Category Archives: SEATING

THE DOUBLE DUTY ROOM

PROBLEM: The client has recently renovated a room (new floors/walls/lights) that needs to serve double duty. The space will become a cross between a home office, bar, and entertaining space. The requests were as follows:

1. Plenty of storage for books, papers, and various other elements.

2. A desk that doesn’t look like a desk. It should be on the tall side so one could pull a stool up to it and feel like you’re at a bar. Hence no desk chair as one would normally think. This high desk/bar should also allow people, when seated, to look out through the back windows and enjoy the view.

3. The room should easily be able to transition from work space to entertainment space.

So this is what I’ve come up with…

THE BEFORE:

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THE SOLUTION, AFTER:

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A few things to highlight are: The red credenza. This aged deep red cabinet will serve as both an anchor to the room and as easily accessible storage. Adding a large black and white photograph in a gold frame compliments this deep red color instantly adding richness to the room. The two white book cases that flank the cabinet are perfect for storing and displaying just about anything and have tons of space. The two leather club chairs and small red and black cocktail table give this room some comfort and help it feel much more relaxed than any office would ever feel. The gray chevron patterned rug adds a strong contrast to the warm but heavy colored hardwood flooring and immediately brings a sense of lightness to the room. The desk against the back windows is tall and narrow, in fact it would be considered more of a sofa table that I’ve repurposed to serve in this space. The tall height means you can stand and work, or sit in the old-school draftsman stools and have a cocktail or two. The clients already had a vintage wooden refrigerator that was easily incorporated into the space and can serve as additional storage. The two gold starburst mirrors on either side of the desk/bar help to accentuate the warm tones throughout, as well as adding addition reflective light to the room. And finally a pair of dark drapes not only contrast the warm tones of the various woods in the room, but they also serve the practical purpose of blocking out any unwanted light while you are working.

And here is some additional info on some of the pieces used in this redo:

WHITE SHELVING UNIT, from West Elm, $899

RED AND BLACK COCKTAIL TABLE, from Pier One, $80

LEATHER CLUB CHAIRS, from Homeware, $559

CHEVRON RUG, from Pottery Barn Kids, $499

RED CABINET/CONSOLE, from Pottery Barn, $1,099

RUSTIC STORAGE DESK, from West Elm, $499

 

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.

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:

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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!

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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.

I’m Stumped!

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I was going to call this post Stool Sample, but I couldn’t bring myself to write that as a headline. Stools, particularly wooden stools, have been around since the earliest human sat down in the woods on a fallen tree. Usually when I think of a stump stool I picture some cabin in the woods, surrounded by flannel blankets and hunting gear, where some old man is sitting on an old tree stump he hauled in from the forest. He’s not using it for the aesthetic style as much as he is for the pure function. A simple round base with a flat top for him to rest his legs while he guts fish, or whittles pipes, or whatever camping folk do these days. Maybe he just sits there while he’s on his iPad, who knows.

Now there are thousands of styles of stools available today made from countless varieties of material. Sure there’s wood (natural and man-made), plastic, acrylic, metal, leather, cotton, ceramic, hell even bean bag style stools, but what can really make a statement today are these stump stools. It’s odd to see them out of their natural environment, or at least out of the cabins, but adding these little seating elements to your home can make for a great conversation piece as well as a functional stool or table.

Take a look at a few I found today:

This one is available from West Elm for $199. It’s a very natural color wood, because it is natural, and is a perfect height to serve as both a side table or stool at 19″ high X 12.5″ wide. Place this in front of a sofa or next to a chair, maybe even in the corner as a lamp table or in your entry way as a place to throw your keys and mail when you walk in the house, or sit down to put your shoes on before you go out.

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Here’s an option from KALON STUDIOS starting at $85 for the small size (8.5″ wide X 12″ high) and $350 for the large (12″ wide X 17″ high). Made of maple or ash depending on availability and then dried and sanded to keep it’s natural color and tone, these are some pretty sleek looking stools. They kind of look like big teeth to me, but that adds to their cool factor! Check out the rest of the Kalon Studios website for some more really cool wooden furniture.

