making real life rooms work: vol. 1

I daydream of a house with a fireplace: a gorgeous, double-sided fireplace that draws you in and beckons you to relax.

There's a living room with multiple seating areas for lounging, napping, playing games with the kiddos, watching tv and entertaining friends.

It has an entry that's spacious, but welcoming and not ostentatious at all. It's stylish and functional and there's a place for everything. It makes getting out of the house in the morning an organized breeze  and the giant dog is never underfoot.

And then I woke up. It's all totally unnecessary and impractical in our modest 1948 Cape that sits on a pretty small suburban postage stamp. It certainly won't happen when we downsize someday, so there's reality to contend with and I'm guessing many of you are in a similar predicament.

It's easy to get carried away in our daydreams when there is so much access to images like these, especially when working with our own spaces can be like figuring out a puzzle. Last week,  I asked you what the challenges were in your living spaces, and one of the most common responses I received was how to place furniture that provides enough seating in a small and/or open concept space. I struggle with this myself in my own living room (more on that another day), so I thought I'd share a few tips and ideas over the next few weeks about how to make the space we have work better for us. 

Today's tip?

 Embrace the sectional

I used to be anti-sectional, at least for my long narrow living room. We had one from a friend when we first bought our house. It was incredibly comfortable and really nice but, eventually, stained beyond repair when the kids were babies. It was also better scaled for our friends' open basement, than our skinny living room. There's the lesson. It's all about scale when shopping for any furniture, but especially a sectional. They can provide a lot of seating and a place to lounge but they key is to find one that isn't a monster. 

This sectional is definitely a larger scale than I might go with and has pretty beefy arms,  but, it makes use of every inch of the space, creates an entry out of a room without one and looks so comfortable. 

This one is right up my alley. It has simple clean lines and could really work with any style. I like that chaise has a bit of a back which offers an extra seat or two.

image via The Madcap Cottage

image via The Madcap Cottage

This traditional and kind of preppy option has rolled arms, but they're not huge. Paired with a small slipper chair and an ottoman, it uses the space well and has a really inviting feel.

images by The Lettered Cottage featured on the  blog Southern Hospitality

images by The Lettered Cottage featured on the blog Southern Hospitality

Another great choice from The Lettered Cottage, this sectional works great for those of you with long, narrow spaces, like me. It offers plenty of seating and still provides room for a pair of similarly scaled arm chairs.

Here's a round-up of some great options from accessible retailers at different price points. I haven't personally sat in any of them, but they are definitely worthy of a look based on their reviews.

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Tips for choosing a sectional:

1. Measure. Measure. Measure. After you've measured your space and looked at the dimensions of the sectional, tape off those dimensions on your bare floor with painter's tape. It will give you a sense of how it will fit in your space. If you don't have an empty space, draw the space out on graph paper within the dimensions of your room. Don't bring anything into your space that won't fit or makes walking/living in the space a hazard.

2. Don't be afraid of their size. Sometimes, large pieces can actually make a small room feel bigger. The key is choosing the right scale for your room. Stick to pieces that are not overstuffed (think of the reclining variety) with pillow back cushions and arms. Also, try to avoid overly large arms which can eat up a lot of space. Instead, look for narrower arms or clean lines. Make sure that the scale you choose relates to the scale of any other chairs or tables etc. in the space. (don't have a tailored, streamlined sofa and a huge overstuffed recliner.)

Does you have a sectional you absolutely love? If so, please send me a picture! I'd love to share it here. You can email me here.