Category Archives: LIVING ROOM

BIG-BOX STORES: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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Shopping for furniture can be tough. The danger of ordering online is that you can’t physically feel and touch the items. Is it a soft leather? Does the fabric feel cheap? Is this color blue or aqua or slate? For reasons like this people often stick to the big-box stores, which is fine. The challenge is finding something stylish and contemporary at these giant chain stores.

Below is a small sample ‘test’ I did online for three big-box stores; Ashley Furniture, Raymour & Flanigan, and Macy’s. I simply went to their websites and searched for chairs. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of what I found.

RAYMOUR & FLANIGAN

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The Good: This is a modern wing back chair in a textured gray fabric. The Cassa Chenille Accent Chair is $350, but like many of these large stores you can probably get a discount in person. This chair is great because while it has a modern look to it, it still has the right amount of comfort that many people like in their homes.

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 9.57.45 AMThe Bad: Tufted fabric is a classic element, that when used right, can add a little bit of sophistication to your room. This however, is not sophisticated, it’s over-stuffed and under-styled. And worst of all this Maxine Chair is $800. The one thing they got right is the frame. It has sleek modern lines and does not feel too bulky. In fact, the frame is the only thing about this chair that’s NOT bulky. Note the overstuffed cushion as well.

 

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 9.58.32 AMThe Ugly: At $370 this Caroline Swivel Rocker might be perfect for grandpa, but not for anyone else. In fact, you should not buy this chair or any like it if you are under the age of 75!

 

 

 

ASHLEY FURNITURE

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6220021_KOThe Good: I like orange, for now. I can see this color going out of style in a year or two, and perhaps coming back again. This color was popular in the 60’s, 70’s, and even the 80’s, but had gone out of fashion until recently. Called Verbena Chocolate (price unknown as Ashley does not list costs online) this is a somewhat soft looking formal chair in my opinion. I could see it flanked by a cocktail table or arranged in a pair for a small conversation corner.

2490131_KOThe Bad:  This chair looks like something an Eames chair threw up. It’s just wrong, all of it. Oddly enough this is a very popular design as I see it at many of the big-box stores. Here’s a tip: If you see something at every store, don’t buy it. That means that style has come and gone and is no longer ‘in’.

 

3920044_KOThe Ugly: I think I saw this pattern in a hospital waiting room back in 1991? Sometimes the pattern says it all, and in this case it says burn me.

 

 

 

MACY’S

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Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 10.11.14 AMThe Good: Unlike the pattern we saw in The Ugly from Ashley, this Brie Fabric chair uses a much more pleasing design. The pattern has enough white space in it so as not to overwhelm your sight. The frame has a classic feel with solid arms that are delicate but still substantial. All this will cost you though at $850, but don’t forget your coupon and 10% off for using your Macy’s card!!!

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 10.08.54 AMThe Bad: While I like the general color and style of this Asher Leather Recliner, they just missed the mark. It looks like if you sat down on this seat you’d slide right down to the floor. It is hand-rubbed Italian leather, so the quality IS there. Not sure why the chair has to recline either, that really takes away from the aesthetics. Maybe having the chair recline is the only way to keep people from falling off it?

 

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 10.10.09 AMThe Ugly: Oh Fudge! The Jedd Fabric Power Recliner Chair (who the hell named this?) is a steal at $600. And if you’re lucky maybe someone will steal it from you! The fabric is actually called fudge. I think that’s because this chair looks like a big chunk of fudge! They should rename this chair The Big Chunk.

Denim Don’t

DENIM COUCH

WOW! Who the hell designed this thing, Levi Strauss (I’m here all week folks)?
And let the insults begin:

1. It looks like it smells like patchouli.
2. Does this couch make my ass look big?
3. I just want to cuddle up on my sofa with a good book and 300 yards of denim.
4. You know what this couch is missing? An elastic pocket…oh wait, there is one!
5. This costs $2,389. No really, it does. That’s not a joke.
6. Made from 100% recycled mom jeans.
7. Machine dry, low tumble.
8. Dude, your sofa’s zipper is down, I can see it’s lumbar support!
9. How many times have you said to yourself,
“You know what this room is missing? A denim couch!”
10. Does this sofa come in a button fly?

