Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Fun: Virtual Decorating for My Style

Emma over at The Marion House blog has been examining her house room by room to identify whether or not she's staying on message with her personal style.  Since I'd been thinking about this idea myself, today's post is about clarifying my vision for my house in general, and my living room in particular.

To begin with, nothing in my living room reflects my current tastes.  I kind of hate it.  It has an awkward layout with doors and windows every where.  (You can see a floor plan here). It's filled with furniture that I picked up here and there, mostly during grad school when I was basically only home when it was time to sleep.  My couch is totally ugly, but extremely comfortable.  My dog loves it.  My cat used to love to scratch it.  It looks like a couch dominated by animals.  None of the furniture relates to the other furniture in terms of scale, color or materials.  The fuchsia wall has exceeded it's welcome after 8 years.  I still think it's a beautiful color, but I just don't want it on my wall anymore.  My camera doesn't capture red tones well, the color you see on your screen probably isn't very accurate, but rest assured it's a strong color.  The wood stove?  Keeps me warm sometimes, but I'd like to replace it with one of those super minimal scandinavian insert stoves, which will be built into a wall of bookshelves.
Looking into the living room from the kitchen door.  
Love the placement of that thermostat.  Also, that huge kilim?  Belongs to a friend who has moved to another state and left it behind.  I brought it out to see if I liked it, but the colors really aren't my thing.  Way too much orange.  And why is the couch blocking a doorway?  Its because that's the hall to the old bathroom, which has been  mostly demolished, but not put back together and so no one ever goes in there.  I plan to finish the demo and move that doorway to the left so that there is a longer expanse of wall for the couch to go against.  Until recently the furniture was arranged so that the couch faced the television(s), and the traffic flow was choppy.  I got sick of it and wanted to see if things would really get better once I move the doorway.
Standing near the wood stove and looking back towards the kitchen.
I like the turquoise chairs because they are small in stature and leggy, but they need reupholstering because they are straight out of the 1950s vinyl.   The ceilings are pretty low, just shy of 8 feet.  I'd like to knock out the plaster and expose the wood beams and cladding that I know is up there, but again, that's a big messy renovation, and I want to wait until I can replace the windows and then get everything re-plastered to cover up the patches at the same time.  The two televisions?  I decided that I'd upgrade to a smaller flat screen when the whole digital signal conversion thing happened.  I hate tvs that dominate a room, so smaller seemed better.  Then I was too lazy to program the new tv for six months because I never really watch tv, and meanwhile I realized that my old bigger tv was a lot easier to see from way over here on the couch, and I kept using it to watch dvds.  So now I have not one tv, but two, dominating my living room.  Sigh.  Someday the tv will be out of the main living room altogether.
Standing at the front door looking into the weird nook-room that used to be my office.
This used to be my office.  I packed up all of my books and moved out my desk last year in preparation for some renovations that need to be done in my bedroom that will involve ripping up it's floor and temporarily moving the bed in here.  It hasn't happened because I can't afford to do it quite yet (broken record), so disassembling the office was a little premature.  Oh well.  My long term plan is to build-in some bookshelves and turn this into a library like room that also houses the tv.  Also to install a sliding panel door using barn door hardware, so that the room can be closed off, and so that the wall that the couch sits against can be lengthened somewhat.  Oh, and that small window will one day become a door that will lead to the converted garage.  Yeah, no ambitious plans here.

Okay, so now that you are feeling really good about your own houses, I'm moving into the inspiration portion.  I always want to wait on the cosmetic stuff until I've done the major renovations, but I don't want all this mish-mash crap anymore!  My inspiration is primarily interiors with lots of natural elements--different wood tones, maybe raw wood, raw materials like linen, wool, leather, sisal.  Then contrasted with some serious bling.  I've always had a penchant for shiny girly things.

These first four interiors are from the portfolio of photographer Mikkel Vang, which I found via Graphic-Exchange.  The photo on the right, in the first set, is probably my favorite interior image from the last year.  I like all the wood that is used throughout the house, especially the big round tables, but also the bed.  The bright natural light doesn't hurt either.

Mikkel Vang photography.
Mikkel Vang photography
This living room is good too.  Low backed couch looks comfortably slouchy, blue toned painting references nature, big orchid on the coffee table, reclaimed wood coffee table, drapes in what looks like canvas or linen, and a big fur rug.  Also, check out that white Serge Mouille lamp.  
Source unknown, if you recognize it please let me know and I'll add a credit.
For the glam inspiration?  This gold mosaic tiled fireplace with the down lit bookshelves on either side.  Ingo Maurer is awesome, and while that light fixture of his with all of the winged light bulbs wouldn't be my first choice fixture, it's perfect in this room.  I like the over the top fireplace materials applied in a minimalist way.  I like the whimsy and humor of the chandelier.  I like the large scale photograph of the religious icon for its statement making abilities.  Those leather sling chairs are enviable and the focus on books not media equipment is lovely too.
Source unknown, if you recognize it please let me know and I'll add a credit.

How would I interpret these interiors for my own space and within my own budget?  Here is what I'm thinking so far. (Click the image and it will open a larger version).  

A really chalky beigey pink on all the walls.  The sliding wall could either be painted gold (Ralph Lauren has a nice line of metallic paints) or faux-gold leafed, or just be homasote with a sueded finish and not gold at all.  I just fell in love with the Tom Dixon light fixture last week when it was featured on some blog... I thought it was Remodelista, but can't find it.  That's a knock-off Mouille lamp of course.  I have mixed feelings about knock-offs, but when the original re-issue costs $8,500, I'm pretty much okay with a copy.  I'd never seen the low rod base for the Eames fiberglass chairs until recently, and I really like them.  Makes things loungy.  The terracotta color goes well with the natural theme.  I'm planning to make a low round coffee table out of reclaimed wood from an old shed on the property, and the buffet is just a stand in for a less-modern version that I already own and like.  The recycled leather rug really appeals to me too, although a sisal or jute rug could work just as well.  Best of all, the most expensive thing in here is a new sofa.  The old one would be around the corner in the nook, conveniently hidden by that shiny gold wall.

So now I have a plan.  Just need the money to implement it.


  1. Love your inspiration photos (of course!). It's totally my style as well. I can see this all coming together in your living room. I think those blue vinyl chairs recovered in some nubbly, warm fabric would work just as well as the eames in achieving your look. I'd start with the pink wall though! You could paint it this weekend!

    (Oh, and I hope you find a home for that kilim...if not you can send it out to Canada!)

  2. Emma--I like the Eames chairs better than the blue though! But they'll do for now. As for the paint, I bought the primer to paint over it a couple months ago, but haven't had a free weekend since then. Not looking good until the holidays are over either, though mid-week might be do-able.

  3. I love all of this... and I'm especially fond of the future library nook - such a great space for that use!

  4. Really like your inspiration photos and your mood board! In case you're still interested in the source of that one photo of the light and airy living room, it is by Katie Leeds ( She has done some great work and I love that photo too!

  5. @Dayna- Thanks for the link. I'd never seen the rest of the house. LOVE it!