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Trying Out Reader Suggestions For What to Do With My Living Room (No Shelves? New Layout?)

We had an open, serious conversation about “the day” for weeks before it actually arrived. My love of rearranging furniture is only matched by his hatred of the same hobby/task. But from the last post on my living room, so many of you had GREAT suggestions and we wanted to try them, both physically as well as with Photoshop. I needed Brian’s brute strength as well as his opinion as it is his house, too. So with a smile on our face and a proper meal in his belly (no hangry Hendo) we, with the help of Julie, Mallory and Sara, rearranged the living room (and Photoshopped) and “played” around to find out how it could be better. Brian doesn’t like to “play” this game, but I used my rarely played manipulation card and told him how important it was to you, and to the business. And guess what? WE LIKE IT MORE. And we are still married, so that’s pretty cool. He was actually a great sport.

Today, you get to see the options, read my opinions with the always interesting “WHY”?

Here’s where we were the morning of “the day” (catch up on how we got here, HERE and HERE):

Emily Henderson Living Room Options 01

We’ve struggled with this room for the following reasons:

  1. It has no place for a TV (and we don’t have a TV room) so orienting the room to be functional with a TV is impossible, thus the projector screen, which is totally fine but that’s why we face the windows (which is lovely and you can see kitchen from here so it is the best view).
  2. It is our family and living room so all that furniture has to be COMFY and kid-friendly. Once you’ve owned a comfortable sofa (which news flash, are rarely cool/edgy/stunning), you can’t go back. Especially if you are one Brian Henderson (and I get it, no argument there). So making this room stylish and unique (things that, yes, are unabashedly part of my artistic value system) while being comfortable is HARD.
  3. It’s a long room and while YAY for us for having a big room, it’s not so long that you can create zones (plus you don’t want to break it up in the middle of the windows) and so I’ve cluttered up the back trying to “engage the space.” Those bookshelves only provide about 8 inches of depth, aka a novel but I shove my coffee table books in there and they hang off precariously.

The first and most common suggestion/change came from reader Jessa who said this:

I think you need to remove the credenza and the dresser. It’s just way too busy back there with the bookshelves – too many surfaces and too much stuff! The bookshelves are a great architectural feature – let them shine!”

So remove the credenza in the back we did.

No Credenza

While I love that Serena & Lily piece, it is nice to have less there and because of its height and depth, it felt too big. I also removed the tall standing lamp that was by the sofa which I miss light-wise but boy was it too tall to go there (at least from this angle).

Many of you commented to Photoshop out the shelves, and I was deeply curious myself if they were the culprit for the busyness.

No Shelves

I know this isn’t a fully done room. The art doesn’t look good and we need something to anchor the far corner, but we missed the shelves! Plastering over something original, despite them being shallow and not very tall, did seem crazy. I know that I could make this version work (maybe a tree and a chair/ottoman in the corner) but it’s not worth the risk (and expense) to do it.

No Shelves No Furniture

I also tried just taking out basically all the furniture by the shelves, because some of you mentioned it was all too “junky” back there, so we took out the bench and the hand, too. And obviously, this is also too empty. Maybe with another anchor piece on the left and more art, but I think it falls flat.

Another way I was super excited to try was to face the sofa towards the fireplace:

Sofa Facing Fireplace

For this, we borrowed the Lawson-Fenning sofa that we have been thinking about buying. It’s shorter than our sectional so we used it in this configuration. Now, we didn’t move the camera, but obviously this isn’t the angle that we would typically shoot it. Here is why it didn’t work:

  1. The area behind the sofa (by the piano, which you’re not seeing in this shot) is so dark and becomes very unwelcoming.
  2. There is nowhere for side tables on either side or you can’t get around into the room.
  3. That sofa is REALLY low and it still really blocks the room and just makes it generally uninviting (you’d see this angle from the front entrance of the house and the kitchen).

Sofa Facing Fireplace + Nook

A reader (Lydia) suggested the following: 

“Have you ever tried a sofa running parallel with the piano and fireplace with a sofa table behind it? That would open the bay window up for chairs across from the others.”

Hmm…maybe? We staged these there by grabbing some chairs from the dining room and pretending there was a table between Julie and me (the photo above). It wasn’t compelling enough to make it work. The space (with this sofa size) is just too tight.

So we went back to the first configuration. But I was unsatisfied with the bench in the corner.

Blue Sofa Facing Window

The corner (with the bench) felt like wasted space…like nobody was really going to sit on that bench in that corner…it was just for looks.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Living Room Lores11

So I brought in the chaise lounge that I’m still hoarding (waiting for the perfect fabric) and I like it, but it’s a lot of upholstered pieces in a row. One of those chairs has to have some sort of wood arm, IMHO.

Blue Sofa + Leather Chairs

So we tried these chairs that I’m hoarding (and likely selling). I got them at the flea market for $300 a piece (I believe from vendor Makers & Smiths) and while I love them, they aren’t comfortable enough. But it helped show us that yes, a more streamlined, less upholstered chair would help.

The sofa that we borrowed was a lighter khaki so we Photoshopped it dark blue and, of course, I like it way more than the beige on our rug.  

Brian also told me that he LOVES having the chaise lounge on the sofa, which means we can’t have the chaise on the sectional AND the chaise in the corner.

Gray Sofa + Gray Chairs

And then I remembered that I have these two super comfy chairs in storage, that do have wood arms. It almost looks like a matching set, like we put all three pieces (sectional, two chairs) into our cart. But it also kinda works, it’s just not interesting. My favorite go-to combination is upholstered sofa + wood arm/upholstered chairs so I think that this could work, but I just wish that one of these pieces was more stylish or said something more interesting.

So then I thought that maybe I just need to put a pattern on the sofa…give it some weight through a throw or even reupholster it:

Striped Fabric On Sofa

I have this Zak and Fox fabric that we are going to use in the kids’ room (if I ever get to it, I swear they are going to be 6 and 8 by the time I finish it and they won’t want to share a room anymore). It was too strong, for sure, but I’m still thinking that we need more quirk in here, so maybe it is a pattern—big or small.

For now, I added a darker throw and some stronger pillows that helped it work with the gray chairs. OH and I found this bentwood rocker that I got at a thrift store and wanted to try in here for some more “English quirk.”

Rocking Chair

I do like the quirk but it’s pretty busy against those shelves. it would work if the shelves were gone but I think we have officially settled on keeping the shelves.

BUT DON’T WORRY GUYS. I found ANOTHER chair and ottoman in storage that I love and have been hoarding for its perfect spot—the vintage number by Børge Mogensen.


It needs to be recovered and I could do it in some sort of pattern….

Then lastly, we Photoshopped the beams white and took down the art just to cut down the visual noise SOMEWHERE without having to nix the shelves.

White Beams No Art

There is a better balance to it, but I think that once we get another color on the sofa, it will need to be balanced with the beams being wood-toned (i.e. how they are right now).

And because Photoshopping options is so dang fun (thanks Sara!), I tried something else…

Should the sofa be pink? Let’s see:

Pink Sofa

Or floral? I’m desperate to bring in more pattern, color and quirk and nobody has loved floral fabric their entire lives more than me (post coming soon).

Meanwhile, this (below) is where we are at right now and I like it more, I do.

Emily Henderson Living Room Options 17

It’s super warm and inviting, with enough vintage to make it interesting. I’m still exploring a different sofa or maybe just a darker sectional (since Brian is now all of a sudden running for office on the “I need a chaise sectional” platform). I might be able to do a sofa with ottoman situation, but it’s going to take some shopping. Plsu, the chair in the corner still needs recovering.

Here is a little GIF with all the options:

Emily Henderson Living Room Options Gif

Brian was such a good sport and didn’t complain even once which was impressive. He and his friend Derik started an Instagram account called @mywifemakesmemovefurniture and they are going to post this kind of stuff there. Derik’s wife, my good friend Annie, also has the disorder/desire to rearrange furniture obsessively and we know we aren’t alone.

So which is your favorite version? In the photos, I kinda prefer the Thonet rocker, just because it’s more interesting than the squared-off armchair, and I’m committed to using that pretty antique chaise somewhere in my life…

***photos (and Photoshop!) by Sara Ligorria-Tramp


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423 thoughts on “Trying Out Reader Suggestions For What to Do With My Living Room (No Shelves? New Layout?)

    1. Agreed on the white beams. That would tone down the busy far better than removing amazing Built in bookshelves.

    2. Please don’t paint them white. You’ll never be able to really get back a wood tone.

      Why would you want to “tone down” the achitecturally interesting aspects of the house?

      Please leave the beams! Consider painting the windows dark too, I love the dark windows on old Tudors. It would add visual interest to the whole room.

      1. Seriously. Buy the style of house you want. Don’t try to artificially “convert” one style to another. Always looks wrong.

    3. Noooooo to painting the beams white. I think the beams and the built-ins (and the windows) give the room so much character and I would cry if you painted them. I am intrigued by the blank walls back there though. And I love the photo-shopped pink sofa, what about a pink sectional and that awesome Thonet rocker? That would add the right amount of quirk with less noise, for me at least.

      1. Yes to the dark beams, Thonet rocker, and whatever couch Brian likes. But that rose color, with the grays, is really appealing!

      1. Yesss! There needs to be a way better furniture placement than this! 2 chairs rather than a sofa facing the fireplace uses up less physical & visual space. Although I like it, I suggest veering away from the low, mid-century style. Also the art is a big fail imo. It’s way too small, & sorry, ehd, but it’s also really (like really!) boring in this space. This room is crying out for some colour (rugs?) needs some TEXTURE & definitely (always) more plants.

  1. Definitely keep the shelves and the wood-colour beams! I love the pink sofa (I have a black dog so no light colours for me, I’d live vicariously through you.). I also think the chaise is the best option for the corner, especially if you reupholster, but that last chair/ottoman combo could also work.

    I’m not sure any of those paired chairs are quite right, but the light grey ones work the best.

    1. I agree with Sam on all of those points. And I like the general direction of keeping the shelves and beans as they are and playing with the furnishings to create the look you want.

      I also really like the vintage green chaise, even with a sectional. But I would like the sectional more in pink or another color, over the pale grey. The light grey and wooden chairs really balance the weight of the heavier upholstered pieces. The rocking chair is a nice sculptural piece but I doubt it would get used as often as the chaise. Last thought, what about some interesting handmade pillows and textiles for color and pattern?

    2. I also love the pink sofa! (Tbh, I wasn’t sure I would until I saw the photos.) I think pattern would only add to the “busy” issues, but having the significant pop of color gives a great focal point without feeling overwhelming. It has fantastic visual impact, but in a really clean, elevated way that’s easy on the eyes. While blue and gray are usually my favorites, they’re both very neutral and actually make things a little more visually muddled — like everything is fighting to fade into the background.

      Please please please whatever you do don’t paint the beams. The beams are the best part of the room. Celebrate them.

  2. Gray sofa, gray chairs! There is still plenty of quirk in the styling of the room and in the coffee table. The last couple of options look too cluttered to me. Who would ever sit in the chair in the far corner?

  3. I can’t help but wonder what would happen if the sofa and chairs switched sides. Feel like that would open up the bay window more. Is there a reason why the sofa ‘needs’ to be on the left hand side of the room, rather than the right?

    1. Yeah I was thinking this too, but the projector screen is on the opposite side of where the sofa is rn so it would make sense for the sofa to be there.

    2. Their projector screen drops down from above the window across from current location of their sofa.

    3. I think in earlier posts, Emily said they like to open the doors on the chair side, and having the sofa over there would block the flow to the back yard. But I agree it makes more sense visually.

  4. I liked best the options where the sofa is facing the fireplace and the black leather chairs option as well.

    1. Me too! I know we’re not there in real life so I’m sure she’s right in it not working but it feels so much more balanced with all the visual “clutter” being where you’re supposed to look – ahead. Also a big fan of removing the art from the fireplace – it gives that space so much more breathing room. Maybe restyle the shelves to have more negative space?

      1. Samesies! ^^^ I also like the darker sofa facing the fireplace (without the nook and without the art above fireplace). Not sure how you enter the room, but if you want to see something other than the back of the sofa, maybe try adding a simple console table behind it with a couple big baskets tucked under (stuffed cozy blankets). It would give it a little extra depth and to make it feel more welcoming? Thanks for sharing, this was fun to take part in! 🙂

      2. I don’t think one necessarily wants to directly aim furniture at a spot being described as “visual clutter.”

    2. This is my favorite too. It doesn’t seem closed off in the pics. It looks cozy, inviting, and makes my brain finally relax when looking at all those room layouts. The scale is better, they way your eye moves about the room is better–definitely a fan of this layout. Not everything needs to be open open open. It’s not that kind of house, lean into it 🙂

      1. Agreed. A lighter colored sofa would make the area seem less dark and heavy. Also if you have a coffee table you wouldn’t need side tables as well. Plus you could add a narrow table behind it, facing the entry.
        The bookshelves seem overloaded.

    3. I like the sofa facing the fireplace idea, but was also thinking of the sofa not this far back to the piano, but rather, move it up closer to the fireplace, and maybe with a small credenza facing the back of the sofa (so you don’t see its back). This way you are creating two areas, and breaking the lengthiness of the room.

    4. Me too! The area around the fireplace looked so much better in the sofa-facing-the-fireplace configuration. What if you also moved the piano – could you bring it closer to the fireplace?

    5. Agree! It actually looks like a cozy living room rather than a furniture depot. You don’t need side tables if there is a good coffee table. If it looks dark, why not try with a lighter, brighter sofa. I think that you had decided long ago that it wouldn’t work and so it just automatically looks wrong to you

  5. I struggle with my living/family room too. It’s long one way and has multiple entrances, windows, and huge radiators, which I’m thankful for but it makes it hard to figure out the best layout.

    I wonder what it would look like if you had less “littles” in the bookshelves. It seems like less is needed. Or bigger things. Or what about hanging art on the bookshelves? Like so

    And I’m wondering about the “rules” of spacing. The furniture pieces to the right appear to be in a loosely spaced row, which for some reason seems off (not intimate? Not organic? Not sure). How far apart do the chairs need to be from the trunk and coffee table? And spacing of the sofa and row of chairs in relation to the fireplace? What would happen if you pulled the furniture in a wee bit tighter?

    1. I had the same thought about the bookcase…if the items on there were pared down, that might solve the problem of visual clutter on that side of the room. One shelf with just a beautiful vase, another with just books of the same color palette, etc.

    2. I think the art of the shelves would look amazing. If she’s worried about it being too busy, she could recover the books in white. Then hang an interesting art piece on each side.

      1. This is the first time I’ve been here so you all have probably thought of every option, but I was wondering if the chairs could be in the foreground with a table in between, a sideboard with plants to the right. A patterned rug under the coffee table….the chaise moved a little closer into the room with it’s own table like a reading nook and maybe a faux fur rug or zebra pattern slightly overlapping from the area rug to the front of the fireplace. And possibly paint the fireplace wall a warm color to complement the beams. Just a thought….

    3. I was thinking the same thing – there seems to be too much space between the sofa and chairs. Pull it in tighter and see what happens.

    4. Yes – this. I don’t know if the chairs are marooned so far away from the sofa and coffee table just for photo shoots, but they have no relation to the other side of the room when ostensibly they are there so that people not on the sofa can converse with the people on the sofa. It really contributes to the general sense of unease in the room.

      1. My thoughts exactly. Make a conversation area by pulling the sofa and the chairs forward and create a walkway behind instead of through. I think two chairs on either side of the fireplace cocked inward with a tree behind them (and NOTHING else) would finish the room.

        1. Agreed. Two swivel chairs that can face the shelves or toward the other direction with a very small drink table between in a light color. And then another two. Maybe same facing the room in front of the shelves. Angled so they allow circulation and view to the shelves and fireplace? Or try to pull chairs and sofas more together to avoid the look of the rows with a chasm between.

        2. Agreed. Two swivel chairs that can face the shelves or toward the other direction with a very small drink table between in a light color. And then another two. Maybe same facing the room in front of the shelves. Angled so they allow circulation and view to the shelves and fireplace? Or try to pull chairs and sofas more together to avoid the look of the rows with a chasm between.

          Or, the two layouts you show in your ceiling stain article for the mountain cabin seem optimal as well for this space.

    5. My problem with the layout where the sofa and chairs face each other underneath the windows is that it makes the room feel like one long hallway to get to the fireplace/shelves – even more so when the coffee table is cheated toward the sofa. The option with the sofa facing the fireplace solved this and made it feel like a more cohesive room but I agree about being greeted by the dark back of the sofa. I wonder if you just need to pull all the furniture closer to the middle of the room so the coffee table is centered on the fireplace and it feels like one space. Right now it’s a little like the window equivalent of a room where all the furniture hugs the walls.

  6. I like it without the art over the fireplace. Much less busy.

    What about building out the original shelves so they are big enough to hold normal stuff? Another option would be filling them with old hardcover books so they read more “solid” rather than clutter. Think of a real library. The shelves aren’t busy, they’re just the walls.

