Monday, February 29, 2016

Decorating Diary Or The Argh Files

 I don't know. At the time, buying furniture from Ethan Allen seemed like a good idea. 
After all, an in-house designer was part of the package, and since I no longer trusted my own skills, I was happy to lay down my burdens, even if it meant opening my pocketbook. The furniture was ordered in November, and the long wait began. 
I stayed busy.



But I was always waiting, thinking about the new furniture. It had been a decade since I'd bought a new sofa and chairs, so this was an event. I'd ordered:
 2 sofas, 2 leather armchairs/ottomans, a round leather-topped accent table, 2 rugs (on sale), 2 wing chairs, and a fabric ottoman.

On an overcast day in late February, the furniture arrived, I asked the designer if he would come over and help. I also asked him to bring lamps, art, just anything he thought would look good. 
He arrived empty handed, saying he'd been busy at the store. First, the rug went down.  It seemed a bit small, but the designer said it would be fine. (A side note: Another rug had been ordered to put under the pool table, but these behemoths are surprisingly dainty, the slate easily damaged. Matching rugs would look good, yes, but my husband plays pool every night. If the table were damaged . . . . No way would I put design ahead of good times!


A handsome table was placed under a chandelier, and the designer decorated it, using stuff I had lying around.


The sofas were smaller than I'd expected, but, as the designer said, larger ones would have created a log-jam with the leather chairs, especially when they were reclined. The designer had chosen fabrics well--I liked how the plaid pillows enlivened the room and worked nicely with the draperies and rug.


To accommodate the large leather recliners and ottomans, the designer moved the sofas to the far end of the room, near the television. (Note: The upper part of each chair reclines via a hidden lever, but no footrest pops out; so a separate ottoman is needed if one wants to be comfy.)

I liked the furniture; it was pretty. The rug wouldn't be a maintenance nightmare like sisal.


 The designer asked if I loved it, and I told the truth. We had an Alice in Wonderland situation. The sofas seemed small, and the chairs seemed too big. Indeed, the recliners reminded me of a media room. They commanded center stage. And, the lack of symmetry with the sofas (in relation to the room itself--and the other elements) bothered me. I knew the sofas couldn't be centered with the fireplace or chandeliers, but couldn't they be moved a little? 
"Just live with it a few days," the designer said. He left, promising to find coffee tables and lamps and other goodies.
When you've waited so long for furniture, I guess expectations go through the roof, especially when you've worked with a designer. Maybe I thought a designer would be bullet-proof.




I shopped the house for old stuff, trying different arrangements.


For days and days, I rearranged the chairs and sofas. I dropped an ottoman on my big toe, but kept going, determined to find a cure. The room looked less jumbled after I removed the ottomans. 

      But you have to live in a house, you know?

Since I am now wary of Ethan Allen, I found a small black table for $39 at HomeGoods and put it between the chairs. Almost immediately I realized that we needed a lamp. [Please ignore the elk, or whatever, piece. It's from another life. But it showed me which size lamp I needed--and didn't need.] 


I like the old coffee table, but the sofas are far, far away. Because of the chairs, the sofas can't be scooted nearer to the table. 

It seems to me that if you have recliners and ottomans, they should be used, not tucked away (only to be pulled out when the men watch TV--they've been very kind about it, I must say). A room doesn't function well if you have to keep moving stuff for comfort.  


I tried angling the ottoman-less chairs, and that gave a little more room. Maybe a round table would be better, especially if it's lower. But I don't want to think about this!

I didn't find this until later, but the console was supposed to have solid wooden doors, not glass. I found the wooden panels in a box, but I don't have a clue how to install them. 
Argh. Argh, argh.

The leather was a great choice for the guys--it lowers their anxiety. The white sofas have raised mine. I have taken to reading on the old sofa, reveling in its comfort and cheery shots of pinkness.

But back to the Man Cave and my diary.
Three more pieces of furniture were delivered that day: wingchairs and a fabric ottoman. They were earmarked for an arrangement next to the fireplace. Oddly enough, the wing chairs had given me the most anxiety. I hadn't been crazy about the shape, though I saw where the designer had been going--he'd wanted a bit of height. I think. This space is narrow at one end, and the designer's arrangement was squished. The chairs looked better angled.