This beauty is brought to you courtesy of Dot&Bo, which usually has some very nice decor. But today they got it all wrong, and I thank them for it. And by the way, it really does sell for $2,389. So how many can I put you down for?

Here’s a little extra credit for another $750, enjoy:

DENIM CHAIR

Reclining in Style

BROWN SOFA RECLINER

For those of us who grew up with reclining sofas and sectionals there really was no replacement for comfort. You could recline your little section of the sofa, flip open the arm rest to have a place to put your drink and a holder for your remote. Your typical reclining sofa is about 30 feet long and 20 feet wide with the same depth as a your average 55 chevy. In other words, they’re big.

While these behemoths may be fine for a basement, man cave, or home theater room, they really don’t belong in your average size living room anymore. Of course that doesn’t mean you should feel like you are in grandmas parlor sitting on plastic wrapped furniture. Comfort should be top priority in your own living room, especially when you just want to kick back and relax. That being said here’s another way to think about the reclining sofa. What made it great was that you had your choice of kicking up your feet on the footrest or sitting upright. The simple solution to that is get a comfy couch and place a comfy ottoman in front of it. That way you can still decide if you want to ‘recline’ and slack off or sit up and pay attention!

Here’s a nice comfortable sofa that I paired with three different ottoman choices. The gray sofa can be somewhat dark so I tried pairing it up with a bright striped ottoman or a solid lighter toned one. The striped one certainly looks the best to me, but for many homes that color scheme won’t work or will be too much. If that’s the case stick to the neutral tones. By the way, all three of these ottomans are available at CB2, links are below:

SOFA_OTTOMAN

 

A. The Thomas Sofa from inMod is pricey at $1,500. I’m not suggesting you go out and buy this exact sofa, I am just using it as a base to show you how to combine both comfort and style at the same time. But, it is a very nice sofa and comes in several different fabrics.

B. From CB2 this little Parlor ottoman is $399 and the tweed fabric adds a nice touch of texture to your room. There is also a similar one in atomic orange also for $399 if you need that big pop of color.

C. My favorite choice is this Batao Stripped sectional ottoman also from CB2 for $549. The larger square size (37″) makes it a great ottoman/coffee table combo. The colorful stripes won’t look great in every room, but certainly add to the fun and playfulness of this piece.

D. A brighter and larger option is this 38.5″ Lotus Natural Ottoman for $499. Notice the bent chrome legs which add a sense of modernity. This is a larger piece so make sure you measure your space before you order anything. Nothing worse than getting this home only to discover you can’t fit it in front of your sofa without moving it every time!

CASE STUDY – MUSIC ROOM

PROBLEM: How do you fit a baby grand piano, two accent chairs, a side table, a floor lamp, an area rug, and accessories all in a 12 X 14 room? I don’t know yet, but I’m gonna figure it out.

The client wants the room to be elegant, but simple, with clean lines. There’s not a lot of space to work with, in fact the room really only has two walls. The third wall is mostly windows and the fourth ‘wall’ is actually the archway to enter the room. Making things even more difficult is the fact that there will be a baby grand piano occupying most of the 168 sq feet.

SOLUTION: So what does one do when space is this limited? The answer is scale down. People have a tendency today to buy oversized furniture far too often. Part of the problem is that when we shop for furniture we usually see it in a giant store the size of a warehouse. Only when the pieces are delivered to our 12 X 14 rooms do we realize our eyes were bigger than our floor plans! We end up with giant sofas and enormous coffee tables that make it so we can’t even walk into the room anymore. So the plan with this room will be to make sure the items we place in it are the right size. Take a look at the sketch below which illustrates what sort of furniture and decor we should be aiming for as a guide. Also, as a bonus all the items you see (except for the Steinway piano and Benjamin Moore paint) are available from Overstock.com. One stop shopping, you can’t beat that!

