Nobody puts Baby in a corner – except me, because I AM A GIANT BABY and I’m literally stuck in a corner. Two months ago, your comments and feedback helped me figure out the layout for my pass-through dining room (THANK YOU), so today, I’m coming in hot with a similar, seemingly simple-to-answer question: WHAT THE HECK DO YOU PUT IN YOUR CORNERS? Or, more specifically, what the heck should I put in the corners of my living room?
As a chronic over-thinker who has spent too much time staring at these walls (literally, in a “I did not leave my apartment for months at a time during quarantine” way, but also figuratively, in a “all I do is copy and paste furniture into Keynote to see how it looks together in an attempt to imagine it in this space” way), I could use another set of eyes. Or like, hundreds of thousands of sets of eyes. EVERY EYE HELPS. But first, let me get you acquainted with the “before”…
WELCOME TO MY LIVING ROOM. These are the original Craigslist listing photos, but I think it’s helpful to see an empty space so you can really imagine where the pieces I’ve sourced so far will be going. (I also thought this apartment was a total scam when I first saw the ad, BTW – it was below market rate, had been sitting on Craigslist for over a month, and the copy was filled with things like “***LARGE PRIVATE GARAGE***” – asterisk emphasis theirs, for the record – along with a single sentence that read “Cedar Closets and Loads of Kitchen Cabinets.” I still can’t believe it’s real and that I was the only person who wanted to live here – I lucked out, right?!)
Architecturally, the space is kind of a dream – it’s 14′ wide by 20′ long (!!!), with a 5′ window to the front, a beautiful fireplace (wait til y’all get a closeup in the reveal) flanked by two great-sized windows, stunning old-school molding, PLUS a huuuuge walk-in closet. So far, my only problems have been things like, “it’s too big for me to decorate quickly without declaring bankruptcy” and “the windows are huge,” which are pretty freakin’ great problems to have.
You can see a bit more into the dining room here, and that door on the left is the aforementioned walk-in closet – it’s actually almost structurally identical to Erik’s, except mine is “ugly” and “filled with junk” and “not anywhere close to being as beautiful as Erik’s, why would you even force that comparison on yourself?” But because this whole space is fairly open concept (for the 1930s, at least), I’ve really been trying to dial in the design so both rooms can exist harmoniously. Last year, I landed on a descriptor that’s been a great north star, though: DISCO DECO.
My goal here is ’30s-meets-’70s – think glam lucite and leopard-meets-classic brass and leather. I want to embrace the deco roots of my building (like those original sconces above the fireplace – SO GOOD, right?), but I also want to balance and modernize some of the busier deco elements with clean, simple, geometric lines. It’s been a total labor of love – I’ve been saving for and slowly gathering these pieces since August of 2019! – but I’m excited to show you what I’ve gotten so far. READY???
WHERE DO WE EVEN START? The bookshelves were the first thing I bought after moving in – I wanted to fill up the wall between the front door and the closet, and I’d also always dreamed about having my own wall of books. (Plus, I had to use that CB2 coupon that you get when you change your address with USPS – the savings are TOO good, you know? They’re also over $100 off right now, just as an FYI.) The metal valet was a lucky $100 find from Luxe Midcentury (the NICEST guy in the biz!); the tubular lucite coffee table was a late-2019 score from AES of LA (you can read more about them, and my other favorite secret vintage sources, right here!); the 1960s spring floor lamp was a quarantine find from Lackluster Co. (incredible selection with fair prices!).
My design progress stalled for a while (or, uh, a year – was busy trying and failing to buy a house ad nauseam, remember? Here is where we left off on that) until I found this 1980s leather sofa on Instagram in March of 2021. It was way out of my price range and I begged Blair, the man behind Modtiques, to hold it for me while I saved up…and in October of 2021, after 7 months of scrimping, it was finally delivered to my house. I have forgotten and/or blocked out how much it cost (probably the latter, TBH), but I thiiiiink that it was a little over $4k including shipping – it’s by far the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought myself and I’m still proud of myself for figuring out how to make it happen!!! (I love it even though all of my friends call it the “hot dog sofa.” It’s a nice place to rest my buns, at least :))
Progress picked up again this year when I found those Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams swivel chairs. I knew I wanted upholstered chairs in here and was on the hunt for something in Sunbrella (I know people usually think of it as an outdoor-only option, but it’s the only upholstery fabric I’ve found that can hold up to my cat’s claws) and BOY, these chairs fit the bill. The scale is great (these are a little petite – I have a weird and unexplainable thing about huge chairs), the lines are clean and special, and I love the 70s feel of the wooden bases (I went with “natural,” but there are a ton of finishes available). The Room & Board media cabinet was my most recent find and it’s going to house my vinyl collection – the height is PHENOMENAL (guys, it slides in perfectly below my super low window!!!!), it’s absolutely heirloom quality, and I love how the white oak talks to the chairs. I’M SO EXCITED. Let’s talk about that paint selection real quick, yeah?
