I’ve been collecting images of living spaces for literally years and they are all along similar themes, so looking at these helped crystalize an idea of the kind of look I would ideally like to achieve. But what about how to use and live in the space? That’s something different…
What do you want and what do you need?
I have a big table. I have the space so why not, but also I want to be able to make things and leave them out mid-project and still have space to eat at one end of the table. I almost always eat at the table.
I have a big apartment but only one bedroom so the living room doubles as a guest room. I have a sofa bed and bought a dividing shelf with storage boxes for the guest to store their stuff. I was pleased with how this arrangement worked and want to retain it.
The living room is all about the big bay window. It’s massive and it overlooks trees, trams and a church. It’s perfect for staring out of. The downside of the window is the ugly radiator below it. It works though and it’s a warm room so I can’t and won’t complain (too much).
When I am relaxing or tired I like to be in a cozy corner. The living room opens on to the kitchen and ideally I would have separate rooms, but again the ceilings are high and there’s so much light and space I cannot complain (too much).
What do you actually do?
Sure, I love that grey comfy chair and footstool; it’s so classy! But I sit in the bouncy chair with the pretty blanket and steal the footstool from the grey chair.
I sit at the end of the table when I am eating alone so that I can bring over the laptop (plugged in) and watch some lame series. I know I should just be concentrating on enjoying my food, chew chew chew etc.
Watching the Clock
In the morning I eat my breakfast and I sit at the end of the table so that I can look at the clock on the church and wonder why do I have to go to work again today?! (I only work 4 days a week at the moment so, again, why am I complaining?) I also watch to see if it’s raining. I do the same thing if I’m going out to a class; I need to leave the house on time eat faster eat faster!
The sofa bed
Is for sleeping on. I never sit on it unless I am doing something for about 2 minutes. I sometimes put a book on it or some fabric I like looking at. And cushions, there are pretty cushions. It’s basically just a big ornament until I have visitors.
So what’s the problem?
The main problem is I don’t like looking at or ‘feeling’ the kitchen. My ‘cozy corner’ backs on to the kitchen and I can feel the bin behind me. If I sit in the classy chair or the bouncy chair I am facing the kitchen.
The kitchen is visually noisy. It’s a good looking kitchen and it’s pretty tidy and not a big deal to keep tidy. That’s not the problem. The problem is the kitchen is a functional area for busy-ness. I don’t want to sit in the relaxing area looking at and thinking about busy functions. Yuck.
The cozy corner is too far from the window for good staring. I mean I am partly lying; you can look out of the window from anywhere but there’s stuff in the way. There’s space in the way. (Boo-hoo poor me and all my space.)
The late afternoon/evening light shines on the wall above the sofa bed that is not sat on. When I moved in I thought I would nap on the sofa bed in the late afternoon sun but I’m never going to rest on a big ornament when I have that lovely squashy couch. No way.
There is this middle space that is basically for walking around in and there was a stupid rug there (since banished to the bedroom). That space annoys me. What’s it for? Is it nice? Is it? If it was nice would I be asking if it was nice? Stupid too much space!
With the shelves across the kitchen I can see less kitchen and the kitchen actually feels lighter because of the whiteness of the shelves. Also I always wanted plants on those shelves so the basil has a real home.
Move the big ornament
The sofa bed is moved next to the shelves so the same sort-of guest room affect is achieved. It’s also next to the desk so it’s more on the functional side of the room. When the squashy couch was in that space the relaxing and functional areas were mixed up. That was wrong. Very wrong.
The table is in the middle of the room aligned to the two left-hand panes of window. Yes stuff like satisfies me. The composition of the furniture of the room is very important. It doesn’t all have to be central but it does have to be aligned to something, to everything else, and with enough space to move around and clean.
As eating and making things is and should be central to my life, it makes sense that the table be central to the room. Oh that is so symbolic. If I sit at the window end I can see the church clock and use the laptop, by the way.
I always loved those indoor gardens where someone has a bench of plants in front of a window. There is enough space to do that now. So that’s nice. I’ll do that one day.
Strangely moving the cozy corner to the opposite side of the room is more open and more cozy. My mind just contracted and expanded thinking about that statement. The squashy couch is on the afternoon light wall (I am dying to nap but I’m too excited!) It’s also next to the much ignored bookshelf. The knitting is on there. Now I’m sitting closer to it I might actually do some, who knows?
The bouncy chair faces the window. The kitchen is now partly obscured by the shelves but it doesn’t matter because wherever you sit on the couch you can really make the most of the window. You can stare down the tree end of the street which is what I always wanted to stare at. I used to stare at a willow through a bedroom window of my parent’s house. The willow is gone now but I always remember that view. This recreates it.
As for classy chair, he looks into the cozy corner. How cozy! That wall is bare at the moment but it won’t be forever. Plus that’s where the pretty even light falls so it´s ready for the light.
Be honest and realistic. If you like to look at one chair and sit in another arrange your space so you can do so. If you are ignoring some spaces and feel uncomfortable in them try to work out why. Do you need a rug? Is the window dirty? Are you sitting in a drafty spot?
What do you have?
Do you use and need everything you have? Would something work better in a different room? (Bouncy chair was unused in the bedroom and I didn’t like sitting on the slippery leather cover. A pretty blanket and new position changed all that…) If you never eat at the table do you really need the table? If the dog always sits in that chair are there enough places for everyone to sit?
What’s your ideal?
Do you actually need extra light to work by? Do you want better access to your books/music/hobby stuff? Does the couch need to be closer or further away from the TV? Do you want a desk at the window to inspire you?
Always and sometimes?
There’s how you live now and how you live sometimes. Aim for comfort every day and ease on special days. Do you need space for your book group to sit? Can you easily accommodate your dinner parties? Is there a place for the kids to play and store their toys? Is that table big enough for a puzzle? Can you do yoga in that space?
When you come home it’s important to feel at home. Pinpoint the problem and fix it. Then put a pretty cushion on it. Oh that looks so nice!
Co-founder, The Clean Sheet