I bought a floor lamp for $39 at HomeGoods.

I haven't even begun to think about a rug in this spot.

I found a Paula Deen desk at a local store, and it felt just right in this sunny corner. It was on sale--the last Paula desk in middle Tennessee. I used an old, beloved chair, but I would eventually like something more comfortable.

All of this decorating has worn me to a nub. So, it's back to gardening and birding for a while.

36 comments:

  1. You have an amazing taste! I don't think you need a designer. Have a great day!

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  2. My take on a design delimma is if I don't like it right off the bat, I don't usually grow to like it at all. You have wonderful taste and ideas and from reading this post, I think you're not sure at all about the sofas, etc. Also, I think the "decorator" was very unprofessional. Kim over at Savvy Southern Style is having a huge problem with EA having her custom furniture delayed over and over....she's about the cancel her order from what I understand.

    I don't know what to tell you but I say go with you gut. If you aren't happy now, you won't be later on.

    Good luck!

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  3. I would hate for you to always dislike that room... I have been hearing more and more stories of people dissatisfied with their Ethan Allen purchases. Maybe it's them, not you...

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  4. I understand about not buying new furniture all the time.....it took me awhile to decide between having my old chairs recovered or ordering new ones.....the old won. Still, it was a long wait. I love your new chairs by the fireplace. I see what you're trying to "cure" with the sofa area. My Mom said one time about flower arranging....you might know you don't like the arrangement, but you you won't know why. I think your continued attempts to work in the area might yield happy results in the future--esp. if the designer comes back with extra items. For now, I"m with you--- I'm in the back yard trying to get a jump on spring and get rid of the moles that have taken over part of my back yard. ;(

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  5. I am having issues with EA, too. My coffee table just came today and I do love it. My sofa was ordered last October and fingers crossed I will have it by the end of the month. I was told Jan 9 then it was moved to 2-24 and then moved again to 3-21. Supposedly the fabric is on back order. The designer called yesterday and said we are still on for 3-21. Not holding my breath. I had asked to choose another fabric and they said that puts me back at the beginning of the 10 to 12 week wait and I told them that was so wrong. I also asked to speak to a manager and she said she wasn't in that day and would have her call me. That never happened. I had told her that I was cancelling the order if it gets moved again past 3-21.
    Your room looks much better without the ottomans. You mentioned recliners, but then you have ottomans. Looks like recliners would be better so you wouldn't have to deal with the ottomans and they can still put their feet up.

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    1. Kim, I read about your delay on Instagram. I hope they deliver your sofa when they promised. As for my chairs, Only the upper part reclines via a lever, which is tucked inside the chair. So we needed ottomans. I wish I'd bought a regular recliner.

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  6. Just a quick note that I think you have excellent taste. Follow your instincts. I think this rug is too small. I'd much prefer a larger rug so you may bring the sofas in more to completely sit on the rug and to move the leather chairs back some. The leather chairs look so much better angled.

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  7. I've had this happen to me where I am expecting so much and when it comes I'm like the band just fell out of tune… but usually in a short while I get adjusted to everything and then I can see that it's ok. Personally I like everything you got. Those sofas are awesome with the big rolled edge. Seems like the rug may be too small and is causing you to feel like things have to be grouped together too closely. It's such a large room it's easy to not get the scale of things right. Seems like a nice big square coffee table would work well too. Looks like there is room behind the two leather chairs to put a bookcase on the wall? Gosh don't be afraid to use your furniture. I had a sofa and love seat from Ethan Allen and it was a creamy white. I had younger kids at the time and had no real problems with it. We had a big tufted ottoman that saw the worst from people's feet etc., but it took the abuse well. I know their fabrics were treated to resist stain so I'm imagining they still are. Where's Bunny Williams when you need her!!

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  8. I absolutely love your sofas! Leather...I have some, but in the great/tv room for hubby mostly. And I love that you don't mind mixing HG bargains with EA. I do the same. :-) Now I feel better. I also love your chair grouping with the fireplace. Could you make an "L" with the sofas and bring in the leather chairs to form a "U" ??? I know things will work out. I injured my knee changing sheets on the bed this weekend. I did a squat to tuck in the sheets on the corner and jammed my knee cap into the solid wood poster leg. Ache. Hurt. Pain. Better today though. Crazy how we injure ourselves with house jobs. ha. Take a deep breath! All will be well in time. Sheila

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    1. Our minds work the same way. I thought the same thing--an "L" and a "U." I even reoriented the rug. But the men couldn't see the TV as easily, and the ottomans gobbled up space, crowding the coffee table. The chairs are huge blocks of dark leather, visually off-putting, and they need kidney pillows for comfort--the right ones will turn up one day. :-) So sorry about your knee. Feel better soon.

