Starting to style our den

How it is that I thought once we moved, things would calm down and I’d have more time for blogging?! Well, we’re getting there, but not yet. I don’t even have a place to setup my ‘blogging computer’ (i.e. the computer that has Photoshop), so I had to temporarily set it up on the dining room table. Ugh!

But here I am with my first mid-century decorating post! Most of our free time that hasn’t been devoted to unpacking and settling into the new house has been devoted to thinking about and hunting for furniture. I’ve been a woman possessed. We were volunteered (or as I jokingly say, ‘voluntold’) to host Mother’s Day for Mel’s family, so we’re trying our best to have things at least halfway decent around here before mid-May.

The first piece of furniture that actually allows us to start the decorating ball rolling is the mid-century daybed we purchased for our den. It’s the smallest bedroom, at the back of the house off our kitchen and dining area, where we put our television and where I’ll have a desk for days I work from home (if it fits—that will partially depend on the size of credenza we find with for the TV). It will be our hang out, casual room.

We were having a frustrating time deciding what direction we wanted to go in for this space. Part of that is dictated by trying to cobble together furniture and accessories of course, and last weekend we seriously struck out in the sofa department. Then Monday night I had a brainstorm… wouldn’t a plaid sofa be fun? Because it wasn’t difficult enough looking for a 1950s sofa, now I had to look for a 1950s plaid sofa? Right.

And then I saw this online, the same night. Here’s the original picture from the shop:

Source: An Orange Moon, Chicago

A vintage daybed, similar in style to the case study daybeds, but about a third of what the repro ones go for and in great condition. It also fit the hard-to-fill bill of no arm rests for our cat to scratch and ruin. It was in a shop in Chicago, An Orange Moon. The next morning I called up and sight unseen, I purchased it and arranged for delivery (the same day, how awesome is that). Even though 20th Century Fox had wanted it for some project, it was ours. Ours! That was surely the Vintage Sofa Gods working for us.

So now I have to style our den around this most awesomely wonderful plaid daybed. Right now, the den is kind of a yucky mustard yellow in desperate need of painting. (And semi-gloss. The entire house is painted in semi-gloss. Why oh why? Our friends’ Sears kit house in Chicago was also painted all semi-gloss.) And there’s no floor covering for the cold ceramic tile (not original to the house, the previous owners probably put it in in the 90s).

Here is the sofa, flanked by lamps that won’t stay in this room (and don’t even have actual lampshades yet… we stole those off our bedroom lamps since we haven’t had a chance to order two matching ones from Moon Shine). The vintage laminate end tables we’ve been meaning to re-purpose elsewhere (likely the basement), though they work pretty well with this daybed for now.

(You can see there’s a little patching to do on the wall behind the sofa.)

Here’s a closeup of the awesome, slightly nubby fabric. In this photo you get a better shot of the lamp that won’t stay, but more importantly, it kind of shows me that I’m not sure I love light green with this, either.You can also see that the closet doors and trim are honey-colored wood.

What color do we paint this room?!

Now, in spite of the fact that we bought essentially a brown sofa, brown and earth tones are not my favorite colors at all. And if we’re not careful this room will veer into 60s/70s territory when I’d like it to stay more 50s. My mom and I were discussing a light buttery yellow for the walls, but I worry the sofa won’t pop as an accent piece and it might not be enough color. Also, I can almost guarantee that whatever lamps we have will have fiberglass shades which warm up the room and it might just be too warm with light yellow walls. That being said, we do want to stick with something that’s not too bright. We had so many bright bright bright colors in the condo we’re ready for a change.

Mel says I’m on a blue kick, which I know is true, as I plan to paint our bathroom a light blue and our kitchen/dining area aqua. But I did see this one similar daybed styled against a turquoise wall…

Source: Vintage Ground / plaid mcm sofa

And I do kind of like that… hm. How many blue-based rooms is one allowed in a small ranch? But it got me to thinking, it could be a great Southwestern-inspired 50s den.

