Need advice furnishing and decorating transitional style living room
Lindsay
March 14, 2012 in Design Dilemma
We just moved into a transitional style home built in 1910. Some aspects like the layout and ceiling height are more Victorian while some of the details like the built-ins around the fireplace are more Arts and Crafts. Our living room is currently empty and we're not sure where to start with it. I would love to honor the period of the home for the most part while creating a space for entertaining guests. I am hoping some folks can offer thoughts on furniture pieces and arrangement as well as advice on a potential color scheme.

Some notes about the space:
We won't keep the rug in the picture, but we like our clock above the fireplace (photo 2). We won't have a need for a tv in this space. The original radiators and fireplace are functional so there has to be adequate space around them.

Lindsay
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bepsf
I would love to see a large oriental carpet in the center of the room, a big square coffee table in the middle of that, and a pair of matching sofas facing one another with a pair of floor lamps at their ends by the fireplace...
...and a long table in the window bay, over the radiator, where a pair of table lamps and some books & art objects could be arranged.
0 Likes   March 14, 2012 at 8:04PM
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Lindsay
I like the idea of two matching sofas. I wonder if apartment-sized chesterfields would work. I'm not sure I could go for a table over the radiator (your description does sound great, though) since they get pretty hot and even if it wasn't a temperature issue it could prevent it from heating the room properly. Thanks for your thoughts, bepsf!
0 Likes   March 15, 2012 at 8:32AM
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feeny
Decorative radiator covers (either wood or painted metal) would be a big help, and I'd even be tempted to combine a radiator cover and built in window seat in your bay window. These allow for the heat to radiate while making the space usable. (I have a terrible case of window seat envy as we don't have an appropriate window in our house and I've always wanted one, so ignore this advice if you aren't a fan of window seats). I'd also suggest a sofa facing two easy chairs with a coffee table and area rug, set perpendicular to the fireplace.
1 Like   March 15, 2012 at 12:33PM
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bepsf
I would think that a pair of sofas that were no more than 6' long would work well - they would allow for at least 3' on either end for comfortable passage.

I suggested a long table since the airflow wouldn't be inhibited by side and front panels, and the surface depth would be sufficient for large lamps and other objects on it...
...tho a radiator cover for the other unit at the front of the room would be nice too
0 Likes   March 15, 2012 at 2:02PM
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Lindsay
I actually find the radiators quite beautiful so I hate to hide them. Check out the pic.
3 Likes   March 15, 2012 at 2:21PM
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hilltop1155
I also think your radiators are attractive. The downside is that they prevent much decorative use of the window area. I have seen people place thick glass atop the radiator, and also granite or soapstone has been used. Doing so allows you to use top of the radiator for displaying art items without hiding the radiator itself; in fact, I think the topper would make it more of a decorative feature. In summer the tabletop can be fully utilized, since the radiator is cool then, but in winter you would limit the displayed items to those that won't be bothered by the heat. One nice thing about this solution is that both glass and stone conduct heat, so you don't compromise the heating system. here is a link to an article about using stone: http://shelterlife.thisoldhouse.com/2006/05/hot_topper.html
2 Likes   March 15, 2012 at 7:34PM
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Lindsay
The idea of a glass shelf on top of the long radiator is intriguing.

Does anyone have suggestions for a color scheme?
0 Likes   March 17, 2012 at 7:33AM
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mike2523
I'm very jealous of the size of your living room. Mine is similar, although much smaller. Also a 1910 home. A mix between Arts and Crafts, Bungalow, and Victorian. And I'm jealous of the great built-ins left and right of the fireplace. I don't have a solution for the radiator, and I agree a radiator that looks that good should not be covered up.
As for furniture..I like the idea of a sofa focal point and accent it with a coffee table. But more rectangle than square. And a pair of slim easy chairs, or large Chippendale chairs facing it. I'd probably go for a slim sofa leaving enough room to have a long narrow schoolboy table along the back of the sofa. And a pair of non-matching end tables. Tabletop lamps on the end tables, but always make sure you've got enough room for people to put their drinks on it also.

I'd go for a subdued rug below it all but the sofa, not too big that it takes over the entire floor, and not too ornate that it takes away from the great architecture of the space.

