Name: Alexa and Jim
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Room: Living Room
Size: about 320 square feet
Own or Rent: Own
In Philadelphia, we visited with Alexa & Jim, a recently engaged couple who needed some help in adding more function and color to their living room.
Alexa and Jim recently bought this 1930s row house, and while they love many things about their home, like its character, the living room has eluded them.
With the help of Maxwell, the original Apartment Therapist, Alexa and Jim realized that the biggest problem with the living room was the breathing, or flow. It's a large space, and the front door opens into the middle of the room. The TV is on the far opposite wall from the sofa, making it hard to watch. To help move the TV closer, Alexa and Jim put a low bookcase behind the sofa, but that's blocking the flow and not really solving their TV watching conundrum.
There is also a lot of empty space between the end of the rug and the dressers where the TV is, so it has a feeling of being too open and far away, and negatively allows energy to zoom right through the room, instead of meandering.
Since the front of the house has a screened-in porch, the space is also lacking in some natural light. Pair that with the muted hues of the room, and it's feeling a bit dark. While color is present in other rooms (and especially successful on their happy space—the patio), the living space is mostly grays, blues, and neutrals.
Since the living room is large and currently lacks coziness, Maxwell suggests creating a more defined seating area, and using the remaining space by the dressers as a hallway to the dining room. This can be achieved by removing the bookcase behind the sofa, pushing it back almost to the wall, and pulling the rug further out from under it, balancing the arrangement with two seats on the opposite edge of the rug. This would also solve the flow issue, since energy and people would have to circle the chairs to pass through the the dining room.
They're not a fan of the Noguchi coffee table's round replacement top (the original shape didn't work with their sectional), so Maxwell suggests swapping in a rectangular surface.
There are two options for TV placement: moving it to the stair wall, or leaving it where it is and getting a bigger one. If Alexa and Jim move it to the stair wall, they can get a low console (perhaps the shelf behind the sofa) and place the TV on it. That would free up space on the dressers to add more form and function. Mounting the mirror in the center, adding a pair of lamps (which will brighten those dark corners), creating space for a landing strip on the dresser nearest to the door, and organizing and focusing their bar nearest the dining room would be both beautiful and practical.
If a bigger television is the answer, Maxwell suggests centering it on the wall (and the dressers), while still bringing in those lamps, and doing a smaller version of a landing strip and bar on each side.
As for the lighting, bringing in the two additional lamps will brighten the dark corners of the room, and swapping the position of the lamps beside the sofa would balance the room a bit better.
In terms of adding color, Maxwell suggests bringing in a solid or patterned rug that's dog-friendly for the couple's pup. His top choices are indoor/outdoor rugs from Surya or Dash & Albert. A throw and some pillows in complementary colors, plus some art or objects will balance the space and make it feel more welcoming.
We left Alexa and Jim with a copy of Complete + Happy Home so they can continue their refresh. Thanks for letting us into your home!
Stay tuned for our next design prescription with Faith in Washington, D.C.!