Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Decorating Dilemma

moz-screenshot-21Amanda is being the hostess with the mostest lately! She’s got another party going on (starts tonight), Decorating Dilemmas. Submit your problem area, and give suggestions to help others. She’s done this a few times and it’s always fun!

We’ve been in this house for over a year and a half, which is a bit of a miracle considering how often we’ve moved in the last 10 years (check out Parade of Homes for more on that). We put a contract on this house just as the building process was beginning, so it was brand spankin’ new and fresh for us…something I never dreamed I would get to experience.

But, and I hesitate to even say this, I think the honeymoon is over. Oh, I still like our house and am very grateful for it, but the little things are starting to get on my nerves. Size, for one. The living areas, in particular, are really not large enough.

One problem that creates is furniture placement. Here is the family room as it has been for most of the time we’ve been here. I was standing in the dining area as I took the photo, so you’re seeing the whole room.


This arrangement is the most open and gives the feeling of the most space, but in my winter doldrums, I began to feel a lack of cozy. So I tried rearranging the room with the couch facing the fireplace.


I always felt it would close off the room too much and make it feel even smaller. I do really like having the couch facing the fireplace, though.

A few more views, to help give you the idea of space and maneuverability, and also to point out one big problem: the broken zipper on the slipcover. ETA: I should mention that I think the reason the zipper broke in the first place is that it takes Herculean effort to get the two zipper edges together, so I'm not sure it would work to repair it with velcro or whatever. It's an extremely tight fit.



IMG_5237( Pinkerbelle was playing and has blankets on the hearth)


Questions for you, keeping in mind that I would consider this a seasonal, winter arrangement:

  • is it too crowded?
  • should I replace the big coffee table with a smaller round one that is in my basement?
  • should I let the broken zipper bother me very much? Solutions?

And one other thing….the lack of light fixture.


I do not use overhead lighting, so should I just cap it off? Add one of these ubiquitous light fixtures that are in other areas of the house (don’t ask how the builder decided where to put them and where not…it’s a mystery)? I know ceiling fans are decorating taboo, but one would be useful in this room. What do you think?

IMG_3544( I once heard these called “b00b lights” and thought it was very apropos.)

I’m not terribly concerned about accessories because in my mind’s eye most of this stuff is temporary and I have some ideas which will take time to implement. That said, I’d love to hear any and all suggestions for this room that you may have.


BabiesandBargains said...

Could you sew the slipcover back together? Then you could move it wherever you see fit..As for the light I would put a boob light...We found very nice ones at Home Depot and Lowes for cheap money! I love the way you set it up both ways...We have a HUGE living room but every other room is small

Pam said...

Could you attach some velcro to the slipcover? That would keep it from hanging open. As far as the ceiling fans being taboo - I hear that, too. But, try to balance that idea with the fact that you don't live in a magazine cover. YOU live in YOUR house. Above all, your house needs to be a place where you and your family are comfortable and a place that functions well for you. If it would be beneficial to have one - then throw conventional decorating advice out the window and get a ceiling fan. They make so many kinds now-a-days that you could surely find one that would coordinate with your room. Decorating advice is just that - advice. No decorating police will come and arrest you if you install a ceiling fan. They also help with energy efficiency in both summer and winter. Bottom line - do what makes you happy and will work in your home.

southerninspiration said...

Ok, here's an idea, but I truly can't see if you have the space for it. Can you angle the sofa (and I'd try velcro-ing it back or having the zipper replaced) out from the original wall it was on (where the plates are)? I mean like have the end where the unzippered slipcover is against the wall, angled out into the room. Then you could pull your two chairs in toward the fireplace more to make a square with the sofa, but it would be a square that is not square with the room. Maybe if I showed you my den, it would help. And yes, I think I would replace the rect. table with a round one, if you have it. Lastly, behind the angled sofa, you could place that other table with a lamp and a vignette or a grouping or flowers, etc. I hope that makes sense to you....it may be something you've already tried, but you didn't mention that.....so what do you think? AND I would go with a ceiling fan. They are a must in TX so no designer is going to tell me they are taboo and get away with it! :D

Missy K said...

Velcro is fabulous-- I second the above!

And there are many tasteful ceiling fans on the market at a lot of price points. If that is what would work the best, go for it, rather than putting something more "correct" up and regretting it.

I don;t think the room is too crowded, but since you have the (free) option of a smaller round coffee table, try it and see what you think. A round shape might also be a nice juxtaposition with all the strong geometry in your other furniture and wall decor.