LO_ROOM

Here’s what’s what:

A. Bottoms up! We might as well start with the foundation. There will be hardwood flooring in this room which is a big plus for any room to start with. However, we need to give the room a little softening up, and one of the best ways to do that is with this gold Metropolis area rug. The rug isn’t meant to occupy the whole room, but rather to go under the seating area we are creating. It has a timeless Moroccan pattern and is a steal at $150.

B. The baby grand! Pianos can sometimes be a nightmare to work around, especially if you find yourself having to move it one too many times. On the flip side, they do provide a sense of classicism to a home as well as fill it with wonderful sounds, hopefully. If nothing else pianos can act as big shelves to display your curios!

C. Paint in the Butt. One of the hardest things to figure out in any room is what color to paint the walls. The client said she wanted a white with slate gray scheme. My suggestion is this palette from Benjamin Moore. The lighter gray called silver spring has just enough of that hint of slate blue but still keeps a very neutral tone. Match that with the much lighter steam color and you have a great base to start building your room.

D. Light it up! This Nova Lighting tripod floor lamp will make a great addition to the corner slightly behind the seating area. It should provide enough light for reading or just sitting back and listening to the music. It’s a bit pricier than I would like at $284, but still within reach. You might be able to find a cheaper version that looks very similar, so do your research before you buy.

E and F. Travel in pairs. Here are a couple of somewhat matching black vases that can be added to the room, be it on the side table, or perhaps on a corner shelf. The taller Tung Chi vase is 14″ tall while the shorter Jar is 12″ tall. Both cost $63 each.

G. Have a seat. These accent chairs are a great size for a smaller more crowded space. The Safavieh Noho Lounge Chair is about 30″ high X 30″ wide and 25″ deep and costs only $228 each. Buy two of them to create a nice seating area while saving on space AND money! These chairs have very simple lines. The fact that they are armless will help give the room a sense of having even more space. The white piping and buttons are a great touch that adds some contrast the the gray fabric.

H. Table time. I really like this gold table. Gold is in again so don’t be afraid to use it. This great little side table is also made by Safavieh and sells for only $130. It’s about 20″ high X 17″ wide and 12″ deep. This is a perfect size for a small vase, a cup of coffee, or just a place to rest your book. The top is actually mirrored so it will reflect a lot of light brightening up the room even more. The elegant gold color of the table against the gray side chairs and wall will compliment each other nicely. The lines in this table are as clean and sharp as they come. The straight verticals and horizontals will be a good contrast to the curved line of the side chairs.

I. Soften with Color. While I think the chairs may be great by themselves, you may find that they need a little more cushion. My suggestion is to add a pop of color with this set of two pillows made by Key Lipstick which sell for $70. The rich, deep, red color add a bit of luxury and elegance to the room, while the gold embroidery helps pick up the warmth from the rug and side table.

Case Study

PROBLEM: A living room that gets very little light and is currently occupied with oversized furniture, and walls that are too dark.

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SOLUTION: Start by choosing brighter wall colors. A buttery beige on the two side walls is accented by a cooler, yet still light, slate color on the back wall. A lighter toned bamboo shade is added for some privacy while still letting a fair amount of light in. A smaller and brighter sofa and love seat take over where the oversized green microfiber left off. A retro-modern ottoman serves as both coffee table and storage space and adds a rich aqua color to the center of the room, drawing your eyes in away from the dark corners. Two white side tables that flank the sofa are narrow enough to fit in the tight space, but open enough on the bottom so as not to feel heavy. A black and white photograph on a brighter wall always adds great contrast while the orange chevron pillows add the final pop of color that was needed.

AL_LIVING_ROOM

From Hotel to Home

Have you ever stayed in an amazing hotel room and wanted to take a piece of it home with you? This past June I stayed in an crazy awesome room at Wynn Las Vegas. I say room but it was really a suite, in fact it was REALLY a house as it was 1800 sqft! The entire hotel property is magnificently designed and decorated from top to bottom, it is truly amazing, but that’s a post for another time. Now to the actual room decor itself; If I had millions of dollars I would just purchase everything from the Wynn catalog that was placed in my room, as everything IN my room was also sold by Wynn. But, at prices like $500 for a washcloth (well maybe not $500) who can afford to do that? What I can afford to do though is find similar decor at much cheaper prices. And that’s what this post is about.