    1. I had the same idea about deepening the shelves themselves (not the nooks). I wonder how replacing the actual shelves with deeper wooden one in the same tone as the beams with the corners knocked back to the depth of the recesses would look. It would add to the Tudor charm and allow the negative space between things on the shelf to have weight.

  7. I adamantly dislike the white beams. And removing the shelves turns the room into the same bland generic space we see all over Instagram. Your home has these amazing features that make it unique — why on earth would anyone recommend you cover them up or paint over them?? It’s quite handy, I must say, to use photoshop to see your options. And the lesson for me is clearly: KEEP THE SHELVES! 🙂

    I do think your best move here was replacing that credenza with a bench. I actually think this room looks gorgeous with the removal of just a piece of furniture or two.

    1. I second this emotion. The first pic strikes that balance of enduring yet stylish, interesting yet calm. Maybe clean up the shelves a bit, but the original details of this room are my favorite part. I think an angel would lose its wings if you painted those beams white.

    2. YES. Keep the amazing, unique features of your house.

      I think the artwork over the fireplace is too eye-catching, and something calmer (or nothing?) would work better. If I put my thumb over the artwork, then the whole room reads as much calmer.

      Maybe more monotone styling of the bookshelves, or just way less on them, as someone else suggested (a vase on one, a few monotone books on another).

      I like the gray chairs, gray couch for calming. I like the chaise in that corner (I didn’t like it at all in the other corner — why??), but the brown upholstered chair and stool work, too. I don’t think reupholstering them in a pattern will help in this situation, though.

      Wow, other people’s rooms are way easier to problem solve than my own! Just like other people’s problems in general. 🙂

      1. I think having the chaise on the same side as the couch was too much heaviness for one side. It looks FANTASTIC paired across from the sofa. I really wish you could convince Brian.

        DO NOT PAINT BEAMS PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEEE I highly agree with what everyone else has said.

        Also, I think switching the sofa to the other side could be a cool option, I remember you had something like that one year for Christmas?

        I miss the Target lounge chairs. Those are awesome, if impractical. I loved the daring contrast between the traditional sofa and the midcentury chairs. The current sofa/chair combos are not as exciting, unless you keep the traditional chaise (I like the fabric btw).

        Love the pink sofa!!! Would really love to see you try this, as I think I’ve mentioned, I also have a pink/salmon sofa that I’ve struggled with lol.

        Love seeing all the different iterations.

        I would def sit on that chaise by the fire.

    3. I want to second this comment from “rusty” (lower in this thread) who offered this idea about the shelves:

      “I’d totally love to see those shelves in reclaimed wood and extended out a bit to hold your larger books, with a little curved edge each side – to ‘speak’ to your beautiful wooden beams (white = ick! Boring!) AND connect to the brick tones. It will ground and connect the elements.”

      That would be brilliant!

      1. Emphasizing the shelves would be pretty and please keep the wood beams looking like wood beams 🙂

  8. Okay, so I’ve always been on team “plaster over shelves”, but yeah, after seeing them gone, it just didn’t look right.

    Definitely keep the beams stained – it adds so much to the room and screams, “we live in a historic Tudor!!” without having to thatch your roof or pen a Shakespeare play, you know?

    I like the fireplace without the modern art. I know you love adding a touch of modern, but it’s just so stark and harsh to me. Cool art, wrong room maybe?

    How about restyling shelves much more minimally? I know, I know, ALL THE THINGS, but you could just try to see what it looks like with a few things on each shelf…and maybe even leave one or two empty? Okay, I’m done!

    Thanks to you and Brian both for playing along with us. I love getting a glimpse into this whole process and could not imagine putting my living room out there and getting feedback. Love your transparency and honesty.

    1. I’m adding this to Heather’s comments b/c I had similar thoughts. And I must say, this is so fun, and you are so brave to take all these opinions!! I vote for grey chairs + grey sofa! Keep the shelves and wood beams, but I would try to simplify the shelves a bit with more subtle art above the fireplace, maybe try a taller upholstered chair in the back right corner in place of the bench to make a little reading nook, and would love to see the sectional couch in mauve. So many options I can only imagine how hard it is to try them all out. I have a long but not quite as large family room that I’ve been trying to figure out for years, so feel free to come do mine when you figure out Emily’s!!

  9. I think removing the credenza on the right was a step in the right direction, but I’d love to see you try a few other moves:
    1. The small credenza in the left with the antique painting might work as a styling “moment”, but it adds to the busyness back there. And the lady in the portrait just looks so sad and severe. Can we remove those elements from the room and see if that helps?
    2. Can we photoshop out the curvy sconces? (Same reason as above— adds to the busyness, and clashes with the modern art and furniture).
    3. In the front of the room, the elements to the right (double chair, vintage trunk) have always felt a bit off kilter with the rest. The trunk is visually heavy and doesn’t talk to the coffee table or the gray sofa. Can you subtract the trunk from the room, or does it weigh a ton? Or maybe bring it all closer to the sofa? This area feels a bit disconnected from the rest.

    1. I agree with the number 3 remark.
      Also, maybe the piano could be moved to where the credenza was and the sofa will face the fireplace?

    2. Heavily with you on number 3. The trunk is so heavy! It throws everything off. I think the whole thing would feel better with a less chunky table.

      1. PLEASE remove that heavy trunk… out of place! Also agree with those who find the art too harsh on the fireplace. Looking much better all in all

    3. Great post and so interesting to read all the comments. Here is my reaction so far
      Much better without the credenza; do you need to put anything else there at all?
      Would love to see all the seating nudged closer as people have proposed. It may not work but would be so worth trying out.
      Keep the beams natural wood.
      Keep the shelves but with far fewer items or just solidly filled with books as in a library. Am intrigued by the reclaimed wood idea but I also wonder if you could try removing a couple in photoshop? It seems to me that there is not enough vertical negative space between them…
      Great job persuading Brian to do this as it IS really illuminating!

  10. I didn’t like the sofa facing the fireplace, but I loved the symmetry of the two matching chairs on either side of the fireplace ? it made the fireplace & selves feel more apart of the same room as the rest of the space. Like where things are headed moving some of the bulky furniture out of those corners though.

    1. Yes! I loved the two chairs in front of the fireplace for a look, but definitely doesn’t make sense to live with. Would be great for styling content though. Christmas shoots, Target product shoots, etc.

  11. I like it. Personally, I’d do the light sectional with the gray chairs, and that A+ pillow styling of yours. I know you’re afraid of it being too matchy, but wouldn’t that make it all the more original? I can’t think of the last time I’ve seen a designed space with matching furniture in like 5 years. But here it looks so calming, in a good way. I think the light sectional is perfect (#teambrianssectional). I still want some abstract art above the fireplace, but I want it to have organic, curvy shapes, and a very subtle/minimal/thin frame. Other than that, looks like it’s time to put your feet up, throw on Netflix, celebrate victory in designing this room, and obsessively start pinning for your next design adventure. 🙂

    1. I too have a husband who hates the re-arrange furniture game, ha! I will have to direct him to that Insta for some solidarity.
      You have some amazing pieces! That Thonet rocker is so gorge. I wonder if that would work if you didn’t have the bottom three shelves…. Would it be weird to plaster over just the bottom few? I’m sure someone already suggested that. Whatever you do, I know it’ll all come together in the end. The kids’ play room totally did!

  12. With all the talk of busyness, you should lose the gallery wall! Maybe choose two light-colored art pieces that relate to each other and put one where the gallery wall is, and one where the antique lady is. The lamps in each corner are also adding to the clutter and seem like overkill with sconces and shelf lights right there.

    1. I agree with removing the gallery wall. Overall it is just too busy in the back with all the stuff on the bookcases. How about removing both credenzas, the art, and moving the hand chair to the right corner to balance the coffee table?Then maybe a darker color sofa would bring in some more personality with all the grey upholstery. Here is a rough photoshop.

      1. Yep, I’m totally on this train! Calms that part of the room down so much. I think the thonet rocker would work in place of the hand, too.

  13. I like a mash up of the options…… I say nix the shelves, nix the cabinets on the adjacent walls BUT put matching cabinets (or custom built perhaps?) in place of the nixed shelves with art above. Also, I love the pink sofa…..def do that!!! What ever you do, PLEASE don’t paint the beams!!

  14. I really think you should try putting books on the bookshelves! Just books – no decorative things. If the books were all similar colors it would read as a single “object” in the back of the room which would keep the shelves from looking like so many tiny, distant things in the back of the room.

    I agree that you should keep the shelves, and keep the beams wood colored. It’s so fun to see the options with photoshop, etc. !

    1. I agree! There are so many little styling vignettes in this room that the styled out shelves feel excessive. And I think a little library in the back would feel more intentional and also pull on the Tudor vibe.

    2. I was going to say the same. Just books! It would read (haha) like a solid flat object that adds color and not a bunch of little things. If the shelves aren’t the right depth for that, maybe there’s a solution there.

      1. Oooo, get a bajillion of those old Penguin paperbacks (they’re pretty small) in ALL the colors, and fill the shelves by color. Then, it will look intentional AND almost like a patterned fabric. I think part of the busy-ness is due to most of the fabrics being so basically patternless that the objects pull it out of balance. A patterned fabric on the sofa would really work.

    3. I agree, looks to busy now. Fill it with beautiful books! And without art over the fireplace, to let it’s beauty shine.

    4. Yes! Filling the shelves with books will make them read as two objects, and the random colors of books shelves alphabetically will add visual interest. As someone mentioned above, you could hang art over the shelves, though maybe keep the art quieter.

  15. My favorite is the one with the sofa facing the fireplace. I know that doesn’t work IRL, but the upholstered chairs in front of the shelves helps calm the space. Having the full shelves visible (i.e. not visually blocked by furniture) plus having furniture next to the shelves (dresser on one side, bench/chaise/rocker on other) makes it more busy.

    Second favorite is definitely the pink and blue photoshopped sofas.

    Suggestion – widen the spacing of the shelves so there are fewer shelves in total and more space between them?

  16. really don’t like any of these lol. I know it’s not really your style but I’d love some chunky, funky 70s-80s kinda European modern furniture in here. and just less stuff!!

    1. I love the book shelves. I wonder tho: Is there any way to make them deeper? It would bother me, too, if my larger books hung over the edge. If you can’t push them deeper into the wall, is there a way to push them out into the room more? Perhaps the wonderful folks who did your mountain house wood cabinets could come up with a design for these book shelves?

      I say, don’t cover them up. Go all in and make them a bigger statement!

      Really, tho, you’ve got an incredible room here. Not one of these images looks at all “bad.”

    2. I agree…I feel like you should try starting fresh- like from scratch? Could you also consider extending the shelves up? And maybe one of those frameless TVs over the fireplace? I think a sofa on either side ( facing one another. A soft inviting but statement rug and white beams.

    3. Totally agree with your take on this busy, busy looking room. Everything needs to be pulled out, then sort of neutralize the room with edgier yet comfortable furniture and tighter color palette. The bones of the space is just so beautiful and classical in feeling and with all that detail going on currently there’s just nowhere for the eye to land. The focus is just all over the place.

  17. I think the balance of two chairs on either side of the fireplace looked WONDERFUL. If you don’t like the couch opposite of the fireplace then how about moving the couch (one without the chaise) back in front of the bay window and keeping the two chairs flanking the fireplace, so the conversation area is in an ‘L’ shape. I think whatever you do on either side of the fireplace should be symmetrical and for me that’s what’s throwing the room off when there are multiple random pieces. Excited to see what you end up choosing! And love the wood beams!!

    1. Yes, I second this suggestion for an “L” shaped arrangement! I agree, the symmetry of the two chairs and two shelves calms everything down and focuses the room on the coziness of the fireplace and the art above it. If you still want a sofa/chaise combination, leave a sofa in front of the bay window but with chaise on the ” left side” (nearest the piano side). Then center the coffee table on the fireplace. Leave the space in front of the french doors open for “family room” romping and playing. Or put the bench there to close the conversation area for more seating without blocking the view. I would love if you would try this just to see how it looks!

    2. Chiming in to say YES please to the ‘L’ shape + long backless chaise! Those chairs frame the fireplace area so beautifully and it would allow the sofa to still be in the optimal location for flow and projector/TV watching. And as an academic with a serious book and pottery hoarding problem, I want to second the suggestions to try styling the shelves with JUST books or JUST objects. A packed (but neat) book case can be so visually calm because all the objects (books) are similar in form, size, and tone (if you go the color conformity route). Likewise, styling those shelves more sparsely with a selection of neutral colored, but beautifully textured pots would create a similar visual calm (while adding formal interest).

  18. I’m still team remove shelves, it calms the entire space and allows you to focus on the beams, furniture and art. With the shelves my eyes don’t know where to go.

    1. Me three! I’d remove those shelves in a heartbeat a place a big, tall plant in front of one of them.

  19. white beams, first wood side chairs (or more comfy version), chaise or rocker in corner. Can you pull everything a bit closer together? I feel like it needs a bigger coffee table or the room needs to be pulled in 1/2 a foot or so? I love the wood beams but really feel like painted white it opens up the space and makes the room flow a lot better.

  20. I vote for the one with the Thonet rocker! I don’t think it looks to busy. It’s much more scaled back in that part I’d the room and adds different and interesting lines. Yay, for keeping the bookshelves!

  21. I would put the tv over the now removed credenza on a mount that allows the tv to come out. Do a sectional along the bay windows and parallel to the fireplace but have the corner seat be an ottoman instead of enclosed to make the piano part of the room not feel dark.

  22. oh and no art above fire place or something different, perhaps something round or oval, too many competing angles with rectangle or square art I think. what about some baskets on the lower shelves or something similar to create less visual clutter on those shelves?

    1. Agree — I’d love to see something round or oval over the fireplace. I like the current piece but it feels wrong to me in that spot.

  23. I like it best with the chair in the corner, with a lamp, so it’s a real reading corner. Keep the shelves, but I would put all books on the bottom 2/3rds, and style less stuff on the top. Def corner keep the beams as they are–they’re one of the best features. I like the wood and leather chairs the best, but I’m a world-class introvert who doesn’t want her guests to stay too long. Or maybe a more comfortable version? They LOOK right. I love that live-edge table, but maybe an ottoman could double as a coffee table and foot stool, so you wouldn’t need the chaise for putting feet on.
    This is fun. Thanks for letting us play.

  24. What if you filled the bookshelves completely with books? Solid books creates very little visual clutter.

    1. I like the chaise in the corner and do think it adds a more traditional element that ties in the traditional architecture of the house.

      To me, the reason why that much upholstery looks off is because all the upholstery is solid colored, similar tones, and the sofa and chairs look like similar textures. If you missed it up by having striped or otherwise patterned chairs and/or sofa, I think that many upholstery pieces would look great.

      1. I know I’m in the minority but I liked the credenza before. Maybe instead of another seating option you need a bar cabinet or something grounding and a bit tall.
        I love the wooden beams so much and the white version hurt my heart.
        I’m rewatching Downton Abbey and just loving the putty colored walls and delicious warmth of their decor. I think painting the walls a richer color would give you that something extra you’re yearning for which is why you’re still not satisfied. Imagine a patterned sofa and some warmer walls! Let’s get weird.

  25. 1. Please never paint your beams white. These beams were made to be wood toned. Some homes look good with beams painted white, but those are beams you want to make disappear. Your beams are so beautiful and want to shine. It looked weird in white.
    2. Please don’t plaster over those shelves. I think they’re one of the real features of the room. When they were gone, it made my eyeballs sad.
    3. Love that you removed the Serena & Lily credenza. Because, 1, i didn’t like the style of it with the rest of the room. and 2, having two credenzas back there looked like some kind of weird dueling pianos situation.
    4. LOVE the Børge Mogensen chair back there. It is so good! The bench was nice as a moment on it’s own, but 1, not very functional, and 2, with the bench, that corner didn’t visually balance with the credenza facing it.
    4. I like that you removed that tall lamp next to the sectional. It looks less cluttered.
    5. In the final picture (which i love btw), the black lamp on the remaining credenza is the same height as that painting above that credenza. They’re both dark, which is kinda heavy. Maybe a lamp that is a slightly different height (slightly shorter) would be good?
    6. Your room is gorgeous and you should be so happy with it! This was a fun post.

  26. definitely keep the book shelves and chaise and get rid of the hand chair. I think the art is basic enough to keep over the fireplace.

  27. What about a sofa where the chase is on the left-hand side so it pulls the room more together from that end, a busier rug and pushing things closer together so they don’t seem so disconnected? Right now everything looks very far apart and disconnected with the light rug and the coffee table seems like it is floating in the middle of nowhere. And maybe moving the chair and ottoman to the left so it doesn’t seem like three chairs stacked in a row on that side. So many great pieces there that just need a bit of it working. Love seeing this exercise.

