So we don’t have the biggest sitting room (living room/front room, as you will…!) – and we spend a fair amount of time in our basement kitchen/dining room – but the sitting room is nonetheless quite a crucial part of our domestic set-up – a lot of telly watching in the afternoons and lounging on the sofas with laptops, books, puzzles and boardgames take place here…!
The room’s defining feature since we moved into this house – over two years ago! – now is the crazy amount of books we have shelved on one wall – props to the husband for doing this shelves! We bought cheap old pretty ugly floorboards from an east London wood merchant. So other than that quite mammoth task (the unboxed books covered the entire floor!) the rest of the set-up was pretty straightforward – initially, just all our furniture from the sitting room in our previous house – including a tatty old cat-clawed wine-coloured Chesterfield (bought on eBay for a few hundred quid) which, although extremely comfortable, always felt too hulking and colour clashing against all the books to me.
I did replace our other dark green two seater (pretty uncomfortable!) Chesterfield with a vintage Ercol three-seater which is the one you see in the pictures. However, the long cushion was a conflicting shade of pink; add in a heavy dark work ill-weighted coffee table (in a corner rather than middle!) and the room really felt all out of sync!
So my plan was just to soften everything up colour-wise, allow the books their space to be the dominant feature and create a more comfortable, usuable sofa/coffee table space.
So! Here’s what I did:
- Recovered the vintage Ercol sofa cushion in this (cheap!) grey fabric. I got my local dry cleaner to make up the cushion using the original cover for the pattern pieces and the zips. Already swapping a neutral in for the clashing pink made the whole space much calmer!
- Swapped out the old burgundy Chesterfield (with which we had a love/hate relationship; i.e. my husband loved it and I hated it lol!) for a new grey one. This was no mean feat as my husband loved the old Chester and DID NOT want to get rid of it. Cue making space in his garden studio for it… We hauled it out of the sitting room, out of the front door, down the steps to the basement door only to find it wouldn’t fit round the tight turn into the house. Urghh! Then our helpful neighbour across the road suggested taking it through the basement spare room window, which to our relief worked. Phew!The new sofa – a beautifully deep, sleek design and ridiculously comfy design from Out & Out Original (ethically sourced & produced furniture inspired by contemporary Scandinavian design) – came in 20cm longer than the old one and for a moment we didn’t think it would fit through the sitting room door! There I was googling dimensions but a night sleeping on it and the next day I knew how to fit it through…! Al in spite of our unusually narrow sitting room door – ah the power of positive thinking… Where I failed, lol, was to realise that the sofa legs were cleverly zipped inside the underside of the sofa – didn’t feel silly at all when I go the email telling me where to find them!
Coffee Tables & Stools
- Replaced the old wooden, slightly baroque too-high-to-be-a-coffee-table with a grey (surprise, lol!) coffee table from the Cox & Cox (I used the 20% off first orders code for this!). Not too expensive, just the right height and again, toning down the rest of the room in terms of colour.
- Added in a La Redoute smaller side table (currently 40% off everything!) where the big old wooden one used to stand as that corner was always quite useful for popping a cup of tea or coffee on. La Redoute always have great things and constantly some kind of sale it seems, but I find pieces can take a really long time to be dispatched from the French warehouse sometimes! This took a couple of weeks to arrive.
- Foot stools – for true kickback comfort I do like to put my feet up! We already had a comfy floor cushion jute pouffe from Soho House, but to avoid feet on the new coffee table (not mine, I might add!) I added into two extra little footstools (handmade in Morocco & I definitely also saw these for sale in Marseille!) from Yonder Living.
- Carpet clean! The beautiful rug was one I bought from our local The Hackney Draper (also a Trouva boutique so you can shop some pieces online) – an emporium of homeware delights on Chatsworth Road, E5 – when we first moved in. However, two years later with half the household being shoes off (me & Gus!) and half the household being shoes on (husband, lol!) it was looking a bit greyish. My local dry cleaner couldn’t clean it but suggested Vanish foam which I must say worked a treat!
- Added some green: one thing I always felt was missing from this room was a nice assortment of plants. So I slightly went to town in a couple of Stoke Newington plant shops (The Green Room – also a lovely cafe! – & Botanique) and brought in some pretty pots and plants. Then I went all out on a large parlour palm from Patch Plants (non toxic to cats and air cleaning). The palm fit perfectly into the larger size basket from The Small Home and the smaller basket is currently home to Chilli’s toys.
Cushions & Candles
- Cushion update. In keeping with the more neutral colours in the rest of the room, I relocated some of my more colourful Edit 58 cushions downstairs and added two new ones to an assortment of more neutral La Redoute ones. First a very special hand embroidered cushion from The Small Home (see my interview & super inspiring house tour with The Small Home founder Ayshea McCormack) and a panelled leather cushion from Tutti & Co.
- I do keep quite a lot of candles in the sitting room, currently all lined up on the windowsill with a few other favourite bits & bobs – Venezualen wooden pipe and fruit, birthday present china cups. My newest candle additions are a beautifully uplifting grapefruit ‘Light’ from Evermore London and a Tuscan pot Citronella candle from The Small Home (love this earthenware!).
I don’t think I will ever achieve total glossiness when it comes to my interiors – but I do think my home reflects me perfectly with a fun mix of colours, bit of messiness, a light and airy feel and some lively green! And I finally feel I have the living room just the way I want it, which is a great feeling! And yes, I am tending to the plants everyday, which seems to be the key to not killing 😉 Spy the red teapot? That’s my trusty watering can!
In case you’re wondering about the art – one is a photograph taken in Applecross of Torridon framed as a Christmas gift for us and the canvas is a blown up photograph I took in New York from the new Moma building rooftop cafe a few years ago.
So Many Books!
In case you’re wondering why we have SO many books, it’s because: my husband and I are mad book lovers and these are our combined collections PLUS quite a lot of books of rescued from the skip when I worked at academic book publisher Routledge when they were moving offices. Despite being a big Kindle user, I value books massively and neither of us are prepared to get rid of a single one!
We have everything from favourite novels to philosophy (some of which I worked on as an editorial assistant!), politics, film, Greek comedies, trashier ones too & more! The YA and knitting books I take full responsibility for lol, but I want Gus to grow up knowing he can always pull from a wealth of ideas, stories and information in print form any time he wants. I know editing a book collection might result in something more visually appealing and manageable spacewise (for a moment I considered colour coordinating but it was just too mammoth as task!) but I would feel absolutely bereft to lose any!
Mirror – La Redoute (similar)
Rug – The Hackney Draper
Plant baskets* – The Small Home
Footstools – Yonder Living
Jute pouffe* (old) – Soho Home
Palm – Patch Plants
*Asterisked items gifted for review & this post contains some affiliate links.
Replacement sofa for the old burgundy Chesterfield, from Out & Out Original
The recovered vintage Ercol sofa…
Grapefruit candle by Evermore London
Sidetable from La Redoute
Photographs all taken by myself on Olympus Pen E-PL9 with 12mm lens. Use BLOGGER10 discount code to buy both here.