DEAR MISS COTE DE TEXAS

98 comments

 

Today, we have a new letter sent into the Dear Miss Cote de Texas series:

 

The Issue:

Dear Joni,     I have tried to decorate the way you have suggested over the years and now I am stumped with a few problem areas! First of all the TV is awful. I don't know how to improve this area and the lighting is all wrong. The room gets very  dark in the middle of the day even though we have the French doors. There is not enough seating for the shape of the room and I know there is a better way.  Please help a forever friend of your blog!   The walls are painted Linen White with the ceiling painted 1/2 strength
Any suggestion for anything will be sooooo helpful!

Here are the pictures of my living area. We had a small family room that ended where the wing back chairs are and a kitchen nook. We felt so closed in especially when we had guests over so we pushed out the back of the house and added a screen porch
Now I need help with the arrangement of the furniture....TV....and lighting in my new space.  Help!!

 

Here are the pictures of the space:

 

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When you walk in the front door, the living room is on the left and the dining room is on the right.  Then, past the staircase, the family room and kitchen is at the back of the house.

 

 

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The family room is arranged with a sofa that faces the fireplace and two wing chairs that divide the space from the breakfast area.

 

 

 

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Here you can see the breakfast room area that was added on past the family room.  It’s now all one big space.  The kitchen is to the right.

 

 

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Looking from the breakfast room area to the family room.

 

 

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Here you can see the area that was added on – a large breakfast room, along with a screen porch.

 

 

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The kitchen’s bar is angled out into the breakfast room area.

 

 

 

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The kitchen behind the family room.

 

The Solution: 

First, I would like to thank you so much for submitting this design question.  I’m going to address this as if you were a client.  No holds barred!

I think you have a great look going, love the slipcovers and all your accessories.  Love the lanterns too!  It just needs some tweaking!

 

The first thing I would address is the floorplan.  What struck me immediately is how unbalanced the room seems – everything is weighted towards the living area – while the dining area looks so empty.  Additionally, the living area seems cramped and with the sofa floating in the room – it makes that area look even smaller. 

Probably the best solution would be to flip the rooms – put the dining room table in front of the fireplace (which an be lovely in the winter) and use the back room as the living area.  Have you thought of this before?

I would move the furniture around like this:

 

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 I would float the sofa in front of the French door and use the armoire as the place to house the flatscreen.  The white chairs would sit across from the armoire.  You could always add two Kooboo chairs for more seating, instead of just your one wicker chair and, then add a few round ottomans.  If the armoire isn’t a solution, you could put the flatscreen on the console and just move the white chairs across the room to flank the armoire.  I would get two matching chandeliers for both the dining and living areas.   This layout would solve the lighting issue – as you would be sitting near the windows.  You could then add wall sconces on either side of the dresser in the dining area, along with a second pair that would flank the fireplace.  Additionally you would have the chandelier for even more lighting.

 

While I know this is somewhat drastic, this might be something you want to play around with one weekend – move the furniture to get a feel for the layout.  Try to live with it this way for at least 48 hours – that’s the minimum you should live with something new in order for your eyes to get used to the change!

 

 

Now, if that layout is too drastic, I came up with a second solution below:

 

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1.  The dining table should face the other way and be centered in front of the French doors.

2. Have an electrician come out and move your hanging fixture over the table.  This really doesn’t cost a lot at all and you can easily patch up the area where the chandelier is moved from.

3.  By moving the table, you fill out the back area and it won’t look unbalanced and empty.   You can leave the buffet and armoire where they are, just flank the extra chairs around one of those two pieces.

4. Next move the sofa to the back wall.  Then move the two armchairs where the sofa was,  using the gateleg table, now in the back area, between them.

5.  Move the accent chair to flank the fireplace.

6.  Move the console table to the right of the fireplace and put your TV there.

7. I like your trunk as a coffee table – but to gain more seating, you could always add an ottoman that doubles as a coffee table.  If not, then add two small ottomans in front of the trunk to get a little bit more seating.  I’m just not seeing any other way to get a lot more seating in here with the size of the space.

 

 

Restoration Hardware has a nice coffee table/ottoman.

 

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From Wisteria – I love this one because it adds a pop to the room like a zebra rug. 