    1. Don’t know if this would work space wise but… Sofa with chaise on the side away from the fireplace. Put the bench across from the couch to the side opposite the chaise so they balance out a square (since that side is not used for TV viewing but can still serve a a seat for conversation). Put the chairs on either side of the fireplace. If you want to tone down the shelves but still want storage, perhaps put on doors? You could cover half of each bookcase with a sliding barn door and put the busy stuff behind the doors and display simple art on the other side.

  28. Glad you are keeping the shelves, they add character and charm. I like the way you have the room now but can’t help but feel that you need a more interesting rug.

  29. Lamps or sconces in the back, but not both. That is what has always looked to busy to me. Do you need the light from both?

  30. Could you remove the top two shelves of each? Art up top and books down low? The lighting above each nook looks like it’s begging for art below it.

  31. Go with the white beams and add an interesting, oversized light fixture (like Emily Bowser’s) centered above the seating area.

  32. I like the character of the wood color beams. Could you add some sort of doors to lower half of bookcases to eliminate some of the business? I like the bookcases overall better than plastering over.

  33. Have you considered a larger sectional? I feel like with the shape/size of the room, you could really have a stunning piece in there (positioned with one side facing the back windows and the other facing the fireplace). Then maybe fewer chairs which might make it feel a bit more cohesive. Keep the beams and the shelves! They are unique and make the room special1

  34. So happy you are keeping the shelves! Also love no art on the fireplace and the credenza removed. I also love the rocker idea but wonder if it could be placed differently.

    Love the pink couch. I think overall too much grey. I’d rather a better mix of neutrals than all grey.

  35. I too have a long skinny room with a fireplace and shelves anchoring one end-so tricky! Since you are talking about a new potential sofa anyways, I’m curious if you would consider the chaise part on the front of the room? Then I think you could flank the fireplace with great (large-ish) chairs in front of the fireplace and “block” some of the busyness of the shelves while still keeping them. I’d also love to see the firebox painted tone on tone or black. I think it’s an equal culprit in the back wall scenario. So many great pieces you have. Good luck!

    1. I love this idea. Moving the chaise to the other end of the sofa could be just right. If you did this could you keep the antique chase in the corner? It looks so good there and makes sense too. What a great reading corner!

      I have also noticed the firebox before and agree that painting it black would be SO helpful. I did mine with some high heat black paint, and it took about 30 min. Made a huge difference.

      I also liked someone else’s idea of putting a sofa directly across from the fireplace and moving the piano to where the larger credenza was. Would it fit?

      Or what about moving that little vignette you love with the weathered blue cabinet to where the credenza was. Would be so much less busy if you replace the credenza/gallery wall with that blue piece and the art that’s above it.

      This is such a fun process! Thanks for including us.

  36. So fun! I love the wood beams and keep picturing the shelves covered by Spanish style doors in a similar raw wood tone….possibly arched to mimic the arch of the fireplace?

  37. Lol! Thanks for the great post. But now I definitely want a bunch of stuff in storage that I can haul in when my rooms feel stale! How about this though- place your chairs facing the fireplace rather than the sofa. Keep the window wall open, as the secondary focal point with a long, low/narrow rustic wooden bench in front (for extra seating & a home for plants, magazines & larger books). Maybe define ‘zones’ with patterned area rugs as well as more plants & textures..?

  38. Have you ever thought about going a bit less mid century on the chairs? I wonder if two smallish scale simple wing back chairs would look good where the chairs are now, this room looks like it needs that slight traditional touch in the furnishings. I think the architecture of the room is calling for a few traditional things to b folded in to the mix. If you do the wing backs maybe a new bigger slightly more traditional floor lamp for the sofa to tie the two sides of the room together. I also like the examples with less stuff in the background but in real life it may need many of those things, perhaps the photo makes it seem more busy than it really is. I like the wood beams best.

    1. I agree with Ariel. The house is a traditional Tudor and it’s lovely and should be embraced for what it is! So please try a more classic (and dare I say, more comfortable!) chair pairing, maybe skirted swivel club chairs in an interesting fabric. Additionally, I have always wanted to see that modern art piece above the fireplace disappear. Having nothing at all there is better, but I could also see a loosely representational landscape oil painting with some pretty colors there too. The whole room vibe needs to be classy and traditional, tone down the mid-century on this house and none of that modern victorian either.

    2. Agree. I miss the original staging of this room, which I felt spoke to the character of the house so much better. I’d start with a foundation of a few cozy Tudor pieces and add in midcentury or more modern pieces for edge, and scrap the gallery walls and seemingly superfluous lamps near the fireplace to allow the eye somewhere to rest. I think that change addresses the bookshelf issue.

      The art above the fireplace is lovely, but this room — especially in its current iteration — needs something softer and more colorful.

      Finally, why is the coffee table so small? That is not helping this room to feel like a room not a hallway.

  39. I like the final one best, the one with the Børge Mogensen chair and the brown wood beams. I just think that the room just needs some color, maybe with both the sofa and the chair? I also think the gallery wall needs to be toned down. There’s still a lot going on in that corner. Loved seeing all of the possibilities though! Thanks so much for doing this design exercise–very interesting!!

  40. I really liked the grey sofa, grey/wood arm look! That coffee table adds enough quirk with patterns on the sofa in throws/pillows.

    What I would really love to see, to further “de-clutter” the fireplace area is the armchair/ottoman on one aide and the Serbs and Lily console on the other. It could replace the smaller dresser and hand chair. One big thing for two smalls = less visual business.
    Plus, I think the hand chair would be cute in the kids playroom!

  41. What about less stuff on the shelves? Your stuff is so cool, but perhaps more negative space on the back wall will give the eye time to rest without being boring

  42. I liked the look of plastering over the shelves, but agree that it’s likely a bad, expensive idea. Have you tried making the stuff on back shelves more monochromatic white? Maybe that would help?

    Tbh, I’ve only been to LA once so not sure if the fireplace has the same meaning there … I live in chicago and the times I’ve had a fireplace, I’ve def used it. My point: the layout is currently missing a cozy up by the fire moment. The chaise def helped! I would want to see it, but logically am not bothered by a chaise in a corner in a room with a sectional chaise. It doesn’t take up that much more space than a chair plus ottoman. And perhaps the chaise could be recovered in a floral.

  43. The absolute winner is the dark Lawson couch with the dark upholstered chairs!

    Darker sofa with less visual clutter on it calms my eye and lets the rest of the place with its varied interests shine.

  44. I would love for you to keep the room as it is, but invite guest designers to style the shelves in your actual living room to see what they come up with!

  45. Pink sofa + Leather chairs!
    Keeps beams wood tone and fill shelves to read more solid, just books or just similar colored pottery or some kind of uniform collection.

  46. Okay, so I would normally probably not comment on this because it’s not my house so my perspective is so much different and ultimately you have to love it….but…. I think there’s just too much art (and while I love art because after all I am an artist, it’s overwhelming in this case.) I like the large piece over the fireplace. The pieces that are over where the credenza used to be look out of place now. Maybe a textile of some sort there that’s larger in scale and modern-ish? Also too many lamps on that end of the room. I think it’s too busy with those and the wall sconces… (which by the way can the new ones go lower to have more connection to the shelves as they are meant to be library lights, no?) Also, do you absolutely need to fill the space where the credenza was with furniture? I would let it breathe for awhile with nothing there or maybe just a large plant? Another chair there seems redundant to me (which is probably why you had a credenza there to begin with.) Good luck! I’m sure it will look amazing. Sometimes it just takes certain rooms more to click.

  47. I love these posts! What about two matching sofas facing each other in the main area and then two matching chairs flanking the fireplace so a little separate sitting area there? Might detract from the busyness by having more symmetry through furniture and can still have all the “interest” from the shelves and accessories and cool coffee table etc… Plus then Brian can have more content for his new Instagram!!

    1. I like this idea! I know you don’t want to block the door outside, which I believe is behind where the two chairs sit now, but it looks like you have plenty of room there to still move around it. Especially if you move the new sofa closer to the middle of the room and don’t have it soooooo far way, the way those two chairs are in the pictures now.

    2. I’ve always thought two sofas would look great in this room, and I love the idea of two chairs in front of the fireplace. I agree that it would help balance the busyness of the shelves and the beams.

      1. I agree with the two matching sofas and two matching chairs near the fireplace. My living room is similar to yours only instead of shelves there is a window on each side of the fireplace. After six years of moving the furniture it finally feels just right right.
        Also would love to see books on the shelves with pottery placed around the room, some vintage landscapes and plants. I preferred the grey upholstered furniture. I see this room looking much more organic and very relaxed and calm.

    1. I loved the blue sofa and vintage rug also. I’m also on team keep the shelves and don’t paint beams white. One more thought, I like the bench on the right, but I’d remove the hand chair to open up that space.

  48. You have a great fireplace, why not make it the focal point in the room by adding a thin floating wood mantel with raw edge, adding some tiny greenery and candles or maybe even more drama by coloring it darker or boho tile. Declutter the shelves and add a few gold toned objects and small plants. The wall sconces are distracting. The rocking chair was classic, looked fine in the corner. Ditto with the light grey accent chairs but maybe replace the trunk, it’s too heavy. Have you thought about changing out the rug for something a tad more interesting? Overall it’s a gorgeous room with tons of natural light, lucky you.

  49. I vote for removing the vintage trunk as a table between the two chairs (regardless of which chairs). It’s beautiful but I think it looks heavy/stagnant in that space when you take the room in as a whole

    Love this post! This is so fun and helpful and educational for all of us. Your room is beautiful!

  50. What about two couches facing each other? I feel that it kind of looks like 3 chairs in a row on the right side is a little busy… but I love the chair in the back corner by the shelves!

  51. I like the version where the credenza is removed, but the hand is still on the right-hand side. No chair to the left. I just don’t think you need another chair back there.
    Also, the white picture (over the fireplace) on the white wall is too much white! Maybe a picture with vibrant colors, or maybe even painting the walls?

  52. My main takeaway from this post is that PHOTOHOP IS SO FUN. I’m sure this was an incredible amount of work, but more posts like this would be amazing! I feel strongly that the wood beams and shelves should stay, but otherwise, I think all the options looked so inviting. I loved seeing your thought process. The content on your blog has been amazing over the past several months; keep it coming, please!

    PS: I’m also team sectional-with-chaise 4 lyfe! *Does secret handshake with Brian*

  53. I feel the same about every option- too much stuff at the far end of the room. I would minimize the shelves, artwork, and lighting. And please find a spot for the beautiful rocker. It adds so much character.
    I would love to see a picture with a light colored, small-profile sofa facing the fireplace from other angles of the room. I’m so curious to see if that option is still workable. Love these kind of posts!

  54. Firstly, this is SO FUN! Thanks for letting us play too and for being such good sports, both hendos! Hilarious I-gram btw.

    Second, your room is beautiful! Keep the beams and the shelves — you’re working with some gorgeous bones — and you have too good of taste to have anything be truly awful on top of the good bones.

    BUT what I really wanted was a pulled back shot of the sofa facing the fireplace WITH a sofa table behind it. It would soften the whole look and feel much cozier in there. I’m still team face the fireplace. With a sofa table, you could live without side tables, but could also get away with one walking side and have an end table on one end. I really think it could work!

    I would also look into a sectional — not just a chaise. If you could find a curved one, it would really help soften what feels like a lot of straight lines. AND THE COMFORT!!

    Not wild about the line of three chairs on the right. It feels very visually imbalanced. And truly not comfortable at all. The only comfy chairs of all look like the chaise and the first pair.

    Still so much to think about! So fun!

  55. The original first picture looks the best IMO 🙂 only things I would change are: no lamp on the credenza, vintage mirror above fireplace instead of art, and no hand stool in front of the bookcase.

  56. I love the shelves and would be so sad to see them go. But what about renovating them a little? Demo them out and make them deeper and taller, with closed storage underneath? Cabinet doors could be caned or natural wood. That way you have the styling opportunity without the whole wall feeling cluttered.

  57. No shelves. Matching chairs in front of the fireplace facing the couch. Couch facing the fireplace. Light colored credenza or bench behind the couch. To lighten up the space.

  58. Love seeing all of these options! I think the wood beams and shelves are character features of the home and should definitely stay. I feel like the scale of the shelves looks off because there’s so many of them. If there were fewer shelves spaced farther apart, you could add larger pieces and decrease the busy feeling back there. In the gif, I immediately missed the height of the credenza on the right when it went away. Also LOVE the current couch, agree a chaise on the main couch of a home is a must for comfort, and feel like the color helps your eye travel to the back of the room. To balance the quiet couch, I agree wood plus upholstery is the winner, but they would look best in a more bold color or pattern. Maybe the chairs could add the quirky, unexpected factor you’re looking for.

  59. How about adding doors to the shelves? Like black metal/glass panels? If you want to see an example the new Studio McGee home has them in the living room and they look lovely!

  60. I would keep the wood beams, and I would take out every other shelf in the alcove and reduce the amount of stuff on the shelves. I would also swap out the white shelves for chunky wood ones (a la Lauren Liess). It would echo the beams and highlight a few special things better. I like the Mogensen chaise a lot and would love to see it recovered in something special. The fringed chaise seems all wrong. Maybe instead of the bench you need a low bookcase?

  61. I like the grey sofa with the grey chairs, and I like that you removed the art over the fireplace. I wonder if you could keep the shelves but remove some of them–like every other shelf or something? That way you could put some taller items in there and get some breathing room b/c the distance between the shelves would be double. Is that a stupid idea?

  62. Good morning!
    Reading this post and the last on this specific topic I have one question…

    Do you have a safe place to just scream fu** you all to the keyboard brigade who don’t actually live in your space with your family?

    Seriously, stay sane mama, a house is a place to create beautiful memories and cherished moments, and if it’s also a gorgeous space (like any iteration of your living room has been) then you’ve more than done your job.

    Keep on truckin,’ you do you, and have ALL the cliches on hand while you (hopefully) enjoy a good old fashioned high school makeout session with the hubs on that sectional he loves.

    Please don’t publish my comment, hate to set off the angry hoard, it’ll get all walking dead up in hurr.

    Enjoy your weekend, and maybe a post next week reminding us all about what you and your family REALLY LOVE about your space could balance all the rearrangement discussioms.

    1. Her entire career is built on how styling impacts a room, and we are here for it!. I loved this post. It ain’t no blow to her psyche I’m guessing.

  63. Tough room! This is probably the unpopular idea but is painting
    the walls a darker color out of the question? It seems like that would help ground the space.

  64. Like the “where you are at right now version” but think you need a more imposing coffee table – perhaps a warm coloured wood to complement the beams and a colourful rug (orange or terracotta, grey, blue and white)underneath to bring it to life.

  65. Have you thought about painting the back of the bookshelves to add some sort of contrast?

  66. Option Blue Sofa with Fabric Chairs with the Chaise in the corner. I think this gets rid of the busyness that was driving me crazy about this room. I also love having the sofa face the fireplace. I agree with the past commenters that there was just too much stuff/furniture. I think the sofa/chaise combo is too much for this room and makes it look even more crowded. Hopefully this helps! I love this room and I know it can look fabulous. I’m also struggling to get our living room/family room combo working too!

  67. I’m drawn to the version with the leather chairs.

    And it may be anathema to your prop styling background, but have you considered just reducing the visual clutter on the shelves? They’re (of course) beautifully styled, but given the scale of the room perhaps fill them with similarly coloured books, or tonal pieces (e.g. simple, handmade pottery)?

  68. I have an awkward living room as well and struggled with furniture placement. I did opposing matching sofas to cut down “too much furniture” in the room. Could be an option…

  69. I like that you’re keeping the shelves! However, it STILL looks too cluttered in the back of the room. Thank you for moving that art off the top of the fireplace — that always felt like too much. What if you moved ALL furniture out of the back section of the room and just had the shelves/fireplace as a focal point without all the stuff in front of it?

  70. I love the chairs you remembered in storage! I think the minimal/structural art piece above the fireplace is a tricky one. I love it but is it the focal point for this room? Such fun for us to follow along!!

  71. I can totally relate, I want my husband to physically move everything, he says he can do it in his head and know it won’t look good. Ha! Suuure. We have a small business cutting and making book boxes. We also trim books (coffee table books) so they’ll fit beautifully on the shelf but still give you that horizontal look. Let us know if you’re ever interested.

  72. I think you need to get most of your color from the rug and pillows. Could you photoshop a different rug?
    Can you put the leather chair in front of the bookshelves on the right? It could be a good place for the wood. I definitely like the wood beams. I am sorry but I don’t love the art above the fireplace. It looks modern while your room does not seem that way to me. It could be another spot for color. Definitely need to give the hubby a spot to watch television! I loved looking at the options. Good luck!

  73. Love this post, and all of them! My husband has accepted his life of moving furniture in, out, and around on a nearly daily basis, so I especially love this 🙂 Have you thought of not having anything in that back right corner besides for the awesome hand chair (which btw I ordered one from thanks to coveting yours for years, and am dying waiting for it to arrive!) and maybe just filling up the space by bringing more art in, creating a gallery wall down to the floor? And would it be too “accent wall of the early 2000’s” to paint the little center fireplace wall darker or add some kind of treatment to make it stand out more? I love this room, and yes definitely keep the bookshelves!

