Friday, February 20, 2015

The Love Pit- Part 2


By now you have certainly ready Part 1 of our media room adventure, and if you haven't, stop and read it right now, we will wait.

Okay?  All caught up?  Awesome.

So, when last I left you, Charming Suitor and I had identified, with the assistance of our Walter E Smithe design goddess Mary Jo, the worlds most perfect and squishy and super comfortable sectional sofa.  The U shaped sofa she helped us put together has four pieces.  Two long couch pieces, one of which creates one of the corners at the top of the U.  One curved wedge corner, which allows us to effectively deal with the one curved wall in the room.  And an armless loveseat that connects the wedge to the other corner couch.  They are a very simple design, with squared off arms on the two ends, no skirt, just basic stained wood feet.

Here is the style of the sofa, including the curved wedge:

So you can see how simple and straightforward we went with the look.

Mary Jo came to the house and took a look at the space.  She did some measurements, and I was relieved to discover we had measured correctly and we were looking at the right sizes of elements!  (More in the future on why Stacey shouldn't do furniture math.)  She also double checked with our contractor to make sure that everything will fit in through the doorways and make all the necessary turns to get the pieces downstairs, making notes to have the feet left off at the warehouse, for installation onsite.  Once we determined that we had indeed picked the right pieces, it was time to talk fabrics back at the Walter E Smithe store.  They have so many gorgeous fabrics, there is really something for any possible taste.  Solids and patterns, yummy velvets and durable denims, you could explore for hours.  Luckily, Charming Suitor and I had come up with some ideas about the room.

In any room, it is nice to have some sort of inspiration piece.  It could be a piece of furniture you already own that you need to design the room around.  It could be a wonderful piece of art, or even a funky fabric you'd like to incorporate.  But if you can find whatever that inspiration is for you, the rest of the room can come to life around that piece.  For us?  Its a flag.

CS and I found an old Chicago flag that used to fly over Navy Pier when it still belonged to the Navy. For those of you unfamiliar with the Chicago flag, here it is:

It is a simple graphic design, two pale blue stripes, three white stripes, and four six pointed red stars. The three white stripes are the North, West and South sides of the city, the two blue ones are for Lake Michigan and the river, the stars are for Fort Dearborn, the Great Chicago Fire, the 1893 Columbian Exposition and the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition.  Each of the points of each star means something, but I have no idea what, and frankly, you probably don't really care.  The important thing is this:  CS and I are total Chicagoans.  We love this city like its our job.  We love our embarrassing politics, and our sports teams (regardless of current performance), and our architecture and food and culture and people.  So when we spotted the flag, all 7 foot by 11 foot of it, we knew it was just for us.

Yeah, 7'x11'.  We had no idea what we were going to do with it, until I suggested we hang it to cover one whole wall in the media room as an art piece, and design the room around it.  Since that room is really about the only room in the house where we felt like we could get a little funky and not have it fight with the aesthetics of the house, we decided to go for it!

We told Mary Jo about the flag, and that we had only one other color we had decided on for the room, and that was the dark charcoal gray FLOR floor tiles we were using for sound absorption.  We also knew that with one wall of exposed stone and brick, our best bet would be a gray wall color, so we didn't want to go with more gray for the sofa.  Our choice?


Deep, lipstick, make those stars pop red.  Because frankly, if you are going to go funky, don't half-ass it.  Whole-ass it.  Don't get the neutral sofa and think you'll make it pop with pillows, do the opposite, go big and bold with the sofa and tone it down a bit with the pillows, makes for a much more interesting design.  CS and I looked through the endless fabrics, finding a bunch of reds that were close, but not quite there, and then Mary Jo brought one over.


this is the fabric sample on top of the FLOR tile sample

The perfect red, plenty of blue in it, in a super-soft chenille, without too much sheen, and totally durable.  Nailed it!  Then the bonus?  Turns out the sectional we picked comes with a certain number of accent pillows per section, so with the sizes we were getting, we got 9 pillows included!  They do these custom for you as well, you just pick fabrics from their range, so off we went to dig back into the fabrics, and Mary Jo helped us find these gorgeous velvets:

