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dreamingoftheup

When is a large room too small to be large?

DreamingoftheUP
7 years ago

Hypothetical question, which popped up after seeing the picture below. With a large living room (in this case, truly separate from dining and kitchen), how large does it have to be for 2 separate seating areas? Are there in-between dimensions which are too big for one seating area but too small for two seating areas?

The picture below and the one following are from a real estate listing (house has 9000 sq. ft and 6 bedrooms). From the listing, the room dimensions are 20 x 26. The furniture is arranged like in my small living room (along the walls). How would you do it differently?

Comments (38)

  • DreamingoftheUP
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    From the other direction....

  • carsonheim
    7 years ago

    That is a terrible furniture layout. Those sofas should be floated in an L-shaped configuration in front of the fire place. They could have a separate two-chair seating area in front of the window. Anything would be better than that horrible layout.

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  • maddielee
    7 years ago

    Maybe a gymnast needs the space to practice her floor exercise?

    The realtor should have suggested moving the furniture in (on the rug) before a listing picture was taken.

    ML

  • detroit_burb
    7 years ago

    the reason that room is set up that way is because not everyone is on gardenweb ;)

  • OKMoreh
    7 years ago

    I once had three seating areas in a living room that measured 11 feet by 25. This came about partly because of the locations of doors, and partly because I had moved from an apartment and didn't have large furniture.

    A guest who was a music professor said that the room cried for a grand piano -- not something I would typically think of using as a decorative accessory.

  • Holly- Kay
    7 years ago

    Holy cow, I would think you would need a bullhorn to make yourself heard. I doubt there are many cozy, intimate chats taking place in that room.

  • crl_
    7 years ago

    I think that room needs a secondary area of some kind. A small secondary seating area or a small desk or a game table or the like. And the furniture needs to be pulled off the walls and closer to the fireplace and television. It almost looks like someone was cleaning and they took the picture while the furniture was pulled off the rug for vacuuming.

  • Fun2BHere
    7 years ago

    20' x 26' is ample for more than one seating area. However, having the fireplace centered on the long wall does create some limitations. I agree with other posters that in the room you showed, a seating arrangement should be floated in the middle of the room focused on the fireplace. The resulting corner spaces opposite the fireplace could hold a games table, a reading nook, a piano or other large musical instrument, etc.

  • Oakley
    7 years ago

    My LR is 20 x 26 or 27, not including the entryway and booknook.

    The furniture arrangement above is awful.

    We kind of have two seating areas. The sofa is in the middle of the room with a sofa table behind it. The sofa faces the TV and FP, with seating on each end of the sofa.

    The back room has a "game" table and two chairs. There is a rocking chair with end table in front of the windows in the back of the room.

    The main compliment we get on the room is it's "cozy," because of how the furniture is arranged.

    We have two large area rugs so the room doesn't echo. lol

  • kswl2
    7 years ago

    That poor furniture in the picture, looks like it has lined up to be shot by a firing squad. There are any number of things you could do:

    1. Two sofas facing each other perpendicular to fireplace and an additional two club chairs in front of window wall with table between them.

    2. Sofa facing fireplace with two chairs perpendicular to each end of the sofa extending towards the fireplace wall, (two sets of chairs facing each other). Then, build in a looooong bench under the windows and you have seating for a party! You'd also have room on the other side (wall facing window wall) for drop leaf table pushed to wall and a chair on either side. (Smaller profile chair, dining, parson's etc)

    3. Sofa scooted up towards fireplace and one chair on either end facing each other, and another mirror image arrangement with another sofa and two chairs, the sofas to be placed back to back

    Of course, none of the above allows a tv In the room. It looks completely out of place where it is, I'd get rid of it completely. Too much light anyway from those windows.

  • patricianat
    7 years ago

    Unless maybe they had wrestling matches in the middle of the room there on that wine colored mat? Oh, dear. Don't shoot me. I know better. It is just about the worst arrangement I have ever seen.

  • alex9179
    7 years ago

    The fireplace is "bossy" and if you only have this room for the TV, you're limited even more.

    KSWL's suggestion of two sofas, facing each other and perpendicular to the fireplace would allow TV view on the opposite wall. Maybe a table and chairs in the window corner where that chair is in time-out.
    My grandmother and aunt preferred the larger living room to be without a TV and have that in a small den. But, that's easy when you only need seating for two!

    I see arrangements like this in listings here a lot. Makes me want to offer a Decorating Cents style re-design.

  • DreamingoftheUP
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Good suggestions. The TV bothered me too. In a house that size, i would expect a media room. There is also a 24x22 family room mentioned in the listing.

  • luckygal
    7 years ago

    Rooms like that are usually in McMansions carried to an extreme. They are not to human scale and are difficult to arrange and decorate to make comfortable.

