Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Design Challenge: Mary's Living Room

 Hi Everyone, today we're helping out Mary from Mary's Meanderings. She has a lovely Victorian Living Room that she will be updating soon. Mary has a large space with lots of furniture, which brings with it some decorating questions. Let's help her out with some ideas and inspiration.
Don't get overwhelmed with all that Mary wants to do. Just pick one or two things you'd like to comment on. 

Here's Mary, "in her own words"...

We are blessed to live in an old (approx 100 yrs old) home. It has lots of character and many quirks too. When Debra at Common Ground started her Design Challenge series I just knew that I wanted to be a part of it as I love reading all the great ideas you ladies come up for decorating challenges.

My design challenge right now is our living room. It is a large room with pretty wood trim and we spend winter in this room as it has a wood burning stove which is our primary source of heat. Therein lies one of the problems. That fireplace and mantel is off centered in this room which makes seating arrangements troublesome for me.

The other issue is that I would like to put our beautiful armoire/ entertainment center in this room so we can watch movies now and then (we don’t have cable, or dish so just watch a movie or 2 once in a while.)

Before I go much further let me show you the room so you can get an idea of the needs.

Picture l- this picture is taken from the front door-This would be the south wall in the room-

Going in clockwise manner, Picture 2 is the wall to the right which has the fireplace/wood stove and then a picture window .This is the west wall. My piano is in front of the window and the lace is covering the back-

Another view of west wall (there is a chair behind the bunny arrangement)

Picture 3 is the next wall which has 2 more massive windows (the window coverings were in the house when we bought it. When we took the ceiling wallpaper down to rewire the house we found that they had remodeled this room Dec.1, 1950 (it is written on the ceiling along with the decorator’s names ) Supposedly the owner spent $5000.00 to have these window treatments made which was a lot of money then- geez it’s a lot of money now to me!) To the right of the windows is the front door. It is the north wall so the light that comes through is not bright as such.

East Wall- for those of you wondering , the wallpaper is murals of the 4 seasons in Victoria era. It will be coming down and walls painted.

Picture 4 is the wall opposite the fireplace (the East Wall)- The door leads to the pretty front guest bedroom I redid this spring.

To the right of the doorway is where I was thinking of putting the armoire/entertainment unit which is pictured here-

It could also go on the wall shown in Picture 1- where the book case is.
So these are the things I would love to get some ideas on for this room-

1. TV corner area arrangement
2. seating in front of fireplace-
3. be nice to have more of an entry way feel at front door.
4. The desk behind the settee was so useful last winter for blogging and would like to maybe use it again somewhere in the room if possible.
5. I will be painting this room in the Spring and would love some help on color choices. The trim will be kept stained though I would love to paint it (have to make DH happy too). The window treatments will also be staying. The rooms windows are to the north so with the dark fabric I would like to give it a lighter look which might not be possible.
6.This room adjoins the dining room which also will be getting painted – should I paint both rooms the same color?
7.Oh- the wood floors are a lighter color then the stained woodwork- should I do something different to the floors or woodwork or would an area rug or 2 work to pull it together and if so suggestions.
8.The Victorian style sofa will also be undergoing a new look- slipcover? Upholstery? What kind of fabric?

I have 2 wing back chairs that I can borrow from another room and I am sure some of these items will not fit in a new arrangement though I would like to keep the piano, round ottoman and have a desk area too.

Oh geez can you see just what a bucketful of decisions I need help making!!!??

Well dear ladies I could just go on and on with all the questions I have for all you amazing bloggers but will stop for now and wait for all your heavenly suggestions!!! Thank you so very much for taking the time to give me your suggestions and ideas!

Thank you Debra for giving me the opportunity to to be of this great Decorating Challenge!!

Bee Blessed!

You're very welcome, Mary. Thanks for sharing your lovely home with us for Design Challenge!

Now it's blogland's turn. You don't have to be a decorator to leave a comment. Please just go with your intuition. That is what a designer would do. They listen to the client, then they present their own ideas.  So let's share our thoughts and ideas for an update with Mary. Keep in mind her ideas, but don't be afraid to share your own.

Thanks everyone in advance!



  1. Hi Mary, This is somewhat of a difficult dilemma. I'm going to suggest two different seating areas. Take everything out of the room so you can edit. I'd bring in the two wing chairs for either side of the fireplace creating a cozy spot, turn your larger sofa around. I'd try putting the writing desk behind the sofa again, but this time in the Fireplace area.
    For your armoire I'd place it where the bookshelves are, but I think I'd try angling it in that corner first to see how it worked. This would be your second seating area.
    If you have to keep your window treatments then I'd go with a grayish putty color that compliments the fireplace and the draperies. But if you can let go of the drapes I think you'd have a spectacular space. Draperies now do not cost an arm and a leg, and I think less is always more when it comes to window treatments.
    Unifying your sofas and chairs with slipcovers in an oatmeal or natural linen-like material would be what I would do. Then accent with a variety of pillows and patterns.
    Visually there's a lot going on in here. Painting will help tremendously. Because this is such a large room with so much light I think you can use a medium hued paint no matter what.
    I'll check back in later.