Take a look at the two pictures of my suite below. What I will ‘bring’ home are the silver spheres and the tall candle sticks they sit on, as well as the glass table lamps. I’ve circled them in red on the photos below so it’s easier to see.

WYNN-ROOM

So here’s what I was able to find for MUCH MUCH MUCH cheaper than the catalog price at Wynn. Granted, it may not be the same brand or quality, but all things considered it’s a pretty good match for the price.

Let’s start with those 2 glass lamps on the end tables. I’m not usually a fan of glass lamps, for some reason they always look cheap to me. But, in a room that has so much going on they are just what’s needed to rest your eye.

I found this pair on the HOME DECORATORS COLLECTION website for $170 with free shipping.

HOME DECORATORS LAMP

Each lamp is 28″ X 14″ and unlike most of the other options I found, this is sold in pairs. Many people like their rooms to have symmetry and pairing things that are the same always helps balance that. And it comes with the shade, which is good and bad. It’s good in a sense that the lamps are ready to use once you screw in a lightbulb and plug it in. It’s bad in a sense that often times the stock shades that come with many lamps are not the greatest quality or style. But that’s something that you can always change later.

Now let’s look at those silver spheres. When I first saw them I wasn’t sure I liked them. But damn if they didn’t grow on me and add a bit of coolness to the room. You can find silver spheres (balls really) almost anywhere, from garden stores to high end decorators showrooms. I choose to go slightly different with this option from ZGallerie and at just $10 each these Nest Spheres are a great little option.

Z GALLERIE BALL

They still have the shine and sparkle of silver and chrome, yet they are not as heavy and bulky as a solid silver ball would be. I would not be as afraid of these falling on the floor and denting or scratching when they land as I would the solid heavier spheres.

So now that we have our silver sphere ball shape thingy we just need something to place it on. Here’s two options for you to check out.

This first choice is at PierOne starting at about $11 and going up to $16 for the tallest one. These have a nice white-washed finish, very similar to those at Wynn in color and shape, but not quite as tall. Let’s face it, most of us don’t have 12 foot ceilings, sometimes a bit shorter is better. The tricky part about finding the right ‘holder/candlestick’ is making sure your sphere will sit in it properly. Some spheres are not actually round all the way . . . around. They have a small flat spot somewhere so they don’t roll away. But, that isn’t true with all of them so be careful what sphere you pair with what holders.

PIER ONE STICKS

I also found this equally affordable option at Ikea and it comes in 3 different sizes. The tallest one pictured below is $14.99 and the prices go down from there.

IKEA STICK

Think about getting a few and having them at different heights just like the picture of the Wynn room above. Now the downside to Ikea is that you actually have to go to the store to buy anything, no online shopping :-(. But, I’m sure if you look around your area you can find a similar option at just as good of a price.

So, have you ever been on vacation and wanted to take a piece of it home with you? Well I say do it…sort of!

Goldiloks And The Three Frames?

You can usually tell who hung something on a wall by the height at which it was hung. Tall people hang pictures, mirrors, etc very high on the wall close to the ceiling. A real no no for me. Short people tend to hang things too low on the wall so you’re almost walking into them. As for myself I am not particularly tall, ok I’m short, but I am the ideal height to hang things! At 5 foot 8 inches I am just about the average height of men and woman in America (woman average around 5’4″ and men 5’10”).

The most important thing to remember when hanging anything on the wall is EYE LEVEL. If you’re not sure how high something should be hung just think about the average person’s eye level. So for you tall folks, sorry, you’re gonna have to bring it down a few inches. And likewise for us shorties, we have to raise things up a bit.

Take a look at the drawing below and use it as a guide next time you are hanging that portrait of Aunt Louise and Uncle Ichabod.