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  9. EA of now is not the EA we grew up with. You don't 'grow to love it'... you learn to tolerate it. And your "designer" is a putz who obviously doesn't care about your commission.

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  10. totally amazing, and so gorgeous!!

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  11. The sofas and leather chairs are pretty and look comfy, that is what matters to me.

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  12. Nothing pleases me more than two sofas facing each other!

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  13. Oh my word, I feel your pain. Scale and proportion are a real pain and this looks like it has been a trial to put together. Just a thought, how about the two sofas in an L shape. Move things around, it might work better.

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  14. Try turning the rug lengthwise?? See if it works??

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  15. I think you have excellent taste, Michael Lee, and you know best how your family lives. I really like the leather chairs at an angle, and it does look less crowded without the ottomans. What does the room look like with the sofas at an L shape? Just wondering if you'd tried it that way? The sofas are beautiful, btw, and the plaid pillows look great. Your blue reading room looks so pretty....I would love being sprawled out there, reading a good book!

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  16. Oh my, what a headache! It is so hard to decorate a room, for functionality but then also for what looks please to the eye. Have you tried an L shape for the couches, with the chairs on one side? I do like those white sofas. I have a white sofa and I *may* have spilled a blue m&m on it and it *may* have melted on it and it *may* be stained forever but now I just put a throw on it, that I used anyway so oh well. Why have a pretty sofa if you can't sit on it?

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  17. Is one ottoman big enough to be shared if the chairs are angled? Then the 2nd ottoman could perhaps be used in another location. It's frustrating when reality doesn't match our mental image. Time can make a difference - it also gives the mind a chance to work on solutions in the background, hopefully giving us a Eureka! moment later on when things come together.

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  18. My mother loved Ethan Allen and our house was full of it, but we lived in a small town and in the fifties it didn't come with a designer. I agree with the others, you have excellent taste, better that the designers in my opinion. I think you've done a great job. It's important to respect the way others live in the house. I bought a white slip-covered sofa from Pottery Barn a couple of years ago only to find my husband hates it. (He was in favor of it in the store BTW.) So please yourself and your family first. Everything always works out in the long run.
    Sam

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  19. I like the adjustments you are making from the designer's original idea. Great idea to angle the leather chairs. Could you put one ottoman between the chairs so that each person could put their feet up on it.......at an angle of course. I love the throws, the desk and the chairs by the fireplace. This large room is really starting to come together.

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  20. I would be so upset, you are handling this well. I love your taste and you know when it isn't right. Doing a reno takes so much out of you that I totally understand why you passed the reigns. We are still in an ongoing live in reno. I look back on choices etc and they just don't feel right and they are things I can live with with a few personal tweaks. It's a lot of money and they are choices you will be living with for a long time. Push them to make it right! I did that once with a beautiful leather sofa and chair. I just knew I wasn't going to be able to live with it. They took it back and more discussion went into what would fit our lifestyle. The right pieces were found. I hope they will choose to work with you. Perhaps a few nice throws for the sofa's for family use would work? Good luck! Patty/NS

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  21. I am so sorry for all the trouble the designer is giving you. To spend the amount of $$$ you did and he shows up empty handed? That's just really poor customer service. I have seen such bad reviews about EA about their designers and service. I know that once we have to replace our current one, they will be on the "Not On Your Life" list. You have the patience of a Saint and I admire it! Because I would have made my feelings known. LOL

    I went back and re-read your post, because I thought maybe I might have missed something. But I am on your side on this and it sounds like you don't think that couch(s) chair grouping is working for you. And if that's the case? Don't be afraid to call them and return it before it is too late. You and your family are the ones who are going to have to live with it. I do think you're right. The couches are too small, and those leather chairs aren't working. They seem to be a "man cave" decor thing and your couches seem to be a timeless french inspired traditional thing. But I am no designer. (Hope I didn't offend you with my opinion, my goal is simply to say "I give you permission to be a witch and call that designer so and so back, and tell him to come get his stuff. If that's what you want.)

