Old Music Studio Needs A New Tune

Chianni Trestle Table Blue Lifestyle

Decorating Dilemmas is a weekly column in which our stylists answer your design questions, so you can tackle your home decorating project with complete confidence.

Dear How to Decorate,

When we purchased our cottage, known as Melody Manor, we were smitten. Even though it had seen better days, we were sure with our remodel and decorating ideas we could get the old girl to sing again.

Fast forward eight years and Melody Manor is singing a new tune but one of her songs is hitting a sour note – the old music studio turned family room is an awkward space with a powder room shoved in a corner, gross brown built-ins that don’t go the entire length of the wall, an old bay window, a drop ceiling, florescent ceiling lights, a wall unit air conditioner (draw back of a 1950s built home), an exterior door, and an odd L shape that makes no sense as a family room.

To try to make the space work we got rid of the drop ceiling and the bad convenience store lighting and replaced it with drywall and high-hat lighting. We painted the disgusting brown built-ins a crisp white, replaced the hardware and hung a flat screen TV, added crown moulding, and replaced the old bay window with a much larger, flat picture window. That improved the overall appearance of the room but the awkward space still disallows any “flow.”

We’ve tried moving the couch (about a million times), adding ottomans and end tables (and then removing them), adding chairs (and then removing them, too). We’ve put the kids toys in there to try to balance the space out, to no avail. My last attempt was a desk and that didn’t work either. Is there anyone out there with a solution? We would love Melody Manor to hit all the right notes again.



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Looks like you have been very busy with projects in your cottage.

Placing furniture in an odd space can be a bit of a challenge.  Functionality as No. 1 on your priority list can solve the decorating dilemma.

For the space outside you bathroom door, we suggest using pieces that will make your space efficient. In place of the sofa table, consider adding a couple of our Beadboard Entry Cabinets. This will organize the jumble of coats next to the bathroom door and provide toy storage.

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On the adjacent wall in the same corner, hang 2 or 3 shelves for storage then tuck a couple storage ottomans below the shelves. Consider our Jasmine Storage Ottomans as a great choice for finishing out this bonus corner of your room!

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In the empty corner with the adorable doll house, consider adding pieces that everyone in the family can enjoy. Create a functional space for games, crafts and occasional dining by adding a  trestle table and simple benches. Providing a family project space makes sense for your room. Consider our Chianni Trestle Table for that task.

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As a final suggestion, try updating the rug, under your sectional, with a fresh new look. Our Chevron Stripe Rugs are great examples of a bold new patterns for area rugs.

We look forward to seeing pictures of your updates!

Happy Decorating!

The How to Decorate Team

Do you have a decorating dilemma? Send us your own questions here.

How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.