I don't agree with floor lamps left and right of the fireplace, (sorry, bepsf) as I think it may look too cluttered along that wall. Instead, a nice table top/bookshelf lamp on top of the built ins that has a nice stained glass shade that offers colors to project.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents. I've got no idea what I'm talking about.

PS: I'm curious about your windows. I see the windows are a light wood color with a dark wood trim. Are they replacements? I just had our original single pane windows replaced and currently the new ones are natural wood color. I haven't decided if I should stain them to match the dark wood trim or leave alone.
0 Likes   March 18, 2012 at 8:53AM
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Laurie Mischel
I am with the homeowner...those radiators are great so just leave them. She has the two built~ins flanking the fireplace for display... that fireplace is the one thing in the room that made me go, huh? It stood out as a big white mass. Don't know if it is painted brick, if so repaint it a color that blends/works/compliments the stained cabs. I really have liked cabs that have the interior painted a color. Then fill them carefully with hefty sized treasures that you accumulate. Keep them filled simply and with balance.

As far as color you have a clean slate so do what intrigues you. For me, I am a neutral girl so I could do the 2 facing sofas that BEPSF suggested. I would do them in a brown solid with lots of texture. I would choose a large area rug that would be a geometric like brown,cream,beige,black stripes. Or Large neutral flowers. This could be the only print in the room. Then when I chose the accent color....maybe orange or ? I would paint that on the interior of the bookcases (but not the shelves themselves they should match the exterior stain) again on some pillows and there might be a few spots of it in the rug. I would do a very tailored drapery that would usually be left open. Some sort of subtle dark beige fabric which could have a small print or not and possibly a contrasting orange band from top to bottom at the inner side of each. Wish I could come do it....but with your money of course. :)
0 Likes   March 18, 2012 at 9:05AM
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bepsf
Thinking about the sofas - The room already is already dominated by browns...
...I would select an oriental rug that had blues, reds and golds - pull the blues and golds for the sofas and draperies and the reds for pillows, accessories, stools/poufs and artwork.
2 Likes   March 18, 2012 at 10:29AM
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dclostboy
I have similar cabinets in a similar aged home (but flanking a bay window). Instead of painting the interior a contrasting color, I put mirror glass on the back which still left room for the shelves. It shows off my treasures and really reflects the light in what would normally be a darker room.
2 Likes   March 18, 2012 at 11:29AM
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Shannon Richards
For the fireplace- I would wallpaper the back of them in a grasscloth to add texture. I would also paint the white brick a shade or two darker than what you paint walls. But that of course depends on what you paint the walls. I would also replace the knobs on the built ins with cool knobs. Maybe some sort of glass- Anthropologie has cool ones and most knob websites have similar ones- to keep with style of home.
0 Likes   March 18, 2012 at 11:36AM
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suedee
Hi Lindsay, This is such a beautiful space with so many lovely details that I would keep the decor relatively simple. I especially love the radiators and would not cover or obscure with furniture. The idea of topping with glass is interesting but I'd be concerned about kitty using as a ledge--'cat on a hot tin roof' comes to mind! Re: your Q on color scheme--to get an idea of your preferences, I looked at your pins and found this Olstad Drive Residence Master Bedroom 2
I think you're absolutely on the right track with that scheme: The fireplace cover and radiators, existing wood tones would pull together with that drapery. I'd move clock to short wall between window & swinging door and place large mirror over fireplace to reflect light from windows and break strong horizontal line of built-ins. Similarly framed art work over the bookcases would help tie built-ins and fireplace together and draw the eye "up". I would either 'de-paint' the brick or paint it to blend with the built-ins.
You might look at these
Cherry Hills Remodel
McCroskey Interiors
Both have elements similar to your room. If you want sofas facing, the ottoman as coffee table (Cherry Hills) would be good idea as it expands sitting during entertaining. The McCroskey furniture arrangement is interesting as it does not center on the fireplace; note sofa backs up to window similar to yours.
My opinion on "facing" sofas is that arrangements eats up lots of floor space. Ever noticed 2 people will sit on a sofa but rarely 3? Since this room is about entertaining, I'd think out of the sofa box. One sofa, sure--but combine that with ottomans, upholstered bench seating--even a chaise longue or matching chair & ottoman (McCroskey room) and of course! arm chairs
with drinks table nearby :-)
0 Likes   March 18, 2012 at 11:48AM
