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Reader Decorating Dilemma: Heather's groovy pieces

I recently posted asking for people to send in their dilemmas. I've received a few and plan to post them all.

Today, we will start with Heather, who writes in to say:

Dear Decorno,

I've been whining to my friends about this fan-light issue for months.  It was with great relief, therefore, that one of these kind people took pity on me,  pointed me in the direction of your blog and barked, "Take some photos and ask HER."

This is my home office/ guest room.  It is, obviously, still very much a work in progress but most of the big pieces are in place.  The sofabed is at least 30 years old and was recovered by my late parents in 1991.  The Saarinen 'desk' was our kitchen table while I was growing up.  The cumbersome wooden desk must go to someone via Craigslist who will cherish it but it belonged to my grandpa's fiesty sister and so I am having a hard time letting go of it.  I bought the brown leather club chair for about $300 at a musty highway-side junk store in the Loire Valley.  The sconces belonged to my grandparents in the 1930s.  So ask your delightfully spirited readers to please not be too cruel in their critiques of my stuff since it's more than mere stuff to me.  And all but the big brown desk are here to stay.

Facing south, this room receives more than its fair share of sunlight, which makes for fabulous toastiness in the winter but a thorough poaching during the summer.  There are some pot lights in the room but the last owners also had a cieling-light-with-fan mounted in the centre of the room. At the time of purchase, I scoffed.  It was a cumbersome, faux anglo-indian thing that offended my sensibilities.  Now, however, I see the wisdom of increased ventilation.  My design dilemma is:  Where can I  find a light-with-cieling-fan combo that works with my space, my stuff, and my wallet?  Almost everything I see out there is, for lack of a better word, gross.

Thanks for any answers you and your readers could offer with this question, or even with just general (but gentle) ideas on how to start pulling the room together a bit better.


Heather S.

Decorno says:

Well now... good news. You've got really good stuff.

I love the leather chair. I love the table, I love the big windows. I love the sofa (I would take off the arm-rest condoms, unless it's hiding cat scratchiness).

Ok, I just woke up, time to go get coffee and get ready for the real job (why can't I get paid for blogging??? Why god?). I will let our gentle readers get started on this one. I will join in progress with my ideas once the caffeine hits the blood stream.


Decorno said...

I just remembered this photo at the link below. The "after" photo at top of the link has an inoffensive fan/light thingy. It gives me hope that we can find something suitable for your place, Heather.

Anonymous said...

A few months back, Nick Olsen, blogger at Domino magazine's website, had a post about non-vomit-inducing ceiling fan/light fixtures. Just check the archives of his blog at I think some of the reader comments in response to his post contained other suggestions for modern, handsome fixtures without any of the usual faux-Victorian frou-frou.

Anonymous said...

PS: Your stuff IS good. The sofa could eventually use a brighter, lighter, fresher fabric, and the walls would be helped by a richer color, but you've got the makings of a lovely room. As Dec. says, the architecture is better than most of us are stuck with. (Those windows!!! Yowza!)

Jean said...

Assuming that the dimensions and openings in the room require the couch to be on that wall...

How about: put a table on the window end of your couch (table should be about level with your couch arm) with both of your pretty lamps on it and some objects you like to look at. At the other end, on the wall facing the window, put both sconces.

This would break up the fussiness of the symmetrical couch-table-lamp arrangement.

The tables now flanking the couch: I'd use them in a different room. They don't go with the lamps and the couch. They're too high and dark and heavy, and they make your sleek modern couch look trapped.

You have some light airy pieces (drapes, lamps, table, couch) and some heavy dark pieces (end tables, mirror). I'm all in favor of mixing things up, but can't see how these pieces would ever balance out. The room would likely be better without the mirror and endtables, given that you'll be taking out the desk, too.

I have a feeling you'd be unwilling to paint any of these, though some antique silver or gold type effect on the mirror frame might make it work in here. (Can't tell from the pic).

Re that cool desk: you've probably already considered this, but do you have a foyer that you could put it in?

Be the change..... said...

What a great room - once you get rid of the icky brown desk ( I mean beloved family heirloom ), i would concentrate on accessories, color and artwork. I think you have the bones there. I would remove the arm 'condoms' as previously mentioned and get some great greyish blue throw pillows -maybe one or two that are contrasty -a bright yellow or orange? I would also paint the walls a beautiful bluey sage color ( restoration hardwarish ). Great pieces!

Anonymous said...

Arm Condoms... hee!

Overall, some lovely pieces. I have no problem with the sofa's current fabric but it definitely needs some hits of colour with a pillow or two.