And I love your wall color. That is all.

Carmen said...

Boob lights! haha That's what I call them.

Hmmmm I definitely see your dilemma. I am not seeing a t.v., am I right? I think not having a t.v. gives your more options. I like it with the couch facing the fire place. Have you tried the couch by the window? And I think you should try the small coffee table and see how that looks. And whatever...I think ceiling fans are a necessity in the summer.

Sheri said...

we call 'em nipple lights

As for the living room I'd probably spend a few weeks moving things around (and around and around) and eventually wind up the way it began. It seems the most pleasing to the eye. I like the couch in front of the fireplace but I am a "sit cross legged in front of the fireplace" kind of gal...so I prefer is on the wall.

Shaunna said...

You can get lots of different "hug the ceiling" kind of lights, and they are normally quite cheap. I would find away to hold the slip cover together (repair, velcro, safety pins, really anything you've got that could do the job). The thing that bothers me about your couch facing the fireplace (which I LOVE), are the dishes on the wall. Everyone in my house tends to bump walls, and I could see them knocking those plates to the ground. I think I would push the couch all the way to one side, or the other to make a more open entrance to your room. Does that make sense to you?

Paula said...

For your broken zipper problem, what I would do would be to find a matching piece of fabric to put under the are that the zipper doesn't meet. Then I'd attach the new piece of fabric to the existing slipcover with velcro.

I think a smaller coffee table is worth a try, especially if you already have one.

To me, the arrangement with the sofa facing the fireplace is much more pleasing to the eye.

Mom in High Heels said...

I hate when people say ceiling fans should not be used. If you live there and NEED a ceiling fan, get one. Who cares what anyone else thinks? If you don't want to put one in, find an inexpensive chandelier. That would be beautiful. You could put it on a dimmer switch (super easy to install) and have some low mood lighting if you want it.
If you have a smaller coffee table option, try it out. If you don't like it, put the other one back.
IMO, you need to add a zip of color on the plate wall. Also, would it block traffic flow too much or could you move the table on the wall behind the sofa to the wall with the plates? I think that would look nice.
I love your windows on the wall, BTW!

Country Dreaming said...

I like this arrangement. I'd velcro the slip cover because it's NOT going to stop bothering you. I personally don't listen to decorating taboos-if you want a stinking fan then put one in. It's your house to do as you please. Oops got on a tangent--Sorry. :)
I think the "right" fan would look great in
there AND it would be useful. You could get one without a light kit on it.

Tricia said...

Hi Holly.
Ooh, this is a fun idea.
LOVE this arrangement! I know it could feel blocked off actually being there, but it looks so cozy and like you wanna just curl up and get comfy.
Okay, coffee table is a little big. Maybe a bit narrower would be good, although I really like the wood finish of this one.
The chairs with the dropcloth covers would be nice moved a bit closer to the fireplace I think.
Light-yeah, I hate the boob lights personally. I think a ceiling fan would be fine. Your ceilings look high enough to handle it. If it's beneficial, you can find a very simple one that isn't big and gawdy then I think it's a great, practical option. (p.s. the ceiling fan in my fr is the bane of my existence because it's huge and gawdy!! ;)
I think that the slipcover will probably still bug you. I would say to put a few stitches in it to keep it together (something easy to take out and re-do when you wash it), and throw a comfy throw over the edge of the sofa to disquise it.
Then invite me over for coffee. ;) It's only a days' drive or so. Tee hee!


Nancy said...

I didn't even know ceiling fans were a big decorating no-no. Now that I admitted that, you probably don't want to hear my suggestions! I do like the couch facing the fireplace, but with it and the hutch on that end of the room, it seems like you need more than the fireplace to anchor the other end. Do you have other pieces you can add near the fireplace? When we recently rearranged our living room, we put things where we thought we wanted them, but quickly found out they just didn't work. You'll just need to play around with the room. When you find the perfect layout, you will know it.


alanna rose said...

My husband and I always refer to those as boob lights - and then we crack up - we are so immature :)

I like this arrangement for winter, it feels cozy, not crowded. I think trying out the round coffee table is a great idea. Since it's a winter arrangement, why not add a cozy throw over that corner of the couch, to cover the slip cover?

The only other suggestion is to see if you can move the chairs closer to the fireplace (space permitting), you might need to store the cute side table to do it, but I think it would make the seating are more intimate.

I'll have my dilemma up soon!

Rebecca D said...

