Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Big Blue Wall

Who doesn't love a big, cozy family room where you can comfortably host a party or just sprawl out for movie night?! Our family room is pretty spacious (at least compared to our previous city apt). For one thing, we can fit our entire sectional into the space, with plenty of room leftover for the pup (and occassionally the hubs) to roll around and play on the floor, etc. In our city apt, we had to break up our sectional and put 1/3 of it into our bedroom because it wouldn't all fit in our fam room.

Here's 2/3 of our sectional in the living room of our previous apt:

And here's our bedroom with the sectional's chaise:

While there were many things we appreciated about our city apt, we love our new, bigger fam room, and so does our sectional. Here's our family room with the sectional, all as one piece, when we first moved in:

And at Christmas:

Here comes the but.....

There can be some challenges when decorating a large room. For starters, we have a big, empty wall in our family room and I have been spending the last 6 months trying to decide how to decorate said wall. And how to incorporate a small end table between the wall and sectional. This corner is the only tight space in the room, and it's made even more awkward to furnish because of our heating floorboards that take up precious real estate in this teeny nook:

Throwing our budget out the window, my initial instinct would be to install a wall of built-ins. I adore built-ins not only because they are beautiful, but because they also provide an entire wall of storage. You can't beat that with a stick. Final bonus - built-ins are classic and most people would find them as a nice upgrade for if and when we eventually sell our house. Here is what I'm picturing:

living rooms - blue orange rustic dining table fireplace built-ins great room blue white striped chairs striped  Thanks to HB!   Lovely built-ins:
Decor Pad

living rooms - white sofas blue pillows yellow blue striped ottoman chair blue cushions bamboo roman shades built-ins shelves cabinets fireplace
Decor Pad

living rooms - Built-ins fireplace cream shelves  Beautiful built-ins next to the fireplace.    Rolled arm chairs, fireplace and built-ins cabinets
Decor Pad
There are two downsides to this possibility, I'm afraid. The first being cost. Having a wall of custom built-ins installed isn't exactly cheap. We're talking 4 figures here. And with new kitchen countertops in the works, a (big) landscape reno, a basement reno, master bath updating and a slew of other small projects...I just don't see the built-ins in our future. Besides, our heater baseboards also happen to line the base of the empty wall, and I'm guessing that could possibly pose a problem to installing built-ins, right??

So I've begun exploring other options. We considered these floating shelves from Ikea, which would be a great choice because they are very inexpensive and wouldn't interfere with our heating system...the only downside is the contemporary style of the shelves. For the coastal style of our family room (and entire house), these shelves wouldn't fit.

So, we nixed that idea and we let go of the storage search for awhile and focused on just making the wall look purdy. I created a mini art gallery to the left of the fireplace. To the right I've placed a wicker armchair (great find from Ikea - that fits our style!!!) and in the corner is our TV. I was hoping the picture gallery and the large flat screen would be enough to fill the walls while balancing both sides of the fireplace...and I wish I could say I'm lovin' it but I'm just not. Here's what it currently looks like:

Because of the size of the wall, I feel like I will need artwork or a display of a large scale on the left side to balance out the large 40" TV in the right corner (which soon will be mounted in the corner and will increase an additional 10" according to my husband). While the picture gallery display works in our living room:

I feel like the picture gallery in the fam room is just getting swallowed up by the large wall. And, while I know I could add a few more pics to the gallery to increase its overall presence, I'm not sure I like the idea of a picture gallery here at all now. I realized that just because a layout works in one room doesn't necessarily mean it will always work in another room. And, I also want to provide interest with something new in this room, versus a very similar gallery to the version in our living room.

So, what kind of large scale artwork could I use on this wall????? Throughout the year I've seen decorative mirrors (particularly sunbursts and windows) popping up in many decorating sites and blogs, just like the following:

bedrooms - Valspar - Bonsai - Ikea AINA Curtains gray walls Ballard Designs octagon mirrored tiled mirror jute rug gray blue geometric pillow bench
Decor Pad
bedrooms - white poster bed blue rug gold sunburst mirror blue lamps blue silk drapes  Love this bedroom!  The bed, mirror, lamps.....everything!
Decor Pad

Pottery Barn
I was particularly drawn to the look of the vintage window mirrors. (In fact, I already owned a smaller version of one, picked up at the Goodwill over the summer for around $5. It's patiently waiting in our basement to get a new coat of paint and then it will be moving upstairs to our dining room on our future "plate wall." Post for another day.) While this mirrored window plan could be also be a great idea for our family room wall, I'm not sure if it would work because we already have a large white mirror over our mantle. Wouldn't that throw things off just a bit? Think about it - it makes sense to have a mirror above the mantle, flanked by other objects (artwork, furniture, etc.) or vice verse - art or even a TV above the mantle, flanked by mirrors/windows/art on either side....but to have a mirror on the left wall, again in the center above the mantle and a TV on the right wall? Maybe it's just me,  but I feel like that's the farthest thing I could do from providing balance to our wall. So while the mirrored window wouldn't necessarily work, it did help me realize that if I could find a similar kind of large scale, vintage structure (minus the mirrored element) that just well could be the ticket! Bonus points if it went along with our coastal colonial theme.

So, the search is now on for a relatively large piece of vintage artwork in a colonial/coastal style. And, luck be a lady, last night I finally figured out the perfect piece! While looking at Pottery Barn online, I came across this photo:

Pottery Barn
Yes, I know it's a mirror -  but I love the nautical feel, large scale and deep brown color of this mirror. Our family room is pale blue and dark brown with accents of white and tan - a perfect match! So what kind of artwork could I find that resembles this mirror??? Then it hit me - a vintage ship's wheel!!!  Vintage and large-scaled? Check! Mirrorless? Check, Check! Colonial/coastal style? Check, Check, Check!!

A2 Amory
Last night I began scouring Ebay for my future ship's wheel wall art. So far, I am seeing a variety of prices, from as low as $30 to upwards of $800. And I admit, I'm scared to even look at the shipping costs of a 3-4 foot wheel. The search must go on, though! Does anyone out there know where one can buy old ship wheels other than online????

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