Great Brownings Living Room

Updated 1 September 2019

Although I experienced extreme buyer’s remorse as soon as I’d paid for it (compounded by the Vitra sample sale’s “no returns” policy), I’ve come to like and enjoy our new all-black Eames lounge chair.

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When it first arrived, I was initially warped by feelings of guilt coupled with the sense that I’d been a bit ripped off. The all-black version of the chair that I’d hastily grabbed in the sample sale reminded me a bit of Chandler and Joey’s BarcaLoungers in Friends and I regretted not holding out for the more classic model with a palisander or rosewood shell that I’d initially wanted (see below). I have since come to my senses and can appreciate the chair for what it is: a compact and very comfortable design classic in a slightly different colour-way.

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I’ve also filled that awkward space in front the wall between the door and the snug with a 1950s Robin Day-style bench that I bought from an Etsy seller. The bench is as uncomfortable as it looks to sit on and I couldn’t face paying £150 for one of the official Mourne cushions from TwentyTwentyOne so I employed one of my cheapskate hacks and covered some bog standard square cushions from John Lewis with a cheap grey tweed fabric that I found in eBay. Like my Artek-inspired stool seat pads in the kitchen, no one is going to be mistaking them for the real thing but I don’t think they look too bad.

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The real thing: slatted bench by Robin Day with Mourne cushion from twentytwentyone 

I also did another cheapskate hack to recreate the Eames small dot print cushion from Vitra (which also cost an obscene £150 each) by buying two Eames print t-shirts from Uniqlo (at £5.90 each) and using the fabric to cover some bog standard 40×40 cushion pads.

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Eames small dot print cushions from Vitra (£150) vs Eames small dot print t-shirt from Uniqlo (£5.90)

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Eames small dot print cushions: the finished hack

Ok, so the cushions feel like t-shirt material to the touch rather than the rougher canvas of the real thing but I think they look pretty good if you squint.

Updated 18 April 2019

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We ended up buying that Tomado unit from Designs of Modernity (which is definitely worth a visit if you’re passing through Crystal Palace – it’s in the basement of Crystal Palace Antiques, a warehouse of tat just off the Crystal Palace Triangle).

According to the owner, this unit is the “super rare” teak version with the “super rare” fourth deeper shelf that was originally designed to hold one of those small B&W 60s TVs but is now probably better suited to art books. To be honest, I wasn’t that fussed about whether or not the unit was rare – I just thought it looked quite nice and was the perfect height and width for that corner of the living room. The price wasn’t bad for something supposedly rare either.

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The next purchase I’d like to make for the living room is a new lounge chair – my partner has requested something comfortable that we can put by the window and pivot to face out into the garden when we want to.

The obvious choice would one of those classic Eames rosewood and leather lounge chairs with the matching ottoman (it’s a timeless style and is the perfect size) but I don’t think we can justify paying the quite frankly obscene £7,380 price tag for a new one.

img_4596img_4597I did look into sourcing a vintage/second hand model but these tend to be priced at between £3,000-6,000 depending on condition (this damn chair really holds its value) and this very informative post on Manhattan Nest about the susceptibility of decades-old Eames loungers to snap in half really put me off the idea. The remaining option is a knock-off and while I didn’t want to have to resort to this (my long-term ambition is replace all of the fake items in the house with genuine items over time), I’ve seen some fairly convincing ones priced between £500-1,000, a much more justifiable (though obviously still expensive) price point.

Updated 4 March 2019

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Now that we’ve finished decorating and putting up/arranging our stuff in the living room, I think it’s looking good from certain angles but slightly lacking from others.

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The wall unit, I must say, has never looked better than it does in this house (it was probably a bit too big and overwhelming for the smaller living room in my previous flat) and I’m similarly pleased with how the rest of the “formal lounge” looks, though we could probably do with another lounge chair – something vintage (a Hans Wegner if I can find one at a decent price somewhere?) would be nice.

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Turning round the camera to face the other wall, however, reveals the fact that we don’t have quite enough stuff yet to fill the room.

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It looks a bit empty and the furniture which is there (that three-legged Tablo table and those fake Artek stools, for example) are a little too contemporary and don’t quite work with everything else – I’ve been sniffing around a teak Tomado unit from Designs of Modernity for the wall next to the window to put there instead. It’d be nice to put up the rest of our pictures on the bare walls as well.

I’m not quite done with the tv area either. I’d like to replace the sofa, which looks alright but is a terribly designed, uncomfortable piece of furniture (don’t ever buy a sofa from West Elm) and I can’t help but think that the sideboard and walls could do with a bit more decorative tat on them.

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I plan to update this blog entry once we’ve made a few (hopefully) final improvements to the room.

15 November 2018

The living rooms in the Great Brownings houses are comprised of a rectangle with a sliding patio door and floor-to-ceiling window on one wall and a square tacked onto the side, making a large L-shape.

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Even though the square tacked onto the side increases the size of the room, it makes for a slightly awkward room to furnish and “zone”. We have seen some of our neighbours using the square as a study off the sitting room whilst others have tried to incorporate it into the main living area.

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We have decided to use the square on the side as a tv area, with the tv positioned in a way that means you won’t be able to see it when you enter the room. The main living room will be a seating area (or “formal lounge” to use more poncey terminology). I fully expect that we will spend 90% slumped in front of the tv in the tv area and only 10% sitting and receiving guests in our “formal lounge”.

In terms of inspiration and other rooms to copy, I’ve always liked this living room in a Barbican flat that was on sale via The Modern House a while ago and sought to copy it when furnishing my current place (it does look a bit like a higher end version of my current living room).

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I also look to that flat that I narrowly missed out on buying (and that I’m not at all bitter about) as inspiration as it had a nicely furnished and styled, neutral Scandi-style living room.

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As ever, blog entry to be updated once we’ve made some progress beyond this:

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“Formal lounge”

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1. Black and white rug from Copenhagen recycled from my current flat

2. Fake George Nelson saucer bubble lamp for centre pendant light – I think the 60cm version is the right size for the room

3. Marimekko floor cushion from Marimekko factory store recycled from my current flat

4. Fake Arne Jacobsen floor lamp from my current flat

5. Vintage rosewood Poul Cadovius Royal system recycled from my current flat

6. Heals Eclipse tables – currently on loan from my sister

7. Tom Dixon Jack light – recently bought from the Heals equivalent of Ikea’s bargain corner. It’s comically massive but I’ve wanted one ever since I saw one in that photo from the Barbican flat (see above)

8. Heals Mistral sofa recycled from my current flat

9. Fake Eames organic chair recycled from my current flat

10. Vintage mid century magazine rack

11. Donna Wilson knitted pouffe recycled from my current flat

12. Merbau three-strip engineered flooring (as before)

TV area:

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1. IKEA Mosslanda picture ledge behind sofa

2. Danish rosewood coffee table recycled from my current flat

3. Fake Panthella lamp recycled from my partner’s current flat

4. Habitat Vince walnut sideboard recycled from my partner’s current flat

5. West Elm Peggy two-seat sofa (aka the most complained about sofa of all time due to buttons popping out and sofa cushions sliding off the base) – having lived with this sofa for two years, it isn’t quite as bad as the complaints online would lead you to believe but the quality and durability hasn’t been great for the price.

6. Ferm living rug from the Skandium sale recycled from my partner’s current flat

7. Fake George Nelson saucer bubble lamp for centre pendant light – I think the 45 version is the right size for the tv area

8. Merbau three-strip engineered flooring (as before)

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