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Help with bungalow living room layout and new furniture!

10 years ago

We are finally, finally getting new living room furniture for our little house--hooray! I'm hoping to take the opportunity to completely rethink how we use the space in this room, however. I would love some ideas on how you would configure furniture in this space to try to create some more distinct "zones," and what pieces you might choose.

Here's our space, with a little snippet of the adjoining rooms shown for context. It's roughly 20' by 12'. (House is 1250 sf 2BR/1BA, so what you can't see is just the DR and kitchen on the left and bath and master bedroom on the right.) The window at the top is a large picture window that runs most of the length of the room. Right now, we just have one long sofa up against the window, which faces a television/media cabinet that takes up most of the blank wall on the lower right. Not a great use of space, but that was the furniture we had when we moved in. We're keeping the media cabinet (in its current location) since it fits the style of the house and that's pretty much the only place in the room to put a television anyway.

With the new layout/furniture, I'd like to create dual focal points--the television since functionally that has to work, but also the fireplace/built-ins. When we have company, we frequently bring in dining chairs and ring the room with them, and definitely have a need for more people-oriented seating. So we are either looking at a pair of smaller sofas/loveseats or possibly a sectional (still lukewarm on that since house is 1915 Arts & Crafts and that feels quite modern, though, in addition to being more challenging to reuse in a future house). I'd also like to figure out a way to effectively divide this room in two--not physically divide it, but be able to set up the space on the left as a play area with table and chairs, easel, etc. for our preschooler and not feel like it's bleeding into the main LR space (as it does now with no sense of division). One idea was to put a low bookcase or sofa table against a sofa facing the fireplace, but not sure how well that would work. The entryways into the foyer and dining room do not have doors so those are just open framed spaces.

Any wise thoughts on how to use space more efficiently in a small house? What furniture would you choose here, and how would you orient it?

Thanks for any thoughts or advice!

Comments (4)

  • 10 years ago

    I think your idea of putting the sofa facing the fireplace and having the play area behind it is a good one. I'd go with a low bookcase behind it, with baskets or bins to hold toys and books.

    Is this room your prime tv watching area? If the tv can be put in one of the built-ins, then you would have one major focal point, with the tv and the fireplace next to each other, and the sofa facing them. Keeping the media cabinet where it is will really limit your seating arrangement possibilities--it will be difficult to watch tv from the sofa if the sofa is facing the fireplace. And if the media cabinet takes up most of that wall, it is also taking up a lot of the space where you could add in new chairs.

    Moving the tv to the built-ins might cost some money--you'd need to have the cable hook-up moved and maybe hire a carpenter to make changes to the built-ins. But you will be spending money anyway on new furniture. I wouldn't let the fact that you currently own the media cabinet influence your plans for this room too much, as it could be as much a liabilty as an asset. If it keeps you from creating an attractive room with the amount of seating that you want--why keep it?

    My thought is to put the sofa where you plan. Then you could put two upholstered chairs, one on either side of the fireplace, angled a bit, but facing the sofa. That would be a nice spot to curl up with a book. That would give you seating for at least 5 people. Then get a couple of side chairs and put them on the wall currently occupied by the media cabinet, with a small side table between them.

    If you make the table and chairs in the play area into a game table, then you will have 4 more chairs for guests. Now you are seating at least 11 people in the room without having to move in chairs.

    If you absolutely have to keep the media cabinet and keep it where it is, then I'd suggest a sofa against the window wall, facing the tv, and a second sofa or a loveseat (depending on how large your room is) at right angles to it, facing the fireplace. You could still put a bookcase against the back of the sofa facing the fireplace. Then an upholstered chair in that lower right-hand corner between the built-in and the media cabinet. That should give you seating for 6-7 people, although only 3 of them will be able to view the tv comfortably.

    If the media cabinet fits the style of the house, could it be repurposed in the play area of the room, holding toys?

    This post was edited by camlan on Tue, Mar 11, 14 at 8:53

  • 10 years ago

    Thanks camlan! We definitely aren't wedded to the media cabinet (it was a $200 find on Craigslist, though it's a perfectly nice piece!) but unfortunately I think moving the television to the fireplace wall won't work. The cabinets there are vintage built-in bookcases with leaded glass doors and windows above them, so it can't easily go in there. We did look into hanging it above the fireplace, but it puts the tv in a place where you have to look up to see it, since the mantel's around 4.5' high. (Also a challenge because we'd have to drill through the mantel and built-ins to run the wires, so not too keen on doing that.) DH is opposed to blocking the fireplace itself with a media cabinet in front, though in theory that would be an option since we don't actually use the fireplace much.

    We could test out how easily someone could see the television from the window side of the sofa, though--it might be that your chair idea would still work since one chair would be well positioned so we'd just need one seat on the sofa that would be comfortable for watching. Our neighbors (same house) do have a corner media cabinet in the top lefthand corner of the room with sofas against the window and the opposite blank wall plus two arm chairs by the fireplace, but my concern there was that it takes up most of the room to pull that off (and they also have another television in their kitchen, so it's not their only space for that--we don't really want a tv in the kitchen or bedroom, though). I'll have to mull the arm chairs over a bit more, though!

    The game table is a great idea long-term, although initially it will be a toddler-sized table there so chairs likely won't be too easy to repurpose! ;) But I like that plan for a few years down the road.

  • 10 years ago

    I had a contemporary home with a wall of windows with a large fireplace that was at right angle to the windows, like your room. We wanted to see the view from the sofa so put a regular size sofa facing the fireplace and a loveseat facing the window wall. The TV was then placed against the window wall. I second the idea of eliminating the entertainment center even though I love them and have one myself now in a different home. Like camlan, feel that it puts a severe cramp in your arrangement options. Your TV then could be placed on a base on the window wall. Why don't you post this query on the GW Decorating Forum where they have much more traffic? By the way, love all the windows in your home. It looks quite interesting.

  • 10 years ago

    Thanks, Texasgal47--will try posting there as well! I go back and forth on orienting a sofa towards the reason we haven't explored that much is exactly to avoid blocking the view (window begins 2.5 feet off the ground and is around 5' tall so it dominates that wall, though in a good way!) We do spend a lot of time looking out it, but usually sitting on the sofa that backs up to it, if that makes sense. Right now we have no window treatments there, though, and while I love the effect and light, we absolutely are getting something before replacing the furniture because our once navy sofa is slate gray after six years in that spot...eek.

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