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Before & After: how to arrange furniture in an L-shaped room (or my living room makeover)

This, below, is how my living room was looking until quite recently. There had been a revamp brewing for some time. I kind of liked it but it had stopped feeling right, somehow. It wasn't happy.

Declan summed it up when he said that it looked pretty, but that 70 percent of the room was unused, dead space. And he was right, because we never ventured far from the green sofa.

Nor did the dog and the cat.

Our reason was that I'd put the TV directly in front of it, and very close, too. Below is an ugly photo from ages ago, which shows just how close it was.

And this is what the d├ęcor in this spot morphed into. An improvement of sorts in that it was warmer, but it always felt – and looked – like a temporary measure.

It was that classic "what do you do with an L-shaped room?" issue. I'd previously gone for a divide and conquer approach, giving the space multi-functional potential – in the second photo down from the top you can see there was a desk bureau in the top right corner, and my lovely yellow "writing chair", pimped by Out of the Dark. Tucked behind the door is the music area with my beloved old flashing light record player.

It all made more sense when I had lodgers and we didn't all want to budge up on the green sofa together (although, actually, we nearly always did because you couldn't see the TV from anywhere else). The idea was that I could be tapping on my laptop at the bureau while the sofas created another zone. But when the lodgers moved out, one-corner room thing became a thing. The rest of the space looked lonely. How could I reunite the two sides of the big "L" and give the room the happy feeling I knew it had the potential for? Months passed. It wasn't obvious. Until a lightbulb moment. Ta da...

The green sofa needed to be what you saw as you came into the room, not to be hiding around the corner – not because it's beautiful (it's not especially) but because it's surely good feng shui or something to be facing a door when it is opened. The old 60s leather sofa, which I had bought on eBay got sold again on eBay. And a cosy rug from the Plantation Rug Company came in.

As did a total bargain new clever coffee table by Leitmotiv (£25 ex-display, should have been around £80) which stops lazybones old me from having to reach too far to put down a glass or a plate when sitting on the sofa, since it has three table tops that swivel around to just where you need them, or stack neatly when you don't. It's very 1980s bachelor pad, or it would be if I had a black leather sofa. I like it.

There was an exciting eBay adventure to get the pink chair. We went on an expedition to Essex to pick it up and the guy who was selling it has a massive couple of barns stuffed with treasures, including some pristine Morris Minors, of which I posted some Instagram pictures. But back to the chair: I had in fact bought two much smaller versions in the same fabric, but when we spotted this one peeking out from behind a pile of chaotic, dusty furniture it was a much better size and he let us have it for £20.

The other L-shaped room revelation was the position of the TV, which I'll come to in a later post as I'm not going to share photos of the whole room now, since there are a couple of parts still under consideration (including the thing the newly well-positioned TV is sitting on). But you've got a little taster of what I think I'm happy with so far.

When the Morris Minor man told me the provenance of the pink chairs, and that he had had a great big job lot of them, I slightly went off the idea. Not because it was anything unsavoury – quite the opposite, they were in pristine condition having been in the lobby of a 1980s hotel that never took off. Too pristine? But I've grown fond of the chair again, and I do love that shade of pink.

And the palm, which is printed onto silk and was falling apart until rescued a few months ago by a frame, had been camping out in the bathroom, but it looked so good here that it had to stay. And don't worry about the fox.

She has been rehomed against the wall behind the dog's bed. They look quite alike, I think. And the monochrome canvas on the wall isn't, in fact, a curly version of the rug but a piece of fabric designed by Australian mid-century textile designer, Florence Broadhurst. It now hangs with much more breathing space outside the bedroom on a big, white hall wall. I've also got some of her Rampaging Horses' fabric as cushion covers.

The stripy fabric is by Sonia Rykiel and was picked up at a sample sale for under a quid. Luckily, a friend introduced me to possibly the friendliest and most affordable picture framer in London, and so having it – and the palm – framed was most manageable.

The Anglepoise was a chuck-out from Declan's old office (you can almost see the health and safety label on the base, must take that off). I quite like the pile of books that were meant to be a temporary prop. And the paint-splattered stool was my gran's.

And it's SO much nicer to be sitting by the window now. More photos of the rest of the room to come once I've finished faffing about it with it.

But, so far, it's an improvement, right?


  1. Definitely! Looks like a lovely calm airy room with plenty of stories. Itching to do mine, fancy coming over?

    1. Hi Miriam - thank you, what a nice description! What's holding you up? (Life tends to get in the way of home improvements I find... I had a few weeks between jobs before Xmas and did nothing else but sanding, painting and rearranging. It was exhausting but also the only way to get anything done!)

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  3. In love with everything in this room! I am currently on the hunt for a similar arm chair! I've nominated you for the Liebster award over on my blog its a really cute way of bloggers to get to know each other if you would like to join in :)
    Emma xx

  4. This project definitely turned out really well. It would be really tricky to arrange furniture around this L shaped room. Nice post.

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