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Hey everyone! It’s been a while since I last blogged, so let’s catch up! I’m Brian Balthazar, a Director of Programming here at HGTV. While I spend a great portion of my time on the great design programs here at the network, I spend a lot of my remaining time doing interior design for homeowners in the NYC area.

Which brings me to this post! I’m currently working on a room for a wonderful New Jersey family… but there are still some finishing touches left for the room — and I’d like you to help me decide what to do!

First, let me show you two “before” photos.


As you can see, there is a lot of potential here. But also some interesting challenges! Among them: The walls on each side of the fireplace are uneven, making everything on that wall feel off center. The bookcases on each side only emphasized the problem.

Also, the furniture in the room was so bulky that putting a table in the middle was next to impossible if you ever wanted to pass through, but without it, the furniture seemed too far apart for a comfortable conversation.

Then there was the light. The large bay window overlooked a covered porch, so rarely (if ever) did the room get direct sunlight. As a result, the homeowners had decided against any sort of window treatments.

While the room is still in progress, I have some rough photos of how it’s coming along — and there will be more in my next post. First, I removed the bookcases, then I lightened up the entire space by ditching the dark rug and furniture. A fresh coat of paint in a lighter tone went up, and window coverings were installed slightly off to the side of the bay window, so they didn’t block any of the light coming in.

Now I’d like to seek the collective advice of the gazillions of loyal “Design Happens” readers!

While most of the furniture has arrived or is ordered, I am yet to be impressed by a coffee table for this room. It must remain narrow enough to accomodate walking through the room. And I’m not married to a traditional concept. In fact, I’m considering something apart from the long couch-length table that would be expected.

Below is a photo of the middle stages of the room redo. This was around the holidays, and the space has since been updated with new lamps and accessories. The holiday decorations are down, and the room is crying out for a table!


Post some of your favorite table ideas and links, and I’ll let you know which one I go with! I’ll also show you what the remaining corners of the room look like!

And finally, an interesting side note:  Last night, as I planned this blogpost, I got a phone call about a coffee table that was, oddly enough, abandoned on the sidewalks of midtown Manhattan yesterday — left to be taken to a landfill! A very smart, resourceful guy (Thanks Dennis!) found a cab driver willing to help lug it into the car and now it’s waiting for a home! Is this solid wood piece THE coffee table for the room, refinished with a dark stain? Or do I have one extra coffee table in my living room until I find it a home?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas!


Design Inspiration

49 Responses

  1. Grace says:

    Wonderful neutral palate needs some cool and more warm colors. A dark redwood, hard to find these days, freeform with varying shades would be nicely balanced with accents of aqua or turquoise to bring interest and discussion.

  2. MP says:

    I think a glass coffee table or clear acrylic would be your best bet. Or there is a cool round wire table at CB2 that could be interesting.

  3. Barbara says:

    I agree with MP. Keep the area visually
    open. Glass is often a knee banger for those
    who don't notice the edge. How about acrylic
    cubes? Two or 3 depending on proportion to
    sofa and they could be moved easily as needed.

  4. sharon says:

    I also needed a coffee table that wasn't traditional. My space is very limited, and I had to have something long and narrow. My "aha" moment came at an import store that had these great benches from God knows where, and it even has a little door that opens up for storage! It's perfect.

  5. Jean Sosin says:

    I've been looking for a coffee table just like that…clean it up and restain it!


    Hey Jean! I've got it restained in chocolate brown – going to see what it looks like this weekend!
    I like the acrylic cube ideas too…


    Hey Jean! I've got it restained in chocolate brown – going to see what it looks like this weekend!

    I like the acrylic cube ideas too…

  8. Why would you want a big black hole staring back at you at night? Maybe some very nice grass, bamboo, or something on those lines for the window. It didn't look like they were on a lake or wooded area, which I could understaand, but lets warm up the room, especially in winter. Maybe side panels with gromets and sheers. Lets do that window!!

  9. Laketia Williams says:

    I think that if you stain it to a dark tone, as you mentioned, it would look great in the space.

  10. Elle Wilder says:

    My first instinct was to face the sofa towards the fireplace, and Ditch the single chairs. Or purchase just four small club chairs around a small round coffee table near the fireplace. Since though you've already purchased a long sofa you could place the sofa so that it faces the window. Add a very narrow bench type seating across it under the windows instead of two chairs. Thick cushions on it could add lushness perhaps with tufting. Add pillows on it for comfort. Instead of a coffee table make a nattow bench reminisent of a kneeling bench this could be a dark rich wood so irresistale to the eye you'd never run into it.

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