Category Archives: Furnish It

Ashley’s Living Room

So you’re moving into a new apartment with a living area that’s a little snug, and need to figure out the right furniture layout?  Let’s see if we can help some.

Here’s Ashley’s new apartment (furnishings not staying, they are courtesy of the current tenant).  What, you don’t like the couch snuggling to that built in?   😉

living area closest to entry (left side of space)

That’s the side of the living area that is closest to the main entry.  This next photo is looking across the room, and the kitchen is to the right before the dining area.  Great, big, windows by the way.

view from entry towards right side of room (dining area)

We don’t have all the measurements or much sense for style preferences, but here goes.

The first thing to do is envision how you would use this space.  How many people do you want to fit comfortably, and what activities do you want the space to function for?  Ashley wants a space that will allow them to entertain, but most importantly that will be functional, cool, and comfy.

They own a 47″ TV, which needs to be considered when determining the furniture plan.  A TV this size typically requires a minimum of 6 feet viewing distance, but preferably 9 feet.  With a total room width of 9 feet (fireplace wall to opposite wall), if you are looking for *optimal* viewing that means the TV would flip to face the length of the room since you need to factor in seating, fireplace, etc.

This plan places the TV to the left upon entry to provide optimal viewing distance from a couch.

With this plan you can see the TV from the couch and dining area, if that is desired.  In any plan it is really important to consider the main circulation path, which for this room is from the left entry to the kitchen entry (right, before dining area).  It is also important to create a conversational arrangement where chairs and sofas face into each other.

If you need additional seating you could place a small profile bench along that circulation path with some throw cushions, or even a few movable ottomans which won’t be too intrusive.  The bench could also have storage underneath.

tufted cushion from Urban Outfitters

Here is another plan with the TV left.

This plan also places the TV left, with 2 chairs flanking the fireplace and a couch opposite.

This plan does not provide optimal viewing of the TV for most of the proposed seating.  This is OK if the TV is not to be the focus of the space, but rather you want a comfortable conversational arrangement and to maintain an open feel between the dining and living areas.   That is a good consideration if you entertain more people and some will overflow into the dining nook.

Here’s a third plan that keeps the TV facing the length of the space, but now it’s on the right side.

This plan offers a clear divide between the dining and living areas, keeping the TV facing the length of the space.

This places the TV in a room divider between the living and dining areas.  If you want a clear separation between the spaces, this could be a good option but you’ll have to walk around that chair.  Here’s a visual of the TV divider concept…

Create division between the spaces with an interesting TV stand.

The final option is to flip the TV to the right upon entry, placing it opposite of the fireplace.  This would allow you to enjoy both the fireplace and the TV, but consider that the seating arrangement will require you to turn your head to watch TV unless you are lying on the couch.

This plan places the TV opposite the fireplace.

You could do 2 couches facing each other, or 1 couch and 2 chairs, or 1 couch and 1 large chair.  It all depends on what would be most functional for your use of the space.  The biggest thing you need to consider with this plan is how you will handle your TV components.  Since this is a main circulation path you really should maintain a 3 foot path.  If you put the TV on that right wall then you need to consider how far the TV will jet into this walkway even if mounted on the wall, what you will do with all of your components (do you need a stand, too), and how annoyed you will be when everyone walks directly in front of the TV to go in and out of the room.

At this point we would want to hear from you as to what plan best accommodates your preferences and how you see using the space.  Each offers its pros and cons, so which do you think would be most functional?

You may be asking why we don’t propose to put the TV over the fireplace so everything is on one wall.  It’s not a stellar idea, especially in a space this narrow and with that size TV.  We guarantee an instant and painful neck strain if you do it.  When you are seated you should be comfortably looking straight ahead, not up.

Now let’s talk furniture.  Given the size of this space, we have proposed loveseats for couches.   Somewhere around 5′ is most ideal, a little bigger would be OK depending on the final configuration.  The style you pick is also important – a tailored look and smaller profile will really help in making the space feel larger.