I tested five pink swatches from Sherwin-Williams – Alyssum, Innocence, Charming Pink, Intimate White, and Romance. (I used my ColorReader and my wallpaper to help me narrow it down – it’s AWESOME.) Romance is currently the front-runner – it reads a little cooler in my eastern-facing space than it does on the internet, which I love. That said, I’m planning to paint last after I see how everything looks together – I’m still figuring out my rug and curtain situation, so I don’t want to totally lock myself into pink walls in the event that I’d rather opt for a pink rug or pink curtains. (I’m about 80% sure that I’ll be opting for the faux hide above, though.) In any case, I am really excited about combining these super “feminine” elements (pink, lucite, curves) with more “masculine” touches (natural wood, clean storage, leather) – it’s going to be a ~Disco Deco~ CELEBRATION in here. 🙂
Now that you’ve gotten the full update, let’s talk layout – this is where I need your help the most (I think, at least!). Here’s what I’m planning on right now – I’m feeling a little stumped as I’ve never had a space big enough to float furniture before, and now I’m not, uh, totally sure…like, what’s supposed to go around the floating furniture?
First, some scale references (if you care – if not, skip ahead!!!): the bookcases extend 12″ off the wall, there’s a ~3′ walkway between the shelving and the seating area, the sofa is about 7′ long, and there’s a little over 2′ between the fireplace and the sofa. The 3.5′ round coffee table will be fairly centered with the fireplace, and both chairs will have a nice amount of breathing room (because again, I have a weird thing about chairs with breathing room for reasons I do not understand). I’m also planning to grab a cute vintage coatrack for the space behind the front door – there’s about 21″ to play with back there, so I hope to find something sweet and interesting (like with all things vintage, I’ll know it once I see it :)).
My problems, though, are the two corners – both have about 3’x4′ of wall space that I’d like to use for, well, something. I don’t necessarily need more storage, but it also feels awkward to place more seating behind the main seating area (unless that isn’t weird?). Here are all the things I’ve considered:
- A Work Setup: This is actually still my frontrunner and it’s something I still really want to move into this space. I’m hoping that the dining room – and its new layout, thanks to your advice! – will now be a space for nighttime relaxing and spending time with friends, and not a place for me to be making Zoom calls and writing blog posts in at three in the morning (I have the weirdest internal clock, y’all…and like, what else is there to do when you’re up that early?).
- Something Sculptural: I have a lead on one of these wicker motorcycles (and it’s in my price range!), but it’s also a ~ 4-hour drive away. My concerns here: I almost feel like I need to be looking for something taller – does everything on this side of the room feel a bit low to you, too? I also worry about too much wood – I feel like a need a hit of black.
- Something Big and Sculptural (That You Seem to Not Love): Yeah, I’m talking about that huge pencil reed wine bottle cabinet from my last post. It’s been removed from Chairish (tragic) but it’s still available on Instagram (#blessed). I know it’s weird and I don’t have enough saved up to buy it right now, but it would technically fit in a corner…
- A Game Table + Small Chairs: I don’t know when this started, but I am newly OBSESSED with the idea of game tables. I don’t think they’re a trend yet, but I think they’re about to be. I’d want one that’s a little less fussy, though – trying to keep it clean and simple in here!
- Plants: Here’s the thing – I love plants and I used to be a biiiiiig plant gal, but I travel too much to keep them alive and I’d rather not pay for a plant sitter at this point in my life. Maybe someday, though?
- A Storage Cabinet: I’m still in love with this piece that Julie chose for the Velux project, but I think it’d be a little scene-stealing in this space with the black AND the wood AND the glass AND the brass…but maybe something with a similar shape and a more uniform finish would be nice?
- ???: What would you put here? I think the reason I feel so stuck is because I don’t even know what I want or what I’m looking for – it’d be a lot easier to figure out if I had some direction, you know?
Here’s where I’ll leave you – 2020 photos of my apartment that were, uh, not really supposed to go on the internet (though maybe the stuff on the floor and cleaning supplies really gave that away, huh?). This facelift is currently in progress – it’s looking a lot different in here these days – and the reveal is coming THIS YEAR…once I figure out these freakin’ corners, at least!!! Any thoughts? Comments? Suggestions? New ideas? I’M ALL EARS (because I need the help – and maybe you have some great advice for other people struggling with this design conundrum, too). Happy weekend, LET’S CHAT? xx