decorating troubles

As I’ve mentioned on this blog, I’m in the process of trying to refurnish / decorate my living room.  (I have not purchased a sectional yet.)  To start with, we had a small sofa, a bookcase, a TV on a stand, a side table and lamp, and a rocking chair.  My vision for the furnished room was as follows:


In 3D:


(I am using Planner5D, which is nearly free – I think it’s $5 for a year or something like that.)

I decided that a teal ottoman from Anthropologie was going to be the centerpiece of the room.  I got a great coupon and some 20% off gift cards and decided to go for it.  See below for how it looks:


DSC02301 DSC02302

My issue is that it looks huge.  I’m not sure the photos really capture the effect as they were taken with a wide angle camera.  However, you can see that it nearly has the surface area of our sofa.  Now, I am not thrilled with our sofa because it is really too small to be comfortable for an average-sized human being relaxing.  (I have realized since purchasing that a lot of times inexpensive furniture is undersized and that you have to watch for this.)   It is possible that the ottoman might look better with a larger sectional.  It’s hard to say.  Overall, though, I just think it does. not. work.  Really, I think it looks semi-ridiculous in our living room, and I’m going to return it.  (Fortunately, I will get a full refund, including shipping.)  I’m sad, though, and now feeling highly uncertain of my decorating capabilities.  Experience is so helpful, and I obviously have none.

L LOVES it.  She thinks it’s the best thing ever.

See below for our planter of tulips.  They have grown rather well, so I think I’m going to plant a couple more this fall.


9 thoughts on “decorating troubles

  1. Jen M

    Scale is important. Does that software let you size the items by dimensions? If so, that should give you a way to see what it will look like. Depending on the size of sectional you got, I think it would have balanced it out somewhat. But you want to keep an eye on leaving some good floor space as well, or everything will feel really cramped.

    I am totally going to give that software a try. I have been using PowerPoint to try to visualize; this looks much easier!

  2. Jennifer

    Hi Jen – Everything is to scale. The sectional is based on one we’ve been considering. Basically everything in the room is based on a real piece of furniture.

    I hear you on the empty space. We have a very empty room right now. It would probably be a bit much to fill it up with furniture.

  3. Karen

    I agree it seems about a foot too large in at least one dimension. Which is too bad because otherwise, I really like it. I broke down a while a go and hired fee-based (versus a commission-based) decorator for a few hours to help me out. At first I had an older lady that helped with our bedroom and kitchen. She was OK but she struggled to get my style and budget. 4 years ago I hired a decorator about my age during our dining room re-do and she helped me pick colors, cornice boards for windows, and light fixtures. Then I hired her again to help with the living room. When we moved from our apartment into our house, we did not change our living room furniture for about 5 years. The couch & loveseat were fine, but the TV stand, coffee table and side tables were all too small. For about 5-7 hours of her time we found a new TV stand, side tables, coffee table, lamp, chair, and in the dining room. She found some things, I found some things and asked her opinion of. Almost all of it came via the internet. I’m fairly happy with both rooms now. She was really good about furniture scale and understood my style pretty well.

  4. becca

    So I heart the ottoman, its the rest of the room that’s the problem. I think part of the “white space” issue is compounded by the carpet — e.g. you have a whole bunch of beige fabrics of various thicknesses all over the room, where your “cad” rendering is a solid floor. Presuming the carpet is there to stay — you can still move other things out of the room that are filling it up. In your rendering your bookshelf is behind the tv, but in your actual room its on the opposite alcove so you are losing white space there. Plus there is actually “stuff” in your living room which is probably unavoidable with life. I’d try getting rid of that bookshelf completely out of the room, I think that would make a huge difference – put the dog bed where the bookshelf was, and then you’ll free up more floor space over by the TV. And then the end table next to the couch also adds clutter which looks like you’d be getting rid of with the new couch. Then suddenly you’d have less “stuff” in that room and it might accommodate the ottoman.

    That said, I’d keep the ottoman, I love it.

  5. becca

    Oh, if you want to keep a bookshelf in that room, I’d look into getting built ins, or if not, buying a stock bookshelf that is actually the full length/height of the alcove (at least as much as possible). You could try hanging some floating shelves on the wall instead of a bookshelf too.

  6. Jennifer

    Hey Becca –

    The CAD software is great compared to PPT, but it’s definitely not perfect. I’ve had trouble getting it to properly render colors and textures. I’ll take another look and see if I can get it to fix the carpet. I love the LOOK of hardwood floors, but I really really love the convenience and comfort of carpet. (Keep in mind that I live in a place that is cold 9 months out of the year.) So the carpet is here to stay.

    My plan was to move the bookcase. I’m considering replacing it with white. I have thought about doing built-ins on both sides of the fireplace, but I did some quick research on cost, and it looked like it would be rather pricey. It’s quite a large space, so finding a bookshelf that really fit there is also potentially quite costly, but when I get to bookcases, I’ll consider it.

    Moving the bookshelf behind the TV and then the dogbed where the bookshelf currently is is a very good idea.

    The side table I have currently is horrible. It looks even worse in person. However, I plan to replace it as it’s very handy . I should really add that to the rendering.

    But for me the problem is not that the ottoman looks too big for the room (maybe a little big) but that the proportions of the ottoman to the couch is way off. The c-s area of the couch is about 3000 in^2, and the c-s area of the ottoman is 2300 in^2. The c-s area of the sectional will be about 6000 in^2 (longer, deeper & L-shapred) but I just can’t visualize how it’ll look. What I should probably do is a rendering of the current room layout with the ottoman.

  7. admin Post author

    I’ve already requested a return, though. The ottoman is going back. I suppose I could always buy it again after we get the sectional..

    I’ve decided that I’m not doing anything else until we purchase a sectional. It’s just too hard to understand how the room will look without it’s dominant piece of furniture.

  8. Sarah

    I agree that the ottoman is awesome but too big. I also agree that you should get the sectional before anything else.

    What is the thing you plan to put under the window? Do you really need it? (Is it the dog bed? In which case that’s different and I think it’s fine to leave it there.)

    If you will have a sectional, do you really need 2 additional chairs right next to it? You could just bring additional chairs in from the kitchen or something when you have guests and need additional seating.

    The bookcase kind of makes sense to stay where it is, tucked into a corner. The TV makes sense in its current spot also since it’s opposite the couch.

    Just trying to point out things you might not have considered.

  9. admin Post author

    Hey Sarah – Yes, it’s a dog bed. I actually like Becca’s idea to move it in the alcove not used for the bookcase.

    We probably don’t need chairs, but I like the balance they give. I also like to have an option for seating other than a couch. We currently pull in kitchen chairs, but our kitchen chairs are wooden and just not all that comfy. So definitely don’t need – but I think they fit fine. They’d be the last purchase if we get them.

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