The room also has 2 corner windows, which will make window treatments somewhat of a challenge. Because the placement of the sofa can’t change and the cushions have to butt up against the wall, I think sill-length drapes of some kind will be in order, possibly with a cornice or valance shaped around the corner. And we’ll also keep blinds (those these ones will eventually go as they’re in bad condition), because the windows look out to the alley. I know drapes with blinds were a perfectly appropriate combo in the 50s.

With blinds I’m not sure if the drapes need to close (I believe those are called ‘draw drapes’). I’d love to go with vintage pinch pleat drapes but all the ones I see are too narrow at the top to close, so they’d just have to hang along the sides. I’m not sure that would look good with the blinds unless there was something covering the blinds hardware, in which case I’d want it to match. I suppose I could buy 2 vintage panels that wouldn’t draw close, and cut some of the length off to make a matching fabric-covered cornice.

Does that sound crazy? Even though I know it was sometimes done, I can’t wrap my mind around drapes that don’t actually close, though. Let me tell you, drapery has been giving me lots of headaches lately!

Are we a bit crazy to try and hone a 1950s Southwestern vibe in this room? I did get the idea from Mel’s grandmother’s home decorating book from 1951 (oh boy, I have to share some things from this book soon!!). It mentioned a Najavo rug and that got me to thinking… Mel and I do love the Southwest. The room would definitely have to retain a vintage vibe, and not be all Kokopelli-ed modern and cheesy (50s kitschy, of course is a different story). I could incorporate my grandfather’s art, and the plaid daybed would fit right in. Great ceramic or wood lamps… perhaps souvenir pillows from states in the Southwest… It would give us a fun but relatively narrow scope to focus on for this cozy space.

Decisions, decisions. What do you guys think? Any suggestions for wall color, or accent colors in general? Drapery ideas? What would you do with a sofa like this?

Filed: The Golly Ranch House

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Golly, 35 Comments!

  • I really like the idea of 50’s Southwest. I appreciate any kind of largely overlooked sub-genre of vintage decor. And I agree that is seems like an appropriate them for you guys since you have family there.

    I commend you for getting on the decorating thing so quickly. Our last place was SO cluttered with do-das and kitch by the time we left it, I’ve kind of gone into paralysis over decorating our new house. I think my brain needed 6 months of austere simplicity before I could tackle anything as leaded as window treatments. This is inspiring though. Perhaps it’s time to paint the bedroom or hand some more pictures. I can do this.

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    • Oh, mind you I’m -thinking- about window treatments right now, but I don’t expect them to happen for quite some time though. 😉 Our bedroom is currently mauve, so that puppy is going to get painted very soon! Other colors I can definitely live with longer, ha ha.

      You can totally do it!!

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  • What a fabulous couch! I’m still puzzling over what color I would paint the walls to go with your southwestern theme and the couch. I’m crazy about the color cyan with burnt orange, gold or patterned fabric, but that’s my deep love of contrast talkin’ (and does not go with your need to tone down the bright colors!). I like the “blue” family for that combination, though… excited to see what you guys decide on!

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  • That sofa IS a tricky one to co-ordinate! The turquoise looks cool with it – maybe if you didn’t want an entirely turquoise room you could paint the walls cream and have turquoise accents – or just one turquoise wall and the rest cream? Or is that too modern? I think that is a good look generally speaking, though.

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  • Definately I’d pick up on the blues and greys in the plaid. LOVE that sofa!
    Px

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  • What a great couch! Isn’t it the best when you decide you want something obscure and then it magically appears? It’s like it was *meant to be* 🙂
    I love the idea of the 50’s southwestern theme. Turquoise walls! yes!
    I also picture some paint by numbers paintings of cacti. You can also pull in some of the colors from the couch into whatever window treatments you end up with.
    A fun post! Can’t wait to see more pix as it comes along!
    xxxDinaxxx
    http://www.VintageAdvantage.blogspot.com

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  • What a cool sofa, I think it would look great against a turquoise blue wall.

