Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Design Challenge #7 Amanda's Creative Escape

Hi Everyone,
Hope you all had a good weekend!

It's that time of the week again,
and today we meet Amanda.
Many of us know her as the "Girl in Pink"

Amanda has a lovely living room with a beautiful vintage flair,
but she has an idea to transform that little used space into a place to create.

She's looking for a few ideas how to take what she has now
and make it into a functional yet beautiful creative space
that more fits her needs and family lifestyle.

But before we start I have a favor to ask.
Let's try something new by not reading other people's comments first.
Just leave a comment on what you think might work for Amanda's space.

It''s easy to read everyone else's comments, and then not comment,
because we feel we don't have anything to add.
But each of us has something to share and a unique take on the space.
It doesn't have to be long and involved just share your thoughts.
Remember we're not all decorators and designers,
just say what comes to your head.

Here's Amanda, "In her own words":

Here we a have a little "formal living room." But I think I'd like to start the makeover by calling it something else entirely, because we really have very little use for a formal living room! The title that best describes the transformation I am hoping for would be "The Creative Escape." We rarely do any formal entertaining since the little ones entered our lives.

This is the first room that guests see when they enter our home. I would like it to better reflect the cozy, cottage, relaxed style of the rest of our home without having to completely start over with the furniture and accessories. At the moment I feel like it's a little too stuffy and the only time we really use and enjoy it is in December when our Christmas tree is set up in the corner!

I would love to have a beautiful crafting/creating room like Debra's and many of my other favorite bloggers who share their lovely spaces with us. I frequently use our dining table and buffet to prepare and "stage" my treasures for the antique shop and could see this spilling into the living room as well if I had more useful furniture pieces here. On the other hand, I would like to be able to easily store my clutter should we decide to have a dinner party. I also don't want people to feel like they've walked into my craft room when they first enter the house. Maybe I'm asking too much of this little space? What do you think?

Here are some specific things I've been considering that I could really use some help with!

1. I definitely want to slipcover the wingbacks, and I know they should be skirted as this room is far too leggy! But what color should I go for? I can't afford to reupholster the settee at this time...so the slipcovers will need to compliment the current upholstery.

2. We've decided to add a desk or armoire of some sort to house a computer and monitor. The question is what and where? This would definitely make this room more functional for us, but I don't want to see the computer when it's not in use...so I'm leaning towards an armoire, I think. Any other suggestions?

 3. I am constantly rearranging the furniture in here and can never seem to find an arrangement that works! I've taken photos of a few of the arrangements that I've tried. Which one looks best? What additional furniture pieces or accessories would make it look better? A floor lamp, area rug, throw pillows? What else?

4. The entertainment unit turned craft storage houses my sewing machine, fabric and an array of crafting supplies and tools. The secretary holds all of my vintage ephemera and stationary supplies. I could definitely use more storage pieces. What kinds of creative storage do you picture added to this space?

What else? I am anxious to hear your ideas! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts! And thank you Debra for this wonderful opportunity! I love the Design Challenge Feature and have really enjoyed reading about the other's you've posted! I can't believe my little project was chosen!

Best Wishes and Blessings,

Thanks so much Amanda, and you're welcome!
Now let's help her with some great ideas to get her creative space into a reality!

 And please leave a comment for Amanda,
 the more ideas the better!

 thanks everyone, we're excited!


  1. Well this is a fun thing to do~here is what I would do if this were my space and requirements: Add long white shelf with series of matching baskets over the wall unit for more storage. Push secretary flat against the wall to right of window. Remove one wing chair,white tables, and wooden chair. Buy a desk in a french writing style in a wood finish like the settee and secretary. Place it in front of the window, but out from the wall facing the dining room. Add one wing chair as the office chair and slipcover it in white or pink linen or cotton. Slipcover the ottoman as well and put that in front of the desk, or in front of the fireplace. Place the settee to the right of the fireplace at an angle like in image 3. Get a floor lamp to stand behind the settee. Instead of the dainty white coffee table, get a vintage trunk, and you can store more craft items inside while preserving the vintage flavor of the room. Hang a plug in chandelier over the desk from a ceiling hook. Tack the cord around the window frame and plug in~this will give the desk some drama and presence. Add a floor length pair of draperies in pink or blue linen that coordinates with the settee fabric and slipcover fabric for the one wing chair and ottoman.