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2stumps

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Lastly there’s this molten silver looking stool available from Amazon for $325. This is definitely my favorite of the three. The stool measures 20″ X 18″ and is cast from a real log then manufactured in resin and hand finished in silver-leaf. Sounds very expensive, and it certainly isn’t cheap, but I still think it’s a good deal at this price. The silver leafing provides a real modern feel to the stump, yet the natural texture makes it still seem very organic.

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So as you can see from the three examples above, a tree stump can be so much more than a place to gut your fish!

Chair-y Picking!

If I had to pick one chair and one chair only to sit in for the rest of my life it would be the classic Eames Lounge Chair from Herman Miller.

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Of course if money wasn’t a concern I’d already have this chair, but at $4500 it’s a bit more than I can afford right now! But fret not for my bottom, as there are plenty of knock-offs and similar designs for a fraction of the price.

Here is an option from Modern In Designs for $995. It looks almost identical to the real thing and you get free shipping!

Soma Classics has essentially the same deal for $989 also with free shipping. This Eames knock-off is made by Modway Furniture which sells several other copy cat styles so check them out.

You can find deals all over the internet for around $900, some a little more some a little less. Just be sure to do your research on the maker before you buy. Always read customer reviews to make certain you’re not being taken advantage of and to be sure the quality is somewhat reliable. However, there really is no substitute for the original, but if you absolutely need to have the Eames Lounger and can’t afford the $4500 price tag, this is a suitable substitution. Just don’t expect it to be the same high quality as Eames.

That being said, a little birdy told me that there will be a sale in Novemeber, 15% off Herman Miller items at Design Within Reach! That would knock the price down to about $3825. I spent thirty-eight hundred sounds so much better than I spent over forty-five-hundred dollars on this chair, doesn’t it? Now I just have to get my wife to see it that way too!!!

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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?

Otto, Man. And I don’t mean the bus driver!

Ottomans have been around for hundreds of years, long before Dick Van Dyke started tripping over them (Dick Van WHO?).

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Of course the Turks were using these comfy yet utilitarian pieces of furniture for hundreds of years, but it wasn’t until they made their way to Europe that their popularity grew.
And today almost every home (well maybe not every home) has some sort of ottoman or foot stool plopped in front of their couch.

The thing I don’t like about many of the ottomans I see today is that they are part of a set. Someone buys the sofa, love seat, and ottoman all at once. The same fabric, same style same everything. It’s like having Vanilla ice-cream when there’s a box of Oreos sitting right next to it. In other words, mix it up! Add those cookies to your ice cream and add some color/texture/style to your living room furniture via the ottoman.

And don’t forget, often times your ottoman can pull double duty as a coffee table too.

Here’s a few I’ve found that can work nicely almost anywhere.

This is a colorful and contemporary option from TARGET. It’s a bit pricier than I’d like at $225, but still worth it for this stylish yet casual piece.

TARGET OTTOMAN YELLOW

This one is a bit funky from OVERSTOCK (on sale for $194), but could be really cool in the right home. The cow hide pattern and texture adds a bit of fun and playfulness to what could  otherwise be a very serious room.

COW HIDE OTTOMAN

If silver and gold is your thing check these two out. Also from OVERSTOCK.com they are priced great at about $64 and $67 each. Think about getting 2 or more of these in place of one larger ottoman or table. They are also available in a host of other colors, so try mixing and matching. See the links below for more details.

SILVER

SILVER OTTOMAN

 

GOLD

GOLD OTTOMAN

Here is an option for those of you who are in to leather (wink wink)! Well…pleather anyway. This is available at HOMEDECORATORS.com for $223. It’s got a great color to it and a slightly stressed leather look which softens it up a bit.

BROWN ROUND OTTOMAN

 

One Kings Lane has this affordable blue spotted ottoman for $129.

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This is a nice chevron pattern ottoman in orange from 55 Downing Street for $150.

ORANGE OTTOMAN

 

Also at 55 Downing Street is this black tufted ottoman for $250. Probably my most favorite out of all of them, a bit more expensive but very elegant and trendy looking.
Also it is fairly large at 35″ square.

BLACK OTTOMAN

So next time you sit down on your couch and go to kick up your feet,
think about what you’re stepping on!