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  • I LOVE that sofa! I was thinking how great it would look against a robin’s egg blue before you mentioned blue. It’s screaming for blue, I think. I just realized that every room in our house is painted either a blue or a green. I don’t think it’s too much though. It has kind of a flow.

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  • I love the idea of turquoise walls with that sofa – although, i admit, i love turquoise in any way shape & form. i’d paint everything in my house turquoise if given the chance 🙂

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  • Not an expert on 50s decorating, but I have to say I like the stone gray walls in the first pic from the place you bought the sofa… How about soft gray walls? Ivory drapes, blue pillows…. Anyway, that’s my two cents! Have fun!

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  • I love the southwestern idea…and I wonder, wouldn’t it be appropriate to go a lighter turquoise/robin’s egg blue rather than the bit darker one you have pictured, to perhaps represent actual turquoise (i.e. jewelery, belts, etc.) that were so popular? Would be a fun way to keep it looking NOT 60’s/70’s which it may if you paint it along the red/yellow/orange vein. I love how the blue looks with the couch, so I imagine turqoise would look just as fabulous! If it the room gives you a “cozy” vibe — run with it!

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    • Yes, I think a lighter blue would be great, perhaps with those accent colors like you mentioned, and I think it would keep it away from the 60s/70s. Thanks for the suggestion!

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  • Our living room is 50s southwest. Our walls are a burnt orange, with olive sofas and brick red curtains. Trust me, it all works! Anyway, I just picked up some vintage pinch pleat drapes for a song- one pair is a warm golden yellow (used) and another brick red (NOS). If you’re interested send me an email and I’ll send them to you at cost. practiceintime -at- g-mail- dot- com

    Sue

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  • It looks like there’s a grey or blue stripe in your couch. I would pull that out for the walls. If you kept the color really light the room shouldn’t compete with the couch. Cool couch by the way. I do like the look of a ‘barely there’ color on the walls and letting the furnishings bring in the color and design. And I have windows with drapes that don’t close. I have 40’s bedroom furniture and I put up blinds for privacy but also have sheers over the blinds and made drapes and a valance that hang over the sheers. I don’t close the drapes. If you look at windows in 40’s movies (especially bedrooms), they had a lot of layered windows. I wanted that ‘feel’ without completing copying the window treatments exactly. Have fun decorating!

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  • I’m just going to swallow the jealousy I’m experiencing that you were able to not only track down mid-century furniture within a day, but exactly what you were looking for!!
    Well, blue and orange are complimentary colors, so staying within that range will make the sofa and the walls really pop. Since you are thinking of not so much with the highly saturated colors, I’ll recommend the turquoise I have on one of my walls – it’s a Sherwin Williams color: Drizzle. I wanted something that reminded me of the turquoise my Great Grandma had in her house, but was a wee bit less intense so it wouldn’t take over the entire space. It’s really nice… Kind of makes me think of being underwater. It also looks great with my orange chairs!

    Yeah, that window arrangement is a head scratcher! Sill length curtains are so era perfect though. There is such a creature as a corner curtain rod, but having panels that are interoperable isn’t a bad idea at all – especially since you will have blinds, and presumably stuff under the curtains that you would have to reach around to open and close the curtains anyway.

    So excited to start seeing the space!! Try not to stress! It will all come together, and even better if you take your time 🙂

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  • My whole house is somewhat 50s Southwestern meets Atomic Rodeo Kitsch – I just love that whole look! I think that a lighter seafoam/aqua would look smashing, and definitely done as an accent wall behind the sofa (or 2 accent walls, I’m a fan of that). I think deep copper would also look great, kind of like this living room: http://retrorenovation.com/2012/04/16/decorating-a-1960s-living-room/

    Souvenir pillows and scarves would really set off the decor. I say go for it!

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    • Oh yes, you have the amazing fantastic paint by number wall mural that I’ve drooled over for a year!! 🙂

      I saw that post too and that copper does look great in their house! I tend to shy away from colors like that, but it’s definitely something to consider!