  2. Not sure if I was clear, but the wing chair back will be to the window at the desk, facing the dining room.

  3. I like your room, especially your wing chairs!

    I would start by painting the walls two shades darker than the fireplace tile and, if possible, painting out the gold on the fireplace in black.

    I'd convert your existing cabinet to hold your crafting supplies, etc. and I'd paint it a satin black. I'd also move it further into the corner on an angle & lose the chair. A row of rectangular baskets on top would give you more storage. Then put a sofa table beside it, against the staircase and a piano bench type of stool underneath the table so you could sit at the sofa table to work.

    I think a french script (black on taupe) would be a fun choice for slipcovers, I also think you need some heavier drapes and whatever you choose should be carried into the dining room as a window treatment also.

    I'd get rid of the side tables, place the settee in front of the fireplace with the wing chairs on either side (in a square, if you know what I mean), leaving enough room for the coffee table and space to enter/exit.

    On the mantle, I'd push the largest mirror to one end and layer the other mirrors and the large picture on the other end. I'd take the smaller pieces off and add an orchid in a dark pot or some tall chunky dark candlesticks in front of the large mirror.

    Hope something I've suggested works for you! Have fun with your project.


  4. PS - I'd use your secretary as the computer station. I think a large screen laptop would be a better choice if you want to keep it in your living room. A laptop together with a full size keyboard & mouse is easier to fit into spaces than a desktop computer.

  5. I'm following Debra's suggestion. I didn't read first--but I wanted to. First of all, you have a beautiful space- the arched, curved doorway into the dining room, the beautiful fireplace.I like the wall color. Your room has great potential.
    I think you're on the right track with shirting the queen anne chairs. Save your pin money and get your sofa recovered in a cottage look fabric with a touch of red that will look wonderful with Christmas decor.Don't skirt the sofa.Let those pretty legs show.
    Although I like your white tables, I feel that the scale of them is too small for the room but that's something you can live with while you do the most important things first.
    Window treatments to the floor will add coziness and really make a dramatic difference in the room.
    I'd do the windows and chairs first probably.
    Can't wait to see your results. I know it will look wonderful because you already have a nice beginning.

  6. Hi Amanda, Since you enjoy having some kind of Living Room space, as I know you recently bought that darling white coffee table, I'm going to throw out an idea that maybe you hadn't thought about.
    Why not move your dining room table into this LR space with your existing furniture. You could remove the large craft center and place it into the DR area and then put your DR furniture in this LR space. Buy a farmtable type work table, add a wall unit of shelving or cubbies. Make the DR your creative escape, while still having your beautiful LR and DR when you first come in to your home.
    Find an area rug that's indoor outdoor and easy to clean up, and then you won't have to worry about keeping things always so tidy.
    Then in the between time, I'd cover my wing backs with a white slipcover and you could do a "tie on" slipcover for your settee to match. I think Miss Mustard Seed has shown one she did that's not fitted but has ties that just cover the fabric areas of your settee.
    I know this is a different idea, but one I think might solve some of your issues,
    xoxo, Debra

  7. I saw this picture on the pottery barn website, that you may get some ideas from, its a cottage office...http://www.potterybarn.com/design-studio/decorate/home_offices_gallery.html

  8. I think I would add a some type of oriental rug to help break up the carpet and to help define the room. It would also help to create a more cosy feeling and add some additional color. I would add panels of drapes to the windows, again more color and cosy. You may be able to use the existing drapes a sheers. The pretty secretary in the room I'd try to use as the computer center. I'd try moving the white piece of furniture out of that room it maybe limiting your furniture placement. Plus it appears very white and the furniture is quite dark it might help to remove it. Hope it some small way that helps. good luck. Laura

  9. Hello, what a great room you have to start with. Great bright and creamy color. Your current entertainment center across from the fireplace would make a great crafting station that holds suppies, wrapping paper, ribbon and anything else to keep it at your fingertips. BGH.com has some great ideas on how to make that transformation. I see more casual furniture here. Perhaps a pottery barn sofa and chairs (or something similar) with washable slipcovers. I think a fairly large coffee table would come in handy perhaps something with storage bins or baskets. Craft rooms needs lots of storage (in your case somewhat hidden storage). A good sized desk, (maybe in front of that fabulous window) would give you another work surface, use of computer and more storage. Anyway, good luck. You have great stuff to work with already.

