Design quandary


This gives you some vague idea of what my living room looks like and also what I’m up against in terms of storage, or the lack thereof.

The room is pretty square, about 5 meters by 5 meters, maybe 6×6, I’m not sure. The ceiling height is up there, more than 3 meters. So you walk in through a door placed in the center of the wall. To the right is a window in the center of that wall. Straight ahead and to the left are blank walls. As is befitting a proper reception room, it is axial and formal. So I have a couple of concerns about how to deal with this room, how respect its character while also respecting mine.


You see, this is how I live. Nice stuff but books everywhere and what a mess. I even use duvets, so I don’t really have to make the bed. Not that there will be a bed in the front room but you get the idea. Super-casual, a cleaning lady’s nightmare.

I have to figure out how to furnish this room and where to put all that stuff, especially all those books. Do I even want books and DVDs and all — yes, I still like DVDs — in what passes for a public room? Would I rather have them upstairs, where I am more likely to actually use them?


One option is to say, yes, bookshelves everywhere. I like the way these shelves turn the corner. Stuff display can be a little difficult and having these corner shelves is a nice way to handle it. The furniture would have to be away from the shelves but it’s a big room; that’s not really a problem. I love the fixed positioning of these shelves but for me, that could be a problem.

credit-to-daniel-farmer_el_5oct12_pr_bt_190x190 My original plan was to make this a media room: thus the darkish walls. I don’t do the kind of entertaining that requires a formal living room. Even at my housewarming, at which I think I was the only non-French person, everyone crammed into the kitchen, around the kitchen island. They had a great time, that being where all the food and drink were to be found. So there is no social pressure; I can do what I like with the room.  But I like watching TV upstairs. Do I need two TV setups? When did need come into it?

Anyway, if I do that, and if I do shelves, I’ll need a niche. How many niches? What size? TVs are only getting bigger and they never seem too big. Should I go for something more flexible?

real-homes-6-easy-living-19dec13-paul-massey_bt_426x639_1 I had been thinking I would put shelves on the blank walls, ahead and to the left. But what if I put them on the wall with the doors? My floor plan is actually quite similar to this. With the doors open you look into the kitchen, which has a stove directly ahead and openings to either side. Great minds…

This idea is a real contender. The books have a home without dominating the room. The furniture can be placed such that no one has their back to the door and the circulation is not blocked. The TV can go on the wall opposite the door with pictures, mirrors, who knows what, all around it. I’m not sure how I’ll work the wiring but overall it’s not a bad plan.


Maybe I should put books on all the walls, with generous openings for paintings, the TV, etc. Nah, probably not.

2873374-house-21jun16-simon-upton_bt_190x190 Maybe I should forget about built-ins, give myself the flexibility of furniture. The room needs a formal treatment, though. I can’t just run to Habitat or see if one of my local sources has reclaimed shop shelving or something. That works for me but not for the house. Furniture or built-in, I may be stuck with something made to measure.

I am used to living in small spaces, as tightly organized as a sailboat. This large space thing is great, no complaints, but it does have its own challenges. In a small house, those shelves would go on the wall with the door, no question. That space to either side of the doors is effectively lost; what better way to make use of it? But I don’t know. I’ll have to kick it around.

34 thoughts on “Design quandary

  1. Does this room open off the kitchen…or is the kitchen across a corridor?
    Does the window give a lot of light, or do you need more?
    Most intriguing puzzle as to how to use it.


    1. My kitchen is across the corridor but it has matching double doors. With both pairs of doors open, the view is much like the one in the photo.

      The window is huge and south-facing. It gives plenty of light. Actually, that’s the next question. How do I arrange the furniture, not that I have any for that room. I want to be able to look out that window without turning my back on the room.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bookshelves are going to close things in a bit…I know 5 – 6 metres sounds large and looks it when the room is empty but shove a sofa or two in there and you’re getting pushed for space.
        How to balance looking out of the window with watching the T.V. is beyond me at the moment…seating for one is inimical to the other.


        1. Exactly. Looking out the window points you away from TV, friends, all those books I’m trying to store, everything, really. But the window opens onto the front garden, which some day will be pretty again.

