Thursday, June 25, 2015

Chicago Apartment: Coffee Tables

Adding onto yesterday's post, I wanted to pull together some (affordable) coffee table options that fit within the living room aesthetic.  

Some are more rustic, some more refined.  Some have storage (hello hidden remote controls) while some offer no clutter concealment.  Some have glass tops, some are solid wood.  Some are more beachy, which some are more elegant.  They really run the gamut - hopefully there are some contenders in there for the Chicago apartment.

Which are your favorites?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Chicago Apartment: Living Room Inspiration

Now that we've got the layout sort of figured out, it's time to start pulling together inspiration.  

These images came straight from Kira's Pinterest board, and it's pretty clear to see the common themes in what she likes:

Clean lines.

Traditional core pieces.

A little preppy.

A little nautical.

Light colors.

Gold accents.

Soft upholstered furniture.

Warm wood tones.

A few rustic pieces.

Based on things she has, and things she plans to buy along with her Pinterest pages, I pulled in a few benches, a coffee table, and a few table lamps that go with the look and feel of what she likes.

She already has the white console table, gold bar cart, and gold side table, (numbers 2, 4, and 7) and plans to buy this sofa from Pottery Barn (number 1).

What I like (and what I think she will like) about the other things I've pulled in (the coffee table, the lamps, and the benches), is that they are all within the neutral palate that she likes, and will serve as a canvas to bring in more color through additional accessories (pillows, curtains, art, table accessories, books, and perhaps the rug).

A few things to be very careful of based on the above pieces...

1. Too much gold.
Yes, there is such a thing.  With the gold side table, the gold bar cart, and a series of gold leaf abstract paintings she has, she already has quite a bit of gold going on.  The gold lamp will only work if she doesn't do the gold ottoman, and if it's placed on the console table at the far end away from the gold side table.  If she does the gold ottoman, it cannot be placed next to the gold side table, and the room will feel more balanced with the wooden table lamp on the console table behind the sofa.

2. Needs color
As I said, these pieces serve as a neutral canvas for color (and the ability to switch accessories out with the seasons for a different look and feel between warmer and cooler months).  If the curtains are neutral, the walls are neutral, the rug is neutral, and the pillows are neutral with all this neutral furniture already going on, this is going to look BORING.  At least two of the three (rug, curtains, pillows) need to have color and pattern going on to bring in interest - my recommendation would be either the rug and pillows, or the pillows and curtains, if she doesn't want to do all three.

So this is the jumping off point... time to source a few more pieces to choose from (coffee table, lamps, and chair / bench options) and then the fun stuff... the accessories and color that will bring life to the living space.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Furnishing a Chicago Apartment: The Layout

Hello friends!  It's been a while (does every post start like that now??)

I just got back from a weekend in Chicago, visiting my best friend, Kira.  She's about to move from a super modern high-rise apartment on the river, to a really charming spot in Gold Coast.

Luckily, the new place has an amazing layout - tons of light (which is essential for those long, dark, Chicago winters), and it is in the most amazing neighborhood.  It's all tree lined streets and darling brownstone walk-ups; a block from the lake, and it's brimming with restaurants, shopping, bars, and coffee shops.

It's amazing.  

The challenge is taking a completely empty apartment, and turning it into something really fabulous. This is where I have been enlisted to help.

This is her first apartment of her own, and while she already has some really good stuff (bedroom furniture, art, occasional furniture and accessories), she's also going to need to invest in some major pieces to complete the main living spaces.  Since she moves in just a few short weeks, we want to get ahead of everything now, and put together a game plan.

The first thing I like to tackle is the layout.  Over the weekend, we brought a measuring tape to the apartment, to get a sense of what can fit, and where everything should go. Each room is BIG, and based on cable hook-ups, doors, windows, and electrical outlets, it's set up for a good floor plan already.

Starting today with the living room, here's the layout we're working with:
The living room is open to the kitchen with a bar - perfect for barstools, and has an entire wall of windows letting in tons of natural light.

She needs this space to function as both living and dining areas so with the cable hook-up running along the left wall, the ideal layout looks something like this:

Since the living space is where she needs the most new furniture, we need to prioritize what she buys first.  Here's what's on the list of essentials and first priorities:
      - New sofa
      - Coffee table
      - TV
      - TV stand

Also on the list, but less essential or decorative are:
      - Dining table for hosting (and chairs)
      - Additional living room seating
      - Lighting (table and floor lamps)
      - Curtains
      - Possibly a rug

With this list of furniture, and a broad layout in place, I put together three layout options that could work for using this space as dual living and dining - good for hosting dinners, and get-togethers.

Option I: really good for entertaining - the benches are low to the ground, so they don't block off the view of the living room as you walk in.  They are also really awesome for entertaining when you need extra seating, or if you wanted to tuck them away for more standing room, they could easily go underneath the sofa table behind the couch.

Option II has fewer seating options, but brings in a desk to this space as well.  Since Kira will be working from home several days a week, I thought it might be nice to have a dedicated work space that isn't a) the couch b) her bed.  Having a desk makes for a more productive work day at home, and also helps you unplug - shut the laptop, put it in the desk drawer, and leave your work for the day at your desk when it's time to watch bad reality TV.

In this scenario, I didn't include a desk chair - I figure one of the kitchen table chairs can double as desk chair, and can be brought back over to the table if company is coming over.  The large side chair here could also be substituted with the dual stools.

Which brings me to Option III: the desk is gone, the additional seating is brought back, but the kitchen table has changed.  

I scooched everything in the room a bit closer to the windows to accommodate a slightly larger rectangular table. This can a) seat more people and b) double as a desk during the day while she works from home (whereas I find working at a circular table kind of annoying - there is not enough room on the sides of your laptop for note taking, or an extra mouse).

Each layout obviously has it's pros and cons, but which do you like best?

Side note to all this: There are more posts coming on this apartment - tackling questions like how to hang curtains in a tricky space, and more exciting... a few inspiration boards that detail out what pieces to buy to fill this gorgeous space.