 

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From Wisteria – this one is smaller.

 

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From Aidan Gray – you could use two of these in front of your trunk for extra seating and also as a footstool for your white chairs.

 

 

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From Wisteria – you could place these around your trunk easily – plus they add texture.

 

 

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From Wisteria – these are great looking for extra seating or footstools.

 

 

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I would probably not use the skirted table, it looks a little dated – a small garden stool would be a nice alternative.  Then, the lamp now on the skirted table could be moved to the gate leg table between the two white chairs.

 

One point - in the dining area, if your table is not long enough, I would consider saving up and buying a very long one that would fill out the space.  There really is a lot of wasted space now and a nice, long table could make a huge statement.  I’m not sure if your table is long enough or not without seeing it in person – but if you could use a longer table, I would try it out.

 

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I found this extra long table at Restoration Hardware on sale at a great price.

 

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And this one at Pottery Barn. 

 

As for décor – I would highly suggest getting curtains in a printed linen fabric.  You would place the rod above the transom and stretched out past the window so the curtains cover the walls, not the windows,  therefore not affecting the light.  Then I would make two 22” inch pillows out of the curtain fabric for your sofa and two lumbar pillows for your chairs.  Additionally, I would make chair slips out of a check or striped fabric that coordinates with the curtain fabric. 

All this fabric will add so much to the décor of your room and make it look more thought out and designed.

 

Here are a few fabric ideas from our sponsor Lewis & Sheron HERE. 

 

 

 

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As for the TV – the best way to disguise a flatscreen is to surround it with art, prints or photographs.  I tried hard to find the perfect picture to show you, but couldn’t.

 

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The arrangement is perfect – and one I would emulate with the two pictures on each side and the ones above the TV – BUT, if these had dark frames and dark mats – the flatscreen would be more disguised.  Instead, go for dark when surrounding the flatscreen.  But – remember this arrangement, the proportions are wonderful.

 

 

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These prints COULD have been great – they are darker – BUT – the flatscreen has to BECOME a piece of the artwork, not be used to stand in front of the art work!!    These prints are too big for the space.  With smaller prints they could have FRAMED the flatscreen properly – but instead, it just doesn’t look good.  The flatscreen should have replaced the print behind it and the other prints would have been centered around the flatscreen, but there isn’t enough room.  AVOID.

 

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Now, imagine the seafan is the flatscreen – see how these prints surround the seafan on both sides evenly?  And notice the dark mats – these would blend in with the flatscreen and make it disappear.  Also – you could use a small mirror like this above the flatscreen for interest. 

If you use your longer console for the flatscreen – you could also flank two lamps on it – adding more light.

 

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This series of botanicals from Restoration Hardware would be fabulous to hang around a flatscreen.  Two on each side and five on top.   The flatscreen would totally disappear.

 

Lastly, I know you said more light is the issue – but without adding a window, I’m not sure how you can brighten the space without adding a chandelier over the space.  If you do move your sofa, you could add a picture light over a painting on the back wall in addition to the two standing lamps. 

 

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Restoration Hardware

 

You could always add four recessed lights in a square about the living area to get more light.   It looks like you already have two there. 

Or, you could get a ceiling fan with a light kit. 

I’m not a huge fan of really well lit rooms and only use low watt bulbs in my lamps and chandeliers.  In my chandeliers and lanterns, I only use 7 watts!    But that’s personal, I suppose!  I keep all my sconces and chandeliers and lamps lit during the day – and then at night, as the room gets darker, it gets more romantic.  Brightly lit rooms are such a personal choice.  To me – your room looks light enough. 

Still, you can get more light by adding two lamps to the console table against the wall and by moving the lamp from the skirted table to the gateleg table, you may gain enough light.

If you do consider adding a chandelier over this area – I would probably get two that match – one for over the dining table and one for the living area. 

 

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For your floor lamps that flank the sofa, I would be sure to get two matching ones that make a statement.  These are from Wisteria.

 

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And from Ballard Designs.

 

I hope I have given you some things to think about and help you out.

If anyone has any suggestions – please leave a comment!!

And don’t forget – the French antique giveaway ends this Saturday night at 11:59 pm! 