  10. Just call me chicken Ceekay....I LOVE your secretary! Your furniture is fabulous. It is a gorgeous room and I am NO HELP at all! I am sure maybe a bureau of somekind would bring more storage....but with crafting just seems to naturally bring more clutter. So I am deferring to the experts here. Me...do you mind if I just enjoy the room sitting on the settee with a cup of Earl Grey please?

  11. Hi Amanda,
    I have a few ideas for you to toss around.
    First, I din not see that you had asked any advice on painting. If you can, then I would paint. In looking at your space it seems that there is no stopping point between this room and whatever is on the other side of the stairs. iIf so, then choose a color and paint the fireplace wall. Maybe even just a shade or two darker of the color you have in there. ( it is hard to tell if it is beige or yellow). You could also use a complementary color just to make your beautiful fireplace a focal point.
    I see a bit of a library/office space in there. since it is the room first seen by guests it should be lovely and inviting and functional for you.
    Take the settee out and use only the two large blue chairs. I think the can hold their weight against your large fireplace. put them there, turned a tad more toward each other with a rug and the cute white table in front. (The small coffee table). I might slipcover them with simple fabric, such as canvas drop cloths for a less formal yet softer look.Then add a couple of new pillows. The ottoman could be slip covered in the same fabric and placed in front of the right window, for extra seating.
    Take the large octagonal mirror off of the fireplace and use only the three smaller ones with a nice grouping that has been paired own a little. Also, paint the gold in your fireplace black with fireproof spray paint that you can get at Lowes or Home Depot
    Put the Secretary flush on the wall next to the window. Your windows are lovely and need to be seen!
    Consider simple panels that hang all the way to the floor, that you can open and close, perhaps in the same fabric you use to slipcover the chairs.
    If the entertaining unit will fit on the wall to the right of your entrance to the Dining room, move it there. If not get something that would fit there on the wall for your sewing supplies. Perhaps an armoire would work here, something with a more vintage feel.You could paint it a color , perhaps even pink. it would add a bit of your personality to the room:)
    Get yourself a desk, something with pretty legs (like those chairs) and put it in front of the wall that now houses the entertainment unit. Face it towards your fireplace. that way you can enjoy it when you work. there should be enough room so that you can still have traffic through there to your dining room.
    Perhaps you could get one large enough to work on so you can use it for your work as well as for computer work. Speaking of computer work, a laptop might be best her, so you can put it away.
    Finally, not knowing the exact dimensions of your room, if there would be enough room consider hanging shelves behind the desk and placing lovely containers on them for things you need to store. Here you can add beautiful color and pattern. add decorative accents to break up the storage.
    Thanks for the opportunity to share these ideas. I hope you figure out your solution and LOVE this beautiful room!

  12. I would have the settee face the fireplace and much closer. Put the two blue chairs, which I love, facing each other at each end of the settee. Slips would look nice but I really like them now. I would place the secretary against the wall and get a vintage chair place at it. Get a laptop to use at the secretary and then you can leave it open or close it up. I love my laptop. Get a huge amoire or cabinet for the wall that you have the cabinet on now for your crafts. I wish I could remember the blogger that had a armoire that she added a pull down table inside. That would be perfect for your room, too. You can pull it down when crafting and then fold it back up and shut the doors when finished. New drape panels open and just hanging on each side of the windows with woven shades behind them, all hung high, would look great too and updated. Paint the brass on the front of the fireplace with high heat black paint to update that.

    Good luck.

  13. OK, I'm going to try the "whatever enters my head" idea, and I have NOT read any of the other comments!

    First of all, it's a lovely room with gorgeous light. You have small-scale furniture, so I think that will enable you to pull the furniture in further from the walls to make more use of the perimeter of the room. I would suggest an area rug to anchor the "seating area" in front of the fireplace. Maybe the settee would sit parallel to the dining room entrance, and the two wing chairs opposite it (both are 90 degrees to the fireplace). I think if you can find a rug that complements your settee, that it can then give you direction for slipcovers. Next I would look for low cabinets/shelves to sit in front of the windows that flank the fireplace. You may cover up a little of your windows, but not too much, I think. Then you could look for a narrow writing desk/work table that could sit in front of the window next to the door--something like a long sofa table, but hopefully wider with more room to work. A bench or a couple of stools could sit underneath that. The only place I can see for a computer armoire is where your craft center is--but if you gain more storage by the windows, maybe that would be OK. Or maybe you could make the move to a laptop for this room, and store the printer elsewhere? Then I'm thinking of moving the lovely secretary on the short wall on the right of the dining room entrance, if there is not room for it on either side of the front door.