    XO,
    Christine

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  22. I like where you are going with your room...some rooms are just more challenging! I love two sofas across from one another, but was wondering if you'd tried an L arrangement? Then your two reclining chairs w/ottomans, could be perpendicular to the tv/console, and I would think there would be more room. I love your fireplace arrangement...so warm and cozy! I wish you luck. I think you are on the right track....you'll know it, when you see it! In the meantime, enjoy your birding! ;)

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  23. One more idea...
    Could you L the sofas but reorient the angle, along with the rug. The place where the sofas connect would be straight in front of the tv. Float the chairs at the end of the sofas. I hope this makes sense. I absolutely love your sofas! Sheila

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  24. I love your sofas and chairs!! I also like the ottomans, but agree that they make the space look "off balance". Sometimes comfort has to take precedence, especially in the man cave. I think you'd be happier with an oval table between the ottomans which would allow angling or straight. If you're table was the same height as the arms of the chair, you'd be less likely to bump it with an elbow and knock something over. (experience speaking) I love the fireplace arrangement and the turtle shell with the flowers on either side look great. You're doing a great job!!!

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  25. The picture of your Paula desk and that lovely chair is so pretty, I had to Pin it :)

    Here's my two cents, darling friend...

    I don't think you need a decorator. You have excellent taste and you know what you love, they won't. People that hire designers don't know what they want and I'm sorry if it offends anyone, but they usually don't have their own taste either, so they buy it.

    An example is my mother. For years she had a designer until she realized that he wasn't actually designing anything. He was just bringing stuff over and she was saying yes or no and putting it together the way she wanted. Basically she was the designer and he was the bringer of goods. So she got rid of him and started decorating on her own. Funny thing is most people think she should decorate for a living. She couldn't though, because, like me, she's too blunt lol

    Anyway, I think you should trust yourself and take it slow. It's not a race ;) And I'd fire the EA guy. He sounds like an idiot.

    love to you,
    rue

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  26. I think the sofas are lovely and work with the chairs. What I'm seeing from the photos and from your comment about the sofas being too far from the coffee table is that the coffee table is too small for that area. I would think about a wider coffee table (possibly square) that would fill in the gap. I think the scale of the coffee table might be what's giving you angst...

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  27. Why don't you send the recliners and ottomans back, and get different recliners that actually recline without ottomans? I think you could work with the rest of the pieces.

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  28. Oh, thank yall so much! Great ideas! I did try the sofas in an L, and I reoriented the rug. The arm chairs still gobbled up the space, and the men had to twist their heads to see the TV. I need to show the wall behind the chairs--it is chopped up by a huge upholstered bench (built in), which is, unfortunately, structural but messes up the furniture arrangement. The old coffee table is all wrong--it's not even functional in this space.

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  29. I think your old coffee table would look lovely in your living room.

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    1. I'm anxious to put it down there. I unpacked three much-loved gilt-framed egg prints, and I think they would be happy with that old table. :-)

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  30. You have great taste and need to trust your instincts! Sorry to hear you had some trouble with Ethan Allen. I used their design service years ago but ended up arranging things the way I wanted instead. Such a shame because I love all of their furniture! Speaking of furniture - I love the Paula Deen desk - in fact I looked at that one when I redesigned my office a few years ago. Oh and another thing - I can't believe the designer didn't show up with extra things because he was "busy at the store". Not very good customer service!
    Shelley

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  31. I feel your angst. Ditch the designer. The shape of the winged-back chairs is nice. The desk is my favorite.

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  32. Just a thought, could you turn rug the other direction so that the sofas are further apart and the recliners can get pulled in closer? That might center it all more with the fireplace...and then add an oversized ottoman in place of the coffee table that could be used by recliners but also have a large tray on it for drinks etc...it's a beautiful room! It just needs some love! Maybe a sofa table behind one of the sofas? Once you get all your personal touches in it, it will be perfect!

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  33. I think you have excellent taste and you need to trust your instinct not the designers. I do thing the rug is too small. I'm also not a big fan of sofas facing each other, but I know a lot of people that love it.

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