The gray is a great match, and the pale blue will bring in the blue from the flag in a wonderful way, and since they are customized for no extra charge, we decided on 5 gray pillows with blue piping, and four blue pillows with gray piping!  Mary Jo asked whether we would be needing an ottoman for the center of the sectional, and we said that we would, but that a dear friend was making one for us.  It is really handy to have pals with mad skills, so we are doing a custom ottoman covered in this wonderful old kilim rug that I had, which has all the fun colors from the room and we think will be a really cool look!
isn't it fantastic??
Then we talked about paint colors, since we would need to find a perfect gray for the walls, and Mary Jo said that she could order us full sheet paint samples for free, and have them delivered to our house!  We asked if she could do that with Sherwin-Williams, since we were planning on using their products, and she said absolutely and brought over her S-W fan deck and we picked out a few grays that seemed to go with our fabric selections, and she ordered samples for us.  That was an extra bonus of design services we never would have imagined!
With the ottoman being upholstered, then it came down to dealing with drinks etc. We thought that the easiest thing would be to find some small tables that could be easily moved around within the framework of the sofa depending on how many people we had.  One again, Mary Jo had the perfect solution:
It has an oxidized steel frame, which will look fantastic with the exposed steel beam we have in the corner of that room, and dark wood, which will match the console under the television, it is just the ideal thing!  We got three of them so that we can move them around wherever we need them.
The last little detail was the throw blankets.  I'm a throw blanket girl.  And for sure, if I'm curled up with my CS watching a game, or hanging with my girlfriends and a chick flick, I want some cozy.  I'm also picky. I hate fringe.  I hate fuzzy ones that get lint all over your clothes.  I hate ones that pill, and loose weave ones that catch on your ring and get pulls all over them.  I like a large scale, flat weave throw.  And we found this!
The red is perfect, as is the gray, no fringe, and the coolest part is that it is reversible, so on the other side, it is red with gray ovals!  Mary Jo thought the red ovals would nod to the red stars on the flag, as well as being a cool graphic pop.  
In one fell swoop, most of the important design elements came together so beautifully.  Which is one of the reasons I can't stop raving about the whole experience.  Walter E Smithe had everything we wanted and needed, from the major furniture piece to the little details of the throw blankets, and it all worked so well together.  We checked almost everything for that room off our list, and having Mary Jo guide us and help us come up with an overall design that both functions the way we want it to function AND is going to look amazing, it was truly special. And all of it just part of how they do business, there were no extra charges for the home visit or the design work at all. 
Our paint samples came the next week, and we picked a deep gray called Peppercorn which I will talk about next week in my first Paint and Color post, but we were able to pull all of our samples together and start to imagine what the room will be like:

I know my photos aren't the best, but there you have the floor, wall, sofa, pillows and ottoman!
And if you love the Chicago flag but don't have one of your own?  Smithe can even cover you on that with these amazing custom art pieces, they also have a Union Jack version if you don't happen to love Chicago as much as we do:

Here were our takeaways from this part of the process:
1:  Pick one inspiration piece and let it guide your decisions.
2:  Don't be afraid to make a bold choice with color, it sometimes makes the whole room!
3:  If you have an opportunity to bring in someone with design training, having that extra set of eyes on a project can really make a world of difference, especially if the design services are included free of charge.
4:  Be sure to investigate at your furniture dealer small accessory pieces, being able to see everything at once in the showroom is so helpful for making sure that everything really works together!
5:  Pick your paint color last, so that you can be sure it doesn't clash with any of the other items you want in your space.
6: A big sofa or sectional is likely to take about 8-12 weeks for delivery, so be sure to think way ahead, especially if you are re-doing a room for a specific event...the last thing you want is to have everyone on folding chairs in an empty room for your SuperBowl party!
Stay tuned, next week we are talking about PAINT and other fun stuff :)

Yours in Good Taste,
The Polymath


  1. Hell yes, red sofa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Since I couldn't interior design my way out of a paper bag, I am super impressed. However, "Love Pit" sounds a key may need to rename unless you are SURE that any guests know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the only thing swingin' in this room is possibly the music.