Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

March 11, 2016

Capitalizing on the Lake View in the Living Room

I have news that I couldn't wait to share with you, but first - a warning:  I'm about to make the lakehouse living room a little less attractive, in the name of actually living in it more enjoyably.

Hubby and I have always tried to find that perfect balance (for us) between form and function when it comes to decorating our home.  We've picked a cushy sofa over a better looking, firmer model (is it just me, or do some of the best looking sofas look hard as rocks?).  We've found ourselves eschewing the modern dining chairs I love, in favor of something incredibly derriere-friendly.  Even our most polarizing choice - open shelving in the kitchen - was made in pursuit of eking out more storage.  Of course, "function" is highly subjective and what feels practical for one family might be an absolute nightmare for another (I always wonder about the inconvenient television placement in design magazines: the homes where no chair in any room actually faces the TV)!

Hubby and I spend a lot of time thinking about how we live in our spaces and what we want from our home.  This slows down our decorating process a lot but we really want to maximize every space.  This small house stumps us sometimes because every room needs to work double or triple duty.

But we have finally committed to some big changes in the living room and they're directed by our new life by the lake.

When we bought the lakehouse, I immediately envisioned the fireplace painted charcoal grey (check!) with the television mounted above it and a mid-century modern sectional facing the new TV/fireplace and the lake.  I wanted to be able to see the fireplace during our TV binge watching sessions (read: winter hibernation), but also be able to sit, chill and just look at the lake.  I pictured us reading and sipping tea, watching the otters skitter across the ice in the winter and using the binoculars to people bird watch in the summer.  I'm making us sound like the laziest people on the planet, but I'm not shamed of loving downtime.  There's something about living lakeside that makes people really chill...

Dark Grey Painted Brick Fireplace

Despite this vision for our new lake life, after the house became ours we moved in all of our old furniture from the townhouse - our secondhand sofa, our splitting at the seams tufted ottoman, our beloved Ikea Besta wall unit, plus my pretties: the minty chair and velvet chair I had recovered - and faced all of the furniture away from the lake, toward the television.  With these pieces, we also moved a mid-century modern sectional I bought (fourth photo down in this post) on impulse the day before we moved.  Although I love it and it fit the plan, we hesitated getting it recovered and so it's been languishing in the garage.  Although Hubby initially like it, he longed for something a little more cushy.



We were really lucky that our old furniture fit quite nicely in the living room of our new home because we didn't need to spend any money right away, plus I liked how it looked.  I stole some tables and lamps from my Mom and then it came together really well.  But it bothered me that the sofa obscured our beautiful view.  I couldn't really figure out another floor plan, though, without completely tearing down the fireplace wall, rebuilding it with room for a television, and then putting into place my dream living room layout. 

Where to Put the TV in Living Room

This winter I decided that I couldn't wait for the "someday" when we'll re-do the fireplace to take advantage of our view.  I started sketching floor plan options and thinking seriously about how to re-work the living room.  Actually, no room was safe from a potential re-design!  I even wondered if it might not be a good idea to ditch the fauxdenza, put banquette seating and the dining table in that nook, and then a pair of cushy reading chairs where the dining room table is now, but that seemed kind of awkward.

Grey, Blue and Teal Living Room

Ultimately we realized that the television above the fireplace is the best layout for the living room but we don't want to rush into that project so we crafted a transitional plan: buy the huge sectional sofa we want so that we can face the lake and then move the television into the corner (to the left of the fireplace) for now, while we plan and save for a fireplace re-do.  It's kind of what the former owners did, although we won't be shoving the TV quite so far into the corner.  Along the way, Hubby definitively vetoed the mid-century sofa, which I think was the right decision because we ended up going with something larger:
Modern Comfy Sectional
We just ordered a huge, modern leather sectional sofa and matching storage ottoman!  The sofa style pictured above, but imagine ours longer, in creamy white leather with walnut legs. 

The part against the wall (where the TV is now) will be almost 12 feet so we can totally relax and see the lake - with nothing block the view.  The other part of the sectional, nearly 8 feet in length, will face the fireplace.  We will have tons of seating space to chill and hang out (or nap...), with most of the seating facing either the lake or fireplace - but we can still see the television perfectly!

