I have been working my little tucchus off these last couple of weeks getting the new place in order, and I can’t wait any longer: I need to start doing some room reveals, even if they’re not perfect-perfect. (Which, of course, nothing ever is – especially in a house with oh god, so many children and cats and pillows that will not stay in the spot where I put them.)
The extent to which our living room – as distinct from the family room, where we keep the TV and thus my offspring – came together was such a surprise to me. See, when I moved into my last house I realized that I’d vastly underestimated just how large it was – it was easily twice the size of our place in San Jose. What that meant was that I had multiple completely unfurnished – and kind of enormous – rooms, and so I ended up buying furniture on a much bigger scale than I ever have before. That Ikea couch, for example – you know, the one that I had recovered? It is a BOAT.
When I toured this house before moving in, the formal living room – where that couch-boat would have to live for reasons I’ll explain at a later date – struck me as kinda small, or at least too small for that couch. But I figured…you know, we’re not in a couch-buying moment right now. So I’d just make it work.
Bazam. Not only does it fit (with plenty of space around it), it’s perfect for the room. It doesn’t feel cramped at all.
It’s funny how adding even large pieces of furniture to a room makes it feel way more spacious. The trick, I think, is to get the proportions right – pieces that are too big or too small make a space feel off-balance and cramped. I lucked out because the proportions of my existing furniture turned out to be precisely what the room needed, but here are the more general tricks I’ve developed over the years for creating a space that feels simultaneously expansive and cozy:
- Move furniture out from the walls – it may seem paradoxical, especially in a smaller space, but giving your pieces a few inches of breathing room makes the room feel way bigger.
- When it comes to a coffee table, err on the side of bigness (biglyness?). It gives the room a focal point and anchors the surrounding pieces.
- Choose the right-sized rug. It should be big enough that all of the pieces in a given seating arrangement can rest on it – but the backs of the legs can be on the floor (and I tend to prefer this look, personally).
- Center artwork and mirrors over furniture, not necessarily at the centerpoints in the walls.
Now! Let’s take a look around my new living room.
The chairs are back! My beloved antique chairs languished in storage for the past year, because as large as my last house was, there really just wasn’t anywhere to put them that made sense. Fortunately, this also means that my daughter has aged out of the “pluck the very expensive hairs out of the very expensive chair” stage of her life. I mean, presumably.
I adore my current pillow situation. It’s a mix of Moon Water Co. vintage Peruvian Frazada pillows (the multicolor ones) and pieces from Interior Wanderer’s living room collection – all that mustard, yum. The couch is kinda dark overall, so I find that the white throw is a must – it just brightens the whole deal up a ton.
On the coffee table, currently: An orchid that a friend gave me after my ectopic pregnancy, and that continues to bloom, year after year, a candle that smells exactly like Christmas, a Dali book, and an assortment of dinner-party games.
I also installed a bamboo sideboard behind the couch, both for the aforementioned breathing room and so that the edge of the couch lines up with the window (maximize those views!). It’s a nice spot for an extra lamp and some tchotchkes, including a drawing I made during my retreat, a wood statue a friend gave K and I when we got engaged, and the ceramic buddha that comes with me wherever I go.
And finally: I have it on excellent authority that this is the best napping spot on the planet. Move over, cat.