  74. The main issue I hear with this room is it being “busy”. There was a lot for the eye to bounce off of, between the pillows, the art, the credenza, the shelf styling, etc. Removing the art from the fireplace was a great start; it really let’s the architecture shine, lets the bookcases have their moment, and doesn’t interfere with your coffee table styling.
    The pink sofa with that cushion combo was also a wonderful choice, because it created an intriguing moment (pink! sofa!), without any added business of patterned pillows or throws. That color also adds a lot of warmth to the room, and plays well with the beams. It has the “comfy” factor as well, makes me want to sit in it. The light grey chairs with wood arms look beautiful with the rug, and though they wouldn’t be my first choice for lounging they fit the room.
    I like the idea of the reading corner, and think the green chaise looks great there. The Børge Mogensen bothers me a bit because the top of it aligns perfectly with one of the bookshelves, and for some reason it looks very off. I agree with you about the dark grey chairs and chaise being too much, mainly because its just a lot of chair arms battling in a line. The wood armed chairs help that area to relax a little more.
    Now, about the bookcases and beams: please leave them. Plastering/painting them really does nothing besides remove beautiful character elements from the room. However, the lower two shelves of the bookcase add quite a bit of eye bounce. Between the reading corner, the shelf styling, and the art and sconces, my eye doesnt know where to go. Adding two doors on the bottom of each bookshelf would give the eyeballs a break on the lower level, but still allow you to display your beautiful objects and pieces on the upper 3 shelves. Plus, more storage.
    The art and black lamp on the left are both very dark and exactly the same height, it looks very heavy. I think raising the art a few inches, and then balancing the art on the other side of the room by adding some darker pieces would fix the issue. Though I think a wall hanging with some moofiness to it would be a better choice than that gallery wall, personally. Something like what you had in your living room in your last home, but more muted colors and not as long obviously.
    There’s my two cents! Beautiful job Emily.

  75. I’m in agreement to keep the shelves since they are an original architectural feature but I think the busyness is because the shelves are thin and there are too many. Take out the original boards and replace with thicker and fewer. Like four shelves. It will give it more visual weight and you can display fewer, taller objects on there instead of a bunch of smalls. It’s such an easy fix and I keep thinking you will try that every time I see your challenges with this room!

  76. To my eye, it looks like the issue is too much stuff just continuing down the walls (including chairs/chaises tucked into the far corners). I’d love to see you try creating a seating zone at the far end with two tall wingback chairs flanking the fireplace.

    Keep the beams!

  77. I like the sofa facing the fireplace! It lets the fireplace shine as the focal point and that olive green sofa is beautiful.

  78. Another thought… I think all the focus is on the furniture but should maybe directed at the walls and creating some blank space. If you take everything off the walls in the back (while keeping the shelves) and add things back slowly (or not at all). Even remove the two side sconces. It looks like you felt like you had to fill up the space, but you don’t.

  79. I would say empty out all the shelves and make it simpler …I say plaster over the shelves and do two large pieces of artwork flanking the fireplace with chests below each piece and do away with art on fireplace… If you decide to keep the shelves make them simpler the style and replace art on the fireplace with a mirror… Also eliminate the gallery wall…

    1. gray sofa gray chairs! It’s inviting and simple visually without plastering over the shelves. z1

  80. I’m glad you removed the big credenza near the bookshelves, but I wish you would not have added anything back. I don’t think it needs a bench, the hand chair, and another chair in front of the opposite bookshelf. Why do you need seating back there anyway? Does anyone actually sit back there? It just continues to clutter up the visual of the bookshelves.

    Please keep the beams wood toned though. The white beams look silly.

  81. PLEASE do not plaster in those shelves. It’s so sad when the original architecture of a house is ruined. Switch to all neutral colored items on the shelves.

  82. I love your living room and your style. The shelves add architectural interest so I wouldn’ get rid of them. The beams add interest as well. Looks like the fireplace wall is your focal wall. Everything else must support it. The cabinets on both sides distract from it. How should the eye travel from the fireplace? I like your sofa and chair ideas. Maybe you also need a bold art piece above the fireplace, and a piano closer to the fireplace on one side and just a chair on the other? Maybe a library bookshelf in the place of the piano? And an upholstered bencj between the bookshelf and the sitting area

  83. The rocker! That, for me, is the best option! I think it would look even better without the art over the fireplace (like you did in the white beams option). The rocker is beautiful and looks much less cluttered than the chair+ottoman, which don’t add much to the room. I also think the pink sofa would look really nice.

    So, compared to how it is now, the changes would be: rocker + no art above fireplace + pink sofa!

  84. Loved the no art above the fireplace. Try some different leather chairs, blue or gray sofa works, love the chaise in the other corner, maybe just books in the bookshelves.

  85. I like the sofa facing the fireplace the best. I think it makes the space feel like a cozy living area and anchors the room rather. If you put a low skinny console behind the sofa it would help eliminate the need for side tables and would be a nice simple styling opportunity. Style it with intention to draw the eye there as a sneak peak into the rest of the space as you come around the sofa rather than it being a blank “wall” blocking the view to the fireplace and shelves. I think a round mirror would look great above the fireplace. It needs something there to highlight the simple beauty of the fireplace, but I think the art there before is too graphic and is contributing the the feeling you have of that wall being too busy. You could try the bench where you tried your two dining chairs as placeholders or do a set of two poufs/stools if you want additional seating in front of the bay window. Then maybe a small tree and a large , neutral and textural 3D art piece in the corner where the chaise used to be or some other airy object in the corner. I love the hand, but I’m not sure where it could stay in this room. Definitely keep it in your house somewhere. The two chairs facing the fireplace could have a low non-chunky side table between them for functionality. Have you thought about adding a ceiling light to this room? My last thought is that this room needs to darker and more color saturated pieces rather than the light gray sofa and light gray chairs especially if you want to have a light neutral rug.

    1. I forgot to say also that I think the bookshelves need more books on them and less objects. Sometimes more really is more. If it looked more solid because of the shelves being full of books it would feel less busy. You could try turning all the spines in again for a neutral tonal look, but I don’t think it‘s necessary. Being full highlights the shelves intended function and helps the brain process the sight differently. More book and less decorative objects on it will help calm the shelves down.

  86. I need to get this thought off my chest re: the shelves! I wonder if a couple less shelves on each side but evenly spaced, and maybe slightly thicker material, more weight? Don’t know the logistics of that for you but from far back they look thin. Fewer shelves, thicker platform, a little more breathing room?

  87. I’d remove the shelves. You’ll have way more flexibility and the space will look a little calmer and more modern. If you miss them in the future you can always put a bookshelf in that space, without the commitment of it being there forever.

  88. Ok soo what if every other shelf was removed? Therefore creating a larger space in between the shelves that remain. Maybe placing some larger scale items would bring the busy-ness down a bit without removing them all together?

  89. Your living room is beautiful. Shelves, wood beams, all of it. It makes me a little sad that it’s constantly up for discussion…it would make me feel self-conscious and never satisfied when I was in my space; what a terrible feeling! It’s YOUR living room. Sometimes I wonder what the homes of all these critics look like.

  90. I love all of your ideas! It helps me with trying to figure out my ever-changing living room! What if you put cabinet doors on the bottom shelves to help with it looking too busy? I’m sure whatever you end up doing will be beautiful and inspiring as always!

  91. One of my friends is a natural stylist as well. I am a less is more gal and she is a more is more gal. When she asks my opinion about something she is adding or taking away from her spaces I am usually on team less. She is always on team more. I finally realized that it delights her to see more while it calms me to see less. You get a lot of comments about taking more clutter away, but if it delights your eyes, then enjoy!

  92. Definitely keep the shelves but pare down what’s in there and maybe add some larger art pieces or vases in there? I still think there’s too much stuff back there. Can you add a tall plant or something instead of more furniture? The sofa/rug/chair combo is very meh in my opinion color wise. Maybe get a sofa with some color or switch out the rug for something with color or pattern?

  93. I have the same living room layout (1927 tudor!). We have the couch facing the fireplace with two chairs close to the fireplace. We put a sofa table with two lamps behind the couch to make it more inviting from the entrance. Could you do this? Is the piano a must?

  94. Interior designer over here….I think removing everything in the right corner (except the sconce) and adding a beautiful tree would be enough

  95. This is so fun to see. Agreed on the shelfs stay put. It adds architectural detail but I would style them less. It still feels “busy” back there and I think less stuff on the shelfs would help. I am sorry but I have never understood the chaise lounge. It just has never clicked in this living room. Doesn’t match with the style of the room or the other furniture, and is distracting to me. Just my opinion!

    Thanks for sharing the design process.

  96. I think this was suggested last time around, but what about creating two distinct zones in this room. I think your issue is the scale of it and you have been treating it as one long space when it could be better served as two. Love the chairs flanking the fireplace, put the couch opposite the fireplace but shoved way closer to it so that’s zone 1. Low funky side tables like that round wood thing you have. You could even make that a true TV area by putting the Samsung Frame TV to on that wall with the creepy portrait. Zone 2 by the windows and toward the piano could have lighter seating, a pair of arm chairs and table on one side, a low lounge/standalone chaise on the other (similar to the options Velinda came up with Sara’s living room.

  97. LEATHER. You need some leather in there. Either the chair in the corner or the two across from the couch. The rocker is just too granny and who really likes to sit in those anyway?

  98. I agree with the comments that there is too much on the shelves. I think visually pairing it down, maybe even adding doors on the bottom half would quiet that down while keeping it interesting. I also think nixing seating in the left (right?) corner, and just a nice tree would make more sense. There isn’t any green in the room right now and its such a cheery looking room. The gallery wall is pretty but adds another layer of visual stuff. I also live with a long living room, and it is such a challenge!! Thanks for sharing your process….makes me feel much better about my ever evolving room.

  99. I’m so glad you didn’t plaster over the bookshelves! Please don’t paint the beams!

    I liked the chaise options most. The credenza and bench options were unbalanced.

  100. I think the fireplace looks so much better without the art. And no need for 4 light sources next to the book shelves (2 scones, a table lamp, and a floor lamp) – that makes it look so cluttered. I think simplifying that back wall and adding in some more color in your couch would be perfect! Thanks for the fun post!

  101. I love this game and play it all the time in my home!

    Here’s my 2 cents. To me, it’s the far wall, the fireplace wall, that is the problem. There IS something kinky about the shelves. I don’t like them gone but something is wrong. They clutter and stumpify the room. Have you tried hanging artwork above them (photoshop of course)? Can you photoshop some doors onto the front? Glass or otherwise, to make them truly outstanding and not just 8″ shelves that aren’t big enough for your art books? Or, like my grandmother always did to her shelves, put rows of sets of leather bound books? In other words, keep the shelves but simplify and glorify them all at the same time?

    Does that make sense? I dunno, buy if anyone can do it, Emily can.

  102. Would you ever consider plastering over fireplace – not the brick part – but the white part leading to ceiling in a slightly contrasting color? Then no art?

  103. So, so fun to see the ideas Photoshopped for our viewing pleasure! Ha!
    It really sorted things out visually by removing the credenza on the right. I literally found myself taking a deep breath looking at the difference it makes.
    I’d totally love to see those shelves in reclaimed wood and extended out a bit to hold ypur larger books, with a little curved edge each side – to ‘speak’ to your beautiful wooden beams (white = eich! Boring!) AND connect to the brick tones. It will ground and connect the elements.
    What if….you recovered the chair and ottoman or the green chaise…in….pink?? That pink sofa was so good! I humbly suggest that whenever you recover the chaise…do it with a twist. Show the legs a little. No skirt or fringe. It would still be classic, just good and different at the same time.
    This was a great, engaging, fun post! Thank you! ?

    1. “I’d totally love to see those shelves in reclaimed wood and extended out a bit to hold your larger books, with a little curved edge each side – to ‘speak’ to your beautiful wooden beams (white = eich! Boring!) AND connect to the brick tones. It will ground and connect the elements.”


  104. Love this post with all kind of options. it’s so fun to play around. I always have wondered why there has to be so much stuff around the fireplace. Credenza’s and that chaise lounge….. I absoluut don’t like that chaise, never have. It’s so stuffy. Why don’t make the area around the sofa and chairs more cozy, maybe a pouf or small ottoman, floor pillows. Those you can move around and the kids can lay and play on them and just keep the rest without furniture. No art above the fireplace is a definite yes.

  105. I am liking the room with some of the furniture pieces pulled out. I am team keeping the shelves and the wood beams. I like how you currently have the shelves styled. Maybe something to intentionally make them more of a feature – like veneering them in a wood tone similar to the beams – to anchor the objects on them a bit more.

    I’ve also been curious about an l-shaped arrangement in this room, but looks like it wouldn’t work with the chairs on the fireplace wall, even with a smaller sofa, so I get it. What about chairs on the piano side? If there’s not enough clearance, what about having just one chair, angled toward the sofa? Or even moving the piano to one of the back walls?

    If you stick with this arrangement, I’m not totally a fan of that particular chaise that’s been in the room, but I do like the look of a chaise in that corner. I’ve also felt like the room is screaming for a big tufted ottoman/coffee table – a few more traditional elements to bring everything together.

  106. Contrarian here. I like the shelves with all the stuff. I like the brown beams. I don’t think the issue is needing less, I think it’s about adding more visual interest elsewhere, especially to the midroom area. Love the bentwood rocker, and also think the chaise longue on the sectional, especially with the striped throw, is the best change you’ve made here. (insert laughing emoji.) Seriously. A great color/fabric/set of pillows on the sectional, balanced by the right chairs, and the whole “Bowling Alley To The Bookshelves” problem is solved.

  107. Keep the shelves – don’t get rid of these amazing built-ins. And keep the wood beams. These are the architectural details that make this space special. Getting rid of the credenza and replacing with the bench really helps the space. Also, maybe only books on the bookshelves? May make it look less busy.

  108. Have you ever tried two sofas facing each other (chaise in front of backyard window and blue sofa in front of bay window) and then those two gray chairs (from the first pic) in front of the fireplace looking towards the room and no dressers/credenzas/benches near the fireplace at all? Just another idea…

    I love the first set up best, in the top picture!

  109. It still just feels busy. My eyes go immediately to the shelves in the back so maybe if you styled them more sparingly that wouldn’t happen. Agree with taking down the art above the fireplace. I’ve always loved that piece but it just feels wrong there.
    I honestly loved the iterations without the shelves. I completely understand not wanting to plaster over an original feature. But, there are SO many “features” in this room (fireplace, beams, shelves, bay windows…) that it’s overwhelming. I’ve always LOVED your “Spanish Living Room” design. Maybe some repetition would help ground the space? Two matching sofas facing each other? I also think leaving a straight line of sight to the fireplace would be good (no large branches obscuring the view).
    I love watching this process! It’s helping me so much in my own awkward living room!

  110. I’m sorry to see I’m not the only one with IFDD ( Indecisive Fickle Decorating Disease). Being induated daily with tons of great new ideas, ( thanks Pinterest) I want mid century one month, farmhouse next, industrial, Hollywood glam,art deco,kitschy,modern, classic,boho,you get the idea.Oh,I know,I’ve seen the fabulous rooms using mixed or eccentric style, but I find it’s like fashion- works best when you have high end items in said rooms.Good luck, the chairs look super comfy

  111. What about painting just the fireplace section of the far wall? Im wondering if it would give your eye somewhere to focus instead of bouncing side to side between the shelves? Easy enough to photoshop to see if a light gray or a darker color would work.

  112. PLEASE keep your beams, they are perfect and give your home some soul. (And you spent a lot of time and $$$ to get here) I actually love the pink sofa photo the most. There is a great balance there, in weight and in the tones of all of your furniture. Not loving the chair and ottoman that you have in the corner currently. Possibly too orange?

  113. Seating in the far right corner doesn’t feel right. Like, who wants to be all the way over there by themselves? How about a nice sculptural tree in that spot?

  114. ? the sofa facing fireplace w/ nook. i also think maybe a statement chandelier on the ceiling of that room might help your eye fill in the blankness of the fireplace without having to hang art on it (something i haven’t been a fan of in your space). best of luck!

  115. Such a fun post! I think filling the shelves full of books instead of styling them would make the shelves actually look less busy and add a cozy vibe to the room. I definitely like the parred down look and a cozy chair in the corner for reading looks very welcoming! Thanks for sharing.

  116. I’m so invested in this room and love to see you play with the options!! I like the two chairs flanking the fireplace without all the other items in the back corners, but I’d keep the sofa in its original location. There is already so much symmetry in the back of the room, your eye kinda wants it to stay symmetrical. I’d then consider moving the low bench in front of the windows on the right or see if the beloved chaise lounge could work in the front-right of the room.

    If this were my house, I would also try to simplify the shelves by removing every other shelf and maybe beefing up the width of the shelf and displaying larger art/decor as others have suggested. And it think the room looks better without art above the fireplace.