  2. Hi there, Richard here from, My Old Historic House, It is hard to tell what a room really looks like when you can not stand in it. It is also hard to tell what a persons wants from pictures like these and a list as you have give. To me it looks like you have a lot of nice things in this room. It also appears you have many different styles and feelings. There is an English country book case, a wagon, a French Sofa, a club sofa and the fire place and book shelves are Arts and Crafts. The window treatments are very heavy and they kinda state that you want a formal room and maybe even Victorian? If you do not want a formal room, or a Victorian room, you might want to take them away. One could lighten them up a little by taking down the panels and leaving the swags. It doesn't matter if they cost $100,000. if they do not work, they do not work. I like your suggestion of removing the murals, where they are very pretty, they make the room busy and seem to cut it into sections. I think a wood stove would be nice and what I would suggest is making a couple of areas with in the one room. Weed out. Take every thing out, paint and then start adding back in. If you want a casual French look, use the wardrobe and the French sofa. If you want an English country look, use the book case and the club sofa and put the two wing chairs over by the fire place. If you use the ward robe or the book case, either could be the home of a TV. I would consider the English look as it tends to go along with the Arts and Craft fireplace and built ins, unless you want to re do them as well. It is hard to mix all theses styles and not have a common theme. I would give this room a lot of thought and think about the direction you want to go and the rest should be easy.Maybe you could re -use the swags in another room, dining or bed room. They are lovely, but very formal and very heavy. This coming from me, that has a very heavy Victorian home. The wall color would depend on the sofa coverings. If you plan on having them re done or slip covered, you could choose the fabric first and then the wall color. Also if you are to leave the curtains you would need a color to work with them. If you are going to use the sofas and chairs as they are, you would probably need to go with a netural color, like off white or pale gray. Now if you empty the room and put the furniture in a pile, figure out what direction you want to go, and come back, it would be much easier to help you. I hope you can make this the rooms of your dream. Thanks for sharing your home. Richard

  3. PS.I would consider putting the piano up against a wall as it looks a little off with a lace curtain behind it. If you have to, have to, leave it out in the room, I would consider spending a little cash and having a nice finished back put on it. Thanks one more time. Richard

  4. wow i think the room is probably large but with all what is going on and those heavy drapes it seems small. so i agree clear it all out use a neutral wall color . personally i would lose the drapes and enjoy those windows, they are way too heavy and dated. i love the fireplace so would style accordingly. good luck the bones of the room are fab

  5. Hi Mary, I also think the room would look a lot bigger and lighter with just drapery panels on the windows. Maybe you could use the drapes in another room. I would move out the small sofa and bring in the two wingbacks. Use a neutral color on the walls in both this room and the dining room. Love the armoire and the French chest. Best of luck.

  6. Those tablecloths are gorgeous. The 1st one is so elegant, and the third one is so shabby chic. Well, this are great inspiration photographs. Planting in room is best for pure breath.
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  7. Hi Mary, me again. I think that the main theme in the comments has been "simplify". Unifying furniture with slipcovers, painting the walls a nice neutral color, taking that big step to free those windows up with lighter drapery panels and sheers or shades. Also editing and creating intimate seating areas will help too. You have a wonderful large space. I have to say I'm so envious of that amazing armoire. It will be a wonderful addition to that room!
    I can't wait to see how it all turns out, please let us see your results!
    xoxo, Debra

  8. Debra, Yes I think the word "simplify" is it! Thank you Richard for helping me see the different styles that is going on with the furniture- The comments have given me much to think on and I thank everyone for their help!

    bee blessed

  9. Wow! This space has TONS of potential and so many gorgeous design elements for you to work with! Hmmmm...my initial reaction was to create 2 separate seating areas so that you don't have competing focal points. I saw that Debra said something along those lines as well! :-) I can picture them "floating" in the middle of the room. One set of chairs or a sofa facing the fireplace and back to back with another sofa or chairs which would face the entertainment center. Not many people have rooms big enough for this so you are one lucky lady! I think then the room will actually feel much more open that way. I would then move the piano over to the wall where the bookcase currently is and perhaps the bookcase could be moved elsewhere? You have beautiful pieces to work with and I just know it will all be absolutely lovely when you work your magic on it. Thanks for taking us along for the ride! :-)


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