Go HERE for all the details.

A READER’S AMAZING RENOVATION

161 comments

 

First, I hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful, long Fourth of July Holiday!

Today,  a reader has graciously submitted the before and after photographs of her house’s renovation.  Seriously, I couldn’t even tell where the before pictures started and ended with this house – it made no sense to me at all.  I had to study all the photographs for a long while just to understand where and how the old met the new.  I finally figured it out and I hope I can explain it to you!!!     The original rooms – the kitchen,  dining,  living, and man cave(!) are all so – well – so normal, and the renovated rooms are all so fabulous.  Just wait!  This is a renovation for the magazines and I expect a scout or two will want to submit this house for publication.

First things first:  the house is located in the Virginia Piedmont (as if I know where that is ?) – but I’m told it’s in the countryside of northern Virginia.   I barely even know where Virginia is!!!  Ok, enough geography.   So,  the owners found this fabulous piece of property but the house that came with the land was just – so – normal – there’s that word again.  The wife hated the house and had trouble taken their visit seriously.   While the setting was breathtaking with incredible views and scenery, the house was a disappointing “farmer’s brick ranchburger.” 

While she was plotting the next visit to see a different piece of land, her husband quickly bought the property with the ranchburger, barely giving his wife  time to think.  She became truly worried about how she could turn the house into the one of her dreams.  He told her simply, “you’ll figure it out.”

She wanted an Italian villa with a wine tower and a vineyard, but instead she got the boring farmer’s brick ranchburger.  So, what to do?  She went googling – and promptly found my post on Kelly Harmon’s house in Malibu.  This lead to other blogs and then more blogs until it all clicked in her head and she began to transform her ranchburger. 

Now, she loves her house – and is thrilled her husband decided to buy it even when she balked.  And I agree – it’s wonderful!!    There are so many ideas here – especially if you are thinking about a renovation.    The owner shows us how to take a perfectly plain space and  

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Northern Virginia – their property with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  No wonder her husband said – SOLD – while she was still pondering how to fix up the farmer’s brick ranchburger that came with the land.

 

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Before:  the kitchen.  To the right behind the wall is the living room.

 

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The kitchen – and the dining room to the left.

 

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Looking towards the back of the kitchen wall – and into the dining room through the double doors is the man cave.

 

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The dining room has incredible views.

 

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There’s a porch off the side wall of the dining room.

 

 

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The small man cave off the dining room.

 

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And finally, with its octagon tiled floor is the living room.   Now….let’s see how these rooms look today!

 

 

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The house today – white with a red roof and tower – no longer a farmer’s brick ranchburger.

 

 

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Roses growing on posts around the house.

 

 

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Now stucco and stone and surrounded by wildflowers.

 

 

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At the flagstone porch, double wood doors open to the entry and living room.

 

 

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The floors are now all hardwood – instead of a combination of tile and wood.  Throughout – an assortment of antique rugs define living areas.

 

 

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The double wood doors open to the large living/dining/kitchen area/man cave – an area that was once divided up into four rooms – is now one.  Here in the living area – the wall between the entry room and the living room was removed.  Remember how it looked before?

 

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The living room before – the wall to the right of the fireplace was removed and beams were placed on the ceiling.  There are now hardwood floors, new window/doors and a new mantel.

 

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Here’s a view of the new stone mantel – looks so different now!!!   While the raised hearth remains, the thin, dated shelves were removed and now baskets and horse paintings flank the mantel.   Love the weathervane!

 

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Closeup of the fireplace.

 

 

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A mixture of casual fabrics – striped, twill, and linen prints – cover the furniture.  A large wood coffee table anchors the arrangement.

 

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Looking back towards the front door and the entry area behind the sofa.  The iron chandelier hangs over the entry space – which was once behind a wall that has since been removed. 

 

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Close up shows the various plaid pillow fabrics used.  On the left is a chest that sits in the entry area.

 

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Close of the chest in the entry – shows more horses – in oils and photographs. 