I too like cozy rooms in the winter months and think the sofa being off the wall facing the fireplace definitely achieves this.

I think that corner of the sofa is the perfect place to drape a throw blanket when company is coming over. You could always put a well placed basket with magazines (or whatever..) on the floor by that corner to distract the eye.

The light bulb is what would keep me up nights. I would stay away from the "boob light" and capping it just draws the eye just as much as the bare bulb. I'd either take down the fixture, permanently seal the hole (sheetrock etc...) or hang a small chandelier there. It doesn't have to be expensive, run down to the goodwill, buy some tacky brass fixture and spray paint it either glossy black or glossy white. That being said... if you think a ceiling fan would make life nicer, go for it... ignore the "rules".. this is your home... and if we can wear white shoes in the fall we can put ceiling fans in the family room...

donna said...

I love the window frames that you have flanking the fireplace. How about placing some pretty patterned fabric behind the glass? I love your room, and think the addition of a print and a contrasting color (maybe green?) would look great!

debbie said...

If it was me I'd switch the couch and chairs. Couch in front of window and chairs on plate wall. Use the gate leg(?) table between them. Bring the console table over behind the couch and move the hutch to where the console table is now. Use the small table as an end table for the couch, next to the fireplace. That will help visually balance the weight around the room. Yes to the round coffee table. It will help soften up all the straight lines. IMHO you've got a lot of neutrals going on. If you add one color through accesories, pillows, a throw etc. that'll give you some pop and I think will make it a lot more cozy.

As to the fan, as everybody else says add one. There are some really nice sleek ones out now.

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

I say go for the ceiling fan if that's what your gut says. I had one put in our Addition, knowing the "rules," but also knowing it is freaking HOT here in the summertime. Lowe's actually does have some nice ones that don't remind me of my 1980s childhood. ;)

I think you're on to something with your arrangement. (Love the mantel stuff, btw). I think you should give the round coffee table a try and see how it feels in there. I don't think it's too crowded!

Thanks so much for linking up. :)

Pam @ bibbidi-bobbidi-beautiful said...

Hi, Holly!
I LOVE the sofa in front of the fireplace! I do not think it looks too crowded. In fact, I might even suggest you crowd it up a little more! It looks like there's a sofa table against the wall behind the sofa now? I would flip that around and have it up against the back of the sofa. I also like the two white chairs grouped in front of the window. I would pull them up close to the box/stand in front of the window. Then you still have room on the opposite wall for a pretty bench or something.

I'm actually jealous of your bare lightbulb if you can believe it! My living room doesn't get good light and I would love recessed lighting, but we'd have to tear up the flooring upstairs in order to install it. I looked into installing just one light fixture, but that was also going to be quite pricey. Anyway, that lightbulb means you could put a hanging fixture there pretty easily. I would love to see something like this:
or this:
This second one I think would be easy to duplicate on craigslist. I've seen dozens of similar looking fixtures on CL only they're bright brass and have glass sides. It would be easy to pop the glass out and spray paint the metal.

And for your slipcover- I would definitely keep it and just tweak the back seams a bit. I think you could remove the zipper, open the seam on the other side as well, add a panel of fabric under each seam (make sense?) and then add some ties to make it look similar to picture 5 and 6 in this slideshow:
Did that make sense? Hope this helps!

Laura said...

Get the ceiling fan! I live in Texas, and would not survive the summer without one in every room. We have gotten ones that are completely white and just kind of melt into the ceiling. The only thing you notice is the nice breeze!

For your slipcover...Could you add a panel of fabric on each side (so they'll match.) I guess if this is just for winter, you could throw a big comfy afghan over that end of the couch and just cover it up! Something really soft and nice!

Go East Memphis Mama said...

If you don't use the light I say either cap it or hang a small chandelier that is purely decorative...or a lantern or something. I can't tell if you have room to move the occasional table behind that sofa or not as a sofa table but that might be an option. I like the couch facing the fireplace. Overall I think the room looks great as is maybe just some minor tweaks here and there:)

Ashley @ The Happy Little Home said...

Boob light :) That's funny...and so true! First, I don't think it's crowded at all! I can totally see why you feel that way though. I feel the same way about my kitchen. But then I look at the pictures...and it's not crowded. I think things seem that way when you live in them.

Second, it's really inexpensive to get a zipper replaced at the tailor. I would just do it so you're not driving yourself nuts.

Third, I love the couch facing the fireplace. It looks super cozy and very put together. Also, I think there are some really chic and modern ceiling fans on the market now. If you would use it...why not?

