Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Beni in the Living Room

Do you ever look at a room and think that there's something off with it but you can't quite put your finger on it?  Do you then proceed to try to remedy the unfathomable situation by changing absolutely everything in it, one piece at a time?  Yep, happening with me right now. And looking at blogs and Pinterest does not help one bit.

Case in point, my living room which has been a work in progress for 16 years.  The trouble is I bought all of the pieces at different times, without a plan.  So nothing really goes. Yes, I love the eclectic look but even good eclecticism is designed and deliberate.  Often a good room design starts with a rug.  I think I've been through 5 different rugs in my living room alone.  I always think that the next rug is going to be the savior of the room; the one that pulls it all together.  I'm usually satisfied for a short while but then a new trend comes along and I fall for it.  My latest obsession (among millions of other bloggers and pinners out there), the Beni Ourain rug.

I love the look of these rugs in pictures.  They look both stylish and laid back at the same time.  They can make a traditional formal room look less stuffy and a bohemian eclectic room look more grounded.  My favourites are of course the original ones from Morocco, but these come at a huge price tag.  We're talking thousands of dollars.  They're perfect because they look handmade with lots of variations in the patterns.  Us average folk have to make do with the mass produced unfortunately.  West Elm have their version called the Souk Rug.  Pottery Barn did one a few years ago which I love the look of.  And Anthropologie have one called the Flotaki Diamonds Rug.  This is the one that I bought.  And I bought it at a heavy discount, of course.  I paid $350 plus shipping and tax for an 8 x 10 that originally retailed for $2000.  Now for $2000 you'd think you're getting a gorgeous rug that will be the envy of all of your friends!  Well, can I tell you, I'm mighty disappointed.  It just doesn't do it.  So I think it's going back, unless anyone out there in Salt Lake would like to buy it from me.

Here's a picture of my living room with the old rug which is the Brandon Rug from Pottery Barn.

It's not so bad.  Actually, it's a really nice rug.  Oh, and I got a new pendant light, which I think is really boring but it was cheap and does the job.  What I really wanted was something fabulous and unique, but c'est la vie.

See!  Now everything else looks crap.  Especially my sofa and chairs.  And the table and those silly side tables.  Aghh!

Umm, now looking at this photo I might convince myself to keep it.  But if I don't love it, am I just fooling myself?

Yes, that is a huge armoire in the living room.  It houses a TV, XBox, speakers, record player, stereo, a gazillion remote controls and quite a few dust bunnies.

Who has a blooming drum set in their front room/parlour?!  Not many design-minded people I know.  Mary McDonald (famous LA designer on the show Million Dollar Decorators) didn't even let her client have a grand piano in the living room.  But unfortunately, space is tight and there is nowhere else to put it.  Plus it is kinda cool looking.

And look, I got a new plant.  Yep, another design cliche.  But it is awfully pretty.  Let's see how long it lasts.

Here are some inspiration photos of Beni's that I think look great.  It's funny, when I look at my pictures I'm almost convinced to keep it.  But in real life, it is really shaggy, hairy, woolly.  And sheds like a motha (that was a quote from a review on Anthropologie's website, not my words. I should have heeded their warning).

Sources here

Why can't my room look those rooms above?  Not fair!  What do you think?  Keep it or ditch it?


  1. I love your house and especially the wonderful combination between all the original architectural details and your interior design! I so want to steal your parlor, fireplace and all! I don't think your livingroom is bad but I can see why you think something is missing. I'm not an expert by any means but the two things that don't work for me visually are your pastel-colored table lamp and your throw pillows. For both I'd pull the stronger teal/turquoise from your curtains, and add a golden yellow (pulling that from the painting on your wall) for an extra punch? Funny - all your magazine pictures feature both those colors ;o) so maybe it's something you should explore (maybe steal from another room?)

    1. You are spot on. Those pillows have never worked. I'm loathed to get rid of them though because I paid way too much money for them. Funnily enough, I did have green pillows on there before these. I might have to resurrect them and see how it looks. What I'd really like is a new sofa altogether. This is a pretty sofa with a nice shape, but I think it's just too small for the space. But as this might not be our forever house I'm going to put off making anymore large purchases for the time being.

      Thanks so much for the comment and for being a reader!

  2. I love your place, agree the architectural details are utterly fabulous. As for this room, agree the room lacks a bit of 'punch'. I think the rug is fine but I admit, I liked the other one better because it added visual interest to the room. At the moment, there's an awful lot of brown and beige going on and yet, those curtains are all kinds of fabulous. Pull some of the bright punches of colour (like that jade green yum) into your cushions and accessories. Would you consider painting your armoir? (too far?) It's just so close in colour to the chairs and rug that it sort of gets lost and it's a beautiful piece. If you look at your inspiration pics, there's a lot of high contrast and/or colour in each of them and I think that's why the rug works, because it grounds everything. In the case of your living room, it's almost 'too' grounded, you need to spice things up ;) xxx

  3. I was thinking the same thing about color. It seems you have a lot of very neutral tones and maybe all the room needs is a shot of something bright or dark. I have a lot of neutrals (unstained wood floors, white walls, pale colors) but then I have one black chair and a Chinoiserie cabinet that's black and red. Seems to balance it out.
    Have you ever thought about switching the location of the sofa with the chairs? I have a vague idea which part of town you're in and those houses are long on charm, but short on square footage so it might not work. The other thing I noticed is that you've got everything placed in a very grid-like, orderly way. What if you angled the armchairs toward one another (just a bit) and put a small table between them? It might make the room feel a little less formal (and I apologize if formal is what you're after).
    I also noticed that in all of your inspiration photos except the last one, the coffee tables have a lighter feel--thin legs especially--plus they look rectangular where yours looks square. As an experiment, you might try moving the coffee table out of the room just to see if you can visualize the space with something more like the ones in your inspiration photos.
    If you decide not to keep the rug, is always a good place to sell it!

  4. Thanks guys for all of your wonderful suggestions. I definitely need to color it up a bit. Unfortunately the rug has gone. It shed so much that it looked like a herd of sheep were living in my house!

  5. We sound like we make the same mistakes - this thing looks cool, I'll buy it, oh it doesn't really fit in with anything. BUT, you have done the right thing- you are asking others what they think. Often others see things you don't see. I LOVE the rug. Shame if you get rid of it. I think what doesn't go with it are the brown sofa and your curtains. The rug is a statement on its own and the colour of the sofa draws your eye away from it. I'm no expert, but why don't you cover the sofa up with a large beige/cream throw, or two, then bring out the turqoise in the carpet by having cream/beige/turqoise cushions. The curtains need to be plain I think In fact, do you need curtains at all? I think the room would open up greatly without. If you have to have something, put a plain blind in (roman?). I love the coffee table, goes really well with the door frame and your floor boards. Try taking the curtains down and changing the sofa (I realise you probably can't buy a new sofa!).