Mid-century Modern Inspired Living Room

I cannot wait.

We rearranged our existing furniture one night to create a mock up and it was amazing how much brighter and bigger the living rooms felt when there wasn't a hulking sofa in front of the window!  I figured that with so many windows, it wouldn't really make much of a difference, but it does.

Lake House Living Room

This new layout means that, for now, the living room has lost some of its "show quality": the fireplace symmetry will be obscured, the television will no longer hide out in our stylish Besta unit (I am going to miss that beachy glass background), and one of my pretties (the velvet chair) is getting the boot and moving into a reading nook I'm carving out in the office.  My McCoy pottery collection will soon be displaced as well, but these are small sacrifices.

Teal Velvet MCM Chair
McCoy Pottery Collection

So that's my incredibly long-winded, meandering explanation for why we've ditched the plans to recover the MCM sectional I lugged 1600km, ordered the largest sectional I've ever seen, and are shoving the television into the corner: the living room is now all about the lake view...

And, to counteract our slothfulness, we've decided to move forward with plans for the office, too, but now they involve a treadmill so we can keep moving, even in the dead of winter when all we want to do is burrito under some blankets and binge watch The Walking Dead.

We have to wait 8-10 weeks for our new sofa to arrive so that's giving us some time to sell our cream leather sofa and the mid-century beauty I've hoarded for two years (sorry, my friend).  We're going to take apart and hack the Besta for a budget-friendly stand-in for now while we figure out plans for building custom TV stand.  We're also dreaming up ideas for a sofa table for the Lotte lamps (the local lumber yard keeps tempting me with solid walnut). 
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27 comments

  1. Wow. I thought you were going to say youbjust splurge on a new ottoman but dang you are shakin up the place. I cant wait to see it.

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    1. I'm SO happy that we kept waffling on that ottoman purchase, lol. I'd hate to have bought it only to decide now that we're doing something different with the layout and want something bigger/longer/narrower/etc.

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  2. I think those will be fun changes! I'm sure you will never get tired of your gorgeous view so I agree, showcase it! Can't wait to see how it all looks :)

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    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Elaine! It feels weird to reconfigure a space that looks good (to me, anyway) but I'm so, so excited. I promise I'll share as soon as the new piece is delivered!

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  3. This is totally what I would do with this room. I can't wait to see what this looks like.

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    1. So good to hear! It's such a huge change - and a big commitment because once that sofa is delivered there's no going back - but I think it's really going to change things for the better.

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  4. Lawd it took me longer than I'd like to admit to understand "With these pieces, we also moved a mid-century modern sectional I bought (fourth photo down in this post) on impulse the day before we moved." I kept scrolling down on THIS post, the one I was reading and looking at the couch pic and saying "that's not old, that's not the one they bought before moving, that doesn't need to be recovered" I was so confused. But you meant the 4th pic in the link. Duhhhh @ me. lmaoooo. One of those days I guess. Anywho...... that couch looks sooooooo comfy cozy, except for the idea of leather, I'm not much a fan of leather furniture. I must be extra hot blooded because I stay on the warm side and always find I am so hot on leather furniture. Must be all my extra insulation aka fat lol. And me and white anything don't mix lol. I love the one in the pic here with the grey fabric. But I know the white leather will look fabulous in your place.

    Maybe the tower part of the tv stand with the pottery can be put where the plant stand is now, right next to the doorway to the hall, and the plant stand can line the back of the sofa facing the kitchen. I'd hate to see all those pretties be hidden away.

    I guess you'll have to have the mantle lowered and close up those vents and reroute them somehow before being able to put the tv there huh?

    Is the bump out beside your table a hall closet?

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    1. Oh gosh, sorry about the confusion! Maybe I need a colour on the links that stands out more. I probably should have just included the photo but I couldn't find my original copy and the one in the link seemed blurrier than mine was so I didn't want to snag it and add it.