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jonsen4decor
Hey there! First, congratulations on the home. It's GORGEOUS! I had some fun with the area this morning and I'll attach some of the ideas I captured. Mostly, I went with neutral furniture and colors of gold and rust to keep it warm. If you wanted cool colors, you can go with the same neutral furniture, but use blues and greens as your accent colors. That would also be beautiful! Put a small sofa horizontal to the fireplace and window to the back of the room (mirroring the sidewall window). Put a couch table behind it for lighting and a few decorative items. Put 2 leather high wingback chairs across from the couch. Place a floor lamp (see example)on the outside of the chair closest to the front window. A beautiful light colored rug underneath (see example) to keep the space as open as possible given it's size. I also suggest a square glass coffeetable. Keep it simpe and open too, but you can put a beautiful decorative accent in the middle. I think a footstool would look nice in front of the fireplace (see example). Be bold with texture on your windows! That room is begging for long silk curtains to slank all of the beautiful windows! I will attach some examples of curtains (bold and neautral) to chosse your stye and some pillow acents I would use. Yes, the clock above the fieplace is smart and gorgeous! Use a pair dark bold candle holders/candles on either side and balance it out with a large floor vase at the base of either side of the fireplace. I did have some fun and I'm glad you posted. Hope some/any of it helps!
0 Likes   March 18, 2012 at 12:08PM
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Laurie Mischel
WOW! Suedee, I take it all back. I think Lindsay should copy the first or last idea you suggested. LOVE them all but the one with white woodwork probably won't happen. Wow, wow.
1 Like   March 18, 2012 at 12:10PM
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jonsen4decor
More pics AND the pic of the living area above is for the couch.
0 Likes   March 18, 2012 at 12:10PM
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jonsen4decor
Now that I put the couch up with the rest I don't like it. I would use a heavier one. Still beige/cream, but with heavier transitional legs. Let me try and find one.
0 Likes   March 18, 2012 at 12:12PM
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jonsen4decor
Arthur Sofa or Geneva Sofa or you could totally pull this off in that room Knole Sofa
0 Likes   March 18, 2012 at 12:24PM
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mamadama
I'm glad someone mentioned that bright white painted fireplace. However why repaint it at all, rather remove the paint. With so much detail the fireplace should be restored to compliment the beautiful room. At least that is my non-professional opinion.
2 Likes   March 18, 2012 at 1:21PM
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jchouzz
My vote is for two older leather club chairs, a vintage rug, and a dark color velvet love seat or small suede couch. You home has a great feeling, fantastic light and I think dark compact furniture with a luxurious touch would be best her. Keep the area open and clean, maybe two small side tables next to the chairs.
1 Like   March 18, 2012 at 3:36PM
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Donna Allgaier-Lamberti
What a beautiful and gracious room! You didn't mention if this would be a sitting room or a living room with dining area. Let's assume the latter. I'd visually split the room into two seperate "use" areas. I'd put a sofa and chair and one or two little side tables facing the fireplace on one area rug. The I'd put a table and chairs of your taste and style in the area with the bump out. this could be an intimate eating area, work area, game table or whatever fits your style and needs. This second area could also have a rug under it to deliniate its as a seperate but cohesive space. I don't know your favroite style or taste in furniture but looks for pieces that fit the homes style and are comfortable. Personally, I'd go antique or vintage but that's me. Stay true to your taste, busget and style of the home. Enjoy the journey!
0 Likes   March 18, 2012 at 6:05PM
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ksloggett
why not just gain back the period of the space as it was meant to be...this gorgeous Art Deco..Arts and Crafts room should be just that..inspiration..Restoration Hardware.com....restore..and add your personal touch ...leave au naturelle..no over done rugs...or furniture..just sheer comfort..and eclectic style inspired by the natural beauty of this home...check out the web site..
4 Likes   March 18, 2012 at 6:20PM
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Betty Dworschak
Most importantly, think FUNCTION first. No one asked how you planned to use the room and that matters most of all. Do you play Scrabble in the Family Room? Add a game table. Do you have a big family that comes over? Then seating is a must, and you'll have to maximize with ottomans, benches, etc. Does your family want a huge TV in this room? Then you've got to know where that's going before you decide what furniture you're getting and where it will go. Whatever else you decide, you will need to leave a lot of room for traffic flow - there are doors and entries at several points.

