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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Awkward Living Room Space...HELP!

MeganFebruary 21, 2013
My husband and I just bought a little bungalow built in the 1940s. We have a couple pieces of furniture (we're newlyweds) and we're trying to make good decisions on what we purchase. It is a small home so we want to keep the clutter to a minimum & want to utilize our space!

We are currently working on completing the living room. It is hands down the strangest layout I've ever had to decorate: a small L shape! I've attached a picture of what the room looks like.

I am frustrated and need help with a layout. The major things we have to work around: We bought an 8' couch and are also commited to a 65" TV & console on one wall (it was the only wall big enough to hold it). We don't own a loveseat, armchairs, coffee table, rug, or ottoman! Any suggestions would be so wonderful!
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It might be helpful if you could isolate the living room part of the plan as it doesn't enlarge much and it's difficult to see, at least for my old eyes! Is there an opening from the living room to the kitchen? It looks like there might be.
    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 4:16PM
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Sure! I attached them with dimensions & without!
    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 4:25PM
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Oh man, that's better! Thanks for doing that. One thing I question is the amount of cabinets and counterspace you have in the kitchen. If you treated the small section of the living room as a dining room, you could add more cabinets. If that doesn't interest you I would make the small section a library like room with bookcases and comfortable chair/lighting.

Your sofa could sit with it's back to the kitchen wall but not up against the wall unless you need to do that for space reasons. The tv along the longest wall? I don't think a love seat against the window wall will be optimal tv viewing, maybe just a comfy chair or recliner that can be angled toward the tv.

Sorry that took so long!
1 Like    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 4:32PM
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The TV is on the shorter wall & the couch is on the longest. What would you do in the empty space next to the couch?

Love the library idea...maybe we could add a little window bench & some shelves on either side!
    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 4:40PM
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The tv is on the outside wall, and the couch is opposite it? Is that right? So the couch will sort of float? I love that idea, so many people do what I call 'spin-art' decorating, where everything is shoved up against a wall. If I'm right in my guess, you could put a beautiful sofa table behind the couch, and an area rug in front of it. If you go with a coffee table I would rather see two small ottomans instead for extra seating if you need it. Is there room for a love seat? What is your floor? Lighting?
1 Like    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 5:02PM
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I'm sure originally that was meant for a dining area - but at 8 x 9 that probably feels a bit tight for you now, and possibly you don't prefer having a formal dining space. If you do like to entertain, what would be amazing, and a modern way to approach the bungalow, is to do one of Candice Olson's favorite schemes for tight spaces.

On the wall opposite the kitchen, what about a tall bar height 6' wide upholstered banquet seat built in with a tall feature back in a great textural (outdoor for cleanability) fabric, and a pipe rail / foot rail in galvinized pipe screwed in to make it comfortable to sit up high. Then you could do a narrow bar height table - and add upholstered leather barstools at both ends. You can still use the pockets on either side of the window to put shelving or buy twin bar /wine/ shelving cabinets for the books, art, and bar storage that would serve the space. It would be multifunctional - when you need to spread out a project or lay out a spread for a crowd.

This would reference the banquets in bungalows, but in a totally modern way at a fun height. People could sit there and kibbitz with you when you are in the kitchen but be out of the way, and it would make for great flow through there at party time. You could seat three people along the wall, have a "dinner party" there with four to six to eight at full capacity. It would be like a second couch / conversation area - there's just something cozy about a banquet (think how you prefer booths in restaurants), and have versatility to function well as a desk area, or craft table, and so forth.

If the banquet is about 30" deep (20" seat, some slant on the back structure) you still can overhang seats with table, run a 30" wide bar past and have 3' passage. This will work if you make the table 7' long. Maybe do the bar out of stainless rolling shelving underneath a reclaimed wood top you build with a salvage door topped with glass (with locking casters, of course!). Then you can roll it back into the corner / up against the banquet most of the time - just watch for knee height/room when you plan it out.

Maybe the tall bar height doesn't appeal - you have young kids or you like the cozyness of the std height - look at CO's website for how fabulous these look - expensive, and totally DIY able. In a small space like this, a tall banquet feels like you are changing levels, and that always helps people feel connected to the other space because of better sight lines. It is youthful too.

Here's some ideas for the rest of the space with this treatment.