Dogmom Diva said...

I don't care what anyone says, a ceiling fan is almost a must, if even to keep air circulating..we live in the desert southwest, each room has a ceiling fan, we would not survive the summer, even with a/c, without them..they have some beautiful quiet ones out there, try Hunter or Hampton Bay at H.D.

I think you need more color in there. How about a contrasting drapery on the windows and throw pillows to match. I like the sofa where you have it placed, have you thought about a colored slipcover for winter..I would also try the round coffee table, its free to try, right? Love the taupe walls.

My family room is a dilemma too..we have a great room, kitchen, dining and family all in one...guess I will post some pics later on..

You have a lovely home!

Kendall at Finesse Your Nest said...

Hi there! I love your asymmetrical arrangement on the mantle, as well as your plate wall and those gorgeous windows on either side of the F/P!

Okay, here is what I would do:

1)Leave the sofa in front of the F/P but it looks like you need to splurge and buy a new slipcover. Looks like that one is just too tight!
2) Yes, bring up the round table to use. You've got a lot of square and rectangle shapes in the room and round would break that up.
3) Move the console on the wall behind the sofa to the plate wall. The plates need to be grounded with something underneath. When accessorizing the console, I would def include a plate on an easel too to tie it in with the wall arrangement.
4) Take the 2 chairs and place to the right of the sofa in front of the window (straight not at an angle) with either the drop leaf table or the other little table in between (whichever one is smaller!) Use the other table in another room.
5) Move the black hutch to the wall behind the sofa where the console table was. Love the way it is accessorized BTW.
6) Lighting - do you need a ceiling fan? If so, just get one. There are sev tolerable units available. You don't want to suffer in that room in the summer if it gets hot. If you don't need one, maybe a smaller chandy or I've even seen some cool tent type lighting with fabric and tassels. If you don't use the light part, might as well make it pretty and interesting, right?
7)Remove the floor lamp in the corner

Good luck! Remember you can always try some different arrangements based on the feedback you get and post, then get your followers to vote!

Heather said...

Thanks for sharing your living room dilemma. I have also had this problem in my own living room. What I think my room was lacking was height. Try this arrangement and see if it works:

Put your couch back on the original wall and then take your windows and hang them side by side with a space in between them, above the couch and paint them any color of your choosing. To brighten up the room I would suggest white. Also, take your stars and line them up in between that space in the middle of the widow panes and paint them the same color as the windows. The big star should go in the middle, and as for the little ones: one on top and one on the bottom. Now, heres for changing everything around. Hang the plates above your fire place, in a similar arrangement and put white vases on the mantle with branches from the craft store or from your own yard. Also, if you are daring enough you could paint the little pine table in the corner to the right of the fire place, black. I think that you will notice that your room will seem two feet taller and the whole room with the extra height will seem more ball lanced. Oh, and this way, the rip in your couch will be hidden. Love hiding those imperfections. Hope you will enjoy, rearranging this in your imagination.

Jessi @ Yankee Belle Home said...

I understand the need to change up the arrangement. I'd like to so the same in my living room but don't have much room either.
Could you remove the zipper and add some ties to the slipcover? Then add them to the other side as well?
Also, maybe move the little table that's in front of the window hanging over in front of the real window freeing up room to have a chair on each side of the fireplace?
Good luck! :)

Xazmin said...

Okay, first...I LOVE the room. Both ways. It's very pretty, and I don't think it looks too crowded at all. And keep the table...I love it!

I am sitting here staring up at the boob light in my kitchen laughing. I don't know what to tell you about your lighting situation. Sorry I'm not much help!

momto5 said...

ah ha - just this week i read on yahoo home page news (some for house selling site) listed ceiling fans as a home seller! in these tight $$$ days, imagine that and enjoy the comfort. we live in the south and i'd NEVER be without one in everyroom. check out southern living or coastal living, they often have them in their rooms, see what you think, i think it'd look O.K.!
SOFA, I'd take this picture, and the measurements of the gap to a seamstress. get her to fill in BOTH back sides with hidden zippers and a section (maybe four-starched) pleats. You could use white like it is now, or accent it with some designed neutral fabrics (or you favorite color) and get some throw pillows made of the same designed fabric!
very nice window like frames on either side, but i'd take them down, paint one black one white, mix it up for the seasons. lay one on it's side on the matel, fill in each frame with a black and white picture and some with fabric or burlap. Add some green, like bright moss cover balls in a large glass. take one of your lovely plates on your wall and paint on your family letter in display with iron photostand. i'd leave the white candles with silver pedastels there.
oh and paint those sticks in the corner, a nice red - they're neat but you don't really notice them

FrouFrouBritches said...