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    • I totally second the deep copper color. I looked at that sofa and I immediately thought copper, no lie. Sorry, Sara in AZ and Eartha! 🙂

      Oh, and insanely jealous of that sofa! Isn’t is nice when you see your vintage dream pieces in person and realize they aren’t just a product of your fevered imagination?

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  • Oh, I just love that little daybed – it was absolutely meant to be that you got it! I agree with Eartha, I’m thinking a light blue type color would work really well. I can’t wait to see!

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  • The lovely pale blueish-grey on the original photo from the sofa shop looks lovely with it; it really tones with the brown in the plaid. Pale blue would also be a fab base for pops of orange, red or mustard yellow, I think.

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  • ” Even though 20th Century Fox had wanted it for some project, it was ours. “

    WHOA! I wonder what it was for :p

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  • Though it might be tricky to have it play into a mid-century (read: pre-60s) vibe, I’d be somewhat tempted to go with a warm (medium) grey wall against which to put your delightful vintage daybed.

    Oodles of hugs,
    Jessica

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  • I love the sofa. I agree with the idea of maybe an accent wall if you didn’t want too much strong colour in the room. I think my first inclination would be to think of a teracotta orange on seeing the sofa, but on looking at it longer and seeing that amazing picture with turquoise behind I think I would start looking at blues, greys and lighter purples.

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  • When I decorate, I always pick a piece of furniture or decor to model the color scheme around. My best friend is an interior designer and she said this is what they usually do too. Maybe something in the green family like your lamps? As far as curtains go sometimes things you think would never match do, I have two crazy patterns going on with my couches and drapes but some how it works. Good luck, decorating a house is so much fun.

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  • I agree with …just about everyone, actually… that turquoise would look wonderful against the daybed, but maybe it would be better to incorporate it in pops of color like pillows, lamps or art. It would be like the beautiful turquoise jewelry from the Southwest, but for your room. Having a more neutral colored wall will also leave more flexibility for the future. Good luck!

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  • Love the sofa! I think you should consider painting your room a color from in the sofa, as much as blues are lovely, they are not very cozy and may feel a bit cold? I’m sure whatever you choose it will look fab!

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  • Have you considered mint?

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  • Sherwin Williams has a retro line of paint. Choose a color that makes you happy!! Maybe a color picked up from a kitchy piece of Southwestern decor.

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  • Love the couch! When we moved into our little 1950’s ranch house I had the time of my life decorating and picking paint colors and spent hours playing around in photoshop doing mockups, heh. If it were up to me I would go with a salmon color on the walls. I love the combo of earth tones with salmon and pops of chartreuse in a room, especially with a 50’s western/southwest decor theme. I couldn’t resist doing a little photoshop mock up how I see it in my head:

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-RlofAnZrQUg/T5H2eUcSY0I/AAAAAAAAAZk/ZbMw0cX09Q8/s320/daybed3.jpg

    I added random vintage horse paint by numbers on the walls and a pair of 50’s cowboy themed curtains just for fun. Your green lamps look fab against salmon walls! Anyhoo, good luck with your project and happy homemaking. 😉

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  • I absolutely love the idea of a 50s southwestern den! Western paint by numbers maybe? And I think the turquoise paint would set it off perfectly. Nothing wrong with being on a blue streak 🙂 It wasn’t until I had already moved in and painted everything in my new house that I realized almost everything was green of varying shades! Exterior paint, interior walls, new VCT flooring…but it works and I love it.
    As for draperies, here’s what I did in my bedrooms which have corner windows. I used pinch pleats that don’t meet – they just hang at the sides, and we left the blinds. For the corner, I just put one drapery on each window’s outer edge, and there is nothing in that corner. I think your idea of a valence would tie it together nicely.
    Can’t wait to see how it all turns out!

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  • Your new couch looks lovely! It seems to need contrast colour wall to stand out.I do like that turquoise, but perhaps toned down a bit, not as dark as in the picture. Or how about light dusty green (sort of mint-ish, but not so bright)? Or will that be too much when the lamps are spring green?

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