Were this my home, I would place the long couch on the far wall with end tables and lamps in the corners with the two windows behind, because it will help the space tie together visually and not make the big side of the L feel longer and narrower. I would take two larger, comfy armchairs and set them against the wall on the left and the right to begin to making a conversation area. This will fill out the space where the walls are close. A round coffee table or ottoman with a tray in the center of this grouping pulled toward the entrance will help take some of the "square" edges off the room. Eventually I would add a slipper chair (narrow, armless) on the right as you walk in the room with the back to the entrance angled toward the big seating group - so you walk through to get into the seating area. This chair can be rotated around for game days.

Between the entry and the banquet (starting on the left wall 8" past the start of the opp wall/ L's inside corner (so you have room at the window for the shelving and circulation), you have the 65" you need - plus great sight lines. This is the ideal place for the television, on a swing arm or rotating susan over/on a sideboard to hold components and round out storage in the space. This way the television can be enjoyed from the whole space / several locations.

Consider a fabulous sunburst concave mirror art (see pintrest for diy) centered over your long sofa, with long print fabric panels at each side of every window (except the dining - put a matching roman shade hung at the ceiling there, above the window most of the time to let the light in). Use rods wider than the windows and hang the panels over the walls - visually you will get bigger windows. You have great wall space for art on the long wall - something tall on the wall before the window, and the short wall where you have the television now would be a great place for something metal and graphic as a contrast.

Voila - every inch of space is really used - but it will feel bigger because you have used the space well and you have flexibility to use it lots of different ways.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 5:46PM
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Wow, thank you for such a thorough & thoughtful answer!! I LOVE the banquet idea. I rlove to entertain but was worried our house just wouldn't be able to hold any people! I also love the versatility of the table...could be for dinners, working on the laptop, or crafting!

Wish I could pick your brain for the rest of my house! :) Thank you.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 6:05PM
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I'll post some pictures once we put your ideas to use!
1 Like    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 6:08PM
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Glad I could help - you will have to try out some of it with what you have now to see if all of it is for you, but I'm glad I could inspire. You can pick my brain on rest of house - just post w/ pictures and floor plan and usually you will get lots of ideas. Do you have a color story going? Go look at YoungHouseLove.com and search for their house napkin color inspiration - you can learn a lot from what they share about their color evolution from first house to now.
    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 7:40PM
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Here are pictures of the actual space.
1. The close up of the couch is the far & longest wall of the room.
2. This is a view from our entryway/hallway looking at fat wall and wall with 2 windows.
3. This is a view from the end of the couch.
4. This is a view from the ugly mint love seat.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 12:43PM
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View from mint loveseat
View into the long L shape from linen couch.
    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 12:52PM
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Would the TV fit between the 2 windows with the sofa opposite and "floating" in the room? A piece of furniture behind the sofa could then create more of an entryway and provide a place for lamps for the sofa, and some additional storage.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 1:23PM
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What beautiful things and colors - I love your space and everything you've done. I even have a jones for transforming that loveseat into the amazing bar height banquet.

In my original layout, I still love the long couch opposite where you walk in - getting the console moved over to the entry wall will immediately eliminate the narrow long feeling that is making this feel so small. The whole room will tie together when you shift the tv.

That television is definitely big enough to handle the 16' viewing distance - in fact, it needs it! Know it might be hard to get hubby to move it now that it is hung, but you have some tools for persuasion you should employ.

Your tall cabinet could go between entry and window to right on long wall. For now, you could put loveseat where tv and chair are, and chair opposite, angled back reaching into room.

I think I would look at how to repurpose the mint loveseat as my bar banquet! In this picture, that is not mint, but aqua on the green side which really looks great in your room.

The sofa cushion is probably too deep and cushy now to be good dining seating, but the width is right and that tufted back with the curvy arms would be to die for up on your wall. You could boost it up on a platform/ take off the existing soft cushions/ get harder flatter foam for seats / rework the mint loveseat upholstery and use the elements for your banquet - If you pull the fabric off the back it would be enough to wrap the bar platform and even the color and fabric would then be funky cool.

Consider it! - the lines are perfect retro cool once it is up higher - maybe you want to ask your Darling husband to put it up on wood blocks in the space to visually test my theory. If it were bar height, where the seat base below the cushion is at about 32" off floor to leave room for new harder cushion to get to 34" - wowsa.

