My House: Living Room, Part #001

My House: Living Room, Part #001

Since building our home and moving in two and a half years ago, everything seems to have taken priority over the interior design of the living room. With perhaps the exception of the bathrooms, every room needed attention to inject life and character, and so there has been plenty keeping me busy! And I like to take my time over every space individually; pondering all the possibilities, making sure everything that goes up on a wall is exactly where it should be. I'm a frustrating person to live with because I'd rather have nothing at all than something that's not quite right. And so it is that we've lived with a very stark living room for the past two years. No curtains up, no pictures, only the most basic of furniture.

I hunted for a 'before' photo and this was the best I could find. I am making it my new year's resolution to always take a BEFORE photo.

I hunted for a 'before' photo and this was the best I could find. I am making it my new year's resolution to always take a BEFORE photo.

But this summer I had a deadline: an interiors magazine were coming to feature the house. Something had to be done.

The one piece of furniture we'd bought for the room was a corner sofa from Ikea and this had always sat along one side of the room, orientated towards the french doors and the TV, as you can see in the photo and as shown in this layout drawing:

 

Previous Living Room Layout

Previous Living Room Layout

This had seemed like the logical arrangement of the room when we were first laying it out but it had always felt a bit smaller than it actually is. Something about this position made the room feel as if it ended where the doorway opens up into the hall, effectively cutting a third off the actual size and making the end of the room feel like a corridor. I've drawn in a dotted line to try and illustrate this.

So my first move when seriously thinking about the design of this room was to sit down at my desk and draw it out on Draftsight, the CAD programme I use. (You could do this if you redesigning a room. You don't need to know how to use a computer - some squared paper, a measuring tape and a ruler is all you need to draw a scale drawing).

By looking at the space 'on paper' its so much easier to recognise the issues with layout and how things can be improved. I drew out the room and the pieces of furniture we had that we knew we wanted to include, all to scale. I measured the existing furniture and for things we planned to buy I took the measurements from the online shop. 

Some playing around later and I landed on a layout that seemed to work better. It involved a bit of an annoying change - swapping the position of the TV to the opposite wall where there was no aerial or Ethernet connection, but we could run an extension behind the sofa so it wasn't on show. It also meant selling our beloved Ladderax, a piece of furniture we'd bought specifically for this mid-century-inspired house, but just somehow never seemed to work anywhere we put it. A bit sad but all worth doing to achieve a much more pleasing space to look at and spend time in.

Here is the new layout:

New Living Room Layout

New Living Room Layout

It took a little bit of getting used to (particularly from my husband's point of view) but because I'd tested it out on paper I was convinced it would be a big improvement once we'd adjusted.

Instantly the room felt bigger. The orientation of the sofa to face down the room incorporates the whole space and there's no longer an imagined truncation at the other end of the room. When you sit in the room, your attention is no longer so focussed on the TV, which makes it a much more sociable space. And when we do want to cosy-up and watch a film we just adjust the angle of the TV to the corner seat and nestle down there. Even Joel is a convert now!

Something that I hadn't realised with the previous layout, was that you sat with your back to the rest of the house, and the entry to the room is immediately behind you. There's something quite unsettling about that to me. I much prefer to be able to face the entrance, and that's how it works with this layout. Because of this alone it feels like a more comforting space to spend time in, just as a living room should be.

So that's the first stage of the make-over down. Layout sorted, tick! Next I'll fill you in on our style choices...

As featured in Ideal Home Magazine

As featured in Ideal Home Magazine

Style file #01: The String Pocket Shelf

Style file #01: The String Pocket Shelf