  14. Without reading the other comments, here are my suggestions. I would slipcover the two wing chairs in a blue and tan check gingham,one that matches the colors in your sofa. I don't know the dimensions of the room, but I think that you need at least a 1/2 inch check, maybe larger. Use a ruffled long skirt on each slipcover that begins at the top of the legs. White or light colored slipcovers would be too light with your carpet. Place the chairs on each side of your fireplace. Then place the couch facing the fireplace with the coffee table in front of it. Place a long narrow desk in woodtones matching your secretary, behind the couch. Place two buffet lamps on top of the desk to serve as reading lamps for the sofa and the desk, where you will do your blogging on a laptop that can be stored away. Paint and distress the wentertainment center with blue chalk paint. Hang blue or blue and beige striped curtain panels all the way to the floor at the windows.I would movw the secretary to the wall right where you first enter the room flat on the wall beside the window Also I would paint the room beige with a white trim.

  15. I am having a Halloween Giveaway... Come on over!!

  16. Your home is beautiful.And I love all of your furniture.But I think you may have too much for that room.I would move that french secretary into your dining room.Have you thought of reupholstering your chairs with painters canvas?I have seen this done.And it is pretty easy if you can sew.And can be cheaply done as well.Maybe a lighter color on your Victorian settee(as far as the wood part I would paint it and antique it).I also would remove the smaller table.I think a free standing lamp or chandelier in the center of the room would be really pretty.If you could find an old wood chest that could be painted those are great for storage.And you can still use the top to decorate.

  17. Well, not sure about the space situation, but I would put the settee facing the fireplace, out in the room and then put the two blue chairs on each side to form a U shape sitting area. Then I would put a large library type table or desk in front of the window where the sofa is now and use that for your crafting. Use the chair beside the craft cabinet at the desk. Can you move the secretary to the dining room? Find some inexpensive bookcases and place them on each side of the white unit and fill them with pretty things you want to display and baskets to hide the things you don't. That should give you twice the storage you have now. Good luck, I can't wait to see what you do. Hugs, Marty

  18. Hi, I'm not an interior decorator but I have a few comments. I would use a pink for the wingback chairs. I love the pink color in the flower on hour white table. I would do floor to ceiling drapes in a color to blend with the walls. For my extra craft storage I buy wood chests and paint them to co-ordinate with my room and use them as coffee tables and space fillers and I often stack them.

  19. What a great room!! I sure do hope the settee is kept in the room - what a great piece of furniture!! Maybe put it in front of the fireplace to do handwork on those soon to be cold nights. A floor lamp would be good too. The secretary and tv armoire would be great to use to fill with crafting things.

    bee blessed

  20. Amanda, I like your ideas of an armoire (maybe even 2 matching ones to hold everything!) The chairs would look great with slip covers too. It's a great room:) Can't wait to see what you do and what everyone comes up with.

  21. I am feeling so very inspired and so blessed! Thank you all for the fabulous ideas! You've given me so much to think about! WOW!

  22. I'm dying to read everyone else's comments, but I won't...at least not yet. First thoughts, LOVE the secretary! Also like the blue chairs and mantel. I do not like the 2 blue chairs pushed up in front of the fp, even though I understand that it's so you can view the tv. In this house I live in now, my 5th, our tvs are positioned above the fp, and I hate it b/c I love to decorate my mantel. That being said, I think you should have a cable outlet installed above the fp and move the tv up there, that way, the sofa can face the fp/tv and the chairs can flank each side. That would leave the hutch wall free for a desk or moving the secretary to. Not to hurt your feelings, and I understand sentimental reasons, etc., but I really don't like the settee. When funds allow, I would trade it out for the around $400 white sofa from IKEA, that way you could accessorize with pops of color, keep the blue chairs and add curtains like Miss Mustard Seed's, or a similar type hip fabric. White sofa would allow for accessorizing with many other colors, coral, aqua, taupe, etc. Just my opinion, for what it's worth. Really like how you have the mantel decorated. I still decorate mine and added wall sconces. Can't remember if you have them up or not, either electric or candles. I have one of each in my 2 tv rooms, so they both work. Good luck!

