Question of the day: Is the formal living room officially dead?!
When we went through the process of finding and ultimately buying a house, one of the biggest questions that was thrown around was, do we really need a living room? I’m talking about that more formal sitting space that people used to use a lot back in the day. That is, before open design plans and oversized family rooms with comfy couches and giant 4D flat screen TVS (with surround sound) reigned supreme.
This past week a critical point in my home-ownership was reached — we’ve been in our Cleveland home longer than any other apartment or dwelling!
4 whole years.
It’s amazing how quickly time flies, no?! Here we are 4 years later and for the past 3.999 years my home decor efforts have been at an almost total and complete standstill. I gather the motivation to make a small tweak, then realize that with an open loft design, any small change inevitably becomes a big change as I then have to make sure that everything else on the first floor of my home works with my new decor.
Small tweak = big effort and even bigger budget! Frustrating, I know.
So where does all of this leave me? Well, with a 1/2 decorated home.
One of my biggest complaints about the interior of my home is that nothing feels quite finished. The basic layer of design is there, but the add-ons that make a space feel warm, comfortable and lived-in are still very much missing.
The last two weeks I spent thinking about what I wanted my finished product to look like and made a list of the crucial steps and pieces required to get there. Like building a cohesive and functional wardrobe, decorating a home is all about building layers and texture in order to make a space look and feel finished. I want my home to feel warm, inviting, but with a graphic and modern edge. Not exactly the easiest combination of styles.
The only thing I am certain of is that I definitely want shades of moody blues involved. None of that pastel-ly soft stuff. I think I want a balls-to-the-wall bold navy! With high ceilings, large walls of windows and tons of white woodwork accents, I think the navy will help ground the space and make it feel less vast and cold. Accented with neutrals in rich textures like jute, natural grasscloth, sheepskin and soft woolen rugs, I’m excited to finally feel at home in my own home.
In addition to the images posted above, here’s my inspiration board that I’ve been referencing throughout this process:
(Click the images for shopping details!)
When creating an inspiration board such as this, all of a sudden a huge project seems much more doable and realistic. Referencing this image also helps keep me on track when it comes to selecting colors, prints and any other add-ons that I may come across over time.
In my life there is a constant battle between my crazy, neat-freak self and my design aesthetic self. I love the look of finished spaces with decorated walls, abundant color, texture and detail throughout. Unfortunately, sometimes the neat freak in me rules and I end up with a whole lot of bare empty space. Obviously, there is always a happy medium, it’s just a matter of getting there.
Getting a “finished” appearance in any room is a matter of filling visual voids without overwhelming your current design. Most importantly, I think WHAT you use to fill these voids should be things you connect with, versus things you think you should purchase just to get that mantle decorated (a.k.a. CLUTTER). So take your time and find those treasures that inspire you. I promise, you won’t go wrong.
All of the surfaces seem to be multi-textural, providing plenty of visual interest without feeling as though you’re being closed in on by “stuff.” I also adore the fact that the designer stuck with pretty neutral tones on the major furniture pieces, yet made the room fun and inviting with the sporadic pops of color! How fabulous is that little orange stool? The clear acrylic coffee table also creates visual space and makes the room feel much more open and airy. Two thumbs up from this neat freak!
If you’re looking to recreate this look in your own home, I did most of the hard work for you! Check out my copy-cat shopping list below:
Last week, I spent some time helping to redecorate my parents’ living room which has had essentially the same layout since they moved in close to 30 years ago. The furniture styles may have changed over the years, but the basic floor-plan stayed exactly the same: couches around the perimeter of the room with a large wall unit and entertainment system on one end. Finally, with their post-Hurricane Sandy home rehab, my mom let me take a crack at doing something a little different. So I DID!
Step #1: Think about the space in terms of function.
How do you want the space to be used? For my parents, this large room with high cathedral ceilings and a sliding glass door opening to their patio was a lounging space, a hosting space for guests, and an entryway into their home. Additionally, the family room opens up into an adjacent dining room, so the floor plan had to accommodate that flow of traffic.
Step #2: Think about the space in terms of conversation areas.
It took only a moment for me to realize that the room was always totally underutilized because the couches and armchairs were so greatly spaced apart. You practically had to shout to reach the person on the other couch. A lone armchair also blocked the traffic flow into the dining room. A simple shifting of existing furniture, not only created a more comfortable and intimate living/dining space, but also allowed for a portion of the room to be dedicated to a new reading corner and functional entryway. Instantaneously, the room looked double it’s original size.
Step #3: Think about how you can best recycle existing furnishings and accessories in your redesign.
What pieces could you use in a different manner to achieve your design goals? Don’t be afraid to experiment- turn rugs around, split up furniture sets and give existing furniture a new purpose. Change is good, and in this case, change is FREE!
Step #4: Fill in the missing pieces.
Once you’ve shopped your own home, you have a better idea of the furniture and accessories you may be missing to complete the space. Now is the time to be patient, search out the pieces that meet all of your needs and search out the deals. Most importantly, only buy the things you truly love! Hopefully, these items will be with you for a long time to come. Or in my parents’ case, until the next hurricane/super-storm sweeps them away!
And below… some design eye-candy and great inspiration for creating your own new conversation areas! Enjoy!