Company C Parker armless 68 inches

Anthropologie Astrid sette, 60 inches wide

Anthropologie Astrid sette, 60 inches wide

John Derian Dromedary sofette, 56 inches wide

Chairs will depend on which plan you go with.  Side by side chairs should be smaller profile, but if you pick a plan with single chairs you can go larger and more comfy.  You could even consider a smaller rocking chair.

West Elm Ryder Rocking Chair

Using ottomans is going to be key in this space as they can be multipurpose – additional seating, coffee table, leg rest (necessity with small sofas).

matching small scale ottoman-tables

You could do something like this pouf from West Elm.

West Elm Andalusia Dhurrie Pouf

Or an upholstered one with legs.

West Elm Turned-Leg Dhurrie Ottoman

You could even throw some floor pillows in there in front of the fireplace to soften up that tiled hearth.

And place a mirror above the fireplace to create a larger sense of space as well as add a place where light can bounce and reflect (also note shelves here which we will get to).

Use a rug to define the living area space, but don’t allow the edge of the rug to intrude into the circulation path.  Either have it cover the entire path, or stop just short of it.

And lastly, for that recessed area over by the dining area we love the idea of built in shelves for additional storage.  There are a few fun options.  You could paint or wallpaper the back wall, and/or paint the shelves.  Place them in a  random pattern like this.

random shelving

Or mount them straight across.  You can go to home depot and have them cut boards to the exact size, and then mount them with brackets (go find some salvage ones and paint them, or Ikea has lots of cheap options).   You could also use hardware that will allow them to appear as they are floating.

shelves with painted brackets

Or how about wallpapering the shelves?  Consider even making that little nook a desk area, if you need one.

wallpaper shelves

OK Ashley, so hopefully we gave you some ideas and we can’t wait to see what you come up with!!

Does anyone have a favorite plan?

Happy weekend!



Filed under Decorate It, Furnish It, Spaces, Store it


What do you do when you want the look and feel of real wood, but can’t afford – or don’t want to deal with – the solid kind?  You put some Treefrog on.

Treefrog Veneer, that is.

Do you love exotic woods but the price tag, especially the shipping tag, makes you run screaming?  Do you have cabinetry that could use a modern facelift because we are way beyond the 80s now?  Do you prefer surfaces that aren’t filled with natural imperfections?  Then you gotta check this stuff out.

What’s the story?

It’s real wood.  And 5 of their most popular veneers are real – FSC certified – wood.  Meaning the wood comes from forests that are regulated by strict environmental, social, and economical standards as certified by a 3rd party. They use common and fast growing species like poplar and turn it into exotic responsible look-alikes.

It’s HPL-backed, meaning you can install it like any other laminate.  Check with your supplier for recommended adhesives.

It’s pre-finished, so no worrying about how it will really look when all is said and done.  It’s free of imperfections, so no unnecessary waste or planning due to the condition of a slab.  Don’t get me wrong, imperfections can be beautiful!  But sometimes they aren’t the right look especially for cabinetry, and they can make installation a nightmare.  All depends what you are going for.

The dyes are water-based, so no sketchy chemicals to concern your health with.

Here are some fancy installations.

black macassar

walnut crown

black oak

Our color pick is they Grey Oak Groove paired with a clean white solid surface and pop of color.  

grey oak groove paired with ModDotz glazed porcelain tiles in pistachio

How about on cabs like this?  Gorgeousness.

Oh but this one is sooooooo fun too!

coffee bubinga burl

Pick out one you love here.

See…. I do love imperfections…

I won’t bore you with the process of how veneers are made, but it’s pretty cool.  You can read more here.

Sheet sizes are 4’x8′.  Recommended installations are vertical surfaces and horizontal surfaces that will get lighter wear.  Typical substrates are plywood, MDF, particleboard, sheetrock, and rigid plastics.

Clean with a soft cloth using mild soap and water or non-abrasive glass and wood cleaning products. Wipe up any spills immediately.

Got anything you want to put a Treefrog on?

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Vintage Romance

Happy ♥ Day!  Here we are on this romantic…er…Tuesday.  It’s a day to give little tokens of affection to the people we love.  Some of you will be celebrating with a nice romantic dinner out {jealous}, some will be getting together to celebrate special friendships {jealous}, some will be enjoying family time at home {hopefully with a yummy dinner}, and some will be excited for today to be over quickly {hang in there}.  Whatever your plans, and whomever you are spending your time with, today is about relationships.  Our homes play a role in our relationships, and can even stir up some romance.