  23. Hi Amanda, what a great room and I love all the natural light it gets! You have beautiful pieces in their as well. I would try moving the settee away from the window to about where the coffee table is and then move the two wingbacks opposite it, so there backs are facing the dining room and if there's room you could put your end table between them or maybe shop your house for a smaller one. I love where you have your secretary, I would push it flat against that wall and open it so it can be used as your desk and then take that little accent chair you have and use it as your desk chair. I would definitely change out your lace curtains for panels left open and add woven shades to the window. Your window size seems standard. You could go to Lowes or Home Depot for the woven shades and there not a lot of money because they wouldn't be custom ordered. I would even bring the same window treatments into your dining room too. Can't wait to see what you come up with:) Martina

  24. PS-- forgot about your ottoman, that could be placed right in front of your fireplace. Martina

  25. My first ever design suggestion on a blog. You have some beautiful pieces of furniture. Because of the location of this room by the front door, I think it will be hard to transform into a craft area, unless you have someone who could build custom pieces for you.

    Layout: I would put the two wingbacks to the left of the fireplace & leave the secretary where it is. Arrange the loveseat across from them but closer together so that the white coffee table does not look so small. Exchange the step side table for a round one; white so that it goes with the coffee table. Put a sofa table/desk behind the sofa with the small arm chair used there. (With wireless computer everything now, you could have separate/hide your components in different areas of the room.)
    The ottoman is a challenge. Once it is slip-covered, it might look good next to the stairs with stacked books as a small end table.

    I think the drapes should be floor to ceiling.

    If you could find a tall, large armoir to replace the white entertainment/craft storage unit that would be wonderful. If not, then I would at least antique the white cabinet. Add crown molding to the top, change the hardware to be a little more elaborate & put glass in the doors instead of curtains. If you could put glass and use Krylon looking glass spray paint on the glass, the doors would look so good. By antiquing the cabinet, baskets would look good on top, as well as stacked to its side.

    I don't know how creative I could be in that room, but I know I could certainly be cozy. Lucky you for having such a pretty home.

  26. I think you have great space but I would flip some of your furniture around. i would put the secretary against the wall and move the table into the room in front of the big window. I would slip cover the chairs in white or taupe and put a small seating arrangement close to the fireplace so that others could sit there while you were working. I would move everything else to the dining area...Craigs list is a great place to pick up stands and shelving items. Dianntha

  27. The first thing that I noticed when looking at the pictures and reading is you do not want it to be formal, but the couch seems to be so formal. I know you mentioned about slipcovering the chairs, how about the sofa too. I took a look at your blog and you have lots of pink and white, I don't see as much of that in this room. I definately think you need to have an area rug. Why not bring the sofa with the back to the dinning room and put a table behind it for working on craft projects. You can also use the table for your displaying. I love the wingbacks and I think slipcovers will bring the comfy into the room. I would definately agree about an amoire to hold all of your necessities in, along with some shelves for storage. Dressers work really well for display and holding crafts too, they do not have to only be used in the bedroom. Heck, I have one in the living room and kitchen, the big drawers hold a lot. Don't get too caught up on how it should look, work on what you like and it will come together. Good luck.

  28. How about creating several different zones in the room? Perhaps the wing chairs facing each other in front of the fireplace with the ottoman slipcovered in white (and skirted!)... nice and cozy. Put a pretty silver tray on the ottoman. Perhaps the desk on an angle facing out from one of the corners. I would put the $ into a laptop so you don't have to cover it up and can move it wherever you please. If you get an armoire, maybe it could store your craft supplies with lots of shelving. Take the wood chair and use it behind the desk. . Perhaps the settee could be used along the wall near the staircase or in front of the window. Your wingbacks are so pretty, not sure I would recover them. You have so many pretty pieces; wish I could help you move furniture around here and there--that's my favorite thing to do. Good luck!

  29. Hi Amanda,
    I was confused by the different furniture arrangements.
    I would make the fire place the focal point by placing the settee to face it, with your two wing chairs on either side of the fire place. I would upholster them in a cream. You can buy them inexpensively online. Maybe paint the room a cream.
    Good luck. the room has good bones.


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