Styling a very small house – the lounge room

It’s been three years and three months since we took possession of our little seaside cottage in the south west town of Busselton. It was a gigantic leap of faith when we placed an offer on the little place, sight unseen, whilst we up in Katherine in the Northern Territory. Our offer was accepted, and we travelled down to see what we had let ourselves in for.

A lot of work was needed for sure, but we were up for the challenge. What we hadn’t anticipated was the difficulties of furnishing such a little place. There have been many, many errors along the way, mainly with furniture that just didn’t work. Finally though, I think we’re there. We think we now have the little house functioning to the best of it’s ability, and without any walls being knocked out, or any additions to the main structure. 

Our little house has no grand entrance, in fact there is no entrance hall or foyer at all. The front door opens directly into the living room. The living area comprises of the kitchen, dining room and lounge area, with the front door opening directly into the lounge. Without obstructing the access area from the front door through to the rest of the house, the furnishing area of the lounge area is 2.3 metres x 5 metres, with a second door to the outside patio area about 3/4 of the way along the longer side. The length of the room is sufficiently generous, but the 2.3 metre width proved to be a real challenge.  

Firstly we purchased a gorgeous, white leather chaise type sofa. We bought it second hand, before we had taken possession of the house. Yes, it fitted, but it was clearly completely wrong for the area, and had to go. With the limited market of selling second hand away from the main metropolitan area we could only  manage to get a little less than half of what we’d paid for it. Never mind – no use crying over spilt milk, as my dear old mum would have said. 

MMMM….. the sofa could only be positioned so as to be looking at a blank wall along the entrance way. What had we been thinking – it clearly had to go.

Next came a new lazy boy sofa, with two little occasional chairs. In hind sight I think these were purchased as a bit of knee jerk reaction to the beautiful, but too big, white leather sofa. They looked fine in the small area. The sofa was a small three seater with a recliner at each end, and the middle section folded down to form a small coffee table. For two people it was okay, but accommodating three on it felt a tad squashy. The two occasional chairs both looked and worked well in the area, but the reality was there was only comfortable seating for four people. Finally, I broached the subject. I thought the lazy boy sofa  had been a mistake, and I thought we should go back to our original idea of an L-shaped sofa. 

The problem was that most of the ready made L-shaped lounges were too long on either one, or both sides. After much research it became clear that we had to go down the be-spoke line, and so we ordered our new L-shaped lounge to be made to fit our dimensions perfectly. 

With the new lounge suite on order, we decided we’d also go back to our original idea of furnishing the house with some shabby chic/coastal style furniture. We picked up an old coffee table on line for $40 (you have to have some wins), and Paul took to it with the sander and Annie sloan, old white, chalk paint. The top has had several coats of satin finish, polyurethane. 

Perhaps here is good place to mention the window treatments, which hadn’t been straight forward either. The drapes and pelmets were removed early on, leaving the thin line Venetians for block out. Next we hung full length, white, gauzy drapes which we thought looked pretty good.  However, full length drapes, no matter how fine and gauzy, don’t belong in such a tiny house. Out they went, to be replaced with wide slatted, white, venetian blinds purchased at a half price sale from Spotlight. Our original thoughts had been to furnish the house coastal style, with white shutters and with the shabby chic/coastal style furniture. The wide slat venetian blinds provided a bit of a shutter look but without the hefty price tag. However, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.  We had lashed out on shutters for our bedrooms earlier last year, and finding them so easy to live with, and to clean, we had no hesitation in ordering the hefty priced shutters for our living area too. So far no regrets – absolutely none, I love them. 

Our lounge suite arrived, our shutters were fitted, and our newly up-cycled coffee table looked great. Next came the re-furbishment of a pine entertainment unit to replace the modern look white and chrome unit we had purchased (used, from Gumtree) when we first moved into the house. We were now up to the finishing touches. 

We both love the relaxed coastal style decor, including all the cheap and cheerful little nic-nacs that can be found in any seaside town. Our house displays a few little boat ornaments, and a third little sail boat model has been found for our lounge room.

the mirror above the TV serves no other purpose than to make the room look bigger, and to reflect light. Do you like our little sail boat collection?

Mirrors have been hung in strategic places to reflect light and add a feeling of space. A small canvas with a fishing boat on the shore is hung on the wall.

a mirror at the entrance reflects our little beached fishing boat canvas.