    IMO it's likely the furniture was pushed back for 'staging' (bad staging!) to show how large the room is.

    It's a difficult room to arrange well but if the TV were to be placed to the left of the fireplace (assuming there is a wall there) and an L or U-shaped arrangement of sofa(s) and chairs placed away from walls in front of the fireplace and TV it might work for TV and fireplace viewing.

    The one solid wall we can see (with the family photos) could have bookcases and perhaps upholstered chairs.

    That room is *never* going to be cozy!

  • patricianat
    7 years ago

    Oh, this is not a difficult room. Give me carte blanche charge/checking and a few hours and I can have it delivered and a dozen roses sitting on the massive cocktail table tout suite. Just trash what is there and remember if the owner can afford this house, he/she should be able to afford suitable furnishings.

  • Oakley
    7 years ago

    I agree, Patricia. We have to remember, the two story ceiling makes the room appear much larger than what it is, along with the bad furniture placement and camera lens used.

  • emmarene9
    7 years ago

    This is funny to me because my mother liked this type of furnishing arrangement. As a child I was embarrassed for people to see it. I can only conclude she was doing it because of her claustrophobia. I think she needed to see a wide open space to be at ease. Now when I see something like this I wonder what is mentally wrong with the person who set it up. This surely goes beyond simple bad taste.

  • chicagoans
    7 years ago

    " Now when I see something like this I wonder what is mentally wrong with the person who set it up."

    I'm laughing about this! Not long ago my talented and lovely designer friend was over for wine when she asked if we could rearrange my FR furniture. Sure!

    As we switched the location of the couch, I shoved it all the way up against the wall. She pulled it forward to float it, against my (initial) reservations. She says I'm very "Germanic" because my tendency is for everything to be symmetric and pushed back to the boundaries. Once I saw the new set up, I loved it. It's so much nicer for conversation and it looks prettier from the kitchen, too. (Maybe it's Germanic, or maybe it's because my dad's an engineer, but I have a tendency to line stuff up straight and soldier-like. I like things more randomly placed once I see them, but I don't really have the vision to get them positioned in a pleasing asymmetrical way.)

    Anyway, when I saw the picture above, I was thinking "that's me! That's my Germanic tendencies!" Then when I read the point about something mentally wrong I laughed out loud. I promise I don't take offense, I think it's funny. Especially because now I can see how awful the arrangement is, but I know my first thought would be 'shove to the walls so the room looks bigger'. Thank goodness for talented friends and GW!

  • carsonheim
    7 years ago

    dreaming -- can you post the listing link? I'd love to see more ;)

  • ineffablespace
    7 years ago

    This is a fairly typical example of "suburban house for sale" where I live. Huge house, probably huge mortgage, and absolutely no money to actually furnish it. They *think* they need 9000 square feet, but obviously they don't really need it because most of that square footage is empty space.

  • DreamingoftheUP
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Certainly. Link below.

    I agree there is some distortion from the camera because the picture in the listing from the entry hallway towards that room doesn't look quite as bad.

    The bedrooms also look huge with large vacant spaces in front of the beds which should have seating arrangements, etc.

    Here is a link that might be useful: 9000 sq ft home in Republic, Michigan

  • patricianat
    7 years ago

    It looks like the homeowner or some amateur was making the pictures based on the image of the photographer in the mirror, so could it be this house was purchased and used for some nefarious activity and the owner had no intention, or idea or care for decor and lacked the savvy to use decor to further camouflage whatever purpose this house had. This just seems strange and does not have the feel of a woman living in this house. Even bowling alleys have more attention to aesthetics.

  • palimpsest
    7 years ago

    I feel like whoever owns it at this point doesn't really understand the house at all. It's a large fairly rustic house decorated like a Baltimore row house circa 1985. I feel like I do see a woman's touch though, but one who's had the same tight permanent and Clairol shade for 40 years.

    I dunno, maybe they built it even though there is a huge disconnect between the interior décor and the architecture. After all, I've stayed in very contemporary hotels layered with wallpaper borders and furnished with Queen Anne, too.

  • schicksal
    7 years ago

    I was thinking the same thing about the layout - the tv, windows and fireplace will be in permanent competition with one another. It also seems McMansion-y to me too, that the level of the furnishings, trim and appliances are not proportionate to the enormous size of the place. 9,800 sq ft??? The lighting in particular surprise me because they look like they belong in a starter home.

    Also I need to remember to ask here along with Houzz when it comes time to get furniture for the family room I'm rebuilding. I'm in the opposite situation, where the furniture fit great for the place we used to live but our new place is larger.

  • palimpsest
    7 years ago

    Although this house would be considered a bargain at that price in many parts of the US, something's got to give, and usually it is the budget for interior fixtures and furniture.

