchased an awesome sofa, would it be possible to wait until you come across chairs that would complement your sofa as opposed to trying to make do with the wrong height chairs? Not sure if you've already purchased these, but in the event you have, could they be purposed in a reading nook in the master BR, or somewhere else in your house?

I know how it feels when you really want to make something work, but I think these chairs miss the mark with your new sofa. Scale is definitely an important factor when planning/decorating a room. IMHO, unfortunately, these chairs don't work from either a style or scale standpoint.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 2:54PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I think you can mix those styles well, but you will need to have a unifying element such as color. You need something to add cohesion when the styles aren't. I remember Julia Morgan used color as the unifying element in many of the rooms in San Simeon which combined pieces from many different eras.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 3:00PM
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You know what, why not just try it all together and let us see it, I have a feeling we could put a room together with both the pieces that will be cozy and lovely. Part of making a home your own is using what you have or can afford. I'd go for it and try.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 4:03PM
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WalnutCreek Zone 7b/8a

Below is a link to a picture of wing chairs that are taller than the sofa. They seem to work well together.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wing Chairs Taller that Sofa

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 4:15PM
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Are we talking about the seat cushion heights or back of the furniture height? My response was based on the seat height of the wing backchairs OP posted being higher than the seat cushions of that of the WE sofa. I think if it is just a matter of the height of the backs of the different furniture pieces, it isn't as much of an issue. OTOH, if the height of the seat cushions being significantly different (higher) on the chairs, it may be an aesthetic issue.

Of course, everyone has differing tastes, especially when you begin to mix styles. What might work for some, may not work for another, since there are so many variables depending on other pieces in the room. When you start adding textiles in the form of pillows and throws, together with artwork and accessories, many things that may not appear to work alone, can, and do work when the room is completed. So much is personal style as well.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 7:14PM
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WalnutCreek Zone 7b/8a

I agree that it is much better if seat heights on various pieces of furniture are the same. The OP stated that,
"the sofa is 33" tall and the chairs are 40.5" each." I cannot find that she ever gave the seat heights of the sofa and chairs.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 7:35PM
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Newbieremodler, do you have a picture of the room with the sofa and the two chairs together? It would answer a lot of the questions everyone is going on about and get moving toward your solution - or make a decision to tell you to sell the chairs.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 7:48PM
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