          I am thinking about not even pretending this is a social space. People socialize in my kitchen. When I sell the other house I might get a grand piano for that opposite wall. I’m a lousy pianist but it’s my house and I love to play. Then I’ll fill in with comfy chairs and maybe an ottoman or two. You are right about the space constraints. I can have a piano or sofa but not both. I can position a chair any way I want, turn it around, whatever. It’s still not pulling together for me but that’s what I am mulling over right now.


  2. Sorry , pressed wrong f*****g button! Do we keep the CDs? I understand keeping all our priceless vinyl. And will we watch all those DVDs? Aaarrgghh, I am trying to micro manage our storage options….


    1. I have all that stuff. I am looking at boxes and boxes of CDs and DVDs. Trouble is, I have weird taste and I like old movies and music, not the Top 40 kind. These things are not easy to find on Netflix or Pandora radio. I had this fantasy that I would put everything on a hard disk of some kind and stuff all the originals out in the garage. I don’t know. It may yet happen.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well Trev has put all our vinyl, cassettes and CDs on a card/stick whatever. Trouble is, Trev wants to keep EVERYTHING. this is the man who still has the cardboard boxes his Lentek S4 1970’s speakers came in


  3. I love a room with books. A house with books. Books that have been read (not cheaters who buy books by the meter/yard just for show). Speaking from experience: make sure the shelves are thick enough or supported closely enough that they don’t sag.
    I acknowledge the utility of TVs during wars and elections but otherwise I don’t like to see them. Ours lurks behind closed doors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought about cabinet doors but they get in the way. I think I’ll just put the TV in another room. I’m hooked on Netflix, especially when the weather is bad.


  4. Bookshelves on the door wall would be a good use of space. Let the one television suffice (upstairs).

    Allocating display niches for interesting things you pick up here and there may be better than all books- and it gives you space for tings that come into the house in the years to come.

    Enjoy the options!


    Apologies for any typographical errors – sent from a small mobile device.


    Liked by 1 person

        1. Nah. You can do it. Get a TV with a mirror finish when it is off. If you get a black-screen TV, minimize the frame and put it against a charcoal wall or a charcoal section of a bookshelf. Put it up as part of a group of pictures. If you want to get religious about it or rarely watch TV anyway, hide it in a cabinet. My reason for probably not putting a TV in this room is that I’ll probably have TVs all over the place. It is not likely that I will choose to go into this room for the sole and specific purpose of watching a television. I think an electronics-free room could be a nice change of pace.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Mirror finish TV’s my first choice ages ago but too expensive to justify on our budget, Trev has checked .
            Our living room is just that, so has to be multi functional. Only other room with a TV will be guest room. Which I suspect we will use a lot in summer when it’s not occupied as it’s cooler down there in the cave and has the courtyard access.
            I don’t do TVs or computers is my bedroom


  5. No, no TV in my bedroom. The guest bedrooms will probably get TVs, jet lag being what it is, even though we may move down there in summer, too. What about a TV in the kitchen? We spend probably more time than is healthy in there anyway and I can hardly stand to clean the place without a TV to distract me. It can go up on a wall out of the way, like the microwave’s flashy brother.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Non. The Man will only want to watch TV from his sacred bit of the corner sofa.
      Where the table is handily placed for his wineglass, books and remote. That’s what happens in our house anyway…


      1. I love that. For me, that’s the lure of the kitchen island. Wine glass, remote, books, they are all there. The problem with my sofa is that I have no end table and I put my feet on the coffee table. I haven’t kicked over a wine glass yet but it’s only a matter of time. Of course that’s a good reason to not put the glass down.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh, he puts his feet up on the coffee table too.
          It will be interesting to see how he uses the dining end of the kitchen when it’s done.
          Trev is building a capacious bench to fit the space, with backing and seat appropriately angled for comfort and it will be well cushioned.
          Kind of a space saving alternative to the now fashionable kitchen sofa trend.

          I guess it will get used like your island is.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. If you are blessed with a media room then keep the blessed media (cds, dvds, vinyl schminyl etcetera) in there and keep this room for plumptuous furniture and books (I had high level books in a previous house complete with ladder on rails and it was frankly the best thing EVER) …. just my thoughts but that square métrage will be swallowed in a heartbeat so I would tend towards separating my drawing room from my media room


  7. Books, books, books…a joy to read, a joy to have but…where? Living in the limited space sometimes we have to find creative solutions…or just pile them anywhere…but nothing better than look around and see books, books and books again 🙂


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