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d*s reader recs

i haven't done a reader rec in a while so i thought i'd open this one up to you guys. d*s reader monica needs some help with her living room:
"I sure could use your reader's input: We have a living room with two alcoves and I'm completely stumped as to what to do with one of them. I've attached two photos, one of the "good" side of the living room and the other of the wall where I sure could use help. I've taken the Shag down (after I saw this photo I realized just how bad that yellow border looked in that room) and the lamp out too. I've thought about wallpapering the alcoves, painting the alcoves, putting a bookcase in the empty alcove; I'm just not sure what will give the room that finished look. Thanks!"
I know this audience is full of great ideas so please feel free to share yours below. [thanks to monica for sharing her home with us]



Blogger Heather said...

I'd move both chairs to one side of the sofa, probably the window side then bring the other chair you have on the left side of the fireplace out on the other side of the sofa. Then you have a nice empty space for a bookshelf or something tall. I think the right side looks good as is. it's a nice piece of furniture that is proportionally scaled and a bright pop of color with the painting. I think you need something larger over your sofa (artwork again), some curtins (long to bring the eye down) to soften the window & some pillows on the sofa. You just need a few accessories and your are there (plus the one larger piece-bookshelf or built in). Good luck!

8:39 AM  
Blogger clemens said...

Hello ,

First, I think it is very good idea to ask for other people´s oppinion. If I will face a decoration problem in the near future I´ll consider this option, too.

My recommendation is: get rid of the yellow, it is ...not nice. Better choose grey -or something more neutral and paint one wall in a very dark colour, such as petrol or black.Wallpaper ist very good idea for the corners, but if you go for large patterns it would be a shame to disrupt the visual apparence with bookshelves. Nevertheless I really like your armchairs and the table

Best regards

Petra from Berlin (Germany)

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you should run with the warm yellow and gold theme. Maybe you could do a nice mid-century credenza (Ebay?) and some lighting on the other side?


8:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the earlier post regarding the color. The yellow color really fights with the more organic hues of the stone fireplace as well as your other furniture. Why not use some of the tones in the stone as your guide? It would help create a more cohesive space.

As far as the alcoves, I suggest a few things- keep the sideboard, but add a long, rectangular mirror over it. A white, drum-lampshaded lamp similar to the one by the sofa would look great on it. To the left of the fireplace, why not get one of those great divided, cubby-style early 60's bookshelves, where you could have cool object vignettes and stacks of books for color? The fiberglass rocker could easily go in front of it, with a pedestal lamp, to create a reading space.

9:01 AM  
Anonymous Victoria said...

Well, one thing that occurred to me was to take the whole sofa-chair-coffeetable setup and moving in about a yard or more into the middle of the room.

You have so much space there - it seems a shame to have the sofa up against the wall.

On the wall behind the sofa you could put a book shelf or artwork or credenza. Or alternately, you could put a piece of furniture against the back of the sofa.

Moving everything foward would distribute the spare space differently, and I think the alcoves would no longer be in need of being filled up...

good luck!

9:02 AM  
Blogger JustAnotherDay said...

I was just about to post and read what Victoria said. I have the exact same advice! There is so much empty space between the chairs and the fireplace it seems very awkward!

Gorgeous space though, definately need some artwork on those wonderful walls!

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like Victoria's suggestion also. This would allow you to move the sideboard/credenza piece of furniture and do something I wish I could do in my tiny apartment -- fill both alcoves with floor to ceiling shelves.

I would put in custom bookcases painted a dark brown/coffee color, or something that picks up on the stone (as suggested by someone else). Or adjustable shelves if custom bookcases were not in my budget.

You've got a great space and lots of options. Good luck!

9:29 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

i had a similar situation in my old house, which had a huge slate fireplace similar to your stone one in terms of presence. Here is a picture of how I treated the space. I only utilized one of the alcoves. The other on the opposite side of the fireplace, which i don't have a picture of, was empty.


good luck

9:29 AM  
Blogger Andy Mathis said...

I want to know, "Where's the TV? No TV? Can the TV go in the corner?" LOL.

Computer monitors vary when showing colors. The yellow color I see on my monitor seems a bit strong. I would go neutral, picking up colors out of the firplace. If you love the yellow, use it more as an accent color.

Bookcases beside the firplace seems like a good idea. I would try moving the two chairs to one side and pulling the rocking chair out of the corner. You might try moving the credenza under the window. And consider softening the window with some drapery panels.

Oh, and big artwork, or a grouping of artwork, over the sofa.

Good luck.

Why is it more fun to decorate other peoples room rather than one's own? My dark wood 1970's paneling needs painting, but I had much rather paint somewhere else.

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would move all the stuff you currently have there somewhere else and get two matching tall cube bookshelves from IKEA. Then fill 'em up! Books, plants, knicknacks, art. You need some love in that room. It feels too spartan.

10:25 AM  
Anonymous AngieMontreal said...

