Yesterday I showed you all my favorite family room furniture floor plans. Admittedly those plans are most applicable to larger rooms with near perfect proportions and symmetry. For those of us who’s rooms have more “character” (ie. are asymmetrical and/or have 1 electrical plug on a very inconvenient wall and/or have a radiator exactly where you want to put a chair, etc) we have to get a bit more creative, spend that much more time sourcing furniture of the appropriate scale and yes, just make the best of the situation.
If it sounds like I know a bit about this problem, that would be because I’m living it. Pretty much every waking hour for the last several weeks I’ve spent agonizing over how to lay out the furniture in what will be the new family room in our house. As you can imagine, as someone who spends every day planning other people’s spaces, I have a very real vision of what my ideal family room would look like, what pieces would go where, how I want my family to live in and enjoy the space, etc….and then pesky necessities like windows and venting and load bearing walls and set back by-laws creep into the picture. I’m realizing the post-renovated version of our family room is going to be much trickier to lay out than the pre-renovation version. I’ve really been struggling with this. We’re going to spend A TON of money. Like, it’s kinda sickening what it costs to do these kinds of renovations. And we know it will change the way we live in this house we love so much. But as someone who deals with making rooms “perfect” for other families every day, it’s a hard pill to swallow that even though you’re going to spend all that money, you will not have that “perfect” room you want for your own family.
Ugh, Teddy, you are so right. This plays over and over again in my head. I know the new space will be such a dramatic improvement over what we have now. And I’ve done my best to make our current situation as cozy and usable and yes, pretty as possible. But am I giving up too much? Am I compromising TOO MUCH to make this house work? We could pick up and sell and move 20 minutes further outside the city and none of this would be an issue. Ample square footage, a bigger lot, etc. But I’d have to say goodbye to the walk-ability I love so much about this house. And 20 minutes further from the city?!? *GASP!* What’s out there? Dragons?
I’m pretty ok with everything about the new floor plan except the family room. And the family room and kitchen are the most important rooms to me so getting it right is killing me.
You all were SO generous with your thoughts and comments on this post about where to put my fireplace. Our current thinking is that yes, it will go in the family room on the long wall (shared with the dining room) and we will mount the TV over it. Our existing window seat (which I LOOOOOVE so much) has to be removed (want to cry just typing that) but the plan is to move it down to the kitchen (pending permits for a modification of a “pre-existing non-conforming structure” come through) where it will become part of our breakfast nook banquette. The window seat is fabulous in that it offers so much more seating (it’s 9′ long and really acts as another couch in the room) but with the room getting longer it will be completely off center and gets in the way of any realistic furniture layout. I want to keep it but using it as the main seating in the room with a TV across from it just seems bizarre.
So in this new version of the family room the wall above the couch pictured above stays. The window seat goes and 2 larger windows go on that wall. The wall where the fireplace and TV are (behind the leather chair) turns into an 8′ long half wall that opens to the kitchen beyond. The challenge with this room (and the house in general frankly) seems to be the lack of a center hallway. I have to keep roughly 30% of this already narrow room’s footprint clear for traffic flow from the foyer/2nd floor to the kitchen. That whole space in front of the fireplace is a major walkway.
So let’s look at some furniture layout options. Because I’ve done about 45 of them in the last few weeks.
First we have the traditional L shaped sectional + 2 chairs (in this case they are my Craig’s List score Mitchell Gold chairs which I love so much and really, really, really want to keep).
These are essentially the same plan just flip flopped. I think the left plan (with the chairs on the 1/2 wall) works better because that wall is slightly longer than the foyer wall. I am not married to the sectional at all but I have to admit that it’s a good use of this awkward space.
Minimal dead corners in the room
Running the sectional in front of a window (hate)
Absence of end table on one side of the sectional
General off-centeredness of it all
I could do a smaller sectional – one with a chaise end to compress things a bit and fit the chairs better too. That would also solve the end table issue. But the cons here are the same as those I’ve detailed above.
Then there is the U shaped chaise sectional. I’d totally be on board with this EXCEPT as I covered yesterday and I often advise clients – having just 1 big sectional isn’t great when you have other adults over. It’s just awkward…people want to spread out a bit. And as you can see, I don’t have space to float my chairs and preserve a walkway (1’9″ does not a walkway make!) I could probably do daintier chairs and part with my MGBW beauties but…sadness.
Symmetry and centered on fireplace/tv wall
Comfort (2 chaises!)
Minimal dead corners (could be used for side tables on either end of the sectional)
Unrealistic layout for keeping the corridor open (at least if I want anything larger than a leggy accent chair)
Scraping the sectional idea, the best way to make use of the room’s length is to get one big a$s couch. This is 120″ – 10 FEET of couch! I can get 2 end tables on either side of the couch and then a chair on either side of the room around a coffee table. Because I LOVE an accent stool, I tried desperately to squeeze a pair in here because I just love how it balances everything. But 2′ is not a comfortable amount of space to walk through regularly. I could push it up against the coffee table I suppose and just pull them out when I need them.
Symmetry! Sweet, sweet symmetry!
A huge couch
I get to keep my MGBW chairs
Is 120″ of couch better than 133″ of double chaise sectional? Is it better than 118″ of L shaped sectional? Ugh…I do not know the answer to these questions.
Here’s me really trying to jam more seating into the room. Same 10′ couch, same chairs + a settee. No it’s not a loveseat because I hate loveseats. It’s a settee, lol.
I can already hear Mr. H+F yelling “too much furniture!!!” The stools clearly have to go in this scenario.
Still very symmetrical
I get to keep my MGBW chairs
Too much furniture?
I don’t know guys. I am really trying to re-frame this whole exercise in my mind as a design challenge. I just need to make the room as great as it can be despite it’s shortcomings right? I mean isn’t that much more interesting and inspiring then buying a bunch of big, beautiful new furniture and arranging it in a perfectly symmetrical and proportional square of a room? Sure, that sounds very fun to me. But as a designer, I should be able to do this – to make even the less than ideal room lovely and functional. Challenge accepted old house. I love you, I love where you’re located and I will not be defeated by a weird 16′ x 10′ room.
So now tell me…do you have an opinion on which furniture layout is best? And if you’ve made big compromises to stay in a house you love or can relate to this “comparison is the thief of joy” mantra, I want to hear from you.