Friday, 2 November 2012

Musical chairs (and sofas).

The final room downstairs (apart from a small cloakroom) is what we refer to simply as the front room (or according to your recent list, the sitting room, living room or lounge). This space has good proportions, which makes it flexible and easy to reposition the furniture, which I do quite often. During the process of this tour the room has actually undergone a quick makeover. The photos show three different views of the room – each with a before and after photograph. 

The stripped floorboards and gas fire were inherited from the previous occupants, and the only thing we changed in here was to remove some fitted cupboards to the left of the chimney breast – this was so we could accommodate the plan chest (although in the latest re-organisation this has moved). I have owned the plan chest for about 25 years, I love it, and it’s very practical, but accommodating it can be quite challenging.

I miss the fact that I don’t have a mantle piece, so instead the hearth has become a display space. The wooden decoy duck was a present from some Dutch friends. This arrangement isn’t fixed and things get either added or removed sporadically. 


  1. I like the fact that you have owned your plan chest for so long P - it is like a major piece of furniture isn't it? I think due to it's dimensions, plus usually having a sofa(s) and chair(s) it is a challenge to accommodate all in the same room. Really nice that you show the room in different arrangements over time too.
    I guess that having the hearth as an alternative display space, gives you a bit more freedom in what you are able to show, as it's not so limiting size-wise as a mantle piece - and notice that you have/had some framed photos on the plan chest too. Do you use this room very much?

  2. Hi A - (nice surprise, as I wasn't expecting to see you on the blog this week). Yes, the plan chest is one of those pieces that I can't bear to get rid of – however challenging its size! It spent life in the cellar at a previous house as the rooms were not big enough, and has also been installed in a bedroom. I would be lost without it though, as it is a great storage space.
    Since these photos were taken the room has actually changed again, with a new sofa transported from the other house. We had a great recycling weekend, our old sofa was passed to my Mum, her sofa went to her partner, whilst his sofa went to his son's for the dog room (another named space that we didn't previously consider). All very environmentally friendly!
    You're right about the hearth having less limitations in terms of depth than a mantlepiece. My windowsills are also annoyingly narrow, and selectivity is the key when displaying items on them! (more of this later).

  3. I like the way you have 'domesticated' your plan chest P - using it's top surface as you would do any cupboard surface that is situated in a lounge: for a showcase of objects and items, rather than perhaps set up with a cutting mat, or just completely clear, awaiting a placing of the contents of the drawers in a storing and retrieving scenario as would occur in a studio etc.

    What a chain of events regarding the 'musical' sofas! Are we more likely to pass on larger pieces of furniture, as often we have invested more money in buying them in the first place, or perhaps their size relates to our guilt, in the idea of, 'getting rid of' something. So therefore it's easier for us to pass these items on rather than 'dump' them or break them up for disposal etc. I know that I have tended to pass on most of my used sofas for a variety of reasons ... also, as we move houses (in this country) we are usually limited by room size, and quite often, the 'old' sofa, just doesn't fit, or look right in 'our' house - but may be just perfect for someone else!

  4. What a strange coincidence that you mention the top of plan chest being a display area, rather than adorned with a cutting mat – as for the last couple of weeks that is exactly what has happened. I have been working in the front room quite a lot recently (usually just on the laptop) – and when the fire is on it gets nice and cosy, therefore it made sense to cut and trim paper in the warmest room; I doubt it’ll be a permanent feature though.

    To be honest I wasn’t sure about the arrangement of photos on the top – it is a large area, so difficult to arrange – in its previous position it just held the tv, dvd player and a light – so the frames will probably get moved about again soon – or I could add to the display to expand it!

    In terms of the sofas – I think you are right that guilt plays a large part due to the size of the object. I have often fallen into the trap when moving house, of specifically bought pieces of furniture just not fitting in – the green cabinet in the kitchen falls into this category!
    It always amazes me how, on tv programmes such as Grand Designs, after completing a new build – the owners will subsequently fill it with all newly purchased furniture – quite often design classics – what do they do with all the pieces they accrued prior to that point? Is it really that easy just to start from scratch? I think I have too many personal attachments to pieces to let go, or maybe it’s just being overly sentimental?

  5. Interesting to hear that you've been using the plan chest top for cutting due to carrying out your making in the warmest room, P. I guess that's the beauty of having a piece of furniture that has such a large top surface (can't think of another that would be perfect for cutting paper) but is not a table. I agree that 'decorating' this type of surface is not easy, as it's so deep, as well as being wide. I like the fact that framed photos can be easily removed and put back though, so think that's a good option!

    A sense of ourselves and our heritage (to some extent) is invested in the objects we own. We usually tend to affect change when we have gone through some kind of shift within ourselves - psychologically, experiential etc. This in turn makes us view these objects differently, either increasing or decreasing our associations with them.

    I wonder if the new builds on Grand Designs actually are furnished like that in reality, or perhaps brought in, just for the aesthetics of television and to enhance the 'new' property. I bet everyone has an 'under-stairs cupboard' even if it's not actually under any stairs (because they would be made from glass)it will be somewhere in the house ... but maybe I'm either just jealous or feel that it's healthy have to have some sentimentality, and even a little clutter in our lives!?

    Piles of paper are a speciality of mine.

  6. Wise words regarding the investment we make in objects; one of my sofas was inherited from my father when he moved abroad to live. It is an old (presumably) Victorian one with a ‘drop arm’ – I like the shape and have had it reupholstered several times – however it is the most uncomfortable sofa to sit on for any period of time – but that sense of heritage forbids me to sell it. Embarrassingly, it is always the sofa where guests seem to end up sitting despite my protestations to sit elsewhere.

    Yes, I am also convinced that everyone must have the equivalent of an under-stairs cupboard. It is the same with kitchen drawers – there is always one drawer in everyone’s kitchen that holds anything and everything, ours includes batteries (not necessarily all in working order), a flea brush (for long dead cat), cough medicine, matches, take-away menus for local Indian restaurant, cocktail sticks, plasters, the key for bleeding radiators, sun tan lotion, cooker instructions, a candle etc, etc. This was once an idea for an artists’ book – but it never got off the starting blocks!

  7. Ha, ha your kitchen drawer analogy made me laugh, I've had to go and investigate and report back. Whilst we have a whole kitchen drawer that is reserved for medicinal remedies and vitamins etc., the other holds: cling film, kitchen foil, baking parchment, bin bags, clothes comb, mini lint roller and refills, two canisters of x50 cocktail sticks, tooth picks (at least x50) in a dispenser, cocktail umbrellas, some party poppers, cleaning wipes for spectacles, party streamers, Oust All Purpose De-scaler in pouches, and a small home made bag containing string with silhouettes of two cats (back view) wearing red ribbons sewn on it's front. the string is poked through where the larger cat's tail would appear. Underneath the cats, the following words are sewn on, "Don't Pull Mine Pull Mother's!"

  8. Oh, and also a small box of 24 birthday cake candles.

  9. Wow - loving all the party accessories! there are some definite cross-overs here though. Your string bag brought back memories, my grandmother had something very similar - hers was kept in the pantry.


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