Andy I agree! Why is it so fun to work on someone elses space?!

I'm helping a friend decorate her new studio apt., and am really putting in the hours (painting, sewing curtains and pillows and covers etc.) and at home sits part of my headboard, waiting to be painting, and a half finished quilt. Sheesh.

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wanted to thank everyone for sharing their tremendous ideas and particularly Grace for helping me by posting these pictures. There are a lot of great ideas in the above comments and I'm going to give a good number of them a try. Many thanks! - Monica

11:03 AM  
Blogger jawcey said...

I agree with Victoria's advice as well. Funny that I saw this today. Yesterday I posted similar living-room decorating woes on my blog, but, after being inspired by great decorating and furniture placement ideas on domino magazine's website, I went home last night and rearranged everything which included pulling my couch into the centre of the room and filling in the gap between the back of the couch and the wall with shelves to display things. I'm so happy with the result and I didn't spend a penny! Amazing what reorganizing can do! Check out my blog to see domino's photos for ideas if you want: http://decorateitdarling.blogspot.com/2007/07/living-room-brainstorming.html

Cheers and good luck!

11:44 AM  
Blogger Lori said...

I would also change the wall paint, it doesn't really match anything in the room, clashes with the wood of your credenza and makes your sofa look stark. I'd probably go with a light happy gray to match the fireplace but whatever you decide it needs to match the stone in the fireplace, even a muted tan-ish yellow would work. Hold up chips against the fireplace to be sure. I'd also paint the area under the alcoves to match the wall color. It will blend everything better and help balance the room. I'd move the sofa closer to the fireplace and put the credenza behind the sofa against the wall. Play up the bar aspect with glasses maybe. Now both sides of the alcoves are balanced so you can put up matching bookcases or anything that matches in weight and/or height. I also agree with the idea to move the chairs to the same side probably the window side and move the white chair to the other side. I'd also put up full length curtains. Your window is really nice and the blinds/valance doesn't really showcase it. Bring in some colorful patterned pillows (that match the wall paint) onto the black chairs. I'd consider changing out the coffee table, I think the scale is too small. Get some more lamps. Lower the sunburst behind the sofa. I'd ditch the art unless it's meaningful, I don't think it fits the style of the room. Your end table might look better turned long way against the arm of the couch, I'd have to see it to be sure. I can't tell anything about the credenza, if it's expensive or anything but I'd consider painting it black or charcoal gray. I'd get a cool looking fireplace screen too.

12:23 PM  
Blogger Aphrochic said...

Hello, this is Jeanine from AphroChic. You have some really fabulous things in this room, but the focus is being taken away from them due to other elements. First things first, I would soften the wall color. I love mustard yellow, but for me, the color is taking away from the rest of the room. With that beautiful large window, the room should be filled with light, and instead that dark color is robbing you of that. Second, accessorize. That beautiful window needs to be addressed. Dress it up a little. Anthropologie has lovely curtains that would look great in your room. Don't be a afraid of adding in a few more throw pillows too. Thomas Paul's corn yellow throw pillows would look great in here. Finally, add some drama. In the alcoves I think two large expedit bookcases from Ikea would look great. I love the piece you have hanging over the couch, but what about some additional art on the walls? Visit Etsy where you can find some great independent art that fits your style. I would even go dramatic on the lighting as well. That little lamp to the side is just too small. Visit Shine, and find something that fits with the black, white and yellow scheme. Have fun with your room!

- AphroChic

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

would be Perfect for that space.
*saw it on apartment thearapy

Atlas, or ISS shelving i believe its called...

1:08 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

In my opinion one of the major components missing from the room is taller furniture or large art work on the walls. You have such a large room with a high ceiling yet you have all this low modern furniture and it just seems empty. Some vertical artwork or tall bookcases might help.

And I agree on the color. It does fight with the modern/organic thing you have going on.

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second the suggestion to paint that strip of "ceiling" in the alcoves.

1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know who designed the chairs?

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They are Hans Wegner

2:59 PM  
Blogger The Shopping Sherpa said...

I think the Shag would be fine if you just changed the frame to a black one - at the moment all the other corners of your space have "pop"s of black but there is none in the photo with the credenza...

Then maybe pick up one of the other colours in the Shag and use it for cushion covers and other coloured touches in the room...

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Cara | SewBettie said...

didn't have the chance to read the other comments but here's my two cents ---

First off - you have some great pieces and I have major big open space envy!

My first idea is free (yeah! free!)... I would pull the couch a couple of feet off the wall, closer to the fireplace. This will leave a nice little walkway behind the couch and will make the room feel cozier. This could give you space for a little table and some chairs in the corner by the window (where the couch used to be).

I actually think the shag carpet is fun - I'd keep it!

I would also tone down the wall color a bit - you get so much great light that I don't think you need such a bold yellow.

As far as the second alcove -- I would go with built in bookshelves if the budget allows it.

