Sunday, February 12, 2012

Changes • The Living Room

One of the things that surprises me about many bloggers is how often they make major changes to the same areas of their homes. They change paint colors 2-3 times a year in some rooms! I am not like that. I make changes -  but slowly. Today I rearranged the living room furniture for the first time in probably ten years. While I liked the original arrangement it didn't have a cozy conversation area.


Two chairs faced the sofa but whenever we had guests it just felt so distant. So I decided to "cozify" it a little bit.  

Let me explain some of the parameters before I show you the new arrangement.
  • We heat entirely with wood and the wood stove in the corner of our living room (its a great room really) is the primary heat source for this end of the house. That means a large cart gets wheeled in daily to deposit another load of wood in the wood box.
  • The wood box must be near the stove. It just makes sense but is also a requirement of my husband's. (Mine too).
  • Although I love the look of beautiful stacked wood seen so frequently in interiors these days, we have learned that it is completely impractical. There is so much grit that comes in with wood and each time you move it, more comes off. Wood must be stored someplace that encloses it to keep the mess contained.
  • Our home is a passive solar design (I designed it and David and I built it together back in 1978!) and we have large widows on the SE and SW walls of our living space. We have shades that pull down every night to hold in the warmth gained by the sun during the day. It helps if the access to the shades is easy.

So with those parameters in mind I started thinking about possibilities. I did the planning in my head and surprisingly it took only about a half hour to move everything to its new location. Things fell right into place with out a lot of adjustment.  Guess it was meant to be.

After rearranging the furniture

I changed the axis of the room and instead of having it run parallel to the walls I oriented it on the diagonal pulling the sofa into the center of the room and placing the arm chairs at nearly right angles to it. The conversation area is closer but also facing the wood stove which has glass doors so you see the blazing fire. There is no fire today because it is 38º and sunny and the sun is enough to heat the house. Below is the view from the balcony...

Should have removed the fire extinguisher before taking the photo! Oh well. Reality is.....

My floor is a brown quarry tile laid in a basket weave pattern. It serves as a heat sink for passive solar benefit. I soften it with area rugs but love the easy maintenance of a tile floor.

There is a walk space behind the sofa and I left the graduated handcrafted display tables there to reflect the diagonal of the stairs. My stairs do intersect the space at a 45º angle so setting the sofa that way works well.

The path to the wood box is direct and open.  The wood cart only has to minimally cross the rug. In the previous layout the wood cart was pulled directly across the main area of the rug which made maintenance more difficult. And notice the easy access to the windows. Pulling the shades down will be much easier with this arrangement.

I commandeered baskets from the collection to hold kindling and pinecones, both of which we use to start fires. 

The far corner (below) has a short hall which leads into the master bedroom.  The camera angle makes it look impassable but there is plenty of walking space.  We have a large accent wall painted Benjamin Moore Van Heusen Blue. We did that years ago and still love it. The blue wall has always been a show space for one of David's sculptures. Currently Falling Water is on display there. (Yes, it is kinetic and moves. Follow the link to his website to see a video of it in motion.) The arm chairs, constructed of mahogany, were designed and built by me while I was in college.

Below - looking the other direction to the dining end of the great room. There is the stone lamp David and I built together. It weighs in at over 400 lbs and isn't moving! My birch fence is on the table in one of its many orientations. 

The kitchen wraps around behind the stairs, open to the L-shaped great room. This view shows parts of the room that didn't change. The dining area doesn't have a lot of options. With this living room arrangement I can open the table for dinners up to eleven but it won't work well for when I have 18 for dinner!

I certainly need to invest some time in creative pillow treatment!
The room is decorated in natural wood tones, brown, cream and blue. Those colors get reflected in the chosen crafted items I have on display, with an occasional pop of color. 

I didn't move the short wall of floating shelves. Those still hold a collection of items collected on our adventures. We have a love a fine American crafts and regularly travel to shows and galleries. We have chosen to keep many of our walls linen white to allow for the craft collection to add the color interest.

In the corner near the wood stove is a favorite family collectible given to me by my Uncle Russ. He grabbed the huge cast iron wrench off a scrap heap after WWII. The story is that they were used to attach the propellers to the Liberty ships. It weighs over 200 lbs and is a favorite conversation piece in our home. Love the industrial chic of it.

That's it....our eclectic living room, rearranged!  

Side note: I am still learning the photography thing with much thanks to my husband's patient tutorials. Photographing entire rooms is incredibly difficult. I followed the posted tips - brightest time of day, no flash, used a tripod, manual settings.  But clearly I need more practice. Windows definitely create a challenge and my room is all windows!

©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy


  1. You have a lovely home and I love the chic and cosy feel of it.
    Your change will please you immensely.
    Great details and a wonderful light.

    1. Thanks Teresa for your kind comments. I am having company this evening to test out the new arrangement. We are enjoying it already ourselves just sitting and looking out!