  117. I love seeing all the options, and also I’ll run as Brian’s VP of sectional-with-chaises-only presidential bid. 🙂 The pink option is beautiful!

    I agree with some of the other commenters — is there a reason you have such a large gap between the sofa and the chairs? It lets you see the fireplace a little better from the camera but it just feels a little disjointed. And I think you should try (on IG so we can see!) replacing all the stuff on the shelves with books, all books and nothing else, so they feel a little more purposeful. Right now they seem too far away from the rest of the room to be useful for displaying things — maybe save that “decorative element moment” for on top of your piano/sideboard/etc.. They’ll feel less cluttered and more intentional that way, I think.

  118. I love the shelves. You are getting so many suggestions. But how about leave the front area as is – keep the sofa, table and two chairs, keep the shelves, but take out all the extra stuff in front of the shelves. No credenza, no dresser, no chairs, etc. I think that would make it less busy down at that end. Or just do whatever you like best – it is a beautiful room:)

  119. Have you considered painting the fireplace, but not the brick part of it? If it’s stuccoed then I would be against it (just as I’m adamantly against painting the wood beams), but if it’s already just painted then it couldn’t hurt to give it a go (or simply Photoshop). I’d imagine it would add to those unique architectural lines, help draw the eye through the room, echo the beams, and quiet the “busyness” of the shelves. And honestly, what I’m most stuck on is the rug…it’s just way too bland for an already pretty neutral space.

  120. If where you are now functions well and the furniture is comfy and inviting, that’s the biggest win. I think less stuff on the shelves will make it calmer. But I’d try removing a couple shelves to allow for fewer, but larger pieces that can be appreciated individually from a distance. Leave the space above the fireplace empty so it doesn’t compete with the sides. Possibly cover lower shelf or two with simple doors as a previous commenter suggested.

  121. I had an immediate positive reaction to Gray Sofa + Gray Chairs – it reminds me a little of the serenity of your last living room (sales listing version) which I absolutely loved. I also like Pink Sofa version for the same reason. In fact, this has solved a dilemma of mine as I have a pale grey sofa with two wood-arm chairs that need re-covering – I wanted to use a pale grey velvet but thought it would look too boring with the sofa, but now I’m all for it! So that’s actually a massive help, thank you!

  122. I feel the frustration
    I’m going through the same. So comforting seeing I’m not alone! AND
    I’m a designer
    It’s harder doing your own home by far!!
    Fav: Blue Sofa on left w two airy chairs
    I think u can do chaise in corner and chaise sofa. STD not long.
    Great reading corner and relqx.
    Of course coffee wood table comes foreward.

  123. I think the blue sofa is by far the best and like it in the version with leather chairs version but perhaps swap out the leather chairs with the comfy gray chairs instead. All the other things in the corner look cluttered except the bench for me.

  124. I still think darker paneled walls under those beams would look better. I like the darker furniture for that reason. I like the black leather chairs. I like seeing the outline of the fireplace (so maybe a slightly darker paint to show it off, on the wall behind it, and maybe on the side walls, too. I think there’s still too much stuff on the shelves. They are so far from the entrance that it’s too hard to really appreciate any of it whereas larger items might be more impactful. I think that putting a door on the bottom few shelves would be visually pleasing because it would simplify and then you could have some furniture in front of it, whether credenzas, low chairs or benches. I don’t like any of the chairs you show back there, especially the chaise. I like the blue sofa but I like the current sectional. I don’t like both blue sofa and blue upholstered chairs but I do like the blue sofa with the leather chairs. I don’t like the beams white.

    I’m not sure how helpful this is! But those are my thoughts as I cycle through all the images. You have a very wonderful husband to put up with this- mine won’t let me move or change one thing!

  125. Please don’t paint the beams white, that would be so sad! Although maybe the one over the window, I can’t tell from these pictures but looks a little unbalanced. I’m agreeing with what many others have said, I think the first place to start is to drastically cut down what’s on the shelves, like have one or two things at most (plant, vase etc). For the bottom shelves I’m in favor of adding doors for storage (custom wood might be beautiful to tie in with the beams), or just baskets to make it easy. The picture over the fireplace I also find jarring, it’s weird how it’s pretty simple yet seems busy. Last suggestion, or question really, is this rooms seems to desperately need greenery. Of course as a designer you know how important that is so there could be a reason, maybe when you’re in the room the beautiful garden is a focal point? But in photos it really looks lacking that life. I think putting some plants on the shelves would be perfect, and a large floor plant somewhere. Funny how it can be the most difficult to see your own space objectively, hope all these opinions help, good luck can’t wait to see!!

  126. I guess I don’t really understand the concept of the chairs and couch being so far apart. If you have six people over for dinner, where do they sit? It feels kind of awkward being so far away from each other and also being so far away from the coffee table. I say couch facing the fireplace, something with a wood back so it is interesting to look at, then have the chairs cornered around so you can walk around them close on the other side. I think having the shape be more organic will help with the fact that the room is rectangular. Otherwise everything seems very stuffy, a lot of right angles.

  127. What if you took some shelves out and made the spacing between them higher? That way you could do bigger pieces of art and objects on the shelves, but use less little stuff but still make a statement. The shelves still seem really busy with everything else…..

  128. I think you should bump-out the bottom of the built-in shelves with closed-door storages so it becomes closed storage underneath recessed shelves. that minimizes the length of the room and gives a pinch of “eye rest” below. Also, instead of the chaise chair, adding a small counter height round cocktail table and two streamlined counter height stools could be the perfect game of checker spot, while also adding something unexpected.

  129. Paint the whole wall where the fireplace an accent color… maybe charcoal, dark blue… and paint the beams white

    1. I had the same idea about the fireplace wall. I think that would provide a visual anchor at the back of the room. I can’t remember if this was ever discussed before though.

  130. This is fun! I also like it as it is right now…loosing the credenza was the smartest move (although that credenza is gorgeous so please use it somewhere else). I agree that the bookshelves are keepers but maybe clear them up a little bit: less items/same color palette. I would also loose the chairs in front of them. The hand chair could replace the bench in the right corner, as could the piano (I’m not sure if it fits but if it does maybe you could switch the piano with the credenza). One last thing: maybe push the sofa and chairs a little bit towards the center of the room? Oh, and I love ALL the sofas: grey, pink, blue…and love your blog!

  131. I like the sofa facing the fireplace and the chairs flanking the fireplace…it simplifies the room so much. BUT I would do a much lighter sofa with a sofa table behind. And regardless of the layout, I think simplifying the shelves next to the fireplace would help a lot. Less stuff. More plants and some empty space. I dont think you should plaster over them, but I do think removing some stuff would help a lot!

  132. I can see several of these working, but in many of them the chairs on the right seem so far away from the sofa that they create a visual runway straight to the back of the room. Have you ever put down a smaller rug on top of the one you have, a one that would anchor the sofa and chairs a bit in conversation with each other, giving your eye more of a resting place instead of the sightlines pulling straight back to the overladen shelves?

  133. what about grey sofa facing fireplace? with a low credenza behind it to make a piano zone? grey chairs on either side of the fireplace, half round side table under sconces? I DUNNO! but the tv! ahhh! Maybe a giant L shaped sofa facing tv screen and fireplace? With only one larger chair (patterned chaise?) by fireplace for a reading spot?

  134. The one with the Thonet rocker minus but remove the two black lamps or the one with the fringe chaise and the streamlined chairs. Those are my favorites.

  135. Don’t take out those beautiful shelves! Dark sofa anchors the room better and I love the chaise!

  136. And don’t paint those beautiful beams! Haha I love all the architectural detail. I’d take out accessories before architecture.

  137. Do not paint those beams! I think you need to take more stuff out of the back of the room. As in, it might be time to let go of that hand thing. And those tall black lamps are heavy and busy and you have scones IMMEDIATELY above them it seems. And the shelves on the right good have 50% less stuff. And what is that round wooden bowl thing on the ground? Take it out. And in place of this stuff, ADD PLANTS. This room is way to empty of plants.

  138. Well, I’m late to this party but would love to see how it would look with the shelves, but less stuff on them.
    What a lovely room in all its variations!
    Almost everything I’ve seen (except the white beams and the artwork over the fireplace, which seems like a minus) works for me — except the loaded-up shelves. They seem like an overly busy focal point and distract from the fireplace instead of complimenting it.
    My other issue with the shelves is they look skinny and modern (at least in these photos), lacking the mass and detail in your room’s other architectural features. If they were bulked up a bit, or had some kind of detail added to them, I think would seem more like they belong there instead of some other house or era.
    PS I loved the chaise when it was in the corner!

  139. You are the cutest! I haven’t read everyone else’s comments, but I don’t think you’ve got it yet, and of course I weirdly think my suggestions will be the best ha ha.

    1. Could you have another sofa facing your current sofa? A traditional, less busy arrangement.

    2. Could you put two comfy club chairs on either side of fireplace? Maybe with a shared ottoman in between? (Thus creating two separate seating areas…sofas and chairs.)

    3. Could you please fill bookshelves with smallish honest books? With maybe just a few ceramic pieces?

    4. Do not paint beams!!

    5. Yes to pink and florals and maybe a pink antique rug?

    You will emerge victorious yet! And i also love that quirky rocker!

    1. Yeah, can you have a bookshelf with just actual books? It will be less busy without all the extra stuff if you just have actual novels in there.

  140. Such a fun way to explore options!

    I’m going to be an outlier here and suggest that you nix the projector and screen setup, add a Frame TV above the fireplace (showing art when you are not watching TV), and do the two darker chairs in front of the fireplace and place your light gray sectional with its back to the piano.

  141. This is getting there…Keep the beams wood! My additional suggestions:
    – de-clutter the bookshelves;
    – try a black shaker bench instead of the cream/wood bench;
    – what about putting the chaise on the couch on the other side? Not sure if that would work but an idea;
    – no/smaller table lamp on the dresser or a low profile floor lamp that’s a task lamp if you need one by the couch;
    – make all the sconces more low profile;
    – something other than the chest between the chairs?

  142. I agree with others that the sofa and chairs are too far away from each other. Make a conversation area by pulling the sofa and the chairs forward and create a walkway behind instead of through. I think two chairs on either side of the fireplace cocked inward with a tree behind them (and NOTHING else) would finish the room.

  143. I’m team gray sectional and gray chairs with no art above the fireplace. Seems the least cluttered and fresh space. If the gray on gray is bothering you with the rug, have you considered replacing the rug to add more pattern? And honestly that hand is bothering me always blocking the shelves….Sorry, I know you love it!

  144. None of these work for me, because I think you need a patterned rug to balance the ceiling detail and the long length of the room. Definitely remove the cabinet in the back right of the room – there should be seating near the fireplace – I like the chaise. A long rectangular couch makes the room look narrow. The patterned rug would help that. The sectional couch works the best since it makes the room seem wider. However, I think you need a sectional in a stronger color to get the full visual benefit. I also think that two curved sofas that face each other (curving to face both the room’s entrance and the windows) would be stunning – and very in keeping with the period of the room. Maybe look out for a vintage set when you go thrifting?

  145. you absolutely cannot get rid of the shelves! you are the queen of styling shelves and i love that it’s an original feature.

  146. Wow! Based on triple+ the normal comments on this post, I’d say this topic is a hit and I’d love to see you explore it more! Would you ever run a “reader mood-board / photoshop challenge” and let us submit visual ideas? There are so many options and it would be a fun way to get some easy content on a topic your readers are really into.

  147. I like the option you ended up with best, but I still think it needs some work. The middle of the room looks like a very bare, white expanse for no apparent reason–I would layer on a second rug under the coffee table to ground your eye towards the middle of the room more. Also, could you take out every other shelf from the bookcases, which would allow you to use larger pieces/simpler styling but still have that architectural interest?

  148. OMG DO NOT GET RID OF THOSE SHELVES. YOU WILL REGRET IT! Style-Play-Everyday will be no more if you nix those! Option blue sofa and leather chairs gets my vote. The weight of the dark fabrics help to balance out the beams but this also feels like the cleanest most sophisticated option IMO.

  149. How about the way it is in the first photo but no hand, no bench, no bowl on the floor. And hang a few more pictures almost down to the floor where the bench was? I agree there is a lot of stuff going on in this room and it’s not quite there yet. I vote no for the chaise, rocker or chair in the corner.

  150. HI, as someone who constantly struggles with the design of her own LR, I can relate! I think the problem comes from the fact that your room appears to have 2 focal points – 1) the fireplace, and 2) the windows/invisible focal point created by the sofa facing the pulldown screen.

    I’m not sure how big your room really is, but it looks big enough to maybe delineate 2 separate spaces in your room using 2 smaller rugs rather than just one really big rug: use one medium sized rug under the sofa/near the windows to define the lounge/conversation area, and then use a smaller rug in front of the fireplace with perhaps 2 chairs on it in front of the fireplace creating a separate, intimate area back there with the shelves. Alternatively or in addition you could put a desk in front of the fireplace or against the right hand wall in back, and style it as a mini-library type space, with the desk defining a cozy puzzle working spot/place to write or draw/place to read.

  151. Thank you for being such a good sport about this! The room is and always has been beautiful and really liking the new changes, so sharing these comments just in the spirit of play. Lots of great ideas in the comments above, too. I’m strongly Team keep wood beams + shelves, and I like the corner chaise version with pink or blue sofa best of the above.

    Overall I wonder if the room might pop with more saturated color (in the sofa and/or rug…or walls), a bit more quiet in the back corners, and a more heightened mix of modern meets old-world – and more echoes in the room of the warm tones in the beams? Some specific thoughts:

    – agree with filling the shelves with books (and potentially hanging 1-2 pieces of quiet but modern art on them), and moving the antique trunk, also removing the credenza on the left and 1-2 light sources from the corners
    – love the velvet chaise in general and in that corner – eg styling it as a old-world style reading nook
    – if the credenza stays, perhaps moving the oil painting to the opposite wall, as that side is reading more heavy than the other side now
    – like the idea of a mirror (maybe something delicate but gilt/antique) above the fireplace
    – like the more saturated sofa options and/or a richer rug – pink is nice for the warmth, but all 3 colors work
    – really like the leather chairs (esp with the velvet chaise option), but I wonder if the same style in natural/blush might balance better? e.g.
    – would you want to bring in more circles/more modular furniture? e.g. the coffee table is gorgeous but perhaps there – the LF sofa is nice for this
    – and an antique/antique-y ‘moment’ rug – depending on the how the furniture colors shake down, either a rich color or something ABC Home & Carpet watercolor-esque

    This has been fun – appreciate you sharing your lovely space with us, and no doubt whatever you land on will be better than any of the above 🙂

  152. Keeping the shelves is a good move. They feel like they belong there, probably because they are original. I also like the original beams. The removal of the credenza and the art work over the fireplace really helped with the visual clutter. I probably like the bench in that corner the best, but in real life, all three other seating options are so much more functional. The idea about swapping the side that the sofa and chairs is on seems worth a try. It might also help with three chairs in a row. Finally, thirty years ago, I had a rocking chair like the Thonet (I don’t know if mine was original, it was a hand me down), and it was so comfortable!

  153. I’m a long time reader (read: fan) and love your site. I rarely comment, but feel compelled because, now that I see the possible layouts, I really love the Sofa facing fireplace & Nook option…with a few changes: I would add a smaller width sofa (but deep seats for comfort) with a chaise (on side opposite of nook). Add a skinny console (Room and Board has some that are only 12″ deep) behind the sofa. Place two, low profile floor lamps on either side of the console, maybe like the Rich Brilliant Willing LED ones in walnut to mimic the beams. Put a skinny, end table on the left side of the sofa (like R&B’s slim end tables). Add two swivel, lounge chairs flanking the fireplace so you can turn around when you have a fire; Flexform has some beautiful swivel options. You can also add a small pedestal or I-beam table between the chairs so you can still swivel. Include two chairs and a table in the nook; these chairs can be a little more fun since you see them from outside. I would lose the coffee table and add a large (48″ish), round upholstered ottoman (plain, no tufting) with sliders to push up to the couch when you want to put your feet up, since Brian will be on the chaise ;). You can add a wood tray to the ottoman for drinks. Include a small, round table with a wood top and pedestal or C-table that nests to the ottoman and can be moved to the corner, where the chaise and sofa meet, for easy drink access while on the chaise. Or, you can add a C-Table pushed under the chaise so you can still walk around and you can move it where needed. Lastly, I would add a Frame TV (if it fits) above the fireplace, keep the beautiful beams, and keep the shelves. but tone down the contents. Thanks for sharing, I’ve enjoyed this journey so far…

  154. I would love to take those gray chairs off your hands, so there is one less decision with which to struggle. Give me a jingle, Emily, and I’ll drive down the coast. 😉 Oh, and gray sofa + gray chairs is calm yet the room still has interest. Love it.

  155. You tried SO MANY options, but I’m sad that you didn’t do one with all the stuff on the walls by the shelves removed. The dresser AND the credenza, and not putting anything in their place. It still feels so busy with a chair or a chaise or a bench, and like you said, who is gonna sit way over in that corner anyways?

