Out with the odd, in with the new – Metro US

Out with the odd, in with the new

carlyn yandle/for metro vancouver

The living room pre-makeover.

Replacing a mish-mash of hand-me-down furniture with one sectional and devoting an entire wall to shelving, a downtown couple is enjoying new-found space.

There’s something sad about the post-Christmas apartment. It’s too early to throw open the windows and air out the place, so instead we tend to put up with our stifling surroundings during these dark days.

With the weather running from chilly to dismal, this is a great time of year to hunker down and rework a key living area. Hopefully the small living room re-make pictured here will provide inspiration.

As typically happens, this couple had run out of places to store basic household stuff: books, CDs, photos and mementoes. Their living room was a mix-mash of cast-off furniture, including a single tall green wood bookshelf, a futon, a tiny end table that served as a coffee table, a too-small TV stand, a beige Ikea easy chair and a hideous rust-coloured recliner too comfy to pitch.

Considering the odd bits they were working with, the décor had personality and warmth, thanks to red accents, framed art posters and candles, but the space crisis had to be solved. With limited square footage, they had to go vertical.

When space is at a premium and the clutter of uninteresting furniture doesn’t work together, it’s worth it to take a deep breath and start over. In this case, everything went out the door, replaced by two key pieces, both from Ikea: a low-profile, condo-sized sectional and enough Billy shelving components to fill an entire wall, floor to ceiling.

We started by switching the sitting area to the east side of the room to take advantage of the afternoon light from the south-facing window. The west wall was then fitted with the dark-wood shelving surrounding another Ikea item, a low TV stand. Suddenly there was ample room for books, files, craft projects and favourite objects.

On the opposite wall, the backless side of the mid-century-modern style sectional effectively divides the dining area from the living area, providing enough seating for friends or a luxurious amount of space for the two to stretch out.

With no room for a traditional coffee table, two cream-coloured faux leather round seats from Moe’s are perfect stand-ins. The seats flip over to reveal a dark-wood tray, and have enough storage space for a stack of magazines.

Their round shape breaks up the square angles of the rest of the room, and appear to float between the bigger pieces. A red rag rug completes the party-ready colour scheme.

Carlyn Yandle/Metro Vancouver


Carlyn Yandle is a Vancouver journalist with her own room-planning business, Home Reworks (www.homereworks.com). She dwells on urban-home issues every Thursday in Metro.

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