Making A Room: the living room.

I wish I knew what makes one home come together easier than another. Most of ours have required some amount of renovation, which you hope produces the perfect blank canvas to launch the ideal interior design. It does not always work out that way.

Sometimes there’s rooms of furniture to be purchased, which hopefully makes for the perfect layout. Or maybe a home requires serious downsizing, which almost always leaves me with a few of something I should have gotten rid of but didn’t.

Design is definitely the process of solving problems.

So for this (non-running) post, I thought we could document the evolution of one of the rooms in this house. For whatever reason, every room seems to be taking their dear sweet time, giving us time to tag along on the journey. Take our living room, for example.


Bodies were placed in Parlors when influenza ran rampant after World War I causing it to become known as the ‘Death Room’. The Ladies Home Journal suggested that with the return of socialization and happiness after the outbreak subsided, the room should be ‘livened’ up, and thus the term ‘Living Room’ came to be. This is the story of ours.

Design Rule No. 1: Deal with the elephant(s) first. 

How wonderful when a room has a focal point – architectural windows, a brick wall, or grand fireplace. Focal points should stand out, say the world’s best designers, although they should only be noticed after one has laid eyes on the one design element with the most dominance in the room (or, however many design elements of dominance one might possess).

Our living room has ‘three elephants’: an oversized armoire, piano, and a herd of wild horses.

Design Rule No. 2: Be sure you can walk around the room.


We crammed all the furniture into the center of the room while the rest of the house was being renovated. Then we moved everything all around the room several times before finalizing on a plan where the piano was at the back and the armoire was at the front. And positively amazingly – we could walk around the room.

A room is never really finished in my view until it has drapes, although it took awhile to make a decision (the bag on the chair in the photo below is the loaner drape we ultimately ordered).



Design Rule No. 3: Add the human touch.

Fabric, more than any other tactile element in design, has the ability to humanize our interiors.

Interiors by Karla J. Nielsen and David A. Taylor, McGraw-Hill

When my son had an unavoidable meeting at work during my visit a couple of weeks ago, I searched out the nearest fabric store, and spent the entire day there. Most of my hunt revolved around fabric for the window seat cushions, but it wouldn’t have mattered if I had needed nothing at all. The hunt would have still lasted all day.

The Textile Discount Outlet in Chicago, Illinois has been in business for more than 30 years with over 13 rooms and 75,000 sq feet of fabric. I never made it to all 13 rooms, but spent a good deal of time in the upholstery room where every fabric was on sale for just $5/yard. There were also dozens of full upholstery hides. I carried the green one around with me all day (seen on the top shelf in the photo below), but ultimately put it back when I couldn’t think of anywhere to use it.



There were several boxes at the back of one room with a gazillion million slip covers and pillow shams. I had to stand on my head several times to reach the bottom of the box, but finally found two pillow covers for the sofa.


The drapery color is the same color we used on all the doors, and it’s the same color of our refrigerator. We thought the hair-on hide of the small ottoman was black until we saw it in the sunlight of this room. Turns out it’s blue too!

The Berber Kammlah Baby Mac Ottoman by E.J. Victor upholstered in shaved hair-on leather.





4 thoughts on “Making A Room: the living room.

  1. I’m in awe of your vision, dedication and energy!!! And I love the story about why we call it a ‘living room’ Marcia – so glad there are talented people like you in the world for this kind of inspiration. You should start a Haywood County home tour for a good cause. Many would be fascinated by how this room came together.


    1. Thanks Maria, you’re too kind, but I do appreciate the encouragement. Sometimes I begin to wonder if I can really pull these rooms together. Thanks for reading! Talk to you soon.


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