Family Room Rearrange

mid century family living room abstract painting tulip table coffeeHey all! Today I’m sharing the 17th rearrangement of our family room. OK I lost count at 10, but there’s been many versions. A little context. This room was the room that sold me on this house. Rock fireplace + sunken living room = take my money. Unanticipated, it’s the room that I can’t figure out. It’s constantly in a state of transition, and therefore one I rarely share. Here’s how it looked last year, and the year before that. The main workarounds are its large size (needs more substantial furniture/accessories than I’m used to), dueling focal points (fireplace and tv), and a lack of wall space (step down, divider, and sliding door occupy one wall and fireplace occupies another). A few months ago we upgraded the fireplace screen and refreshed the fireplace built-ins, and just recently we reconfigured the layout and added some new-to-this-room furniture, all of which have dramatically upped the flow and function of this space. Let the lack of cord management serve as evidence that we still have some work to do in here, but I feel like we are headed down a promising path! Pictures first and more words below!
mid century family living room fireplace tulip coffee table saarinenmid century family living room fireplace rocking chair danish teak mid century family living room tulip table coffee abstract painting lamp mid century tv television zenith stereo credenza console danish record cabinet vintage mid century family living room tv television credenza console danish record cabinet vintage

Things that are working include:

The new layout. Dramatic improvement. The TV/fireplace double focal point is self-imposed. We adore this room too much to waste it as a rarely used living room, the intended use, and want to make it our main family hang out space. Read: TV TIME! I didn’t want to cheapen the fireplace wall by hanging a tv on it, leaving us with only 2 tv wall options. We tried floating the couch and hanging the tv on the wall next to the fireplace, mainly so that I could theoretically stare at both. That was OK, but really closed off the room and ate up a lot of floor space. Also, the tv looked ridiculous on that giant wall and I could never find a work around for that. Moving the TV opposite of the fireplace solved a lot of issues. For one, the TV isn’t right in your face when you approach the room. For two, the room has opened up into the rest of the house and to the yard. For three, way more floor space for playing and hanging. I can’t keep one eye on the fireplace and one on the TV anymore, but that sacrifice is worth the gains.

The coffee table! Moving the couch against the wall made clear that our old coffee table (which I AM MADLY IN LOVE WITH) was not gonna work. Just to get a sense of what size we needed, I dragged in our large tulip coffee table from the patio (a 42 incher) and it was perfect. Like the room had never felt so pulled together. I really did love it outside, but my husband despised eating at such a low table. So, the decision to move it permanently into the family room made sense. It makes this space. And is so family friendly, a great place to gather around for games, coloring, or fort building. I still think that mosaic belongs in this room, but I haven’t found a logical spot for it, so the den is housing it for now.

The stereo cabinet. The first try of this arrangement brought in our bookshelf from the den to sit under the TV. While that was a big upgrade itself, the piece was never quite right. The light color and tall and narrow scale didn’t feel beefy enough to hold its own. And double shelves facing each other created a secondary fight for attention that was way too much clutter for my eyes. A long and low vintage record cabinet has been on my FIND ASAP LIST for years, for this room and all other family rooms before it. I even passed up on a gorgeous 7′ teak credenza a few months ago to wait it out. I’ve been pretty picky with design and price so it hasn’t happened sooner, but somehow this beautiful Zenith popped up on Craigslist recently and we jumped on it. To be clear, this item is on my husband’s DO NOT BUY EVER LIST. He’s practical and thinks having 6′ of heavy just to house one record player and two speakers is INSANE. It may be. But to me it’s the obvious and only solution. And a dream fulfilled. I’m also practical, and more storage only means storing more stuff. We don’t need either. Let’s not talk about how the stereo and record player currently aren’t working. Instead let’s focus on how well this record cabinet is working in this space.

The TV. At this point in the journey it became clear that it was time to buy a bigass TV. Our old one was tiny for even a tiny room, comically minuscule in this large space. I pushed back for years against a big TV because I didn’t want it to shout louder for attention, but upping the size dramatically improved the balance of the room and made it stand out less. Shocking but fantastic. (Part of my bargain for the record cabinet means I will joyfully live with a mess of cords until my AV dude feels like getting around to it. Gladly.)

The brutalist sculptures. YES. I’ve been in a big purging mode, really focusing on only keeping and having and hanging things I love. I’m so in love with these. Maybe two is too much for one room, but they are the things I currently want to look at.

That large painting. Though our bedroom is majorly missing it.

Things that aren’t working include:

The side table situation. We have two matching Heywood Wakefield tiered tables that I love. Ideally, they should be much bigger. But, like I said, I love em and they’ve been good to us for many years, so I’m gonna be content with them until the day I come across a cute, beefy pair for cheap.

I’m not loving the couch color. Now that I have a clearer vision, I wish the couch were orange or brown. Or at least lacking in blue undertones. And a foot or two longer wouldn’t hurt either. But again, contentment! Making it work!

So much busyness. There’s a lot going on. I lean towards the minimal side of life. In person, it isn’t as in your face because the room is so large, but I look at some of these pictures and think a crazy person must live here (she does – hi).

The step down. As you can see, fully unfinished and a mess. In due time…

The railing. We decided long ago to nix it in favor of a wood divider, but just haven’t gotten to that fun project yet. Can’t wait, but front yard duties call.

Baseboards. Much like the rest of the house, baseboard neglect. I failed to paint them, failed to remove them, and failed to replace them. Yet.

Not enough wood in here. The painted fireplace built-ins are better than they were, but I hope to one day rip those out and build custom walnut built-ins, a custom walnut mantel, a wall of walnut (behind the couch). My husband doesn’t call me Custom Jenny for nothing…

The current list:

My dream for this room is a cross between the Parker’s fireplace room and this Kelly Wearstler masterpiece. Common elements: cozy, textured, earthy, and brutal, basically like a refined hippie lair. I’m not totally there and doubt I will ever have a wall of Stan Bitters (SINGULAR LIFE GOAL), but feel like this space has a point of view and is making sense for our family for the first time since we’ve owned it. Or at least enough to live with while other projects take priority right now. Thanks for reading!!!


2 thoughts on “Family Room Rearrange

  1. I think it looks pretty good right now. Sometimes as we look back on the era we see too much. We didn’t have every MCM whistle and bell in our homes that we swoon over nowadays. Most folks lived simply and somewhat eclectically unless you had means with the vision to live the modern style. Wall to wall carpeting was just becoming available and affordable in the late 50’s with the advent of man made fibers. Most of us just had Hi-Fi music record consoles with no tuners in them and if they did they were standard broadcast (AM). Stereo music, FM stations, and stereo, dual band w/ TV consoles were new and a bit affluent as well. Color TV was a huge “wow” too when it came out! Love your Zenith console! We have three in our home now.


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