In the abstract, here are my thoughts: Of course, a big, gorgeous rug is a must. All your color cues will come from there so start with the rug. Shop a lot for this item - you'll have it a long time. If it needs to be REALLLY big, you can buy two identical rugs and have the ends cut and sew the two rugs together.

I think two sofas are too many. I'd put a luxurious sofa (maybe one with one end that has a footrest) in front of the bay and flank with two small chairs and try another comfy pair of chairs (perhaps ones that swivel like club chairs? - especially great for TV watching and multiple focal points in the room) near the fireplace.

Given that this is a 1910 house, stay truer to this era and don't clutter up the room. Go to the store and get some blue painter's tape and tape outlines of a rug and furniture BEFORE you buy anything. Measure chairs you like front-to-back and side-to-side and tape that out on the floor. That will cost you $3.00 and help avoid (1) buying stuff that's too big (or too small) and (2) cluttering up this fabulous room.

Good luck!
Betty D
1 Like   March 18, 2012 at 6:23PM
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ksloggett
I disagree with Betty...too much direction causes confusion...research your inspiration..and leave the measuring and tactical to an outside source..
0 Likes   March 18, 2012 at 6:33PM
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ksloggett
why do designers try to push their personal ideas down our throats...instead of giving food for thought and let your own show begin with their genuine help.and practical and tactical advise...just a question for all designer out there...
0 Likes   March 18, 2012 at 6:37PM
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Betty Dworschak
Because there's money in it! :-)
0 Likes   March 18, 2012 at 6:38PM
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Laurie Mischel
You are getting so much feedback Miss Homeowner because I think we all would love to be "doing" this space. You are so fortunate...what city is it in? That Restoration Hardware photo is pretty doggone fantastic. That is my problem, I can never decide which avenue to take. That is why I suggested "up there" to copy one of those other beautiful photos. Choose the one that speaks to your heart the most and just try to duplicate. :)
1 Like   March 18, 2012 at 6:41PM
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ksloggett
a site like this is meant to inspire...designers...there is no money in this site...and to over do your thoughts only clouds the real focus ...inspire...don't dictate your own ideas..its not fair to the home owner asking for real time inspiration...this site is not a money grab...just sayin...
1 Like   March 18, 2012 at 6:53PM
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Cass Collins
I want a chaise nook (meaning chaise/small table and good reading lamp, style of your choice) by the right window/radiator. Leave radiators au naturel and get an iron console table ith a soapstone top to fit around the radiator (would not be hard to custom fabricate) That will preserve function, radiate heat and give display opportunities. I favor red/gold rug or red/blue/gold oriental. Might even paint the walls golden. Would love to see the natural brick on fplc.
0 Likes   March 19, 2012 at 8:45AM
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snowhite84
Lucky dog. The wood trim and glass cabinets are awesome. However I cannot believe that brick is painted! Strip that paint off. Strip Ease should work on that well. We just bought a 1940s Cape Cod with painted brick and that is what was painstakingly researched. We also took a roll of green painters tape and marked out furniture and rugs ahead of time just to avoid our own previous mistakes.

I think that when the bones of a room are traditional, you can go more contemporary or should I say causal, in a space. So instead of an uncomfortable victorian couch, go with a new one that has traditional details such as baseball looking leather, or tufted with great fabrics. At the end of the day you want to enjoy the space and be comfortable.

There are a lot of focal points and walls in this room so the cost of wallpapering would be outrageous so I would make your accent pillows with a hemp or linen that has a lot of old school details. As for window treatments, go with dark wood blinds that can be pulled up. Some linen curtains 2 for 19 at Ikea look just like the Restoration Hardware ones that are $$$. And. at the end of the day they dont look like ikea!