BOOB LIGHTS! HA! You crack me up!

First of all, I have to put in my two sense about the ceiling fan. Here in Arkansas, it's hard to find a house without a ceiling fan. It gets very hot and very humid in the summer. I can't imagine how awful it would be without my ceiling fan. Then again, I told Pam that I like my recliner too, so....I may have lost any credibility I had.

I pesonally love the couch facing the fireplace. I think the slipcover could be "fixed" with a little velcro or like Paula said, put a piece of matching fabric underneath it and velcro it.

I think the smaller table might work better. Do you have a small piece of furniture to put under the dishes? Those dishes are beautiful, but they look a little lonely over there by themselves.

BTW, I am totally coveting the black hutch thingee. THOU SHALT NOT COVET! THOU SHALT NOT COVET!

alanna rose said...

I meant to post this yesterday - it's a clip on shade for the light bulb. Clips right to the light, not the cheapest because I found it at PB - but I know I've seen them at other places too.

Kristy said...

I love Pam's idea of the hanging lanterns - I think those are beautiful!

Here's another idea for covering up that bare bulb inexpensively - use a lamp shade (especially a drum shade):


Richella said...

Holly, I like your room both ways. I actually prefer it with the sofa on the wall, but that's just me.

If you have a round coffee table, I'd say try it out. But I don't think the rectangular one is a problem.

I do think you'll go crazy if you don't do something to address the slipcover situation. Perhaps you could open the other end and add some fabric underneath both sides so that the opening will look intentional. You could use matching or contrasting fabric. I'm betting you could come up with a reasonable solution just by pinning some fabric onto the sofa and then pinning or hot-gluing your "flaps" back.

Do you have a console or sofa table you could put behind the sofa? I always think a "floating" sofa looks better with something behind it.

As for the light fixture, I say: GET A CEILING FAN. Get an attractive one. If you don't use overhead lights, get one without a light kit. But they are so useful; who cares if some people say they're not in?

One other thing I want to say: I think your room is cozy either way. The first photo didn't strike me as lacking coziness at all.

Good luck!

Love the Decor! said...

I love the sofa facing the fireplace. I would definately add a new color to the room to warm it up a bit. I would then place the chairs at an angle closer to the fireplace to create a cozier conversation group. a sofa table behind the sofa would complete the furniture portion but i think I would also add an area rug.

Barbie said...

I looked at the pictures of the model home and saw that the sofa was in front of the window. I loved that. I think you should try the sofa in front of the window. The two chairs over on the plate wall. And the hutch where the sofa table is at this time. I think that would balance the room very well. Let us know what you decide!!

Courtney said...

I love the sofa facing the fireplace and would try moving the small table with the lamp (in front of the window) to the plate wall. I think a throw could nicely disguise the sofa problem. Maybe something in a pear green to add a little pop of color. I love a palette of cream, brown and pear green. I think a smaller, round coffee table would be perfect and a chandelier would add an amazing touch of drama. Someitimes you can find a great deal on chandeliers at home improvement stores on clearance or a thrift store. I also love #33's idea of trying the sofa on the window wall and moving the hutch. The great thing is - there is no right or wrong, just what works best for you at this time!

Kristen said...

I could have written this post ! I was just having these thoughts as I was considering putting my couch back again. I like it diving the room but it feels so small and we have 3 boys. My husband likes it spaced out but it doesn't give me the cozy feeling. I love yours cozy. It makes me want to put my couch back even more :).

Oh, also we have no ovehead light at all. I dewired a chadelier and I love it. I glued some faux nests to the top where bulbs would be. With the window and the lamps we are fine.

Anonymous said...

I really like the sofa facing the fireplace. It does make it so much for cosy! I also suggest velcro! I use it on some cushions and it works well. I use my ceiling fan! You decorate your house for you and your families needs and conforts!! Good HouseKeeping will not be coming to my house for a photo shoot so I decorate with things that give me pleasure! Happy Decorating!!!!

Anonymous said...

Im luvin ur blog! :)

As I look at all the posts with your wonderful fireplace in them, Im thinkin....the decorations on the mantel (and on the other walls) if a little higher (closer to the ceiling) might help the room a lot. Just a thougth :)