Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Living Room, Two Ways

No, it's not my living room.

Rather, my brother and sister-in-law are starting to invest in some real "grown up" furniture for their new-to-them 1909 American Foursquare style house on Chicago's north shore.  What?  Furniture that isn't from Craigslist or IKEA?  I know.  I'm jealous too.  I mean, I love me some Craigslist, but how much fun would it be to pick out your own custom stuff?  *sigh*  On a related note, I really should start playing the Lottery.

It's a big living room.  It's got space for two distinct seating areas, and it's filled with original details, including oak trim, wood floors, and a killer craftsman-style wood mantle.

See below.  This is NOT my drawing.  They hired a designer to help them select and purchase custom pieces--most of which are still in production--from Chicago's Merchandise Mart and this is her work.  But this drawing will give you a sense of the room's size.  On the right half of the room (as pictured below), there will be a square arm sectional with a square brown leather cocktail ottoman.  I haven't seen the side tables, so I can't comment on those.  Opposite the sectional will be an upholstered bench, and there's a floating media cabinet from the previous owners on the adjacent wall.

On the left half of the room there will be a small sofa (with its back facing the front door), two small arm chairs, and two wing chairs flanking the fireplace.  A round cocktail table will anchor the grouping.

And here are the selections.  These were all chosen by my brother and SIL and their designer.  All of the upholstered pieces are custom made, so I didn't have easy access to pics of them in their chosen fabrics.  You'll just have to use your imagination a bit on this one.  All of the fabric is Kravet.  The leather ottoman pictured below is just a stand-in.  I couldn't get a pic of the actual piece in leather, but it's similar to what you see here... except bigger and square.  The paint color is Relaxed Khaki by Sherwin Williams.

Actually, here's a picture of one of the completed wing chairs.  He has a twin and they will go on either side of the fireplace.  Love.  Look at how perfectly the pattern on the welting lines up.  Good grief.  Yes, these are the kinds of things that get me excited. 

So... a week or so ago, before I had seen any of this, I got an email from my SIL asking for suggestions on how to style these floating shelves left by the previous owners.  This is the wall opposite the sectional and the upholstered bench will go beneath these shelves once complete:

I wanted more context, so I asked for about 1,000,000 more pictures and that's when she shared all of the furniture/ fabric/ rug/ paint selections with me.  And I thought, "Wow.  That's a lot of beige."  Also, I hate those shelves.  They are hung too high and are too close together.  I can't see anything working on those; instead, I'd like to see a large piece of art in their place--something with color that can serve as a jumping off point for bringing in even more colorful accessories.

Assembling mood boards and sourcing stuff makes me stupidly happy, so instead of offering up any styling suggestions for those shelves (get rid of them!) I just went ahead and started putting a whole mock room together.  Without any real input on color preference, my first stab went with BLUE.

Everything shown here is on my Emily pinboard.  Please refer to that for sources.

If it were me, I'd choose something different for the floor--an area rug with some color.  I also would use something lighter and less monochromatic on the walls.  For the blue room, I swapped out their existing rug for this Pottery Barn number, and if I had to pick a wall color, I'd go with Benjamin Moore's Swiss Coffee--that's the paint dollop you see there overlapping a bit of the blue mirror.

I'd hang that framed horizon print (which is nice and big at 48" x 37") over the bench and put the mirror over the mantle along with a collection of pottery.  Each wing chair gets a light blue linen lumbar pillow.   To balance all the wood in the room, I'd make sure the side tables for the sectional were anything but wood... I am in love with the Clairemont tables from C&B, but my brother is anti-glass in this room due to kids, so instead I'd opt for something like the navy garden stool above instead.  The two fabrics I picked for throw pillows are both Kravet and both available as ready-made pillow covers on Etsy right now, incidentally.

I was digging on my blue room, but then... I learned that THIS was the rug they had already purchased for the dining room.  The dining room that is immediately adjacent to the living room.

This is the Cecil rug from the Pottery Barn.  I love it and it totally works with the style of the home, but it does not work with blue.  Like not at all.  And as much as I love the blue room, I'm a firm believer that all of the rooms in your house should complement each other, or at least have some kind of common thread...  so I gave it another shot.  For this one, see my Emily Revised pinboard.

So this is the beauty of selecting all neutral colored upholstery--you can really take it any direction you'd like through art and accessories.  Red room!  I'm not sure what should go where exactly, but I'd still want a big piece of art over that bench--either the poppies from Ballard or that Dolan Geiman painting as a box print on wood (at 40" x 27").  Again, losing the monochromatic rug for something with a bit more color and interest.  Maybe Acadia White on the walls?  I don't know... it's just too hard to tell without being able to be there and see everything in the space with real natural light.

I can't get enough of West Elm's favorite throw--and it comes in chili now!  I have one in apple green and it is so soft and lovely.  I swear I'm not a one trick pony but, full disclosure, I also have pillows in that same suzani fabric (Swavelle's Taraz), although mine are in a different colorway.  I looked and looked for something I liked more here, but the color palette is just too perfect and the suzani plays so nicely with the bench fabric they chose.  It's a keeper.

More art, more pottery.  Sure, it's pretty and decorative, but it's also a nod to the home's architectural style... it would be even cooler to start a legit collection of American art pottery, though as a collector myself, I'll admit to being a bit biased on that one.  And if my brother starts collecting art pottery, I cannot be responsible if a piece or two should happen to go missing next time I visit.

In the end, I don't think they're interested in either of these scenarios, but that's just fine by me.  I recently discovered that my husband has had Photoshop on his work laptop for THE PAST THREE YEARS.  All this time, I've been using clunkers like Olioboard to play with things like this, but now I can use Photoshop!  Wahoo!  Certainly one of my favorite ways to waste time, and it was fun having a real-life room to play with.

But seriously, lose the shelves :) 

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