FRAMES_HEIGHT

With the basic eye level rule of thumb you really can’t go wrong.

Get the Modern Family look!

Following up on my last post I said that I would be picking a few highlights from various ‘famous’ living rooms and showing you how to get a similar look for your home. I decided to start with Modern Family as most people would like their rooms to look more like this than The Golden Girls, presumably.

Take a look at the image below so we can know what we’re aiming for.

Modern Family

Modern Family

I’ll start with the paint, the gray blue slate color of the walls we see in the entry way above in particular. This is a great color for someone that is sick of white and beige but not ready for reds and bright greens. There is just enough blue to actually make it colorful, but also enough gray to keep it somewhat neutral.

While it is tempting to skimp out and buy the cheap paint, don’t! Trust me, more often than not you really do get what you pay for. I’ve painted a lot of rooms in the various places I’ve lived, and some I haven’t lived in, and the one thing I have been able to take from that is don’t buy the cheap paint! Drips, runs, spills, watery, pealing, are just a few words that come to mind when you skimp out on the paint.

My favorite paint is Benjamin Moore. It is quite pricey but goes on much thicker and covers more surface area than the cheaper brands, so in the end the price evens out a bit. A quick search on the Benjamin Moore website and a similar ‘Modern Family’ palette is found called Nimbus Gray. It’s almost a perfect match all around!

Benjamin Moore Sample

If you are afraid of adding this dark of a color to your wall, especially in smaller spaces, remember you don’t have to paint the whole room the same color. Try painting the main wall the dark color, an accent wall essentially, and then the two side walls in a lighter shade of that color. Or, in the pale yellow as shown above. Paint companies actually do a pretty good job at matching complementary colors for us, so we might as well use that tool, hell it’s free.

Now let’s take a look at their couch. There’s nothing extraordinary about the sofa, pretty standard as far as shape and size goes. The color is sort of a cross between pale yellow and light camel. So what can we find that’s similar AND affordable for our budget? Take a look at this choice below from JC Penney’s home store called the Friday Twill ($955 on sale).

JC PENNEY SOFA

This mock slipcovered sofa is a great deal at just $955 right now! This is that classically comfortable sofa that you can just plop right down on and read a book, watch TV, or just snooze away the afternoon. And coming in under $1000 for a new quality sofa is pretty scarce these days.

Now how about some pillow talk? Pillows are one of the best ways to add color and texture to any room. When I say this I don’t mean you should add 47 colorful pillows to your sofa and chairs and leave the rest of the room blank. I simply mean a few well placed and well patterned pillows can bring the whole room back together. *NOTE: Never add 47 pillows to anything unless you are a sheik of some sort.

Sticking with the Modern Family decor as pictured above, let’s take a look at this pillow from Pier One Imports called the Scatter Daisy Stripe Pillow ($15).

PIER ONE PILLOW

This brightly colored pillow is going to make your living room pop in an unexpected way. Most people would think that a pillow this bright would overshadow the rest of the room, but that’s not true. When you introduce an accessory that includes some of the colors already existing in the room it actually helps make those other things pop as well. Your eye ties the reds together, the yellows together, the blues together and so on making everything work as one.

While these pillows are made to be used outdoors, that doesn’t mean they cannot be indoor pillows as well. In fact, what that means to me is that these pillows are going to be remarkably stain resistant and durable, which is a very good things in a living room! And for $15 you can’t beat the price so buy a few.

And finally, let’s shed some light on the whole situation with this mustard yellow table lamp from Overstock.com called the Distressed Honey Mustard Handle Table Lamp (there’s a mouthful) for $107.

MUSTARD LAMP

This lamp has a unique shape that will add some character to your room without becoming the centerpiece. One thing to think about with ALL lamps is the shade. Just because a shade may come with a certain lamp you buy, that doesn’t mean that’s the shade that HAS to go with it. In this case a slightly lighter shade, or conversely a much darker or even black shade, may work much better for you.

So those are my four quick elements to getting the Modern Family look. What are yours?