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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

1960s townhouse - need help with our living room!

cognito2012February 15, 2013
We are redecorating our 1960s town-house in London and really struggling with the living room.

It receives a lot of light during the day and is lit by halogen spot lights in the night.
You can see from the pictures that three sides have openings and the side with the bannister/staircases limits our options for moving stuff around.

The kitchen (seen through the door) is modern grey/light blue with a black granite worktop.

A few caveats:
- We need to keep TV and units where they are
- We don't want to change the sofa because we have two small kids that jump on it and doing their arts and crafts at the play table next to the sofa.
- Paint colours: because the banister/staircase walls show we have to make the living room color merge together somehow so that limits our choice of color. We like greys and teals.

What's changing:
- The rug shown is not meant to be there. We'd be happy to get something big and interesting instead.
- The baskets (one is white, the other the original colour). These can be resprayed into any colour.
- The white play table is painted and we are happy to repaint this.
- We are selling the armchair and want something 'better' instead
- Both the bookshelfs are going.
- The little corner unit you see will be the position of the new armchair.
- A black piano (digital so not massively bulky) will be placed inbetween the red painting and the bookshelf.
- The staircase paint colours can be changed.

The room currently looks neither here or there and we are also at a loss with regards to the paint color(s) and how we should complete the walls (e.g. large mirror, artwork etc).

Any advice would be appreciated! :-)
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Another picture
    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 2:36AM
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For a start you have a lovely floor, great light and a good idea of what you want to keep and want to change
Paint colour:
My first instinct is to go for a slightly darker grey grey on the walls (In London try to find a grey that has a red undertone rather than a blue, as the light tends to be colder - you need to keep warmth). This will complement your floor colour and the TV cabinets that have to stay. Dont make it too dark though as you will lose contrast between the wall and furniture and you need something to reflect the light in.

Rug - As your kids will play in this area, go for a subtly patterned rug that will hide most sins but complement your tan sectional. It cannot be the shaggy silk rugs as you will find lego toys and food in it for years to come. Also needs to cover a large area - almost up to your media cabinets, near the Kitchen door but not up to the dining table.

Spray paint your baskets the same colour as your wall. You need to find a table that will do double duty as a coffee table for guests and then as a table for the kids. There is little magic one can work incorporating this into your scheme. I took an old large desk and sawed down the legs and stained it. I had draws for kids toys and stuff, and they sat on cushions to play. Try this instead.

Is there anyway you can move your TV cabinets just slightly over to align with your sectional. It is off kilter but may be as it is and you can do nothing about it.

You have a big sectional - ensure you balance it out carefully (not too heavy and not too lightweight, it has to hold its own in the room) A grey flannel or felt would work as a nice contrast and tie the room colour scheme together

Your black piano will work this scheme just ensure it aligns with the dining table

Once you have these elements in place look at the balance of the room and you can then add your artwork.

Can you cover your dining room chairs in fabric once you have your colour scheme in place?
    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 3:08AM
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A Crew of Two
What an amazing space! Benjamin Moore- Dune Grass is a beautiful color. It is a soft gray green color. It will look great with your wood floors and warm up the space, also blend well with the sofa. Not sure of your personal style, but feel the room needs a more contemporary look. Love this area rug. Some bold throw pillows on the sofa- lots of them. I think putting shelving over the cabinets would make the wall a focal point and give them a built in look. It would also allow you to add layers of accents. Place artwork on the shelves in layers. Maybe paint the kid's tables a darker color to help it blend with the room. I know it helps the room function for the kids. Move your red artwork over what I assume is a radiator at the bottom of the stairs. I think a window treatment would look great. I would pick a heavy weight fabric to go with the size of the window.
    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 4:38AM
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A Crew of Two
I like these drapes in a color close to your wall color. Great space- really love it.
    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 4:41AM
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Thank you so much for your very helpful posts. We can re-adjust the TV cabinets as they are not fixed. We are going to paint the room in Pavilion Grey (Farrow & Ball), which has a warm undertone.

Any ideas regarding the wall behind staircase? Do we leave it a beige colour or paint it grey?

Also, what are your thoughts on painting the wall between the living room and kitchen in a dark colour such as Hague Blue (Farrow & Ball) or Down Pipe dark grey (also F&B)?

The kitchen has light blue cabinets, black granite work-surface, grey tiling).

If we paint in dark blue then we would get rid of the red painting unless red would be ok with this colour scheme?
We are currently looking at getting a very interesting mirror in place of the red painting – you can see the link here: http://www.dominic-schuster.com/verre-eglomise
    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 8:19AM
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I think your Pavilion grey will work very well. It will bring light into the room. Please test a large piece on your wall for a week to be sure it has the right undertones and doesn't give you blue (I don't think it does but would prefer you err on the side of caution).
Paint as much of your room grey - it will look darker by the staircase but still unify the room and also the grey will work with your kitchen colours as an echo - but not a repeat!

While I love feature walls, and I LOVE the colours you have chosen, I am not sure painting the wall opposite your windows is the right decision. Even with an extreme dark, it just gets washed out by the daylight and at night you will find it too heavy. I would proceed with caution - try hanging up a black curtain or blanket just to see the effect it would have. You need to test this out.

I love the etched mirror (bookmarked it!) but keep it on the same wall as your red painting. I am not sure which colour you are going for, but you could keep both - dependent on the colour.
Best of luck
    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 8:30AM
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I think you’re right, the dark colour may end up looking too heavy – so we’ll go with grey throughout.

I have attached a picture of what the room used to look like. The decoration is not really our style and was not thought through...just happened. The units are modular so can be rearranged in a number of ways. Would it look better to stack a unit of 3 squares on top of existing unit (to the right of unit)?

Really love the suggestion of curtains in the room but the window we have is about 4 meters (13 feet) wide. Are full length curtains going to be too overwhelming?
    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 12:46PM
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Hi there, actually I was suggesting you hang a large dark piece of fabric on the wall outside the kitchen just to get the impression of how heavy it will be. Always worth testing it.

For actual curtains, if your view is lovely and no one can see in, leave it: London lights can be fantastic. Hope that is the case for you.
    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 1:19PM
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I have created a mood board with the main new planned features including curtains, a ladder bookshelf, a black piano, black coffee/play tablet, black barcelona chair, a patterned rug and a modern floor lamp. Any feedback on this is welcome.
    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 6:05PM
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A Crew of Two
love it, my only suggestion is add a 3rd color...i vote for a plum color. Add color in the artowork, pillows, maybe a throw? Otherwise it's great.
    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 8:46PM
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Does this still interesting yet elegant/contemporary? We are finding it really hard to work with the floor color, sofa color and room layout limitations!
    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 1:49PM
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Thanks everyone who has commented so far - it has been immensely helpful. We have gone through a number of design cycles and would be interested to what you think of this combination?
    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 2:48PM
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This looks great. Are you changing the sofa then? It is a completely different look to what you started with but will work with your floor and wood.
    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 3:00PM
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Yes, we tried to make it work with the existing sofa but gave up as it just wasn't working.
1 Like    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 3:15PM
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