I would use a linen/cream wall color and make sure to paint the ceiling as well either the same color or something a bit lighter in the same tone. Also one idea to have a bit of color would be to paint the interior of the two side cabinets a nice color such as what is in the rug. It would like great with a nice pottery collection or even with books. If you can get rid of the fan do it! Go to some antique faire to find period pieces. Browze RH for lighting ideas.

Good luck.
0 Likes   March 19, 2012 at 9:14AM
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michigammemom
I for one am extremely grateful for input from professional and amateur designers alike.
Every unique idea is a spark of inspiration, and every homeowner may accept or reject shared ideas based on their own personal taste, budget and lifestyle. That's what I love about the Houzz community!
1 Like   March 19, 2012 at 10:54AM
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Manon Floreat
There are so many great ideas here - I just love Houzz! As we all agree, your house has really beautiful architectural detailing. I think that should take center stage and use tailored low-key furnishings in neutral fabriques to support it. I took a look at your idea books and the below styles might appeal to you. My overall suggestion is to keep it fresh!
1 Like   March 19, 2012 at 5:43PM
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kellymaloney
How about a older french sofa reupholstered in a mens gray pinstrip suiting- a cream area rug with some texture- a dark brown leather square ottoman as a coffee table (with a tray), and two wing backs covered in a updated damask- or a second sofa facing the first - still french - covered in the same mens suiting- but make sure the sofas are mismatched and tie them together with the upholstery.
0 Likes   March 20, 2012 at 5:16AM
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kellymaloney
Try a grayed out blue for the walls- I would paint the trim white- paint the rads silver and use silver metallic lamps to modernize the space. Then pick a pop color- like a red or orange.
0 Likes   March 20, 2012 at 5:21AM
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Lindsay
Thanks everyone for your suggestions! They have been very helpful!

I think I am leaning toward an arrangement perpendicular to the fireplace (I have no idea why it was painted since the rest of the house seems so faithfully intact, so I probably will restore it!) with a leather sofa on the window side opposed by two mismatched armchairs, probably a large square coffee table, and I was considering some sort of poufs or a bench in front of the bay window and radiator. Maybe a narrow accent table next to the front door.

Here are some items I found and a floor plan I made based on the items, though I am thinking they might not be varied in style enough. Maybe everything will tie together once I figure out a color scheme. The couch from Sundance is a bit expensive, but I like the nailhead detail and I like the idea of the couch being on wheels so I could move it at a whim. I thing something more gender neutral would be best. So basically I really want a leather couch, but am not 100% on everything else.
1 Like   March 24, 2012 at 9:31AM
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crawfish
I have a rad in a bay window and I've been lusting for this:
1 Like   March 24, 2012 at 10:19AM
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jonsen4decor
HI Lindsay! That's perfect! I'm sure you are headed in the right direction. It's going to be a spectacular room! Congratulations again on the beautiful home! :-)
0 Likes   March 24, 2012 at 10:19AM
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jonsen4decor
I just have to know Lindsay - what colors are you leaning towards? I hope you update us when you get started? Be Well!
0 Likes   March 24, 2012 at 10:23AM
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Lindsay
@mikeaug To answer your question about the windows- they are vinyl windows, not wood. Here is a picture:
0 Likes   March 26, 2012 at 12:58PM
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Lindsay
@jonsen4decor - Here are some palettes I've been looking at, but none of them are exactly what I want.
0 Likes   March 26, 2012 at 1:48PM
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kpink
the room is lovely with the built-ins, gorgeous radiators, size, etc. Love many of the suggestions...I have a 1925 A & C bungalow, similar problems... Did the homeowner say she was thinking about going with gold on the walls? Others want the fireplace back to natural...already the window trim is very dark...these ideas feel like they are going heavy and dark. That is one substantial and beautiful fireplace...why not tile it in a period tile. that would look fabulous with the built-ins and radiators that already have a motif on them...find something that compliments that. Bare brick is ugly and will feel extremely heavy...imho!! Can't wait to see what you do. maybe paint the mantel to contrast with a creamier white on the fireplace.
0 Likes   May 29, 2012 at 4:23PM
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PRO
Fay Jones Day Tile
If you want to honor the Arts and Crafts feel of the house, you should check out American Bungalow Magazine. And for heaven sake tile the fireplace with arts & Crafts style tiles.
1 Like   May 31, 2012 at 6:02PM
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