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Design Crew

Got a problem? Need some help? Just standing there shaking your head? Don't know what to do? You're not alone. Send us a link to photos of your design quandary and let the Desire to Inspire design crew help you .... that's you lot ... the readers! This week's email is from Kira who lives in my home state Queensland.


I need your help! My little family has lived in this 30s Queenslander for 3 years now. I like my kitchen especially since we can fit in a table for family meals. My problem is the lounge room next door. I have never been able to figure out how to make this room work. The front door opens off our front veranda  directly into this room. As you can see we have a piano and I'm guessing your are going to say too many couches. I plan to move one into the room next door which used to be the dining room but now is a play room. The doorway with the hanging curtain is my little girl's room. The curtain helps keep the light out since the doors are glass. I tried to make a landing strip with the chest of drawers and mirror by the door but the whole thing just doesn't work. The good thing is that the TV is now in the newly completed rumpus room downstairs so at least I don't have to worry about were to put that! The room works like a passage way to the kitchen not the adult style lounge room I want it to be. Any ideas will be gratefully received!

Put on your thinking caps and help Kira make this room work. You always come up with the best ideas. Hopefully Kira will send us pictures of the room when she is finished. Hint! Hint! One of our regular commenters emailed me this week wondering if anyone ever has sent the "afters" ...

Like quite a few other regulars, I get a kick out of participating in the room redesigns that come up every few weeks. One thing I don't much enjoy is the lack of closure, though. Has anyone, ever, come back to you and said 'here -- this is what I ended up doing after you posted my dilemma'? It doesn't matter to me if they took any of the suggestions given, I just wish we could see that the people who wanted to redesign their living space actually DID get in there and do something!  I look forward to one day discovering a post that let's us know that fun feature isn't just an oubliette of fantasy! - oregonbird

Me too!

P.S. For those who entered the Matt Blatt competition the winner was Sarah who told me when I emailed her that she and her husband have just bought a new house and don't have any outdoor furniture at all. You do now Sarah!

Reader Comments (12)

My first thoughts are to remove the leather sectional - it's too big for the space. Second, switch positions the piano and the chest/mirror -- the piano should go behind the door, and the chest and mirror should be on the opening side of the door. Third, put the second matching gray sofa where the sectional used to be, so that the matching sofas face each other on opposite walls. Fourth, put the low wooden chest (the one you are using as an end table) in the middle of the room as a coffee table for the 2 sofas. It looks like there is enough room to walk through the room with this arrangement. And finally, add some blue and white throw pillows to the sofas so they tie in with the kitchen space. The print hanging over the sofa is a bit too high - and you will want to put a similar size/shape object over the opposite sofa. It should not match exactly, but be similar enough to provide symmetry and balance. Pull the cute wicker chair into the seating area if you have room, otherwise, let it stay in the corner, but put it on the other wall so it is facing into the room instead of facing the doorway. I hope these idea help you out.

13 Oct 2012 | Unregistered Commenterchrista

What an adorable space! You can easily play up the charm of this room. I think you should ditch all of the furniture except the piano and the lamp. The beadboard and high ceilings make it feel vintage, and I think you should embrace that. The current furniture is too heavy and modern for this space. You should paint the lower half of the walls white, and the small upper space baby blue or pale turquoise -- this will make it feel bigger and lighter. A colorful rug would be nice, then get a light colored, modern Gustavian sofa, and two complimentary Bergere type chairs to set opposite the sofa. Get a narrow, modern coffee table - glass would be good. Finally, find artwork for the walls that fit the vintage feel of the space - the current pieces seem random and out of place. Also, why not hang a curtain on the door INSIDE the bedroom? Good luck!

13 Oct 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie

I think the very same as Christa. The two matching sofas facing each others, coffee table in the middle... and the mirror musn't be behind the door. I would also had light with to the room... Had a table lamp on the chest of drawers with the mirror, and maybe a ceiling light, put the lamp you have next to a sofa to read. And if you have books and shelves somewhere you can put them on each side of the kitchen door, because symetric furnitures could work there ! and voilà.

