This blog is proudly part of a paid partnership with John Lewis & Partners.
I think if you asked most people what they use their living room for you’d get an answer that required more than a few commas. In 2019 the living room needs to be a lot of things to a lot of people. It can be where you eat your dinner, where you play with your kids, where you watch films, where you read a magazine or to some, it’s even where you work. This shift in the way we live in the spaces we have is something John Lewis & Partners are looking to address with their latest campaign, Room For Living.
They’re inviting you to take a second look at what your living room means to you, what it should be and what purpose you need it to serve. There are five concepts in total, each designed to address specific needs that we have on the space. The saying goes that the kitchen is the heart of the home and I really believe when that phrase was coined it was absolutely the truth, however for me in 2019, the living room is that heart of our homes.
When John Lewis & Partners approached me and invited me to think about my own living room and what I need from that space, it came at a time when I was trying to work out the answer to that exact question. For me, my living room has long since been a weekend room. After work and the gym I might spend an hour, if that, in the room on a weeknight.
That was the first thing I wanted to address with the room, it should be a space you want to head to and spend your time in. There was absolutely nothing wrong with my living room, it just didn’t give me what I needed in a practical sense or create an environment I felt like I wanted to relax in. For the first time (ever) I started by making a moodboard of fabrics, colours and imagery that I’d be collating for the day I own my own home and looking at them to see what I could actually work into the room now.
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- Texture was very important.
- There was a very definite shift away from grey into more neutral tones. (Don’t worry, I won’t become millerbeige)
- Soft, subtle hints of colour were there for the first time. Sneakily.
- The straight angular lines I typically go for were getting a little softer, a little more natural.
- Everything was feeling a little less formal, a little less rigid.
After I’d surprised myself with my own personal non-grey growth, I tried to approach the space as something new, by thinking about what I remember or associate most about living rooms over the years.
Growing up my favourite spot in the living room was laid on the carpet, in front of the fire. I’d lie there reading my magazines or watching the television for hours. At my Grandma’s house I would lie on the floor, awkwardly sandwiched between a wall and an armchair, and beside the heating vent. There’s something comforting about it. It’s probably because it reminds me of being a kid and it was the first thing I scribbled down here. I suppose it’s about being at absolute peace and comfort with a space ultimately. I wanted to take the room back to having that sense of contentment and comfort.
I knew if I removed the conventional coffee table from in front of the sofa and brought in a soft tactile rug, I would be able to do it again. You might think it’s a little odd and that’s okay. It makes me really happy, laid on the floor, leafing through a new magazine with a cup of tea beside me. A coffee table may well drift back in at some point, we’ll see how it evolves over time. Until then, I now have a footstool and a beautiful oak sidetable to pull in when I’ve decided it’s a night for the sofa rather than the floor.
During this process I also decided I needed to address three real issues in the room currently: storage, comfort and somewhere to work. I have very set rules about working in my home. I don’t do it sat on the sofa and I don’t do it in bed. Neither of those places are for work. I decided I needed a desk, somewhere to be about work and somewhere to be creatively stimulating! Equally I also believe it needs to be somewhere that is solely for that purpose. When you step away from it, you should leave work behind.
The sofa that now sits in the room is the Belgrave Grand Sofa, upholstered in linen blend entitled ‘Habour Blue Grey’. It has an oatmeal-like tone, lending it a warmer appearance than the stark grey fabric that covered my previous two sofas. My main reason for changing the sofa was comfort – the Grand sofa allows me to fully lie out if I want to, something the past two inhabitants of the room haven’t been able to let me do, despite my distinctly average height of 5’9”.
It’s a small thing but the ability to lie down after a long day in somewhere other than your bed is so rewarding, I 100% believe having somewhere you feel perfectly comfortable is vital to your wellbeing.
As I mentioned before, I’ve had quite a few sofas in my time. When selecting the Belgrave I really took my time to not only test it out for comfort, but to think practically about it. The arms are narrow and unobtrusive, meaning you get the largest seating area possible. My last sofa was only 8cm smaller, yet had a whole 30cm less seating area!
