Tag Archives: reader question

Reader Question: John’s Blank Slate Part 2

Two weeks ago we shared the first part of our answer to reader John’s question: how to furnish and decorate his blank slate condo.  John was unsure of where to begin, but knew that he likes mid century furnishings, and a cool and collected but definitively adult eclectic look (see pictures of John’s place plus his inspiration images here).  We picked out the big furnishings, and our task this week is to add in all the pretties that make a space feel special.  As a reminder, this is the layout we came up with for John’s space:

Red House West || Reader Question

Poring over John’s Pinterest images, we noticed that he is drawn to warm colors, vintage rugs, and rooms that look like they would feel good, rather than being overly decorated. Because we didn’t talk about a color palette with John, we wanted to give him two options.  This first is the brighter of the two, with hints of orange and red from the rug, plus mint, navy, camel, and gray.

Option two is a bit more muted, and feels to us to be maybe a bit more fancy.  On part 1 of this post a commenter mentioned that Butterfly chairs aren’t comfortable, so we wanted to give John another option. The leather chair in this mood board doesn’t look like the height of comfort either, but it’s visually airy and sculptural, and we think it would suit John’s space.  (There’s no coffee table in this board, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still think John should have one).
Reader Question Living Room 3

Rug || Gray Chairs || Leather Chair || Couch || Light Pillows || Tasseled Pillow || Kilim Pillow || Blanket || Floor Lamp || Side Table
In the first post we recommended that John buy a slim console table (we like the clean lines of this one) to go behind the sofa.  We don’t have dimensions for John’s home, but assuming it would all fit, we still think he should do that.  It makes looking at the back of a sofa much more pleasant, and would be a great spot for a table lamp, a few books and artful objects, and a plant.

Many of John’s Pinterest images featured gallery walls, and we think the space over his two end-to-end Ikea cabinets would be a great place for one!  Here’s the inspiration photo we shared with him in the last post:

Red House West || Reader QuestionChoosing art for someone is a tricky proposition but we came up with some options we love, and that seem like a good fit for his style:


Clockwise from top left 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

That Joan of Arc poster is from Anna Dorfman’s shop on Society 6 (nobody does self indulgence like Morrissey), and all the rest are from Etsy.  Isabella di Sclafani’s quirky portraits have been mentioned on this blog before (we both have her work in our houses); she has a ton of great options, but we’re especially fond of that blue-shirted dame in the lower right corner.

We also gave some thought to John’s dining room.  His inspiration photos feature a lot of mis-matched chairs, like this:


We think this could be a great way to bring some vintage items into his space and, since he lives in the Craigslist mecca of southern California, we recommend he do some looking there.  Since it’s pretty much our dream come true to be actually in need of chairs – rather than being in a position of having to part with a surplus – we did some vicarious shopping:

Red House West || Reader Question

1, 2, 3, 4

That rope chair on the left is a beauty, isn’t it?

So there you have it!  John’s slate is blank no more!  Thanks for reading along, and definitely send your questions our way (just use the ‘contact us’ link at the top of the page).  Have a great week!

Reader Question: Emily’s Reading Corner

A while back we got a question from a dear reader that is surprisingly tricky.  Here it is, in her own words:

Ok, so here’s the problem! I had to reshuffle some furniture round in the living room, but now I’m not happy with the corner with the blue armchair (see photos). It just feels off, like maybe the table is too big, or the picture is too small, or the lamp should be a table lamp, or maybe all three! It’s just sort of ended up as a line of stuff along the wall. I love all the pieces individually – particularly the armchair as I recently finished reupholstering it (it was saggy and pink before, so the blue velvet is a vast improvement). So my question is what can I do to make that corner look a bit more put together? I don’t really know how to dress the table properly, for a start.

Red House West || Reader Question
Red House West || Reader Question
I should also mention that we’re in a rental property, so painting the walls or changing the flooring sadly isn’t an option. And I would totally go for a gallery wall but we’re not really allowed to hang things on the wall – this is partly why pictures are hung in slightly random positions as we didn’t get to choose where the existing hooks were on the wall – unless we go old school and utilise the picture rail, maybe?
I’ve included a couple of photos of the rest of the living room just for context – in case you think moving furniture around again might help. And please feel free to let me know if you have any thoughts on the rest of the room, which I love, but also doesn’t look quite as good as I’d like – maybe it’s too matchy-matchy? (You might be able to tell that blue is my favourite!)
Red House West || Reader Question
Red House West || Reader Question
First of all, we love your living room with its rich textures and lovely blues, reds, and yellows.  Not too matchy-matchy at all, and so enviably clean!  The blue velvet wing back chair is lovely, and makes a cozy reading corner.  But reading corners are tricky things — you want the corner to be a space that connects to and engages with the rest of the room, but also to bring with it a feeling of refuge.
In “The Perfectly Imperfect Home” decorating guru Deborah Needleman says reading nooks require four things: (1) “Armchair: In the main seating area or off on its own populating an otherwise empty corner;” (2) “Side Table: At arm height or lower;” (3) “Reading Light: A lamp with focused illumination works best;” (4) Footrest: Anything you can put your feet on, from a little stool or ottoman to a corner of the coffee table (yes, feet belong on the furniture!).”
We’ve talked about why your corner may not feel quite right to you, and we agree that while everything is beautiful, the scale is what’s giving you trouble.  The table next to the chair is gorgeous, and we hate to say it, but in the photos at least it looks too big and too tall, like the chair is hiding behind it.
A basket with a cozy blanket is always a good idea, but we think yours might also be a stitch too big, and should be within easier reach of the chair, maybe on the other side of the chair from the table?
Here are a few pictures of corner chair nooks that we think have the right proportions (even if the decor isn’t necessarily our taste.  This first picture–pretty, but talk about matchy-matchy!).
It pains us to say that beautiful table is the problem, so maybe the solution is as simple as redefining purposes.  We can’t tell if the door next to the basket is interior or exterior, but maybe you could switch the positions of the basket and table so that the table serves as a catch-all by the door (and keep the bowl there).  Hang a last-look mirror above it (we’ve heard people swear by command strips when nails aren’t an option) and declare it the entryway.  Then angle the chair out into the room a little more, and put a small table on the far side of it for books and drinks.
Or, instead of a new small table next to the wing-back chair, maybe you could pull the blue ottoman (visible in your last picture) over, put the gold tray that’s on the coffee table on top of it, and see if that works height-wise as a table for the chair.
Whatever you decided to do, keep us posted and thanks so much for sending in your question!  And to other readers out there with design conundrums of your own, send ’em in!  Seriously, we live for this stuff.  Click on contact us, fill out the form, and we’ll email you back so we can get the conversation going!