13 Oct 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEugénie

Olá, uma boa opção seria colocar as fotos coma s medidas das paredes, fiz um desenho para ver a melhor maneira, se quiser ver seu desenho so me passar Emial que envio.
No lugar do piano, ficaria bem a poltrona com a mesa lateral, portas retratos família, e um vaso com flores, e o espelho na parede por traz, a cima da cadeira, o piano passaria para o lugar onde está a comoda , do lado do piano a mesa maior, bom uma bandeja, umas taças, licor, abajur, seguida na mesma linha o sofá maior, usaria uma capa de algodão crú, na parede que vai pra cozinha de frente pra sala deixaria a comoda com enfeites da família, a decoração em ferro em forma de folhagem, e a outra retangular deixaria do outro lado, mas na mesma altura do portal, NUNCA DEVEMOS USAR NADA ACIMA DO PORTAL.precisa usar espaço circulação,assim ficaria livre. Na parede onde tem uma cortina começa depois da porta com o sofá de frente pro outro, e um tapete entre os dois 1,50 cm por 2,00 cm. O TAPETE É A ROUPA DA CASA, ELE DEIXA OS ESPAÇOS ACONCHEGANTES, E UNIFICADOS. Pode ser colocado um tapete de frente pra poltrona com a mesa na entrada, a medida 1,20cm x ,80cm.

13 Oct 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVania Monteiro

I agree with most of Christa's advice on placement of furniture: i.e. the two sofas that match facing one another on opposite walls, piano switched to opposite side, your "landing strip" (if you need it) on the side the door opens to. As traffic goes straight throughout the middle of the room to the kitchen, I don't see a table working in the middle though...so I would keep the end tables.
On art: I'd go BIG over both sofas. Or big art over one sofa and big mirror over the one opposite (substantially framed).
And, sorry :) not loving the wall colour choice. I would choose a light charcoal grey (yes, ditto for the kitchen) OR white throughout.

A great space. Good luck.

13 Oct 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAMR

As above - but re-cushion also - the colours are a tad drab with both wall and cushion colours - I would keep your cushions and recover - try SkinnyLaMinx on Etsy - they are relatively inexpensive and look good:


Just stick to 2 colour types probably.

13 Oct 2012 | Unregistered Commenterclp

Yes! Get rid of the beigey paint for white, switch the piano and dresser, losing the mirror for a mirror with a more important looking frame, but place that dresser against the same wall as the door if it fits, adding some coat hooks on the wall and maybe a carpet to define an entry zone. Maybe move that rattan chair to that area as well?
Lose the sectional, and have the couches facing each other with the chest as coffee table, but place them crosswise to the room just past the bedroom door and butting up to that wall, leaving the thoroughfare to the left as you face into the house. You could add a low bookshelf or console table behind the couch nearest to the door, for a lamp or vase or, whatever. While you're at it, tack a piece of fabric to the inside of that glass door so you can get rid of the curtain.
Artwork - either go big, or go for the gallery effect on one wall and big on the other.

13 Oct 2012 | Unregistered CommenterIvy

Ok, I am deployed right now but today is Sunday and I am so glad I saw this. At the door there is a bureau with mirror. Remove the mirror, put it on the wal.

Turn one of the couches around to where the back is to the door the slide it to almost touching the wall on the right, where the bureau was originally.
Then put the bureau behind it, almost like a sofa table.

Then have the other couch opposite, facing the first couch and go from there. There will be a nice flow of traffic, but it will section the room off to an entry way andthen a seating area.

replace the big chunky tables or use it as a coffee table and not a sofa/end table.

Yeah, I would use the two blue couches and move the leather sectional out all together.

Man I cant WAIT t osee how this ends up.

13 Oct 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

I love this room, it's so determined to be stubborn and difficult! This is not going to be an easy battle -- you have to reconsider attempting the usual up-against-the-wall aesthetic, and go for something a bit exotic. The natural colors are marvelous, I love the art style you've chosen, I don't think you need to change those substantially unless you want to.