Dear Nicole banner@ Etsy

New Orleans completely exudes romance to me.  We find our way there atleast once a year to get our fix.  The architecture, design, music, food, people… its that wonderful mix of old world with french, vintage, and urban.  My favorite design element is their ceiling heights, which means very tall windows and very tall doors {jealous}.  My second favorite are the amazing romantic details you will find all over their architecture.  Look at these gorgeous scroll corbels and red shutters. ♥

Romantic design uses colors, textures, patterns, furnishings, and lighting.  I love the mix of modern and old world elements to create interiors that are both luxurious and comfortable.  How can a space be romantic if it is not comfortable?  Here are a few spaces that make me want to cozy up.

A great example of mixing design elements.  You’ve got the formal wall paneling, embellished fireplace, and high ceilings mixed with comfy modern seating and a furry rug that I want to snuggle with.  That chandelier seals the romance for me. ♥

A romantic piece of furniture.  The mix of a victorian style bed frame with modern tapered luxurious bedding.  I love it when bedding isn’t smothered in frills so you can just enjoy the simplicity of comfort.  Oh, and how about that low hanging chandelier?  ♥

Here’s a similar concept mixing old world shapes and modern textures. ♥

The wingback chair dates back to the 1700s when they were typically placed next to a fire.  The design intention was to prevent drafts from reaching the person sitting in the chair, as well as enclosing them in warmth from the fire.   The concept translates well to the wingback bed, which is perfect for creating a cozy nook.  Paired here with a modern romantic cascading chandelier. ♥

And then there is romance through color.  Red is the most emotionally intense and passionate color.  It instantly brings energy to any space.  Because of the emotion and energy that red can bring to a space, I love it as an accent.  That way it will draw your eye through a space and create depth, but not completely dominate it.

This is so New Orleans.  The vintage louvered doors , tall window, casually draped curtain.  And the tufted velvet club chair creates some romantic drama. ♥

How about this for romantic drama?  An enormous red wingback love seat. ♥

A pink tufted victorian style sofa and glam chandelier begin to set the stage. Pink exudes passion, but typically in a more tranquil way.

And one of my favorites… a red modern flower chair.  I’m in love.  ♥

So today I’m pretty excited that the previous owners of our barn left behind a comfy red velvet down filled queen anne couch.  It has some flaws, but I love that.  We will be drinking a glass of red wine and toasting our budget vintage loving romance tonight {don’t look too close at the cat hairs}.



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Filed under Decorate It, Furnish It, Ramblings

Tangerine Tango

 “Orange is the happiest color.” — Frank Sinatra

Pantone’s 2012 color of the year is Tangerine Tango,  a ‘spirited reddish orange’.

Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, says this about the color:  “It has some sophistication, but at the same time it has energy. It’s a color that symbolizes a need to recharge our batteries. With orange there’s always that undertone of friendliness and warmth.”   Love it!

Pantone’s color of the year influences interiors, fashion, print, and web design trends.  Bring it into your home through accessories to revive your decor this year.  Color affects us all differently, so consider the preferences you have. Orange is said to stimulate energy, appetite and socialization.  In China and Japan, orange is used to symbolize happiness and love.  American Indians associate the color orange with kinship.

Here are a few fun ways to bring tangerine into your home.  We love it with blue!

our mood board

and some spaces we love…

at the door

up the stairs

on the furniture

on the ceiling

on the wall

for the kids

in the bedroom

You feeling the energy?

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Filed under Decorate It, Furnish It, Ramblings, Spaces, Textile It

to kalon: The beautiful.

“To be kalon is more than being beautiful; it is having a beauty that both is and inspires excellence.  The Greeks believed that an object that was kalon had a beauty powerful enough to inspire excellence in those who beheld it.”

Meet Kalon Studios.

We’ve found a Los Angeles husband and wife team who have perfected the art of sustainable furniture.  Each piece is handcrafted from materials that are  harvested responsibly, non-toxic, made in the USA, and constructed to last for generations.