Can't see the dark mirror propped on the floor very well but it looks a bit large and austere for this room. And, you're not going to leave it on the floor, are you? Hang it high (in another room)... floor art and floor mirrors had their day about a decade ago.

Overall, a strong start. Wish I had the space for a guest room/ office!

Cote de Texas said...

I love the drapes and the table and the dark wood floor - she's got such a head start over 99% of the population out there! Love the snow outside too! Beautiful drapes, just gorgeous.

The sconces are too small there - maybe needs new shades - hard to see from the picture. the end table should go - can the sofa move somewhere else and put the table in front of that wall. Maybe paint that wall a different color. Or if the sofa stays - put an beautiful antique venetian mirror there - the juxtaposition will be beautiful with the modern pieces and the silvers will be gorgeous together. The couch needs some great pillows - some kind of skin, zebra, whatever kind of skin. Or a wonderful designer fabric for the pillows to pop off the sofa. A black and cream stripe dhurri would also pop and look wonderful in there. ok. bye - this was fun.

Anonymous said...

There are a 168 trillion fabrics out there! Give the zebra stripes a rest already!

Anonymous said...

If you put a painting or print above the sofa, the sconces won't look like they're drifting randomly across the wall.

Lisa Wilson (& Alfie!) at The Pickled Hutch said...

Good bones Heather. Personally, I love all the pieces you have in there. Unfortunately maybe just a bit too much furniture for the space. I would remove the end tables, push the couch to the window and move the desk to the right of the couch with the mirror hanging horizontally on the wall where it is currently sitting to reflect the light. This would balance the couch better with the sconces and with the desk open, give you a replacement endtable. A beautiful pop art painting with lots of oranges and greens framed in dark brown wood(to tie in the dark desk) above the couch and a couple orange throw pillows on it.
Are the endtable lights too big for the desk? If not, just a couple new inexpensive shades in a bright color would do the trick.
Doesn't solve the propellor situation though. Sorry
Lisa & Alfie

Lisa Wilson (& Alfie!) at The Pickled Hutch said...

Oops, just looked better a the mirror. Guess horizontal would be out of the question.
Lisa & Alfie

Lisa Wilson (& Alfie!) at The Pickled Hutch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cote de Texas said...

Anon: since everything I say you cut down and ridicule for some unknown reason - I said "animal skin, zebra, whatever kind of skin" AND if you kept reading said "wonderful designer fabrics" - but as usual, you pick one thing I say, then just try to make me look like a clueless fool with no design ability. Care to show your work to everyone so we can critique you as well? If not, please email me some pictures of your work so we can even the playing field here. My address is

Anonymous said...

Hi Joni,

The focus of the post is on Heather's home, not on your talents.

Heather's query is on ceiling fans, not sconce shades or Venetian mirrors or black-and-cream dhurries, none of which she mentioned.

Ceiling fans.

I'm sorry your anger management problems have gotten so out of hand lately. A lot of bloggers are giggling to each other about your constant feuds.

And yes, I think we ALL know your email address by now.

Cote de Texas said...


You had already answered her ceiling fan question - my post was in response to her second question:

"general (but gentle) ideas on how to start pulling the room together a bit better."

Thank you though for worrying about my ability to read a question accurately! I appreciate your concerns. Now, go start all that giggling.


Anonymous said...

Heather S. here. (Sorry, I haven't quite figured out how to sign in using this blogger/ identity thingy yet.)

I admit I was nervous to read these posts; how scary to put one's home at the mercy of such a keen-eyed and sassy crew! I know that y'all can be a tough crowd but was truly touched when I read your responses. *Seriously.* Thank you for only offering kind and thoughtful criticisms of my house.

Every piece of advice you generously shared has been remarkably useful. Even those I mightn't implement have helped me to see my furniture and space with an entirely fresh perspective.

Agreed: the sofa needs pillow! Grandpa's sis's desk needs to go sooner than later! The wall needs something large between the sconces! I will try some furniture re-arrangements, although with the room's layout, I'm not sure what will work.

If you have any more thoughts, please keep posting, as I'll continue to check back on this thread in the days and weeks to come.

I highly recommend that the rest of you email Decorno with photos of your own homes, too. If you are a 'fraidy cat, like me, simply plead for mercy as I did. You'll be astounded by how gentle folks here can be when begged. And you'll be floored by how many great ideas you can garner by brainstorming with this feisty band.

A Gracias Grande to Decorno for giving me this invaluable opportunity!

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