The black sofa with the chaise is the one to banish to the playroom, as everyone seems to agree -- you need a lighter touch, and a clear field of play. The low profile of the matched blue sofas is *perfect* -- you're going to use them to disrupt that funnel effect, by placing them in the middle of the room, facing each other over that gorgeous big chest as a coffee table, away from the walls -- rather than having them to your right and left as you enter, you're going to set them like church pews, and leave aisles to the right and left. (I hope that's clear...) Leave maneuvering room in front of the kitchen door, of course, but set the lounge area slightly back towards the kitchen, to leave dedicated entry space.

You're right, the chest of drawers is the wrong size, it doesn't work at all. Switch the piano to that position, and install a black bench seat with a white cushion against the other side, to echo the weight of the piano and offer storage -- I would recommend an attractive iron branch-runner over that for hats, coats, etc. You could also mount a *large* white-framed mirror behind the seat to catch light, and have a smaller coat runner beside the door, if at all. That would be a bit more chic, I think - you might move your tiny floor lamp into this area. In front of the sofa closest to the door, you need a simple white sofa table, heavy enough to have some gravitas or, if you like, you can use an old-fashioned low set of drawers, painted white. Another possibility, which would be more dramatic, would be setting a smaller, formal table behind the loveseat http://pinterest.com/pin/209206345160236288/
(or a marble-topped round pedestal would be brilliant!) with a single lamp, and two simple white chairs (they shouldn't match, it's more modern that way) at each side set at attention, to be moved into the lounge area when needed as extra seating.

One thing that needs to be done -- LOWER all the artwork! The balance is off. You want to emphasize the suggestion to *sit down* -- and lowering the art will help accomplish that. Lower the long rectangle to match the kitchen doorway, and go from there. Honestly, your ironwork pieces are the right note to strike, and very much in tune with the room; I would hold to that motif -- remove the heavier painting and replace it with a piece, or pieces, of delicate, nature-based art work (not too small) -- and the same on the other wall. Go for a cohesive, zen-like simplicity, light andwelcoming, and use the walls as a unified gallery -- no dark or heavy art.

You need more lighting, and it shouldn't be tiny and embarrassed to be there! Lamps are statement pieces, especially when you're trying to simplify a space. You need a medium-weight lamp on top of the piano (squat, black and white pottery? or http://pinterest.com/pin/231724343297873636/)
and something evocative and just a bit modern for the sofa table. A matched set of scrollwork table lamps on a long sofa table would offer a bit of grown-up formality, and echo the sofa set. However, if you go with a smaller table, or prefer a single, off-set lamp, try to echo the wall art without being too matchy. http://pinterest.com/pin/93871973453963016/

Put the curtains on an attractive rod and frame the doorway - pick out a lighter print that will emphasize the natural colors you have working for you. If you need further darkening, install a shade on the bedroom side of the door or line the curtains. I've grabbed a few ideas :-) :


I keep looking for a way to use a rug, but it really would be over-egging - besides, simplicity. However... a blue runner in front of the bench seat would work nicely, or a statement rug in the entry -- it could be round, if you go with a round pedestal table. It depends on how much formality you want to bring in, really.

Good luck! Send pictures!

14 Oct 2012 | Unregistered Commenteroregonbird

Lots of good tips here. I have just one to add: you could try fabric on the glass doors as per this tutorial: http://manhattan-nest.com/2010/06/01/the-doors/
and avoid the curtain in front of the door altogether.

15 Oct 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

There are some great ideas here. How about bringing in some fresh colors?

18 Oct 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

Hello everybody,

I totally agree that you should remove at least sofa. Actually I would remove two and would keep the leather one. Reasons for that would be the better quality of the leather sofa and the fact that the other two would not completely face each other because of the door openings. I would place the back of the leather sofa on the opposite wall. I would move the piano to the wall where the leather sofa is now, and the chest either there where the piano is now, or on the opposite side of the piano's suggested position, facing the room. I am not sure if there is some space there, though, or if it would get in the middle of the way. I like the idea of using the chest as a coffee table. I also agree that you should lower your art, and actually I would try to see how the rectangle piece would look over the leather sofa, rotated by 90 degrees. I would love to see the after!

21 Oct 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStella

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