Let's say you hate the fabric, then take it to an upholstery shop and have them rework it / build the platform / add the pipe rail for feet and have them cover in your favorite fabric - shops like that are used to repurposing. They make some lucious outdoor fabrics if you want scrubability. This is definitely a hand-me-down, but that means it is built like steel and this is a way to honor the giver. You'll be tempted to lose the tufting, but don't! It will make the piece in the long run.

You can even move it as it is and put a small accent 30" high round table in front of it/the window - and just go buy some new foam for harder cushions / perhaps put on new taller legs so it isn't too low. Ikea sells these cheap for you to try.

You can measure the space on either side of your short L window and watch for a pair of good quality matching tall cabinets - they would be fabulous painted out two shades lighter taupe than your walls. Casework there in a creamy taupe will be gorgeous and practical - you just want some decently tall bookshelves or DIY build yourself by trimming out / placing them on a pair of short base cabinets so they are as tall as the window.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 1:49PM
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There's only one problem with moving the TV...my husband created electrical work specifically for the TV. Now, we have an electrical outlet in the middle of or wall!

Yessss---never even thought to repurpose that little hand me down! I took some pictures of the L space. I took one standing in the kitchen. Does it leave enough room for a table? Should we have the skirt removed on the loveseat?

Thanks for your fabulous ideas.
    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 2:14PM
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Here's the view from the kitchen. And there's a view from the skinny part of the L window.
    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 2:16PM
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If repurposing the loveseat works as planned, then perhaps DH will let you buy that second armchair that would go where the chest is now. You can move furniture around without moving the television to see how it flows - don't have to ask him to rework electrical again until you point out how you are being thrifty with this approach. If you paint the outlet cover with the wall paint, it will hide in plain sight and eventually a new chair will hide it.

With regards to the loveseat upholstery skirt, you two have to chat and decide what height you want your banquet at. See http://www.ebpeters.com/barstool-buyers-guide.html this for your three options.

Honestly, bar height is young and fun, is super practical in a small house, reads cool, and may help talk your husband into the whole plan. A bar height table and banquet seat will give you levels that will actually help connect the people in this section to the people in the other section because they will be able to see each other over heads in between.

If you are eager to have kids, it's probably not the best idea for your home now, but if you think that is at least 3-4 years off, I have to recommend the bar height table and building a new platform base for the banquet.

If you measure to the platform beneath the seat cushion now, you are probably around 14 inches. That is the element you should try to get to the proper seat height, not the top of cushion, since that squishes nearly flat when sat on. So, you will likely have to make some adjustments even for std dining height Since the table itself needs to be long and narrow 7' x 30" wide, and you will want to build that yourself, then selecting the height you prefer with your husband and getting it done gives you two options.

Adjusting it for dining table height or bar height is something he can do. there are probably even better DIY instructions somewhere on line - but I'll give a rough outline.

For dining height - Add a new 2 x 4 flat across the front and back frame screwed into the frame behind the skirt to have a fresh strong structure to add the needed taller feet. Here are some that would work perfectly WITH the skirt, to show out from under http://www.tablelegs.com/Bun-Feet/Bromley-Bun-Feet.aspx

But if you want to add the 16" necessary for bar height, yes, I'd remove the skirt.

That wouldn't be hard for your handy guy - build a 16" high plywood faced box that matches the existing base superstructure of the loveseat. Then, you'll take off the skirt, wrap the new platform and the skirt area with one layer of batting, then drill the holes / add backing and preset the galvinized plumbing pipe rail (get fittings like this worked out with std nipple lengths and connectors by a plumber friend - http://www.plumbingsupply.com/galvanizedfittings.html#90elbows ), drill all the bolts and fit up to the interior bracing / backing about 12" off the floor, then remove. Easy then to wrap the base with one of the great leather look vinyl fabrics like this in a buff tone or http://www.fabric.com/home-decor-fabric-vinyl-fabric-solid-vinyl-fabric-vinyl-beige.aspx - or a tweedy match http://www.newtoto.com/178yapissevi.html Hot glue some hems on the upholstery and then staple and hot glue it on. From inside, drill thru where the bolts need to go, then attach the footrail.

The existing trim (doubled roll edging) at the top of the skirt will hide /make the perfect transition.

Probably would be great to cut a piece of masonite to lay in the loveseat under the normal cushion for stiffening the seat just enough to make it dining chair strength.
    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 9:34PM
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