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When my hubby and I moved into our new house in the KUN-treh (Southern for “country”), I was so excited to be in a bigger place that I didn’t care how small and oddly laid-out our living room was. But as I rearranged the room’s furniture in my head for the thousandth time this weekend, I realized it had gone from unnoticed to annoying.

Here’s a pic I took from the stairs on moving day, after we got the rug down:

design-happens-parsonage-living-room

The back wall offers the only place for the couch, leaving room next to the wood stove for a chair and small table. An apartment-sized, L-shaped couch would be perfect, but I’m a commitment-phobe when it comes to buying large pieces of furniture. I need time to plan and to save money for the perfect, possibly custom, piece. So all I have right now is our saggy, worn couch, a hand-me-down wing chair and a small Victorian rocker my mother-in-law picked up at an estate sale, which looks like it belongs in Wednesday Addams’ bedroom.

Our TV still rests on the coffee table, a piece I really miss, as evidenced by the magazines on the floor and the coffee mugs on the end tables. It’ll be awhile before we mount the TV on the wall, plus buying a new coffee table might cure my lust for new furniture long enough to let me choose a couch I love. Whatever I buy, it’s got to be affordable, durable, double as seating and, if possible, provide storage. Oh, and it has to have a fresh take on classic style. With that in mind, I tracked down five possibilities.

Wicker Ottoman - Crate & Barrel

Wicker Ottoman - Crate & Barrel

Wicker so often says “cheap Panama City condo” to me, so this hourglass ottoman from Crate & Barrel caught my eye. At 19″ it’s small enough that I could use a pair side-by-side, an arrangement that could double as extra seating. ($129 each)

Lack Coffee Table - IKEA

Lack Coffee Table - IKEA

I’ve always had a fondness for the parsons style of IKEA’s LACK. I found this one at Curbly, dressed up with a Grippiks ‘Assembly’ pattern transfer. How cute is that? (Table $19.99-$39.99; transfer varies)

Handmade Ottoman - Little Green Notebook

Handmade Ottoman - Little Green Notebook

Jenny at Little Green Notebook turned a $25 Craigslist find into an upholstered ottoman. Makes me want to put my feet up! Bonus: She gives the step-by-step.

Weston Trunk - Pottery Barn

Weston Trunk - Pottery Barn

My mom used her dad’s military steamer trunk as a coffee table when I was a kid, so this Weston Trunk from Pottery Barn brings back fond memories. Of course, she painted hers that bad ’70s orange. Still, it’s a classic! (Boo! Looks like they sold out of them. They still have the Emmett Trunk, though at $599, it’s a bit out of my price range.)

Wood Stand and Tray - West Elm

Wood Stand and Tray - West Elm

West Elm’s Simple Wood Stand + Tray is portable, functional and how much do you love that pop of yellow? Talk about a room brightener! (Stand $89, Tray $59)

I’d love to get your opinion or suggestions. And if you have pics of your coffee table, upload them at Rate My Space and then share the URL in the comments.

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Design Inspiration

18 Responses

  1. Lindsey says:

    My son is learning to walk, and I was worried about him cutting his chin open on the sharp edges of our coffee table, so we just recently swapped it out for an ottoman. We got it at Marshall's for $120. It's faux leather (not planning to keep it forever) and I'm really enjoying it. The part I really love is that there is storage inside the ottoman, with two cubes for extra seating. The lid flips over and turns into a tray.
    I'm not brave enough to post pictures of the whole room on Rate My Space, but here is a picture of the ottoman:
    http://yfrog.com/3nimg2527j

  2. DeeKay says:

    For me, a coffee table must have at least two purposes. Significant room on top for books, coffee, snacks, etc. and storage down below in baskets or stacked books or throws.

    • kwalters says:

      The LACK would be good for that, with its lower shelf for storage. I'm thinking I may go with a round one, though, since the rest of the room is so angular.

  3. Wolfie says:

    I can relate to the foot locker – coffee table since there's one sitting in my living room right now. It came with my husband, who found it in an old Army-Navy store in Chapel Hill. From the beginning it served as Christmas storage and still does, holding the most treasured (first Christmas, new baby, homemade) decorations while recently aquired, brighter, newer ornaments are banished to the shed in the off-season. Although it has meandered through different rooms in different dwellings throughout the years, it keeps coming back to the livingroom and settling in front of whichever couch I currently have, resting at my feet like a wonderful family dog.

  4. tkk says:

    I love the coffee table that came with the house. It is the type that can be raised (hinges beneath the top) to the perfect height for eatting or as a writing surface. It is oak, rectangular and has a nice bottom shelf. I saw these at Finger's furniture years ago for about $150.

  5. www.byamish.com says:

    Nice Coffee table

  6. Carole Ann says:

    I love my glass coffee table, but it is to small for the space I'm in. My living area is very challenging and it doesn't help that my furniture is so large and very old and I can't afford to update it. I need a decorator!!!!!

  7. Barb says:

    As a designer,I can see how the small room would be a problem for furniture placement,so I would go with the Weston Trunk as it would provide storage as well as a coffee table. It could even be used as the tv stand freeing up your coffee table for its orginal use.

  8. Mandie says:

    Paula Deen has a version of the coffee tables you can raise for eating or writing. The link to hers is http://www.pauladeenhome.com/productdetail.asp?ro
    It's the second picture. Enjoy!

  9. Yan says:

    Having an awkwardly shaped living/dining room myself, I'm also looking for a coffee table. The yellow tray one speaks to me. I think your instinct toward a round one is on target.

    Let us know how you eventually arrange the space with your new furniture…

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