I’m diligently working on part 2 of the accessorizing series. However, I received another reader request so thought that should take priority. She’s been patiently waiting while I was on vacation. Marie, I hope these suggestions answer some of your questions.
Marie says: “I just bought this home and need some ideas on whether I should buy a sectional or loveseat / sofa for this room? I need help with the furniture arrangement. We were thinking of buying a flat screen for above the mantel if it’s possible. I’m also having a difficult time deciding on whether to use warm or cool neutrals in the room. I like taupe and I like a dark wood floor look so my husband is thinking of changing the flooring to a dark walnut. My biggest dilemma is the fireplace; it’s an eyesore. I’ve looked online for inspiration pictures but haven’t found the right thing. Someone suggested covering it with stone but that would cost a fortune so I need another budget option. Thanks for your time in helping turn our new home into a place we’ll love coming home to.”
Here are some of the pictures Marie sent to help me visualize her new space. I asked how big the room is and she responded it’s 14 x 16 and it appears to me the 14′ walls are probably the window and opposite wall while the 16′ wall is the one with all the openings.
Wow – this room has lots of challenges other than the fireplace! It’s basically a square room, but the angled fireplace and openings on every single wall create a unique set of challenges. I created some floor plan illustrations for you to consider. Basically I think that your best options involve pulling the furniture away from those chopped up walls and floating most of it in the room. I’m showing you a sectional option, a sofa/loveseat option as well as one with 2 smaller sized chairs. The best recommendation I can make for you is measure, measure, measure. Draw out the space exactly using an easy to follow scale – I used 1/2 inch equals 1 foot for the drawings I did for you. (However, I’m only guessing at the measurements based on what’s common.) Then, when you go shopping for furniture, make sure it’s not too big to fit in the space.
This arrangement does allow some traffic through all doorways; gives you probably room for a sofa table behind the sectional and some sort of chest or bookcase for storage (make sure to measure both ‘legs’ of the sectional to be sure you leave yourself enough traffic clearance). The sofa table could be something visually light like glass or a light wood and possibly tuck a couple of ottomans under it for additional seating when needed. The chest/armoire/bookcase should be a tall piece of furniture to balance the large opening on the opposite wall and keep all the furniture from being the same height. If the TV does not work out above the mantel, it could go in an entertainment center along this wall. The green splash represents a plant. I’d definitely suggest anchoring the furniture with an area rug.
One option always worth exploring is to place the furniture on the diagonal – especially when you already have an element in the room on the diagonal. This arrangement keeps all traffic patterns open, allows flexibility in moving the chairs around as needed, and creates a more dynamic feel when seen from all those open doorways.
COLOR AND FIREPLACE CONCERNS
Addressing your other two issues: color and the fireplace. Whether to go warm or cool neutrals is a totally personal choice and there is no right or wrong – it’s just whichever you prefer. Since you don’t have furniture yet, I’d wait on the wall color until you’ve selected furniture. It’s much easier (and cheaper) to change the wall color than to try to find furniture you like.
As for the fireplace…..I actually don’t find it an eyesore, but if you don’t care for it then change is in order. The easiest and least expensive option is to paint it. People always think that if you’re painting brick you have to paint it some shade of white. I disagree. It’s a wall surface and can be painted any color. If you want it to fade away, paint it the same color as adjoining walls but if you want a little contrast for a focal point, go a couple shades darker or lighter.
Another possibility would be to find a pre-fabricated stand alone mantel that fits the opening and sides of your fireplace. They’re available in composites and wood for staining or painting and lots of styles from simple & modern to carved and ornate. That would create more presence than the small floating mantel you currently have. Any other option would involve covering the brick – with wood, with tile (find some large 18″ or 24″ tiles on sale for a sleek, modern look) or stone and the skill set (or budget) that goes with that.
A little sheetrock and some wood moldings transform a fireplace wall, leaving just a little of your brick showing.
While you explore your options, try distracting the eye from the brick by hanging or leaning a very large mirror above the mantel. Paint or stain the mantel to match your flooring and provide a visual anchor for the TV. If you opt for the TV above the mantel, it will obviously be the focal point. Dress the hearth with a tall topiary plant on one side and a big bulky basket or box or pot on the other. Give yourself something to look at other than the brick.
Marie, I certainly hope I helped clarify things a little and gave you some ideas to consider. Feel free to contact me with any other questions.
As for all you other readers, hopefully you’re inspired to look at your room arrangements with new eyes. Can you rearrange the furniture for a fresh look, a new perspective? I know it seems like a lot of work to shift things around, but the end result will revitalize your room and you’ll be amazed at the change. Focus on moving furniture away from the walls and consider a diagonal – a bold look to be sure, but very rewarding (and it’s not permanent, if you decide you don’t like it).