  156. My opinion:

    1. Calm the shelves down, too much going on there.
    2. Remove the art above the fireplace
    3. Replace coffee table, the style just doesn’t match the house
    4. I think the dark green color of the couch in one photo really works, try it long ways and pull the chairs in a little closer. This room should be a little moodier.

  157. I posted my thoughts earlier but have to agree with someone else who said move the sofa and chairs closer together to create more of a conversational area. They do seem very far apart. I would def keep the bookcases and beams the way they are. I like the idea of having more books in them or removing a couple of shelves on each side to open it up more and visually seem less busy. I would like to see two sofas facing eachother with two chairs flanking the fireplace. Other than that, my favs are the one with the fringe chaise and streamlined chairs and the one with the bentwood rocker.

  158. I prefer the one with the wood armed grey chairs. But one more suggestion instead of loosing the shelves why don’t you get some nice cabinetry doors made for them, it would be interesting but maybe quieter and you could remove them if you didn’t want them afterward. Check out the Mitchell Gold sectionals in velvet comfy and good looking we love ours!

  159. YES getting rid of the art makes it so much nicer. That art does not fit in this room and makes the back look less cluttered. Also, I hate to say it, but I think the giant wood hand can go away? Since it’s not functional seating, it’s just hanging out adding “things” and it’s a pretty large thing, to be honest. I also feel like I have seen a lot of those at this point so it’s not really adding “quirk” and interest, it’s just sitting there being a hand.

    Also on team chaise sectional and keeping the beams wood. It looks really good right now especially if you reupholster the back chair!

  160. I love the the existing furniture and floor plan. It seems stylish yet homey to me. I think if you switched the rug for something more colorful/edgy it may fix what’s bothering you. What about minimizing the stuff on the shelves, and possibly painting or wallpapering them to draw the eye? I love that curvy rocker in the corner, and kids love stuff that moves too.

  161. leave the beams wood, the gray chair by the fire place doesn’t need reupholstered, just put a colorful throw or one of those quilts from India on it, pink sofa? YES! :))

  162. I think you need to look at your old living room in your last house and see how it was balanced. The windows are throwing things off here – the natural focus for the room is lost. I’d have less furniture and more clarity. The previous house had a big seating space, a fireplace area, some storage/display and that was it, so the architectural elements you wanted to show off and the furniture had room to just be. I think you’re trying to do too much in this space with the piano, the many displays, the various bits of storage furniture/seating, and the room feels confused as a result.

  163. Emily! I think you should try to create some zones that are suggested by the architecture.

    1. yes to a small table with a couple of chairs at the bay window! like in Alice waters’s house.
    2. make the area near the fireplace into a library/intimate conversation area with two high-backed chairs.
    3. smaller couch backed up to the windows or facing the fireplace. watch tv on your laptops!

    your house wants to be in a Jane Austen movie.

  164. Love sofa facing fireplace with no art on the facade! Let the bookshelves hold the interest and let it rest on the fireplace.

  165. Have you thought about custom doors on half of the bookcases? Not sure if that’s possible but it may town down the businesses but still allow you to style the upper portion of the bookcase.

  166. I inherited my grandma’s floral sofa, and I never get tired of it. It is sort of a neutral floral, creams, blues, browns, so it is not overwhelming. Go for floral, if you do hopefully it will inspire a trend that gets more floral pieces into the world, as our sofa is coming to the end of its life!

  167. What about fewer, thicker shelves in the built-ins? Or would that be messing with the original feature too much? That, combined with fewer, larger items on the shelves, would be my vote…

  168. What about two sofas facing each other – one in front of each of the windows.? Then put chairs on either side of the fire place for another conversation area. Or even bringing in a game table in one corner by the bookshelves and two small chairs in the other corner. Who knew there could be so many options?

  169. Now this is my idea of style play everyday. I instantly followed Brian and his friend’s new ig account. Dying! Please don’t paint the beams. I love the chairs that are typically across the sofa in front of the bookshelves. Does it work to keep them flanking the fireplace and the sofa facing the projector screen? Thank you for showing us the process and confirming I’m not the only one!

  170. Noooooo, I was dying to see the bookshelves full of books and only books option. That way it’s not a collection of vignettes but one cohesive gathering.

  171. I like the idea of a big, attention grabbing piece in the back/by the fireplace. Right now the bigger pieces are all at the front, so the back looks cluttered by comparison. But putting something big back there helps balance the scale, and it helps draw the eye so instead of just seeing “wall of tiny things” there is a BIG THING there to see.

    Also “we” (ha) went through so much work to get the beams natural wood – you can’t paint over them now! And that chaise is going to find its perfect spot one day. I liked it at the back since it was a good, big, anchoring piece there, but I do understand what you meant too about it being a lot of upholstery. Good luck and keep tweaking! 🙂

  172. Hi Emily! My eyes are immediately drawn to the beams in your living room, irrespective of what changes you make to the space (you could remove furniture, place a pink sofa in the space, introduce a loud rug or add tons of clutter…it doesn’t matter….my eyes always start at the beams at the end of the room and then work down into your space). The shape of the beams is creating a sort of picture frame for what is below. The beam at the end of the room, directly above your fireplace, perfectly “frames” your bookcase and fireplace together (so my eyes are happy as I move down into the space). However, in the foreground, there is nothing being “framed” by the beams. So my eyes keep moving down and then moving around and something feels off. The furniture layout is mostly perpendicular to the beams and not allowing anything in the space to be “framed”.

    When you placed a sofa facing the fireplace, my eyes were immediately happy because the beams were “framing” the sofa in the foreground, along with something at the end of the room (bookcase and fireplace). My eyes stopped wandering around the space. It really feels like you need something in the foreground, facing the fireplace, for the beams to “frame” (even if it isn’t a sofa).

    By the way, your wood beams are AMAZING right now. Please do not paint them!

  173. Personally, I like the shelves, but I also think the fireplace area is a bit busy. I also would have painted the beams either white or a lighter wood & lastly, because it seems like a large living room, I would have smaller furniture groupings to make it seem cozier…and probably in the light grey.
    Thought I’d add my two cents, but good luck with whatever you decide to do.

  174. Before I give my opinion, a caveat: rooms photograph differently from how they are in person. I have some thoughts on the “room I see in the photograph”, which may not match up with how the room is in person.

    OK, caveat done! Onwards. I find that none of the options presented are working for me. This is a large room with a significant focal point at the end (the gorgeous shape of the room and the gorgeous shape of the fireplace) so…

    …. I think the problem is that this is a BIG room filled with small things. I think to address the challenge, the walls on either side of the fireplace should be painted a dramatic colour and paired with something visually significant on each side. Then….. layer inwards from there. Currently the biggest item in the room is always the sofa, and when the sofas are positioned running lengthwise down the room, they actually don’t take up a lot of visual space. So, even the sofa is a “small item” in a room full of small items. At least in photographs, the viewer’s eye is pulled right down the centre of the room to the tiny objects clustered at the end.

    I also feel like the chairs are positioned really far away from the sofa. This may have speak to how I’m judging the room based on how it looks in photographs, rather than how it feels to live in it.

    So I think that’s the issue with this room: the scale of what’s in it. The place needs grounding!

    I’ll be interested to see what everyone else says, and what the Henderson family does next. 🙂 It’s been fun having a chance to offer up some thoughts. Thanks!

  175. I loved the rocking chair and pairing it with a pink sofa. I think it looks more balanced to have natural wood beams to move the eyes upward instead of all the weight being on the floor. It’s part of the architectural character of the home, and isn’t “everyone” doing white beams and trim?

  176. I like the progress with the last photo of where you ended up! I think you’re almost there. I’d remove the the hand chair and lounge chair and switch up one of the three lights so they aren’t all dark color shades/tops. With those two chairs in front of the shelves, they add so much visual weight. Leaving more free space would open things up visually. I also think you could add art back to above the fireplace if desired (if the chairs were gone).

  177. OK, what about switching the big chest/trunk between the chairs with the white bench? Being the white bench put a sofa/narrow table for two lamps for the chairs? The trunk might be a good balance for the chest opposite….both being in the same color tones. Love that Lawson Fenning sofa you tried. I for sure would keep the beams and bookcases as is.

  178. I quite like the option lounge chair.
    = The bookshelves add some interest and comfort, and I do love a good reading nook, plus, imho, helps with the zoning.
    = But it looks like removal of the artwork above the fireplace helps it to become a stronger, yet calmer focal point, overall making the back more pleasing and restful to the eye.
    = The big, grey sofa looks befitting to the place and so comfortable, but I kept imaging it (or the lounge chair) upholstered in Rebecca Atwood’s fabrics, imho, the patterns and colours would really suit the mood.
    = Please, please, please, keep the beams as they are. x

  179. I still like the sofa facing the fireplace. Couldn’t you just do a sofa table on the back of sofa so you’re not just at looking at the back of the sofa? It just seems easier with the furniture this direction. ?‍♀️

  180. I know I’m in the minority but I liked the credenza before. Maybe instead of another seating option you need a bar cabinet or something grounding and a bit tall.
    I love the wooden beams so much and the white version hurt my heart.
    I’m rewatching Downton Abbey and just loving the putty colored walls and delicious warmth of their decor. I think painting the walls a richer color would give you that something extra you’re yearning for which is why you’re still not satisfied. Imagine a patterned sofa and some warmer walls! Let’s get weird.

  181. Don’t like the white beams…why even have them if you paint them out so you can’t even see them? Buy a modernist box instead, then, no problem. And everything’s already sooooo white already.

    Why are the sofa and the facing chairs pushed so far apart against the windows? Play space? But it looks like you’ve got a dance floor there.

    Likes? The blue sofa, the grey chairs, the bookshelves.

  182. I really appreciate how in depth you went about your living room and the problems you have encountered and showing multiple pictures with subtle changes & big changes.

    I also have a large, long living room with two windows facing each at one end and a front door somewhere between them and four other doors that go into the room.

    You gave me a lot to think about and also gave me a fresh perspective on my living room. I thank you for that. Keep up the great work❣❣❣

  183. Brian’s @mywifemakesmemovefurniture makes me laugh, though I would never try to rearrange our house while my husband is home! It wouldn’t happen, we would fight, it would be terrible. I do it by myself when he’s not home (great way to injure your back – do not try this at home, kids) and then he gets home and usually likes it! But he would say no if he were home while it was happening. Entropy wins. I think my favorite was moving a dresser up a flight of stairs by myself while enormously pregnant. Smart? No. But I got it done!
    Also: why does every husband need a sectional? If you’re so tired you must lay prone at all times, maybe just go to bed? My husband is the same and I don’t understand what is wrong with just sitting. A sectional, unless you have a huge room, takes up so much real estate. And they really actually seat less people than a regular sofa. End of rant.
    All this to say – my favorite living room plan of all of the above options is the one with you and Brian in it.

  184. my thoughts: WOOD COLORED BEAMS – KEEP. SHELVES – KEEP. ART – KEEP. Pink, blue, or patterned sofa – YES. Wicker scroll rocker – NO – while beautiful, it looks like a wheelchair or something from a Downton Abbey-era convalescent home. BUMMED that your hubby insists on chaise sectional – I’ve always adored that standalone chaise, and thought it looked amazing in the corner. Let’s someone go off and be cozy/private, but still part of the room.

  185. Love seeing all these options! My husband is in for 5 minutes of rearranging furniture so it’s nice to see someone out there gets to do it 🙂

    Have you considered just reducing the number of shelves on each bookshelf, so there is more space in between each and you can display some taller/bigger things? That way you can keep the shelves and reduce their visual presence.

  186. Please keep beams in the wood tone and please keep the shelves!
    What about taking out the extra chair on right side and just adding a lush, tall houseplant? This will cut down on the clutter look. And maybe a different piece of artwork over the mantle, i.e., not a framed piece of art?

  187. Love the fireplace without any art. It allows the shelves and beams to SHINE! My vote (for what it’s worth) would be to reupholster the chaise in a patterned fabric, and then pair that with the blue couch and those light gray chairs with the wooden arms. Would love to see what that blue couch looks like across from the light gray chairs! And maybe try the shelves with a little less stuff? Loved this post – seeing so many options and how you play around with the space is inspiring/engaging!

  188. The sofa facing the fireplace and having the ultra modern black/white picture removed
    seems the most serene version I would opt for. As much as I like that painting, I think it’s
    ill placed in that living room. Having just the 2 chairs face the sofa is enough. As it is
    currently displayed there are too many furniture in that room and it makes it too busy.

  189. I think you may have misinterpreted Lydia’s comment, she said to have the sofa *parallel* with the fireplace and piano, and place a soft table behind it. I also think this may be the way to go. The current layout just isn’t working right, and it makes a lot of sense to me to have two chairs by the fireplace, seems very cozy, without having too much going on in that part of the room. And an addition of a sofa table may cozy up the piano area that you said you didn’t like with the sofa facing the fireplace. BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY YOU NEED THE PINK COUCH NO MATTER WHAT.

  190. I really like the rocking chair option best. I have a rocker that my mom rocked me in when I was a baby and I actually like to sit in it a lot. 🙂

  191. Part of the busyness of that back wall is due to the several competing line shapes there: the bookshelves are straight lines; the beams are hexagonal with rounded corbels; the fireplace has a curlicue edge AND semicircle opening. It’s a lot visually.

    To add cohesion while maintaining visual interest, I think rounding the tops of the bookcases and simplifying the outer edge of the fireplace to match the shape of the fireplace opening would greatly reduce the overall busyness of that wall.

    Yes, this requires expensive plaster work, but would be worth it by reducing the visual clutter of the competing line shapes there.

  192. Hi. I can sympathize on your issues because I had the same problem in my old house . So to quiet the back of the room, I put doors on the bottom shelves and then took out the shelves on top and hung pretty art. I wish I had a picture but I hope you can picture that. My sister once used space in the room behind her built ins to make her built ins deeper. And then she added doors to the bottom with shelves only on the top of the built in and used to store dishes etc for the holidays. Is this an option?

    Just ideas to ponder.

  193. Removing the art piece on the fireplace area shockingly made SUCH A DIFFERENCE. I think you can definitely afford to have a bigger couch (yay for chaise) in this size of a room, so I really like the way you’ve ended up with the space. Keeping the beams natural brown is my vote — brings out the character of the house!

  194. Take down the large art above the fireplace. The architectural features on that wall speak for themselves and to me the art is what’s making it feel cluttered.

  195. Why not edit the shelves and reduce the amount of artwork on either side? Are the shelves adjustable? My eye goes directly to the back wall and just sees lots of stuff. No shelves is too bare, but maybe less is more.

  196. I love the black-shaded lamps/sconces used here and in Emily’s living room. What does Brian think of their functional aspect? It seems like it would be hard to read with these kind of lights, or to achieve softer lighting in the room. I’m counting on Brian’s practical perspective!

  197. I LOVED it without the bookshelves. Literally gasped because it was so much better. I know you don’t want to plaster over the bookshelves, but maybe you could cover them with doors or something so they take up less visual space?

  198. This is the first time I’ve been here so you all have probably thought of every option, but I was wondering if the chairs could be in the foreground with a table in between, a sideboard with plants to the right. A patterned rug under the coffee table….the chaise moved a little closer into the room with it’s own table like a reading nook and maybe a faux fur rug or zebra pattern slightly overlapping from the area rug to the front of the fireplace. And possibly paint the fireplace wall a warm color to complement the beams. Just a thought….

  199. I have a similarly shaped living room and watch closely what you do with yours. I think your lovely, old fashioned room wants symmetry and a bit of formality—even as you use modern furnishings. It seems fine to balance the sofa with arm chairs, but it will look better if you center a coffee table on the fireplace. That could mean bringing the furniture closer to the center or getting a more square coffee table to bridge the space.

    The sectional may suit your functional needs but a more tailored sofa will better suit the room.

    The rocking chair (or other chair) in the the back right corner creates a line up of chairs on the right side of the room. If you use wood armchairs, the corner piece needs to be painted or upholstered in a color (not wood). If the arm chairs are fully upholstered then the corner piece can be wood.

    I wish the double sconces were above the shelves. I don’t think you need sconces on the back side walls, too (a credenza and lamp on one side and a standing lamp on the other). If you must have them then use the library sconces there. The fireplace needs art or a mirror. The rug may be the best place for pattern—I thought the blue vintage rug was good or almost there.

    I like the beams in wood! I can’t wait to see more iterations!

  200. For the love of functionality just put the sofa facing the fireplace with a tv mounted, maybe the new one that changes into a piece of art. 2 chairs on either side by the windows. A console table behind the sofa styled beautiful. This could be how you LIVE but how its photographed or when you have people over move the sofa perpendicular to the fireplace. leave beams wood! Wood is soooo beautiful.

  201. For me the only things that mattered big time was not having the dark couch facing the fireplace. Agree … not inviting. And taking the art down from the fireplace. I know that’s not real helpful as you search for the perfect chairs and sofas and all. But something BIG happened for me when that art came down. LOVE the fireplace and original bookshelves. GOOD LUCK! I can’t wait to see what you do!