It was all looking pretty good, with the exception of cushions. We searched everywhere, including in the big metropolis of Perth, for cushions with the right colours. Tropical leaves and brightly coloured parrots just wouldn’t do…….  Finally, we searched on line and found what we were looking for at, The Coastal Cushion Company. 

I have to give a bit of a plug and a special thanks go to Kylie Foy from The Coastal Cushion Company (please note: this plug is not sponsored in any way). The selection Kylie has available is amazing, and very reasonably priced. Having found what I wanted, the order was placed, with the cost including postage. Kylie despatched them via express post, and kept track of the parcel via the postal tracking system, keeping me informed all the way. The cushion covers arrived from Queensland three days after despatch,  and were true to the photos I ordered them from. Originally, I had only ordered three, but quickly followed with an order for a fourth for myself, and two more as a gift for a friend. I now want three smaller, rectangle cushions in a plain, moody blue colour, (Hampton Bay navy) which currently is only available in square cushion covers. Kylie is looking into whether or not she can get them for me in the rectangular style. Finger’s crossed…..

So that’s how we managed to furnish and decorate the lounge room in our wee, coastal cottage. Almost every morning when I get up and walk into the lounge I think to my self – ‘I love what we’ve done with this room’. Yes, the shutters, the be-spoke L-shaped lounge that can now, at a reasonably comfortable push, seat six, the up-cycled, shabby chic/coastal coffee table and entertainment unit, the mirrors, our beached boat canvas, and our little collection of sail boats  – yes I love it all. The trial and errors along the way, well that just makes me appreciate it all the more. It makes it that much easier to be able to say, “what a pleasure”!

18 thoughts on “Styling a very small house – the lounge room

  1. I lost the comment thread on my notifications so am posting my reply to your response here, Chris. I can relate to your feelings about writing. If I aren’t on a rant, feel like I have someting important to share with others, I wonder who might be interested in my ramblings. But like you, I see it as a bit of a diary, and oftentimes when I discuss or comment on other blogs, I get inspired to write. Follow your gut feeling. I for one really enjoy your posts. Keep going!

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  2. Wow Chris, it looks fantastic and suits your climate. Small houses really are a challenge. When it came to appliances we found that we just had to buy the smallest microwave and smallest 2 door fridge on the shop floor! Welcome back too.

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    1. Yes, it’s been a while, butt I needed a bit of a break. And yes, small houses are a real challenge. We have the smallest microwave too, and a slimline dishwasher. Someone told me recently the houses in Australia are now the biggest in the world, and that’s certainly reflected in the size of the lounge and dining suites available. We had an attempt at selling early last year, in frustration I think. The market was very depressed though so no takers. Instead we took it off the market and decided to ‘make it work’. The biggest change that allowed that to happen was in outside area. I will you that soon.

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    1. Thank you Ingrid. There’s more to come – the past few months I’ve been quiet on the blog as we’ve been so busy with the house. Everything has come together now so I feel like I’m back to normal.

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      1. Well, you’ve done a great job (totally my taste) and sometimes a blogging break is what’s needed especially when there are other projects to work on. I look forward to your next post.

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    1. You’re right – little to no maintenance is important. Sadly though we are still far from being in the clear in respect of maintenance. We’re getting there, but a way to go yet. Nothing had been done to the house for years before we bought it. We’ve still got ceilings to paint, eaves and the verandah ceilings to paint, door frames and doors to paint, and doors to replace. The garden is still a long way from being established too, so that’s ongoing to get it to easy care. One day….. We plug away at getting on top of everything, while at the same time trying not to let what we’ve already done slip. Next weeks job will no doubt be clearing the roof gutters of leaves. The hot weather causes all the gumtrees to drop leaves, and we have a lot of Gumtree’s nearby, so the gutters will be full.

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  3. It looks fantastic, Chris. What a change from the house with the turquoise pelmets. I do like your upcycled coffee table that is piece of genius. You clearly have a lot of Talent in this area. Great to see you back online.

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    1. Thanks Amanda. It has been rather a long break, hasn’t it. Do you ever feel like you need a break. That’s the longest break I’ve taken. We had been rather pre-occupied with the house, which fortunately, is more joy than chore. Nothing was finished to write about – and I have been going through a bit of self doubt as to why I write at all, and if anyone is really interested. But when it comes down to it, I write because I enjoy writing, and because it’s a bit of a diary. – a legacy to mine of who I am I guess. Anything else that comes of my writing really doesn’t matter.

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