Truth be told, this Design Project sideboard has been on my John Lewis & Partners Wish List for a very long time. It’s an incredible piece of furniture; all dainty brass handles and elegant mid-century-esque legs. The black top contrasts perfectly with the solid oak, but more important its tray-like design gives you the perfect surface to pile high with magazines and books. It addresses the storage needs I have for the room, concealing everything I don’t want to be seen with ease. Macbook chargers, rogue DVDs I can’t find the box for and photo frames that may or may not have fallen from the wall and you’ve still not got round to fixing, that sort of stuff.
I’m not delusional, I’m aware my version of ‘colour’ isn’t exactly going to be considered colourful by most. For me however, this room shows a decidedly different look. I went for dark navy blue and soft plaster-like shades as the accents, used sparingly throughout the room. Neutral tones sit beside the various shades of grey I’ve always been drawn to and a stronger emphasis on wooden pieces of furniture helps to take away from the heavier black that used to be here before. All together the colour palette works to take away the cold edge of what was here before.
Texture always has to be key to everything I do, so everything I selected was to create a subtle contrast. Basket weave cushions, the deep pile of the rug, the woven jute of the footstool; they’re all working off the same palette but doing so with a different texture.
Right now I’m actually sat at the desk, writing this blog. That’s precisely what I wanted this space for. I don’t want to be sat on an evening in my chilly dining room writing a blog or editing images. I’d far rather be in here, surrounded by images I’ve torn from magazines and softly scented candles. It’s perfect. It’s a large room and realistically this space could have held a larger desk, but this being a room about Wellbeing, I didn’t want that aspect of it to be too prevalent. It’s a part of the room, but work should never be what the living room is all about.
The Anton Leaning House desk is perfect if space is at a premium, it’ll tuck neatly into the corner of a room without much fuss and took all of five minutes to put together. Always a plus. The floor space it takes up in the room is so minimal, it’s seriously perfect for the narrow alcove here.
I can’t claim to be a particularly big fan of most desk chairs. I also don’t have the space or the luxury of being able to own a chair that will only ever function at a desk! The Croft Collection Kinross Spindle Chair I’ve teamed with the leaning desk is in fact a dining chair, one that will work perfectly with my vintage Ercol chairs in the dining room when there’s an extra guest for dinner.
The wall behind the sofa has always been a big problem for me. There’s an ugly radiator sitting there which for me dictates where the sofa has to go, but there’s also an awful lot of wall there to try and fill. One day I’ll get round to creating the wall hanging I’ve been banging on about for years, but until then it’s been adorned by a series of prints with a much softer appearance than the room’s previous artwork. The stark black and white photography has gone for now. I’ll always love those images but it’s nice to have something a little less arresting to look at.
I’ve always loved this piece by Picasso and it sits perfectly within the calm, neutral ethos of the room for Wellbeing. It joins a piece I already owned and another new addition that is one of my favourite finds from John Lewis & Partners latest collection.
My mum had a double cassette of Elton John’s greatest hits that we would play on the way to school pretty much every morning. I remember listening to Your Song very specifically and it happens to be one of my favourite songs. When I saw John Lewis & Partners were selling a print of the song lyrics I knew it had to appear somewhere.
And just because people always ask me…
Why is there no TV?
It’s in the alcove to the other side of the fireplace and is not something you’ll ever see here or on Instagram. I don’t like the look of TVs and the one here is pretty small for the scale of the room. I find them rather obnoxious in rooms, so we’ll just pretend it doesn’t exist if you don’t mind.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing more of the room on Instagram as it evolves and I take the time to live in it and see how it works for me – something I believe is important with all spaces. In the meantime I’d love to hear about what your living room is for you and what you need it to be. I’m guessing, like me, it’s the most multitasking room in your home.
Whilst John Lewis & Partners have paid me for my time spent styling, producing and writing this blog, they haven’t paid for my opinion on anything. My home has always featured so many of their pieces, from the bed I sleep in every night to the mug I drink my coffee from every morning. I’m proud to be working with them to produce this content.