  202. Oh please don’t paint those beautiful beams white.

    Remove a couple shelves to make the space that’s there more interesting by using varying heights and/or more room to go taller with the shelves. You’ll naturally be using less stuff as others have suggested and get the added benefit of extra height.

  203. You should totally switch the sofa to the flat window side so the chaise lounge would frame the room (but not so much that it’s shadowy or uninviting or interrupts flow in/out like the green couch did). Then the two chairs could be in the Bay window which would be more nook like and open up the room because you’re actually capitalizing on that space?

  204. I like the shelves and the dark grey side chairs but the rug has nooooooo personality. The grey rug coupled with artwork on mantle is making everything else super bland. I am obviously super late to this party but what happened to the blue and red/blue oriental carpets. The room needs some zip. I really dislike the light grey side chairs. They’re super boring. I hate being so negative.

    1. The Staten Island Ferry is a ferry service run by the Transportation Department of New York City. The main path of the ferry runs 5.2 miles across New York Harbor between Manhattan and Staten Island’s New York City boroughs, with ferry ships making the trip in about 25 minutes.

  205. I like the antique chaise bc it blocks some of the busyness of the shelves and no one pays attention to the low part of the shelves anyways. You could be storing a box of pampers down below and no one would see (great idea for pampers btw – trendy obscure camouflage packaging – – like Kleenex does) Anyways the antique chaise gives it quirk also bc it’s not Danish modern like everything else. And then I’d just go with a medium size rolling Stoll that he can put he feet up on. I did love the Thonet but you can see thru it and more busyness. Lastly there is a lot of white. Even if the sconce futures had like a canvas color or texture to them they would stand out more so than white on white. And I would not paint the arch detail white! It looks terrible like that. However I did love the black. But the wood is great too. I must say you did make a good call on the rug from the get-go which is often times a culprit but in this case it’s the only thing left standing! Haha. Lying I should say. Also I know the artwork above the fireplace is tough bc of dimensions and also you used the black and white to simplify but here’s two other suggestions. Something 3-d and with color – green or burnt sienna. Or I know you won’t like this for your “shots” but brass mirror! Big antique but not too too big. Also as an alternative to completely getting rid of the build ins bc they’re amazing what if you plastered over (or however it would have to happen) the low halves??

    PS. Brian is a saint. My BF thinks I’m a nut job bc I have a modular sofa (6 pieces and it’s curved) and I have an open floor plan apartment so I could basically spend my entire life #rearrangingfurniture as it I don’t already (I own a vintage furniture store). And on that note I would die if you started following it @mimo.decor

  206. Controversial suggestion- what if you plaster over ONE bookshelf (the right one) to make a big, flat surface. Bonus: it would have room for an off center TV if you want to ditch the projector. THEN, a LONG L shaped sectional to better fill that room length with the L near the entrance, a daybed or bed across, and a cool accent chair in front of the remaking shelves to the left.

  207. I want to be sold, but I’m still not there. Love the idea of a pattered sofa. What about a pair of chairs, who’s backs are interesting, and run parallel with the piano? Then a larger chair + otto where the sideboard was on the right. Last thought- painting the center fireplace portion darker? Or tiling it or adding a stone? Leave beams & shelves!

  208. I think the biggest problem with this room is that there is just too much stuff on your shelves. A few books, your most precious “momentos”, matching plants on each side to balance? Like 1/2 less at least. I like the fireplace without the art. I would never paint the beams, they give the most character to this room and bring out the plastered walls. The bench where the credenza was looks kinda like an afterthought. Like I have it so I am going to use it. 2 chaise’s? One too many. The chairs I think which look the best are the airy, but upholstered wooden armed ones. Don’t think the uncomfortable leather ones work at all. Can the hand sculptural thing go under the art where you were putting the bench? Love this room and house, just looks a bit cluttered in my humble opinion.

  209. LOVE these:
    No art on the FP! Let that architecture be the main attraction instead of the sideshow. Clean up those bookshelves and style them with, oh I don;t know….maybe BOOKS! Full. Like a library. Put the kids’ books on lower selves and yours above. Useful and attractive. Maybe a plant or two but make it all about the reading material.
    That chaise in the corner pairs well with the pink or blue sofa. LOVE the fringe on that thing and then you have a place to read all those books, with or without the kiddos.
    That rocker was what I rocked my twins in 33 yrs ago. It’s good, but I still like the chaise more.
    Feng Shui says don’t have your back to a door/opening to the room. It makes people feel uneasy; hence the sofa facing the FP gives me all the creepy feels.
    The beams are great as they are and add something pretty to the room. I’d keep them dark.
    Enjoy the 67894764525 different combinations via comments that you will surely get, LOL!

  210. Maybe the amount of space doesn’t allow for this but I think you should have a light colored couch face fireplace on that end, long sofa table behind it and then a game table/round coffee table with chairs behind that.

  211. This was fun to see all the differences! I have a lot of art and and shelves styled with plenty and always love how it makes me feel but when I see pictures of other spaces I always love the minimalist look best! I bet in person each detail is fun and looks great but when you see it as a whole in one big picture it can look like too much. My vote is Pick whichever feels best to live in! 🙂

  212. Can I just say, this is my favorite post ever! I have been a reader of all things design forever. My collection of home design/decorating books is ridiculous. Just ask my friends who helped me get settled after moving this year. What I figured out a long time ago is that I don’t want to read how-to/instructional things. I am not going to build a bookcase or sew a slipcover. I want the WHY information. The thought process behind the decisions. The story of how a space is created. This post is sooooo satisfying!

  213. I love the pink sofa in here. My feeling about the living room is that it reads so modern and cool, but the era of the house demands a little more warmth (but don’t get me wrong, I love all of the pieces in the room). Maybe the original design was too English country, but I think now it’s too mid century without actually contrasting enough with the historic details of the home to make it seem intentional. The pink gives it a little bit more warmth and interest without totally dominating the space. I think you should also bring back one or two more traditional/antique pieces to balance out the stunning modern and mcm stuff. Also, I’m sure it is a difference of in-person V.S. on-camera, but all of the grey neutrals just wash everything out for me. And please don’t get rid of the bookshelves!

    1. Agreeing with this! Maybe lean a bit more English eccentric/eclectic with more contrast between modern & antique (eg by adding more of the latter, like the velvet chaise).

  214. I feel like making the corners near the shelves more usable space would help a lot. A small desk and a cozy reading chair (or your gorgeous chaise) in each corner would be lovely. The two consoles facing each other look crowded and unnecessary.

  215. I would leave the beams as is. Instead of a third chair back in the corner, pull it up into the seating area thereby minimizing the bookshelves. Brian looked very uncomfortable on the other sofa.

  216. Ps. It looked best with your dark blue sofa and red rug anchoring the space. In my opinion light gray and small mid century furniture just doesn’t have the weight needed for Tudor style houses. As soon as you moved in that light, wispy furniture it looked cluttered.

  217. Nooo to the white beams.
    Yes to the shelves, but adjust the thickness of the shelves (they’re too slim), maybe 3″ or 4″ thick? That would result to less shelves and a more modern look.
    Too many small items (small wall art, small tables, small decorative objects on the shelves), too many materials, too many colors.

  218. I love the bentwood rocker – it pulls the wood tones from the trunk, beams and chest(?) on the other side. Just me – I would keep an eye out for a wall sculpture that combines wood and metal in a somewhat organic shape. Placing that above the fireplace might keep the eye going instead of the strong contrast between the shelves and the current painting. Is the Victorian chaise comfy for Brian? And if not, does he like the chair and ottoman you wish to reupholster? If he’s up for one of those placed beside a sofa instead of a sectional with chaise it would let you choose a pattern fabric for the chaise/chair and a complementary solid color on the sofa. Pillows that include both your dark and light wood tones would continue to tie in the fireplace nook and the beams. If the chairs opposite the sofa angle toward each other a bit it would soften the aisle look, but you know traffic patterns and actual spacing. Thanks for letting us play with your living room.

  219. I really like the version with the grey sofa, the wood and upholstered chairs and the bench at the back. But with the stronger pillows on the couch that you have in the version you’re at now. I know you think it’s too boring, but maybe that’s just because you’re worried about everyone expecting you to do more. It feels calm and inviting and that’s what you need in a family room.

  220. One more vote for Team gray sofa + gray chairs, but with a twist — what about reupolstering/dying the chairs black? Either a leather/leatherlike material, or something else hardwearing but kinda cool plus low maintenance? Would that give you a combo of the ‘interesting’ vibe you liked from the leather chairs and the ‘comfy’ vibe you like with the gray chairs? Best of both worlds?

  221. I think pulling everything in tighter would be good. Maybe try the two chairs facing the fireplace – so you see the backs of them when entering the room (centered on the fireplace). Leaving the couch where it is would create an “L”. The chaise would balance out in the corner (where you have it in the pictures). Another chair and side table could be added opposite the couch, creating “U”. With the couch facing the chairs, forming a parallel, it has more of a grand hall feeling, making it seem a bit cold. I think part of the problem is the coffee table looks sort of lonely. The eye wants to line it up with the fireplace. As much as I love that coffee table, I feel as if something with square edges may not be as busy.

  222. Have you tried keeping the sofa where it is and putting the two chairs facing the fireplace? You could still put something across from the sofa.

  223. what if you had two sofas facing each other and two low impact chairs framing the couches in front of the fire place?

  224. what if you had two couches facing each other and two low impact chairs framing the couches in from of the fireplace? i think creating symmetry will help the eye rest

  225. The pink and darker colored furniture balance the room far better. But the built-ins look really cluttered from this perspective, like there’s a minimal aesthetic until way down at the end of a tunnel. It would be a shame to remove them, though. Could you either style them to be weighted for better visuals from afar, or maybe color them differently to minimize clutter: darker background, wood-stained shelves? Maybe take out a few upper shelves in favor of art? Did you consider contrasting the fireplace color? (In certain photos, the relief on the right side disappears and makes the left look odd, like a cord hanging down the wall.) As for the beams, painting them white only hurts the balance, losing a beautiful architectural detail that helps pull my eye upward. Everything falls flat and heavy without them. To nitpick, not a fan of the vase on the coffee table for this photo. It might look great in person, but the height is distracting in this context. It is such a beautiful room already, though! Definitely a wealth of gorgeous options.

  226. Sofa facing fireplace for sure!! Maybe a lighter color sofa would help it to not feel so closed off & dark by piano?

  227. Let’s get rid of that black & white poster from college that was over the fireplace please!!! I know you love it but it does nothing for the room. With love,

  228. Love your work!
    I’m a little late to the game here sorry, but did you consider putting doors on or covering up the bottom half of the shelves? I think it would provide a cleaner backdrop for your gorgeous furniture while keeping some of the original shelves to display more of your gorgeous pieces.
    I would also consider pulling the seating away from the walls or getting a bigger coffee table/ottoman to pull them together, the current coffee table looks a little lost in the middle of the room.
    I can’t choose from the options, definitely keep the shelves no matter what. Good luck!

  229. The room doesn’t feel anchored. There’s nothing grounding it to make it cozy.

    Instead of plastering in the shelves- I would put two matching wood shelves in front of them that project into the room.

    An alternative would be to paint or wallpaper the back walls of the shelves in a grass cloth to bring texture and warmth.

    Then I would place a longer(?) bench in front of the fireplace, tighten the arrangement in the center bring in everything a bit closer and put a console behind the sofa to style and have lamps – it’s a traditional nod but would give you a place for styling stuff and good light for sofa reading.

    Over the fireplace you desperately need warmer piece of more traditional art or a vintage vertical mirror that reflects light and other aspects of the house around.

    I loved it when you had a richer colored rig in there to ground out even more.

    It’s a room that needs some grounding pieces-it’s all too light and loooks like it will float away. that fireplace wall is a focal point but feels milktoasty and not emphasized enough. And a darker rug treatment would help cozy it up.

    Keep the beams wood!

    None of your solutions are doing the room justice yet, and if you anchored it better you could use almost any chairs and sofa combos..

    My comment will get lost down here but I just don’t think you’ve pinpointed what the real issues are yet..

  230. I love the coffee table but i think is too small for the space. I Also will put the bench in front of the piano. My fav is gray sofa + gray chairs 😉

  231. How about getting a couch with the chaise on the other side? (LAF?) Then maybe it would open up the end of the room a bit. Lose the credenza but get deeper bookshelves in a wood tone with closed storage in the bottom. Can you hang a huge interesting light fixture in the middle of the room?

  232. I think you’re overcomplicating things (but don’t we all). The room looks busy because there’s not enough symmetry. The eye cannot rest anywhere. Instead of two chairs opposite the sofa, I would put another identical sofa. Center the space inbetween with a large, statement piece coffee table. Add a neutral but highly textural area rug underneath. I would also consider adding a ceiling light fixture/chandelier overhead to further center the room. Then add accessories, art, funk, quirk. I agree with other commenters – leave the wood beams natural. I also like dark sills on Tudors.

  233. Beautiful room but tough to arrange, so I appreciate you sharing your challenges. The room is busy with nothing in it- fireplace, shelves, wood beams, bay window, so I much prefer the rest of it to be calming otherwise there is too much competition in the room, and the architecture should be the feature, not the items in it. It looks much better with furniture removed, but I would think about the removing/ editing the following: the sconces on sides. They disrupt the room and compete with the sleek brass ones over the shelves. I would remove the hand stool – just adds to clutter. I also think all the black lamps are heavy, especially the one on the trunk. I would add brass here or anything visually lighter. I prefer neutral upholstery with color picked up from pillows, throws etc. I also love the wood beams, but there is one beam above the bay window that could be removed or painted, so you focus on the beams on the ceiling. And I agree with other commenters that the chairs in front of the windows seem too far away from the sofa side. I realize you need a path to the back of the room, so how about a bigger/ longer coffee table? I love the one in there, but it seems small with the sofa. Good luck! I look forward to the next round of living room iterations.

  234. I think an oil painting over the fireplace featuring some darker colors would focus the eye and the shelves wouldn’t feel like clutter. It would balance a darker sofa/compliment a lighter one.

  235. I L O V E D the option with the rocking chair!! Please keep the beams and shelves otherwise the room will be bland and boring. Get The Frame TV from Samsung and mount it on a swing arm on the corner wall by rocking chair. It’s a perfect TV for you, different frames and art to choose from.

  236. i would like to see two sofas facing each other, and then two chairs (one on each side of the fireplace) facing the rest of the room

  237. Love this. Serial rearranger since I was a little kid!

    1. no art above fireplace (but how about a narrow vertical mirror)?

    2. what about painting the brick surround? I love painted brick, but I know there are purists.

    3. paint the background of the shelves / keep all books vertical or horizontal (less busy) and styling to a minimum. Maybe lean some smaller monochromatic art within the shelves for back wall (contained) interest.

    4. kid-friendly glass or lucite coffee table with a bottom shelf for your overhanging coffee table books

  238. When you first talked about plastering over the shelves, I thought it was a terrible idea. But, now I think the whole room would feel better/calmer with them gone. Unless you filled them with books or something substantial so they look less busy (but you have the issue with them being too shallow). My vote is for them to be plastered over.

    1. I changed my mind already! Don’t plaster over them. It’s so hard to tell the feel of the room from photos. The little bit I see from your videos seems more accurate? The bookcases need to stay, but be simplified in some way.

    First I would remove the double-light sconces..since this adds to the “clutter feel”
    I would photo shop two options of painting the fireplace wall.
    First option-paint the shelves and alcove a medium to dark color
    Second option-paint full walls and shelf alcove a medium color leaving fireplace white
    Medium to darker colors as a back drop unite opjects and create a more interesting and unified space.
    Also by adding color at the end of the room it visually stops the narrow feeling of the space.

  240. Definitely don’t eliminate architectural interest just to fill the space with more stuff. I like the quieter versions of the room. I think that lets the natural features of the room shine. That said, I wonder if the sectional would make more sense with the chaise on the other end. That sort of directs the seating area toward the fireplace without closing off the room in the way that facing the whole sofa toward the fireplace does. Then you might, if you pull the sofa up a bit, be able to arrange chairs around the fireplace and eliminate the random credenzas/benches/etc that are really just taking up space back there.

  241. Keep beams and bookshelves. Remove every-other shelf, leaving three instead of six. Fill bottom section with stacked logs or split wood which speaks to the adjacent fireplace and warms/calms the shelves. Style upper two sections of shelves with larger, simpler objects. Remove all four sconces. Add matching half-round piece of art above both bookshelves which mimics the shape of the firebox opening. Maybe some sort of carved wood or metal piece. This also extends the height of the shelves. Or, Target has some great shelves/ledges in natural woods. Add one to each side above the bookshelves, sort of creating a mantel. Lean artwork on ledges. Target also has some great shaped mirrors to hang above fireplace. Could also paint center section of fireplace bump-out in a darker color to highlight its great lines.