    Like has already been said, I think it's a pretty universal condition in the current real estate market, given the location of choice, size trumps all else, and quality, level of finish, and quality and quantity of interior design all fall to the wayside. I really don't understand the point of large volumes of empty space. What good is a large living room or separate dining room if it is unfurnished? Does every bedroom need to be 15 x20 when all it contains is a bed and a cheap desk stuck into the corner? But this seems to be what many Americans want.

  • DreamingoftheUP
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    I saw an article about the Mary Kay mansion which is up for sale and found the listing on Zillow (link below). Large rooms, super high ceilings.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Listing for the Mary Kay mansion

  • ILoveRed
    7 years ago

    Pal--may I send you an image of my preliminary first floor from my architect? I would really like your opinion on the Gathering Room. I would rather not post it at this point and value your opinion.

    Thank you.

  • schicksal
    7 years ago

    DreamingoftheUP

    All you need is a singer and stage, and you can have your own opera in the big room with all the wood!

  • chispa
    7 years ago

    9800 sq.ft isn't such a large house when that number includes the basement and an indoor pool. Most people do not care or worry about interior design ... the members here are not a good representation of how the majority of people live in their homes.

    Pal is right, in my area of CA that price would barely buy an old 1500 sq.ft. 3bed/1bath ranch on a 1/3 acre that will be torn down. Most in my area would consider this a bargain with lots of potential!

  • mtnrdredux_gw
    7 years ago

    Many people have large homes they cannot afford to furnish, for a few reasons:

    1. They bought a larger home than needed because they believe it is an investment
    2. They bought a larger home than needed because it is costly to buy and sell homes and they are planning for the future (kids, inlaws, staff, boomerangs, home office)
    3. Houses can be paid over 30 years with a 4% mortgage (2% aftertax)
    4. Furniture has to be paid with cash or a credit card, with, IDK 15% interest and 10 yr amortization?

  • luckygal
    7 years ago

    After looking at the RE listing it's obvious the homeowners cannot really afford this house. The exterior is badly in need of restaining and the furniture in all rooms indicates a low budget for furniture and decor.

    I find listings such as this quite sad and hope someone will purchase this house who can maintain and decorate it appropriately.

    IMO whoever photographed it needs to give their head a shake and at least realize that toilet lids should be down!

  • ILoveRed
    7 years ago

    Towels still hanging too. Staged really poorly. The house isn't as bad as we are making it out to be. I hope the owners don't see what we are saying about their home. Silly, I know.

  • palimpsest
    7 years ago

    Red_lover yes, go ahead and email your preliminary floorplan

  • patricianat
    7 years ago

    red_lover, it would be sad if the owners read here. It might encourage a little forethought about buying a house, perhaps looking at decorating magazines, reading about period styles and substantial building materials, and start posting here after their newly gained knowledge. That would be a shame.

  • chispa
    7 years ago

    luckygal said:
    "After looking at the RE listing it's obvious the homeowners cannot really afford this house. The exterior is badly in need of restaining and the furniture in all rooms indicates a low budget for furniture and decor."

    I'm not sure you can make those assumptions about the homeowners. Those of us on this site are NOT the norm.

    I grew up with parents that constantly maintained their home. No painted surface ever got to the point were it looked old and worn. At the other end of the spectrum, my DH grew up with parents that only replaced things once they looked like crap or were broken. They had the money, just didn't see the need to spend it until absolutely necessary.

    I see small and large homes that are immaculately kept and other that are neglected. It has nothing to do with the size or cost of the home, but everything to do with the priorities of the homeowners.

    Edited to add, that postponing the regular maintenance of a home always ends up costing you more, so it isn't just about not spending the money, the person just doesn't see that they are being shortsighted and that the repairs/maintenance will cost twice as much when they finally get to it.

    This post was edited by chispa on Mon, Apr 28, 14 at 19:50

  • ILoveRed
    7 years ago

    Chispa--you are right. I have a brother that is a retired Financial Advisor. He really is a genius and made himself and others a lot of money. He is worth millions but wears overalls and brags about how long it's been since he let his wife buy a new couch (jokingly). Their home looks totally dated and they do not care. It's not a priority.

    His stories would make you smile ie: the Casserole Ladies. Ladies that start courting recently widowed, rich, elderly bachelors by bringing casseroles.

    Not everyone that has it spends it.

  • patricianat
    7 years ago

    Yes, red_lover, and if your rich brother cared to make more money, he could style this house, have it properly photographed and marketed, and sell it for thousands above the price it is now set to bring and still get a return on his cash outlay.

  • ILoveRed
    7 years ago

    Someone could but not him ;-). He thinks he is a gentleman farmer.