      After The Great Taffy Incident of 2000 with my parents' tweed sofa (I'm pleading the fifth) I've been a fan of leather for its wipe-ability. I was worried when we switched from brown to cream but it looks so good still - even after moving it twice. I HOPE I can keep this white one clean too! I did consider a darker grey leather but because it's so huge, it really made the room feel dark. A normal sized sofa would look great in grey. That fabric is really nice in person (I saw it paired with a nubbly green tweed ottoman on a showroom floor). It tempted me for a minute, especially because there was also a teal tweed. Droooool.

      If you've been hot on leather furniture, it might be the kind of leather. I learned a bit more about it during the shopping process and different leathers are more/less breathable, which I'd never even thought of. I run cold so I find it's a bit cool to the touch in the winter but under a blanket I warm up quickly. In Ottawa we used to get stuck to the couch on sweaty days, lol, but we don't have that kind of humid weather here, ever. I wear sweatshirts all year here, but it gets a lot hotter in town. I'm jealous you stay warm! I have insulation too but it's never done me any good but help me float in the water when I'm swimming :)

      I like the idea of putting the McCoy behind the sofa. We'll have 15" of depth for a sofa table/cabinet and I could reorient the Besta and make a credenza on legs. Something to noodle on, thanks!

      The mantle is built right in so I think we're going to tear it down and re-do it all. Taking out just the mantle would require some smashing. That way we can get a different/bigger fire box (this one is SO small and so old) and lower the mantle at the same time. I'm thinking of a much more clean-lined look, too. That's why it's such a huge project that we fully intend to ignore for a bit, lol.

      That bump out is my linen closet - good eye. To the right of the floating credenza is another bump out and that's the front hall/coat closet. I know I frustrate you by not sharing a floor plan. I should just doodle one and send it as a private message to you on IG.

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    2. No worries about the link thing, I think it was a me issue, not a link color issue lol

      Buahahaha @ the great taffy incident of 2000, you're funny. lol.

      Yeah that would be a good idea to reuse that other part a sofa table, maybe can even reuse the back glass panels to top it or something of the like so you can keep the color you like.

      The fire place seems like a huge project but I have no doubt it will look awesome, you have a great eye for all the details.

      As for the floor plan, lol, it did frustrate me for a bit because I'm such a visual person and if I can't picture something it drives me batty. But I think I have it all figured out now, even the fish room lol. One I didn't about until just right now is how to get into the basement. But it's kind of like a mystery and over time I figure them out lol. Yes I have no life. I remember I thought the orientation of your office was one way, and I just always pictured it this one way, and then in one post it finally included the door and it was totally opposite than what I thought and I was like whattttttt?! lolll. Yeah, I need a hobby lol.

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    3. I also might have a home for those Besta units in the office. We're re-working the closet, so I'll need a place to stash stuff. I'm being way too chill about it. Normally I have everything planned and graphed and sketched but these days, I'm all "let's just see what it looks like".

      You know where the fish room is??? Hmmmmm. And the basement entrance? I feel like we should do a wager here, lol.

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    4. It's good to be chill sometimes. I think often that is when our best ideas and outcomes appear, when we don't over think it. When I overthink things it just allows me to procrastinate even more than I already do.

      Hahahaha yup! I figured it out when you were painting/staining the deck. Sorry, typos in my last response, but I haven't figured out the basement entrance yet, still working on that mystery. But I'm thinking maybe it's in the fish room or outside access.

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    5. It's funny because usually we are so on top of things but this past year we've let a lot slide and we keep joking about how we've been rewarded for our procrastination, like waiting too long to buy a part for some house reno & the problem solves itself, or waiting to long to buy something & it goes on massive clearance. I could live forever like this, lol.

      Oh yes, the deck staining... You've got a keen eye! But I bet I could still surprise you with it - like did you know it has two doors, lol? There is a give away clue to the basement too. In the house tour...

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    6. The fish room has 2 doors? Hmmm interesting. And I'll have to go back and look at the house tour and see what I can find lol

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    7. Ok I figured the basement out I think......... by your front door? I always thought that was the hall/coat closet. And I am guessing about the fish room...... one on the side and one on the front? Non lake side? Or you counting the firewood door? You do have that right? Or am I imagining I read that or thinking of someone else? I also noticed something else long ago, do you have a central vacuum and one of those baseboard access points for it? I always wanted one of those. I swear I see one at the bottom of the wall on the bump out (actually hall/coat closet in the kitchen. I noticed it back when you had a camera crew in the house, I think it was for Canadian Tire.