I think you should drama up the window treatment too! It is a great view - find some fun, bold fabric to make simple curtains out of wow fabric.

Last thing -- I think you're walls could use some more art.

You're off to a great start! I'm excited to see what you do...

5:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think your wall color needs to change. that yellow orange does nothing for anything in the room. perhaps a grey or even a light brown. i also think the print next to the fireplace needs to go. it's brightness fights with the sophisticated feel of your furniture.

7:08 PM  
Anonymous brandi said...

Ahhh...What in incredible space!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Alright, it's been said enough, but you've gotta change the wall color. You've picked the right color family, it's just way too intense. And while gray would look great with the fireplace, what people have failed to mention is the yellow cast of your hard-wood floors. I would just bring home some paint swatches that could really bring out the color of the of the brown/yellow in the stone and look yummy with the wood...and I agree that you should soften it up a bit. (Suggestion: Pratt & Lambert's "Whythe House Gold Medium")

Next, I'd do built-in cabinets on either side of the fireplace...either floor to ceiling if budget allows OR floor to a third of the way up with can lights in the ceiling of the alcove. It'd be a GREAT place for art!

Finally, I think you just need to rearrange you furniture a bit...create a conversational space. I'd rotate your rug 90 degrees and center it in the middle of the room. Place the sofa on one long end in front of (but several feet away from) the window. Then I'd place the chairs next to each other on the opposite long side of the rug. Then I'd move your credenza to the wall opposite of the fireplace.

Sorry, I probably got a little carried away...but I'm in love with your living room!

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: the ceiling above the alcoves, definitely paint it the same color as the walls. You'll be surprised how much it helps.

3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have some really cool stuff. I would go for a california flat look. I think this would entail the following.

Use white ikea roman shades on the big window. Move the clock to the left of the window, it's too small to be alone on that big wall. Put the two chairs opposite the couch and possibly rotate left 90 degrees. If rotating, put the ikea cube shelves behind the couch, use the darker wood shelves. If you don't rotate, eliminate the shelves, the only downside is the chairs' backs face the fireplace. But how often do you really use the fireplace? You can easily turn the chairs around too.

Move the wood furniture piece under the window and cover that outlet. Move everything closer to the fireplace to make it cozier. You could paint all of the walls white and get some art. Or paint the window wall a bold color like curry or burnt orange and the large wall a crystal blue like the background of this blog. Paint the fireplace wall white and build in shelves that are thin strips of dark wood against the white wall, with hidden hardware. Pull the rocker in front of those shelves, and you're done. For a costly extra step, I'd switch out that flagstone on the floor for a large black honed granite/slate slab/tile, I think it would really update the fireplace.

12:04 AM  
Anonymous kat said...

can we see a pic of the space now?

12:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with all the comments, especially moving the sofa out from the wall and choosing a more neutral paint color.

Also, just wanted to share - we had a big fat blank spot over our sofa and I recently got tired of trying to save enough money to buy a large piece of art. I bought two large canvas stretcher sets at Sam Flax (if you put them together your self you can get the big ones for about $30) and used a staple gun to cover them with my favorite fabric from purlsoho.com. We thought this would be a great temporary solution that would allow us to wait for a piece of great affordable art to find us, but I'm getting so attached to it that we may just keep it.

12:06 PM  
Anonymous magningning said...

I just have to chime in to agree with everyone who said to move the couch/chair/rug grouping forward a few feet.

4:35 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Can I be the dissenter on the wall color? I like it -- play it up!! Wash the fireplace brick with a warm tone (watered down acrylic glazes should stick to stone/ concrete -- test it first) and add some geometric copper tile artwork to the alcove (see below). Look at the last picture to see what they look like in a grouping:


8:41 PM  
Blogger pontius said...

I think you are almost there! If you are going to make a dramatic gesture with color you really need to not hold back. Take a look at WOI anniversary edition. There is layout of a space in a bold yellow and black--a more primary yellow.

The proportions are a bit off. That is a huge freaking fireplace so you need to balance it. The coffee table is too small, the rug is too small--rugs need to fill spaces, you don't want the furniture looking like they are not quite on the island. The window treatment: long curtains will look odd with the window that is up high, short ones will look retro and cute. But, I'd keep it simple, with a solar shade. Big lamps on the side tables: fab and interesting and a contrasting color. In the corner I would find a pedestal table with chairs for playing cards--very multi use. Move the rocking chair to the other side for extra seating and move that bureau into a bedroom. (I love that you don't have a tv)Take a look at Russell Wright's House ala flagstones for fireplaces. Add a mantel; (My parents did in the 1976 you can too!) Move your fire tools onto the hearth find some great andirons or a fire screen. Make the fireplace a part of the room & a great big mirror over the sofa.


9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the photos are giving the wrong impression of scale. The room is 17 x 14 including the alcoves and our rug is 8 x 10 with a two and half foot walkway between the end of the rug and fireplace.

9:09 AM  

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