Toxins in furniture?  Yup, it’s a little ingredient called formaldehyde which is prominently found in adhesives that bind particleboard, plywood, medium-density fiberboard (MDF), and other pressed wood materials such as bamboo. Many mass produced products are made with these types substrates because they are a lower cost alternative.   Formaldehyde is a human carcinogen.  Here is a little information pulled directly from the EPA website.

Formaldehyde, a colorless, pungent-smelling gas, can cause watery eyes, burning sensations in the eyes and throat, nausea, and difficulty in breathing in some humans exposed at elevated levels (above 0.1 parts per million). High concentrations may trigger attacks in people with asthma…. It has also been shown to cause cancer in animals and may cause cancer in humans.  Health effects include eye, nose, and throat irritation; wheezing and coughing; fatigue; skin rash; severe allergic reactions. May cause cancer. May also cause other effects listed under “organic gases.” 

We are sensitive to budgets, but….

common ingredient in furniture.

…sometimes you need to weigh pros and cons.  Shop around.  Ask lots of questions. What are the materials?  How is it constructed (glues)?  What is the finish?  Our general rule of thumb – the closer the product is to its natural state, the healthier it will be.

The Kalon designs are modern, clean, high quality, free of hidden toxins and full of nature.  Our top pick is the Ioline Dresser with Changing Trunk, made of zero formaldehyde and FSC certified bamboo and  birch.  It is finished with a white paint that is Green Guard Certified and 100% non-toxic, as well as Kalon’s non-toxic wood oil.  You can also get the trunk with Kalon’s signature motifs, which we just love.

Ioline Dresser & Changing Trunk

Our second pick is the Isometric Table, with it’s super slim top and modern leg design to give a great sense of balance.  This table is hand-crafted in New England using 100% all-natural, non-toxic, and sustainable materials.  Wood options include FSC certified bamboo, black cherry, black locust, black walnut or maple and all are finished with Kalon’s non-toxic wood oil.  Comes in 3 size options.

Isometric Table

Pieces like these may not be in your budget, but perhaps we have given you some simple things to consider as you look at future purchases.  You may end up having to buy several lower priced pieces over the years, rather than one quality toxin-free piece that will last for generations.

What’s your favorite?



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Giving thanks for my farm table.

Today Im really thankful for our farm table.  For the first year ever, we can actually host a Thanksgiving in our new home with our new table.  No one will be bumping the walls when they pull their chairs out, hitting their heads on artwork, and no heavy leaves to pull out of the basement.  Our last table was a beautiful heirloom, but if I even looked at it without a tablecloth it would scratch.

our farm table

A little history.  The farm table was one of the first furnishings in American farm houses, used primarily as worktables in the kitchen for baking, prepping, canning preserves or even washing a baby.  These tables were not made by skilled craftsmen, but by those who were going to use them.  Designed and built for the functions they were to serve.   The farm table is known for its long narrow proportions, created by running the wood boards across the entire length.  Perfect for sitting 8 of our closest friends and family.

our table in the barn @ Columbary House Antiques

We stumbled across our little gem in Cape Neddick, Maine this past July.  Columbary House Antiques is a quaint antique shop on 1A.  The barn behind the main house is open from May-October, and that’s where we found our table being used to display all sorts of other treasures.  How fun is it when you find something that you love immediately?  We learned from the shop owner that this table had been custom built for it’s previous owner.  It is made from reclaimed chestnut wood – full of worm holes, nail holes, cracks, and other imperfections.  The more imperfections, the more character…and the less we need to fuss about keeping it pristine with a toddler and cats that like to perch on it when we aren’t looking.  It requires no maintenance beyond your basic (non-toxic) household spray.

We are just a few hours away from sitting at the table to enjoy some amazing food – thanks to my husband, one of the best cooks I know.  We will laugh and chat with those we love.  Thanksgiving tasks us with relaxing and reflecting on the things that truly matter, and thinking about those who can’t be with us.   Friends, family, food, good thoughts and a comfortable home.

We hope you have a wonderful and special day with yours!

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