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    8. You're right about the fishroom, but not the basement! The hallway has three closets. You'll have to guess again, lol. Am I being terrible?
      Yes, this home was set up to have central vac but we don't have it. The walls are outfitted but it goes nowhere, the system was never set up. It's so weird. I'd love to complete it and make it functional, but it's not on the to-do list right now.

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    9. Ah ok. No you're not being terrible, I love a good puzzle. I'll figure it out. Does one of the fish room doors go down there? Or Maybe the basement has an external entrance. Hmmmm I'll be keeping an eye out lol

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  5. I think you have to live in a place for a while to really get a feel for how you will live in the space and what works for you. Can't wait to see the lake view in all it's glory! x

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    1. I definitely agree! We would have made some big mistakes had we renovated the bathroom right away, for example. I like that we did some temporary spruces because it made the house feel comfy and very "us," but it gave us time to see how we want to live here.

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  6. Have you thought about a wall mounted TV arm that swings? It can lay flat against the wall when not being used but swing out for TV binge watching.

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    1. We did think about that option (I even had a company offer to send me one for free), but we'd have to put it against the wall to the right of the fireplace which would mean that there would only be a few spots you could see it from once it swung out, unless you sit sideways on the longest part of the sofa. We were really committed to the sofa facing the lake and fireplace so that limited that option. Plus made storing all the components and wires are tricky with a TV in that position. But it is a really good idea and offers a lot of flexibility in a smaller living room! We've also been toying with building a cabinet that is a chest that flips up to reveal the TV but that's going to take some engineering and we're not sure how to affix the TV so it can be stored horizontally. Thanks for the suggestion, though, I appreciate you taking the time to propose an idea :)

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  7. Love it! I know how you feel when a new and improved plan disrupts something that you've created and had been working well. But this will take advantage of the view- which is, after all, a key reason for living lakeside.
    That large sofa is beautiful- our family could put that to good use. When we purchased ours, we choose a two seater with lounger and it was large in our old house. But now we have the space and since my kids are now much bigger, we could use the three seater with lounger. It's hard squeezing in around daddy (who enjoys watching the tv from a horizontal perspective). May be time for an upgrade.
    I think your new sofa and layout will be beautiful- we know you can may it lovely again.

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    1. Such a funny feeling to dismantle a room that, for all intents and purposes, could technically be called "done" - even if I had other plans for it from the start. Feels very counter-intuitive, haha.

      It's funny how fast a sofa fills up! I am the one guilty of doing a lot of horizontal viewing around here, lol. Well, if you decide for something bigger I hope you find the perfect one! I was thinking about doing a round-up of good-looking sectionals because I actually found quite a few, although in my small city the options were much more limited.

      The countdown begins :)

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  8. I CANNOT wait to see it!!!! You are so right, having such a beautiful lake just outside and not being able to capitalize on the view would be such a loss. So excited for your new room! Although I think I will miss the velvet chair a bit ( is that weird? Tht one of ur readers will miss it 😂) But I'm confident u will work in some aqua there :) . I also think the way part of the sectional will work as room divider is a great idea! I'm so so excited to see the new room!

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    1. The neighbours must have thought we were crazy when we pushed our sofa against the wall of windows, lol, but that's what worked for the time being. I will miss the teal chair too!! I love it with the living room and dining room artwork. The minty one is staying and the velvet one is going to help my sad little office feel cozy. We're finally going to get to that and make it a beautiful, functional space so you'll see that chair again. You're so right about being a room divider - the sofa will do a nice job of defining the spaces a bit more and reducing that bowling alley feel we've got right now. I'm excited too!

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  9. I can imagine how relaxing is your room overlooks the lake.

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    1. I think once we fix our janky dock, it will be even more relaxing, lol. Right now all I think about is how much work our landscaping needs... :)

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