  242. I think the feeling of visual clutter stems from the arrangement where everything is in a line on both sides. The eye keeps traveling back bumping along things and landing at the bookcases. I actually prefer the couch facing the fireplace bc it eliminates this problem. I’d try moving the couch closer in for a cozier feel and to leave room for something interesting on the other side of the room. I would also consider painting the fireplace wall and shelves a dark colour. I think that would help reduce the bookshelf clutter feel. Easy to test wI photoshop i imagine. I would also get a different coffee table with better scale and less clunk.

  243. What if the shelves were hidden but not removed? I think they add a lot to the visual clutter, but it seems like a lot of work/money to take them out. I was visualizing some cool oversized art/mirrors/something that goes in front of them, so they’re secret shelves you could have back at any time

  244. I don’t think the room/house is the problem. It seems as though this is a very transitional time for your design direction. It’s somewhere between old EHD and new EHD without a very strong point of view which comes off confusing and unfocused. It’s all over the place and not in a good way. I hope you find your true design self again because that will be what is best for you, your audience, and of course your beautiful house.

  245. I think the final shot is a huge improvement. Live with it awhile before doing anything else. I also think changing the throws on the sofa to something solid and textured would look nice. The fireplace and bookcases are the show stopper. Everything leading up to that should be quiet. I also think you still haven’t found the right chair for the nook. While I understand trying to balance the height with the credenza opposite the chair seems to overwhelm the space as does the length of the chaise. Last, I miss the other coffee table. Thanks for this post!

  246. Everything sings now that the credenza and the art are gone. I like the shelves on either side and love a chair tucked back there, too. Eliminating the art really highlights the character and shape of the fireplace so much and looks so charming and less busy.
    I cannot believe you even revisited painting the beams after what you went though to get them the way you wanted when you bought the house!!! Don’t do it!!! 🙂

  247. I would consider painting the ceiling a darker color, that way the beams are less visually jarring. I would also think about getting a really big piece of art over the fireplace, maybe something that goes over the margins. That would do a lot to balance the shelves.

    I don’t think you need extra furniture back there by the shelves. Go for uncluttered.

  248. Love the lounge chair in the corner and feel passionately about not painting beautiful wood beams! I’m also an arch.designer so I feel like my feelings are not surprising. 🙂 whenever these questions come up, I’m like, “let the beautiful space and built-in features sing!”

  249. I would lose the ottoman and the dresser. The bench is better – even if no one sits there. What about two sofas facing each other with a larger coffee table? Also, I’d love to buy the two chairs with the wood arms if you’re serious about selling!

  250. I like the chaise in the corner by the shelves. It just screams cozy reading space to me. If you have the sectional “chaise” couch, can your “chaise” portion be positioned to the end of the couch farthest from the shelves?

  251. Frankly, the op-art above the fireplace is not so amazing to deserve becoming a centerpiece. The house becomes a temple without the shelves. You got it right in the first picture where you’re sitting on the sofa. You can go crazy pondering so many options.

  252. Nope, keep the beams wood and gorgeous. They are a huge architectural part of a Tudor style home! You don’t want them to look mid-century or something. I love the recliner in the corner and I LOVE the bookcases. Although I adored the art on the fireplace, I think it’s better without it there.

  253. What bothers me in most of these photos is that the furniture layout isn’t centered on the fireplace. Why not bring the sofa and chairs away from the walls and set them closer to a narrow rectangular coffee table centered on the fireplace? That would better highlight your windows. The openness around the windows is my favorite thing at the couch facing fireplace option. I’d keep the shelf openings, but replace the white shelves with wood shelves and do many fewer, and keep less stuff on them. I’d probably leave a big space over the top shelf to show off some of your special pottery. I’m pro pink couch, and I’d stay with upholstered chairs opposite the couch (green velvet would look great with the pink.) I also think the fireplace looks best without the art. I wouldn’t paint the beams, but its hard to see how nice the current finish is in photos.

  254. You are getting closer! Thanks for all of these design options. I wish I was a photoshop master and could do this with my house. My thoughts: Keep the bookshelves and remove the clutter. I think the rocking chair and the chaise still contribute to the clutter as well so resist the urge to put a chair in the corner. The art on the fireplace is not good and has never felt cohesive with the room. A floral pattern on the sofa would be so fun BUT I am kind of drawn to the couch facing the fireplace and that layout. Can we see that option from the other angle with our backs to the fireplace? Thanks for including us in this process.

  255. What about darkening the back/fireplace wall (whether just tonally or even something more dramatic)? That might ground the book shelves and balance the room? Everything just feels like its floating around back there.

  256. The fireplace wall is the stunning element in this room. I think it cries out for a painted darker shadow, perhaps 8 inches or so wide, to outline the beautiful curves. Then perhaps the same color just on the edges of the bookshelves. That provides an immediate visual destination and you can then do either quiet or edgy things with the furnishings and arrangement . Just keep the fireplace wall the main event. IMHO. 🙂
    As others have mentioned, painting the windows a dark color also would tie it together and emphasize the best features.

  257. I love the white beams option, and the pink couch as well. With the lighter rug, it’s balanced in a way that the dark beams with a light rug are not. I think that if you keep the beams dark wood, you need a richer, deeper colored rug.

  258. What about the trunk between the two chairs I think that is where the problem lies? Love reading your blog . Laura

  259. This is such a fun post!
    I think two identical sofas facing each other would balance the room. Then removing the art over the fireplace and removing one the shelf in each bookcase and de-clutter it would make it less busy. The beautiful features of the room would be more visual, and it would feel more cohesive.

  260. This family room glows with its wonderful windows and arching ceiling. Right now the priority is to figure out your Christmas tree spot and the most comfortable seating for family gatherings. Enjoy using the fireplace, celebrate it. Consider a gas fireplace. Put a kid friendly mat in front for kids to sprawl on with homework, books and toys. Keep a folding cloth handy to play Lego on, makes putting it all away a snap. Keep the warmth of the wood beams as an over-arching feature. Look for more warm wood pieces to talk to each other, as well as to the curves in the beams and the fireplace. It is a deep room, there is room for the chaise your husband likes. Maybe take out the boxy desk on the left and angle the chaise there. Retire the boxy white/black art work. Ask the kids about what snuggly furniture they like best for reading books with mum and dad. Make it a real family room first and foremost. The bottom shelves should be full of kid’s books and games. These are precious years when children bond with core family memories.

  261. So much beauty and so many options! what’s throwing off the balance for me is the wall of chairs on the right side of the room. I always like to think of where people will be focused when they sit and it seems like the chair in the far right corner is too isolated from the action in the center of the room. The fireplace and shelves are such a focal point that I’m leaning the most towards the sofa facing them. It feels like the chi/energy in the room will be most balanced with that layout. Team shelves and wood beams forever 😉

  262. Hmm, what if this room is 2 zones? A petite seating area in front of the fireplace/shelves (with tonal styling on the shelves – all white, or neutral in color so not distracting). Then a seating area with the couch and whatever chair situation works for that zone?

    OR a low bench/ottoman(s) equal in height to the bottom of the logs in the fireplace (so it do not block the view). Spaced enough forward so that the couch can still be centered on the windows and they relate to each other. In this case, you simply extend the seating area to include the fireplace . . . as additional seating or as a ‘table’ (for kids to put games on, drinks tray, etc). An open/basketweave leather piece, maybe? And down the middle of the room (between your sofa and whatever chairs work in this setup) . . . one extra large coffee table? A series of smaller/ones – acrylic/glass or neutral, so as not to visually disrupt?

    The art clearly is the piece that ties this whole space together. I think once you find the art/mirror/sculpture that blends both this room’s decorating style with the architecture of the house, it will make everything come together. It will be the unifier.

    Thank you sponsors much for sharing!!

  263. This is a super late entry into the comments, but I keep thinking that if you unstyled the bookshelves and just placed books there, it would be visually more unified and have a library vibe.

  264. I like the options with the chaise lounge by the bookshelf best.

    Also, DO NOT get rid of the beams or bookshelves. They are the best parts of the room!!!!

    I think the room is gorgeous

  265. I love that you took down the art above the fireplace! I’ve always felt like there was a discord between its rectangular shape and the curves of the fireplace. And while I do find the blank space there to be restful, have you ever tried a simple gold framed round mirror above it? It seems like all of the curves would work well together. Overall, I feel like the space is kind of ho-hum (I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings!!), particularly compared to your previous work. It seems like your neutral spaces are usually less cluttered and more chic, like the Portland house, but then I also really miss your signature quirk and pizzazz that you used to add with color.

  266. Have you thought of hanging a mirror on the fireplace?
    I think it could bring some life to that end of the room and draw you in a little more. I feel the fireplace is the focal point but is lacking interest. Maybe a mantel even. ??‍♀️

  267. Have you thought of hanging a mirror on the fireplace?
    I think it could bring some life to that end of the room and draw you in a little more. I feel the fireplace is the focal point but is lacking interest. Maybe a mantel even and some greenery! ??‍♀️

  268. So, I imagine you’re likely to get a slew of votes for each and every option, rendering them all a bit unhelpful LOL but all the same, thought I’d throw in my thoughts 🙂 I definitely love the bookshelves, and find that removing both (or even just one) of the credenzas from in front of those made such a difference in allowing the space to breathe. I don’t mind the art over the fireplace, though it does feel a little incongruent with the style of the space in general, so maybe the art changing (rather than just being blank, which felt a little too empty) might help too. I personally love the grey sectional with chaise (Brian’s favorite), paired with the two grey chairs (with wood arms). That also feels very similar to the Cabin vibes, which I absolutely love. I also love the hand chair, I feel like that, plus some fun patterned pillows would bring in more of the quirk you’re missing in there. The striped throw was beautiful (though feels like it’d be a bit much as the fabric for the whole couch), but maybe utilized in the pillows instead. I also love that table in the same image (Striped Fabric option pic) – just overall keeps it all a bit lighter, easier on the eyes, not as crowded or overwhelming, but missing a bit more quirky pieces, maybe best in the form of different art and some fun pillows. Oh, also love the orientation you have there too (rather than walking into the back), felt like a major energy shift the other way (not in a good way). I also do love the wood beams, when they’re white they just disappear which makes sense in some situations, but seems like a loss here – it another beautiful architectural feature that should be highlighted. I also like that you have some dark accents with the picture in the back left, lamp in that same spot, vase on the table, and double lamp between the two chairs… maybe there’s room to bring in a little more of that depth too. Good luck!! 🙂

  269. Hi Emily,

    What a great post! Thanks for inviting comments. How validated I feel when I read your views, emotions, frustrations, ideas, perspectives, soul-searching, and awareness of your place in the universe.

    My thoughts about your living room are these: I was convinced you would choose a red sofa, knowing your love of the color; upon seeing the rocker, I realized that my eye craved more curves for your room. It seems too angular to me, too many straight lines. I longed for shapeliness in your furniture, some “puffiness” if you will. Your room unfurnished is perfection…I wouldn’t touch any of that. Your furnishings could show some more roundness and become more inviting and welcoming. I guess a warmer palette seems indicated because your beams are a warm color. I love what you do.

  270. I think you have conflicting styles- the ornate wood beams, the very traditional sconces, some traditional portraits, but furniture that doesn’t fit that style. I’d suggest photo-shopping in weirder sconces, maybe taking off the curved pieces of the beams?, white beams? I know you tried that but adding colorful art would help with your complaints on that one. Super cheap and easy ideas, I know 😛

  271. I’ve actually been thinking about this for a few days since I last commented. I’ve read alot of the feedback, but not all. Is this post setting a record for the number of comments yet?!

    A few people suggested a round mirror over the fireplace, and I think that is a brilliant idea.

    I really think the issue with the room is that the furniture is just in two straight lines. What about trying to create more of a conversation circle? I think you could bring in more chairs and they could face the fireplace instead of the sofa facing the fireplace since that felt too blocked off. And if that’s too many chairs you could do a cool comfy bench (I’m picturing a big wide cushy velvet bench) across from where the couch is now. It just sort of feels like two landing strips and I think the two sides could talk to each other more.

    But having said that, I’ve liked all iterations of the room and never would have even noticed it needed improving if you didn’t mention it! I think I loved the darker blue couch and the blue woven rug the most (the one that followed the original red rug that I think you said your cats destroyed). That room seemed to best blend the traditional style of the house while still feeling very EHD.

  272. If a client came to me asking me to tame this space, I would do solid white doors to cover the bottom shelves, glass doors at the top, maybe with a privacy glass of some sort (wire glass would be cool) to hide the business. Surface bolt hardware would add character. I would make the bookshelves taller because they shorten the room at their current height. I would increase the space between the shelves to allow for larger objects and use fewer of them if I didn’t do privacy glass. The space by the fireplace isn’t occupiable without seating, so I would do a pair of chairs in front of the new cabinets and two sofas (not matching) facing each other in front of the windows. Maybe something curved to take advantage of the bay window. Never ever in a million years would I paint those beams. I would however white wash the brick on the fireplace to tone down the business.

  273. keep wood colored beams, no art over fireplace, change out unattractive coffee table, retire the hand seat, reduce clutter on the bookshelves, replace chest coffee table

  274. I think you should move the two chair down in front of the fireplace but facing into the room. Swivel chairs would be nice. Then have two couches facing each other for better balance. Not 100% sure that coffee table is the best choice.

  275. I like your final sans the hand chair. Too busy in that corner. Chair is great, but somewhere else. And I am a total sucker for built-ins, so it surprised me that I also liked the photos with no shelves. Definitely keep the beams wood-toned.

  276. And the art over fireplace…cool, but all wrong right there. Too contrived. Go more traditional…a landscape maybe.

  277. I think the back wall looks too busy because there is no place for your eye to rest. Keep the lovely shelves but maybe edit them or change up what is over the fireplace.
    Removing the art instantly give the eye a place to rest and brings a sense to calm to the room. Doing that also allows the lovely lines of the fireplace to shine.
    I think the linear details of the art add to the wall being too busy. If you want art there, do you have a piece that would act more as an anchor? Maybe a vintage landscape – something with darker colors and less white?

  278. There are a million comments at this point so this may have already been said but would you consider bulking up the shelves a bit? I think part of their issue is that from this view they look a little flimsy. Making them appear a little thicker so they seem more in scale with the rest of the room should help make them feel less cluttered. I would also consider doing them in the same wood tone as the ceiling beams. That may, unfortunately mean tearing out the original shelves to get the heights in between them to the right proportion but I think it would tie things together nicely!

    And I agree with everyone else. Please, please don’t paint the beams, they are so pretty.

  279. I believe the reason you are still not sold on THE look, is that the layout still isn’t fully resolved (you know, just armchair quarterbacking this…’cause this is fun stuff!). Have you tried leaving a couch facing the windows, having two chairs flanking the fireplace (pulled forward as much as needed to be a part of the couch conversation area) and a single chair or chair/ottoman (not the chaise) angled into the conversation area across from the couch (where the first of the two chairs are right now)? This would open up the path to the french doors if you want to use them, would add one additional seat to what you have now and would pull the FP area into the rest of the space you use on the daily. Just a thought, but would love to see if that would work at all.

  280. My choice: Grey sofa, floral/print chairs (recover the grey ones), NEW RUG this one adds nothing to the room and photographs very dingy, chaise in the corner.

    I also think that large driftwood table seems out of place in this room. It would work in the mountain house or somewhere more scandi/Cali Casual. Either go FULL cali casual in this room, or stick to the rich colors and layers that would fit the Tudor architecture.

  281. This post already has so many comments! I’m afraid someone has probably suggested this already and I’m just repeating…. BUT, for what it’s worth, there’s something about the Option: Sofa Facing Fireplace photo that works. Obviously it’s not nice to see the back of the sofa when you walk in. I think placement for the sofa works best where it as always been. BUT THE REST OF THE ROOM LOOKS AMAZING in that shot. Here’s why I think: having symmetrical chairs in front of the built-ins, and having them pulled farther in front of the built-ins, calms the busyness. My eyes understand the symmetry, so I can take in the whole back of the room in one glance instead of looking back and forth between two different seating options. Also the chairs are dark and heavy, so they stand out nicely. The artwork above the fireplace is gone, which lets me just appreciate the fireplace lines. I know you said that your husband really wants the sofa to have a chaise, and sofa+chaise against the side windows probably wouldn’t work with those two chairs visually… unless maybe the chaise was on the opposite end of the sofa. But I think a chaise-less sofa against the windows + the heavy symmetrical chairs in front of the built-ins + no art above the fireplace would be GOLDEN.

  282. Serenity in the “sofa facing the fireplace” option is inviting to me. Access to the outdoors seems possible with the unblocked windows, certainly letting in that nice light. Other things that are visually appealing about that option are the clean look of no artwork above the fireplace and the dark beams. Having the back of the sofa to the entry seems to make that space more intimate. Realizing this opinion is probably the least popular made me want to post a comment (never done this before!). It is interesting to weigh in and think about the possibilities and why something appeals to me and other things less so. Very fun…now to apply that same concept to my own space. Thank you for that exercise!

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