Mera’s House: The State of the Living Room

Our living room has stymied me since I first moved in, and I’ve been working on it in fits and starts ever since.  The kitchen/dining/living area is all basically one big room, and while I like that in theory, it has presented some design pickles.  The main problems were (1) there wasn’t really enough space for a dining room table; (2) the rug, while beautiful, wasn’t the right size, and; (3) there is a  long expanse of wall that I couldn’t figure out what to do with.

Problem 1: The “Dining Room” (in quotes because there is not a separate room, nor is there enough room as in space).  Since I moved in, I have been through three dining room tables.  The trouble is that if I have the couch a reasonable distance away from the wood stove, there is not enough room for a table to fit between the couch and the kitchen.  Witnesseth:

Red House West || The Living Room

If there were chairs on all sides of the table you couldn’t walk between the table and the couch.  Plus, when it’s just the three of us at home we eat every meal in the breakfast nook, so the table was taking up a lot of precious real estate for something that was seldom used.

Red House West

This problem plagued me for a long time, until I finally discovered a solution: the drop leaf table positioned as sofa console.

Red House West || Living Room

I got this little cutie table from Craigslist, and I love it.  It has pretty turned legs on casters, and came with three leaves so that with both drop leaves up and the three leaves in the center it can seat 10 people comfortably.

Problem 2:  Wrong Sized Rug

The other thing that was giving me so much trouble in this space was the rug.  The old rug is beautiful and I tried desperately to make it work.  It came from my father-in-law’s childhood home in Kansas, and we feel really lucky to have it.  But in the living room it was too long and too narrow, and just added to the general discord of the space.

Red House West || In the Living Room

I also always felt that my Grandma’s couch and the rug were too much of an ilk.  That couch needs contrast in order to be cool, and with the persian rug it just looked stuffy and tattered.

After eyeing it for a while on eBay, I bought a Bessarabian rug using the “best offer” option (you can read my eBay rug buying tips here).  I intended to put it in the playroom, but when I opened up the package it took my breath away.  The colors are insane, and, coincidentally, it is the perfect size for the living room.

Red House West || Living Room

The new rug gives Grandma’s couch the edge it needs, and makes the pitiable condition of the upholstery look at best interesting and intentional, and at worst less noticeable (reupholstering the couch is still on the to-do list).

Red House West || The Living Room

Problem 3: Odd Expanse of Wall

One of the features that I really love in this room is the high window cut above ceiling height.  It lets in light, but means we aren’t looking directly into our neighbors’ living room.

The problem was that the wall space below it cried out for some sort of feature, but its placement in the living room made that tricky.  Although not visible in the picture below, the window is above the painting, adjacent to Grandma’s couch.

Red House West || Living Room

Katie’s glorious presence in the living room nearly disguised how bad it was.

At various times I’ve had a little table, several paintings, and a piano in this space, but nothing ever really worked.

Remember my mega Craigslist score of the Broyhill Brasilia nightstands and dresser?  I refinished the dresser last fall, and decided to pretend that it’s a credenza (I mean really, what is the difference?).  It engages the space below the window, and is the perfect base for a gallery wall (which I’m still tweaking).

Red House West || Living RoomSee that beautiful vintage tulip table?  Katie brought that up in her carry-on luggage on her recent visit and gave it to me for my birthday.  A truer friend never lived!

Red House West || The Living Room

So, that’s the status in the living room.  I’m sure I’ll never stop changing things around in here, but for now I feel like I’ve conquered the main design challenges in this room.

Red House West || Living Room

And now, a Where’s Waldo style quiz:  How many times does Cora the dog appear in this post?

19 responses on “Mera’s House: The State of the Living Room

  1. Nina

    I count 5 Cora sightings and 1 glorious Katie presence! (And is Cora’s tongue hanging out in that first photo?? Adorable.)

    The drop-leaf table was a genius solution. As for the credenza-dresser question, I think its mostly a potato-potahto situation.

    Looking good!

    1. Mera Post author

      Do you feel sort of disoriented looking at pictures of the house with no Wolsey (or “Giganto” as Opal lovingly refers to him)? I know the feeling! The answer is that now that it’s warm, he spends most of the day in the yard hunting bugs, rolling in the dirt, and trying to get Winnie to play with him.

    1. Mera Post author

      Some might say that I hoard tons of chairs and other miscellaneous furniture and home goods in the basement, but I like “store extra chairs” better. Thanks Aaron!

  2. Susan Glassow

    With Cora in the pictures do we look at anything else???

    I’m wondering HOW Katie carried the table in a duffle!

    Seriously, the drop leaf table works really well. I loved the old rug and hope it has found a new room to shine in somewhere in your home. The new rug definitely is a better fit and counterpoint or encouraging point (as you will) to the brocade sofa.

    Love the look of the new site…write on xo

    1. Mera Post author

      Thanks, Susan! I think the only possible answer to your question is that Katie is a magician of furniture procurement and transfer. Her bag was just a little thing–about the size of my cosmetics case, actually. I never would have guessed she had a TABLE in there! As for the old rug, fear not: it has a new home where it looks perfect . . . the playroom!

  3. emily

    love, love your eclectic style. and your new room is amazing! I passed on a similar rug years ago in an antique store and I still constantly think about it…never thought of trying ebay!

  4. Dee

    Where can I learn more about your gorgeous interior window shutters? They seem like a great solution for our cat who destroys any window treatment we try!

    1. Mera Post author

      Cats are the worst (but I still love them so so much)! I’ll have to ask my mother in law to weigh in on this one as the shutters pre-date me in the house. More soon . . . .

    2. Katy Gilmore

      Hi Dee, Oh I wish I could tell you a specific source for the wooden shutters. In the olden days they used to be available at Anchorage’s first big box house store – came without finish or hardware, but were easy to install. The ones in Mera’s living room aren’t finished, they’ve just “aged.” You are right about their usefulness – cat safe (and there have been many cats in that house!) and cozy to close on a winter night (because they’re wood, they have some insulating value). I think you might still find them with a Google – good luck! Katy (the lucky m-i-l of Mera)

      1. Dee

        Thanks so much for the response! I will definitely be looking into it – for some reason I want to call them “clapboard” or “storm” shutters but I don’t think that’s right. I obviously have spent zero time on the East Coast. You have such a great blog and I’m excited to have found it!

  5. mech986

    Could you comment or have a blog post about how you refinished the Broyhill dresser / credenza? Also some nice photos of it in all it glory now that it’s been redone? Thanks!

    1. Mera Post author

      I used the same technique on the credenza as I used on the matching nightstand. For the nightstands I compared a full refinishing with Restora Finish. On the credenza I used the full refinishing method, which you can read all about here. Thanks! 🙂

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