 

 

 

 

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And here you can see where the living room wall between the kitchen was removed – as was the wall between the kitchen and dining room.  Where the kitchen once faced the windows – it was moved to the back wall and the breakfast area is now where the kitchen was before.  A large island separates those two spaces.  To help you remember, here is how the kitchen was before:

 

 

 

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The wall to the right of the kitchen was removed to open it up to the living room – then the wall between the kitchen and the dining room was also removed.  New window/doors were placed along the back wall to open the house to the views.

 

 

 

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Looking at the other direction – where the fireplace was – is now where the large range is.  To the right is the man cave – which is where it is today – without the walls.

 

 

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And here  - you can see the dining area, now opened up to the kitchen, along with the man cave – without the walls surrounding it anymore.

 

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The range is the focal point of the kitchen – it’s hood is a larger size of the living room mantel – which is a great idea, adds to the cohesiveness of the overall design.  Backsplash is a tile pattern.  The range is flanked by identical cabinets – hiding the refrigerator – designed to look like armoires.   The farm sink is on the island and overlooks the breakfast area and view.  Notice the cabinets are open w/mesh screen.  Two lanterns sit over the large island.

 

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Looking towards the dining room. 

 

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The cabinets on both sides of the range are painted black for contrast. 

 

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Above the range is a collection of oil paintings – while pots sit above the armoire styled tall cabinets.

 

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Across from the island, where the kitchen used to be, is the breakfast area –  two Kooboo chairs sit between an antique tea table.   An iron chandelier with a brass crown hangs over the setting.

 

 

 

 

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The view of the breakfast area looking from the stone countertop of the island.  At the right is a demi lune table and dog portrait – and to the left is the buffet from the dining room area.  The view is amazing!!

 

 

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Once the kitchen was moved to the back wall  - and the breakfast room was placed where the kitchen once were – the wall between the kitchen and dining room was removed – making it all one big room.

 

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The dining room table– with French chairs, covered in linen – sits under a painted iron chandelier.  To the right is the man cave – with the walls now removed.  Also – here you can see the hall behind the kitchen with the two wall sconces.  The pine door leads to the pantry.

 

 

 

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The dining room – with the Belgian styled rough luxe table.  In the corner is a tall clock.   I love all the rugs used – all different, they blend together so well.  I am always so stuck on seagrass and this makes me think how much subdued color these rugs add to the décor – really looks nice.

 

 

 

 

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Close up of the beautiful painted clock.

 

 

 

 

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Another view showing the buffet between the breakfast area and the dining area.  Love this weathervane too!!!

 

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Close up of the buffet.

 

 

 

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Close up of the styling on the buffet.

 

 

 

 

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How the man cave was before – double doors closed off the man cave from the dining room.  Now the entire wall is removed and the ceiling was raised, and a fireplace was added.

 

 

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The dining room and the man cave to the left – with all the walls around that room now removed.

 

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The same view as above – before. There was a porch off this side of the dining room.

 

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And here is how the porch looks today – wildflowers and lanterns and stone and stucco walls.

 

 

 

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The man cave – with two leather recliners.

 

 

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Above the fireplace is a cabinet that hides the flatscreen.  There is a bar set up in this room, under the painting.

 

 

 

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Bourbon in the man cave.  The owner really styled her pictures like a professional!  Love it! 

 

 

 

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Looking from the back hall where the guest bedrooms are – past the man cave to the dining room.   I wish we could see into the bedrooms!  Maybe next time????

 

 

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Looking past the man cave towards the guest bedrooms, there looks like there is another sitting room – wish we could see that!!!

 

 

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Between the two sconces – through the pine door is a fabulous pantry/storage closet.

 

 

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Past the door – is the large walk in pantry/storage closet.   Darling light fixtures!

 

 

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WOW!!!!!!!!  I would do anything for a space like this!!!!!!!! Anything!!!!

 

 

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And so – for views like this, the husband bought the property – leaving the renovation of the house up to his wife.

 

 

image She took 4 small rooms and knocked down all the walls between them – making one large room.   She raised the ceiling, added beams and wood floors along with beautiful new windows and French doors and stone mantels.  She decorated the house with large rugs and casual fabrics in soothing shades of creams, beiges and touches of warm rusts.  Even her dogs blend in with the décor.

A truly beautiful renovation and inspiring – showing us that working with so little can end up so fabulous! 

 

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Can you name the breed?