The previous owner's designer had divided the room into activity zones: bar; billiards, TV area, game table, and fireplace. Except for the bar, area rugs defined the boundary of each space. I read about arrangement ideas in long, rectangular, open spaces, and zones seemed logical, just as long as I didn't stuff them with clutter, which I dearly love.
Until I figure out what to do with this unusual space, I planned to use my old, pale blue sofa and chairs in the TV area. For now, I wanted to focus on the bar stools.
A large chain store offered a free in-house design consultation. A designer had back-to-back appointments in my area, but she could meet with me on such-and-such day. I was so relieved! I could put all of my cares away: a pro would help me match beige fabrics. Whew!
But when the designer showed up, my plan unraveled.
"You need four, maybe five, leather stools," she said. "Yes, you've got room for five."
I wondered if leather would fade into the bar. Also, one time I slid off a leather stool and fell on my butt. It was horrible. I could totally see that happening again.
A flicker of impatience crossed her face. "No, no," she said. "Leather will add texture."
I love leather, but the cost was pretty steep. I still wasn't sure it was right for the bar.
But maybe I just needed time to adjust?
The woman's gaze swept around the empty room, her expression inscrutable.
"You need to arrange furniture on diagonal," she said.
Why? Did it have something to do with a design law--that diagonal arrangements would somehow make the room seem less rectangular and cavernous? If so, which furniture did she mean?
Without explanation, furniture books and fabric swatches were whipped out. The designer smiled and pointed to a white, durable fabric, then she showed me a style--"You need this, the 'grand' sofa, maybe two -- and leather chairs. If you don't like it, no problem. You can return it."
You can't beat that, right?
An iPad came out. In seconds, she'd chosen a style and color. "Ready to order?" she asked, glancing at her watch.
Urm, well, no, I'm slow as molasses on an icy day. Besides, I liked the darker fabric and the smaller sofas. I was worried about scale. But I just said that I wasn't quite ready to buy a sofa, that I was using my old stuff. It's the truth. I want to move slowly. I just need bar stools.
Her smile tightened.
I felt like a bad customer. Someone who'd taken up time and didn't buy a damn thing. Someone who had asked too many questions, raised too many concerns. Maybe I should have kept my big mouth shut. When had I gotten so opinionated? So set in my ways? If I were more easygoing, I'd have bar stools by Christmas.
She waved at the walls. "Are you going to paint? What about dark brown? For when you buy the neutral sofas, I mean. You'll need something dark and dramatic on those walls."
I prolly do. In fact, I just got rid of dark green walls. I'll add color with art and accessories. I'm not repainting in my lifetime.
The problem wasn't the designer, of course: it was me. I'd been thinking about this room for over a year, and I still didn't have a plan. I'm no closer to finding bar stools or a workable furniture arrangement, but I'll probably try everything--in real life and in my mind's eye. Good ideas, bad ideas, and so-so ideas. If you don't try, you'll never know.
I thanked her for her time. And she hurried to her next appointment.