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I woke up this morning with a serious itch to move furniture around in our living room. Out of all the rooms in the house, this one has given me the most trouble. And I know why. In fact, I’ve known why for a long while now, but I’ve been in denial. It all has to do with styling our long living room wall:

I call it the TV wall because, really, that’s what it is. It’s had many iterations over the past few years, and this is how it looked when we last talked about my living room.

But before I dive into the dilemma at hand, here’s a little background on how we got here: When I first moved into the house, I had this console custom built to sit perfectly between two large black bookshelves that my husband already had. The problem was… I hated those bookshelves in this space. They were visually heavy and two of them was overkill. I was trying to make them better by adding a piece that I loved (always a bad tactic) but eventually I convinced him that they had to go.

And when they left… they left a big huge gap on either side of the console that I have been trying to fill ever since. I’ve shoved shelves and chairs and benches and floor lamps in those corners, and still… it’s never felt quite right. And that’s because I already know what the answer is, I’ve just been avoiding it. I need to get rid of the console.

Whenever I’m stuck on a space, I like to think to myself: if you were starting in here from scratch, what would you do? If this was a client’s house, what would you advise them to do. Rather than a ‘how do we make it work with what we have’ scenario, it’s always better to think of what you really need. And guys, what I really need here is a big, long, beautiful storage piece.living room with low seating and minimal furnishings by tali roth designslong low console cabinet with art wall and tv | coco kelley

This scenario is sort of what I had in mind at first. A low cabinet that would hide everything away and serve as the perfect place to prop up art and style all my pretty objects. But I’m afraid of it feeling a bit too modern for the room. I am, however, taking note of how they made the console wrap around into a bench seat by the window. I kind of love the idea! modern built-ins for living room by studio mcgee | via coco kelley

Then I got to thinking… would it make sense to do some kind of modern built-in situation? I do think it would feel natural to the home! But, I don’t think it’s the right thing for me. I like the flexibility of this wall being open for art, and that’s a lot of shelving to fill! It might feel more cluttered than I want, and – to be honest – it’s probably way out of budget right now to do something this custom.

And then I remembered how much I love rooms like this: long low bookshelves and gallery wall in a casual mix dining room | coco kelleyneutral dining room with rich woods and white styled low bookshelves with leaning art

Yes yes, they’re dining rooms, but I have always loved how cozy and casual and lived-in a space looks when there are these perfect long, low shelves bursting with piles of books and objects. And when we got rid of those two big black bookcases, we really lost a lot of our book storage. The question is… does this style work when there’s art, and a TV?

Let’s find out:

Here’s our starting point as of today. I moved our new oversized chair from the corner into the middle of the room to open up that wall space to the left of the TV so I could really get an idea for what it’s going to look like in here if we create one long storage area.

Before I show you some ideas, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The art will change no matter what we do in here. I’ve been switching it around lately just to play with things, so don’t let that distract you! I’m probably going to source some more pieces to fill out this wall a bit in the long run.
  • We have a huge fiddle fig tree that could go back in here and fill up one of the corners so that the storage doesn’t have to go quite the full length of the wall. Or we could keep our rubber tree. Or we could move the plants completely. Again, they’re not an essential part of the equation at this point.
  • We do have a new bookcase in the room that isn’t pictured here. It’s also oak, and there’s a lot of oak going on in this room, so I’m feeling like I should pick a different material for the new storage piece.
  • Lastly, because our ceilings are relatively low, I don’t want anything too high in here, which is why I’m avoiding shelving… but I did include one option for that, so I’m curious to hear what you think.

OPTION #1: LONG AND LOW DARK SHELVING

Why I like it: I’ve actually been considering adding some darker pieces in this room for a little more depth and drama, and I really like the greyish-brown tone of this wood stain. Darker shelving is also more likely to disguise the few electronics (cable box, etc) that we will have living in here. As a total bonus, we already have one of the bookshelves, so we’d only have to buy one more! I should probably start by bringing the one that we do have into this room so I can at least get a feel for it.

The downside: It’s dark and that makes me nervous about the effect it might have on the space. Also, this piece is about 6″ shorter than our current console, and I wonder if that’s too low? I have a feeling it won’t really matter but I don’t want the TV to then feel too high. There is no way in hell we are re-mounting that thing, so it’s gotta work where it is.

OPTION #2: LONG WHITE BOOKSHELVES WITH CUSTOM TOP

Why I like it: Duh. It’s white! This option keeps things feeling fresh in here and of course I dig that. I also like the idea of doing a custom wood top to tie into the other light wood in the space and keep things warm. In fact, I would probably insist on doing that to make it feel more custom and finished. I also love the idea of using that same wood to potentially create some floating shelves for art instead of having to do a gallery wall!

The downside: Because it’s white, it may actually make the items in it pop more so I have to get really neutral with the styling, and I know my electronics will stick out. Also, in my quick preliminary search, I only found shelves that were short – not as long as the dark shelving – and I wonder if that’s going to look pretty janky when I’m just shoving them all up next to each other instead of going with something custom. Anyone have experience with this? I think having the top be one solid piece will really help.

OPTION #3: KEEP THE CONSOLE, ADD SHELVES & NEW BENCH

 

After seeing how clean it feels to have one long piece under the TV instead of things being broken up, I’m not sure that this is the way to go, but I have been convinced by readers before, so give me your thoughts on this one!

Why I like it: This configuration allows us to keep the current console and simply add a couple new items, which keeps our cost and efforts down. I dig that two-tone shelving because it ties into the console nicely while adding a new wood tone to the space! It would also allow me to keep more plants in that left corner. Another detail I didn’t mention yet is that I do have a really gorgeous new bench coming that should fit perfectly to the right of the console if I want it go there! I really like the addition of leather in this space. I’m totally neutral on those floating shelves, but they feel like they balance the other shelves nicely. I do like that this feels more collected and eclectic in some respects! And it’s definitely more flexible than having one huge long piece.

The downside: We already have a tall bookshelf in another part of this room, so I’m not sure having another one in here makes sense. (And before you say ‘why don’t you just put the other bookshelf here then?’ the other one is solid oak too and it would be way too much wood next to each other). I’m not a huge fan of open shelving because it feels more ‘messy’ to me and harder to style, but visually I get that it works just fine.  I really love the idea of adding more storage and also a solid surface for styled items rather than shelving, so I’m obviously just biased!

So, guys, which one is it for you?? One, two or three? Is there an in-between option that you think I should consider?? I’m excited to hear your thoughts!!

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