Decorating Double Parlor Home Library The Victorian House

Coulda Woulda Shoulda

Alternate title: Photoshop is Fun!

You saw the library last week, yes? The rug was on loan for a styling competition and it’s already on its way back, but the chairs that were supposed to be temporary are going to stick around for a bit longer. They’ve actually come in handy and the kids really like them! Well, that, and I totally lost the tags and receipt. What’s up, new chairs?

Making it Lovely | Anastasia Loloi Rug

No, I didn’t intend to keep them. I picked them up in the first place because they were:

  • the right color
  • cute
  • in stock
  • affordable
  • returnable

But also:

  • the wrong finish (those silver legs)
  • don’t look inviting / right for a library
  • too modern / not interesting enough = looks cheap in context

They’re staying, for now, but I wouldn’t hesitate to sell them off at a steep discount. My loss, my mistake.

And here’s the thing. You know how you might kind of suspect something (ooh, those chairs aren’t as good as they could be), and then you have this weird job where your house and everything you do to it and put in it is shown to tens of thousands of people every day?* And then the choice you were least confident is indeed the thing people pick up on and don’t like? Yeah, that.

“They don’t really go with anything in the room and seem like nothing more than a last minute attempt to add a vibrant color to a relatively toned down room as well as looking like they ran out of money right at the end.”

Oof. I know. So here’s a little peek behind the curtain at what I would have really wanted to do for the rug shoot, had time and money not been a factor. (Aren’t those always the deciding factors?)

* Psst: I do love this job. I can take constructive criticism just fine (or worse), so I’m not complaining! Plus there were plenty of lovely, nice, complimentary comments as well. But you have to admit, it is a weird position to be in, right?

First up, the Roadhouse Leather Chair from CB2. I’ve written about these before, and a few other similar options. I would have gone with these, had they been in stock. It’s a lot of brown, but the leather adds a different texture that I like a lot.

Roadhouse Leather Chairs, CB2

Continuing on in that vein, we have another leather option. This time, the Baldwin Armchair from Jayson Home. I wouldn’t have been all that interested, having only seen them on the site, but in person they’re fantastic. Great scale, rich leather, just a nice, versatile chair.

Baldwin Leather Chair, Jayson Home

That Eames rocker in the background does not go well with these. Ignore it. (It didn’t make the final shot anyway.)

How about some Wishbone chairs? I’ve always liked the look of them.

Wegner Wishbone Chairs

Nice, but they’re not really working here. Hoffman Prague chairs instead? Those are great too.

Hoffman Prague Chairs

I like those. Definitely more “dining room” than “library” but that’s OK. I was staging it with glasses and plates. Thonet, windsor chairs (and modern interpretations like West Elm’s Scissor Spindle dining chair) — they all have a similar feel, just a tweak to the overall look. We’ve got a lot of mockups happening already here; let’s move on to something different!

Stripes! I may sell the striped sofa at some point (too long for the space). Go with these instead?

Anthropologie Grassland Striped Dining Chairs

I like them, but I don’t love them. Maybe a couple of these hostess wingback chairs from World Market. They’re a little larger, so just a pair instead of four.

World Market Wingback Hostess Chairs

The color isn’t really working with that rug. Something darker, but still with some blue to reference the sofa. Like this.

World Market Wingback Hostess Chairs and a Loloi Journey Rug

Ah, but that kind of defeats the whole purpose of the shoot then, doesn’t it!

OK, we’re getting closer. I like the wingback and I like the upholstery, but it needs to be a different color. Restoration Hardware offers some nice fabric options, and I’m fond of their 1940s Wingback side chair. In blue? Charcoal? Mustard velvet! (OK, I’m probably the only one that really likes mustard/ochre/shades of brown/tons of wood. But so what? I’ll own it if I love it and nobody else does.)

Restoration Hardware 1940s Wingback Fabric Side Chair

Except those are all custom orders, and they would take too long. Plus, then they’re ours for keeps and whoa whoa whoa, what’s all this talk about commitment?

What’s that, Target? Your cute chairs are $40, the right color, and you have them all in stock ready to go home with me immediately? All right then, sold. And since I’m a scatterbrain lately, they can stay for now. At least it won’t sting too badly when the kids inevitably drop a marker on one of them while coloring — although that only ever seems to happen with the super nice things you pine and save for.

Now on to the important stuff. Which chairs are your favorite? And did you know that after making a bunch of these and coming across a chair I wanted to mockup that didn’t have the necessary alternate angles, I briefly thought I could turn it around in Photoshop so we could see more of the front?

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  • Sarah
    October 8, 2015 at 12:09 am

    It is a totally weird position to be in but you handle it with grace. The internet is such a weird place sometimes. Are those chairs comfortable? I need dining room chairs that are comfortable but affordable. Those would work well for me if they’re comfortable :)

  • Cassidy
    October 8, 2015 at 4:49 am

    I like the setup with the pair of wing backs…makes the room feel more “library/game room” and less “dining room.” But, maybe your family would get more use out of the space if it has four chairs around the table…it’s life, not a photoshoot. Also, I love black and white stripes! Maybe something like this!

  • Mrsp
    October 8, 2015 at 5:42 am

    I like the chairs, but the table looks too small to comfortably seat 4 people for dining purposes. How has this been functioning? I could see a larger table working in here.

  • Erin
    October 8, 2015 at 6:18 am

    The stripes and the wishbone chairs are my favorites. :)

  • Heather
    October 8, 2015 at 7:06 am

    Love those leather chairs from Jayson home–VERY library, but not too stuffy. I’m guessing also the very most expensive option here.

    In the meantime, the chairs you accidentally kept (happens to me too much) are cute and functional and hey, eventually there’s craigslist!

  • Corrin
    October 8, 2015 at 7:08 am

    I quite like them. They’re my favorite of all the options.

  • JC
    October 8, 2015 at 7:35 am

    They’re from Target! You CAN return them. Simply go into the store, explain they didn’t work/fit/match whatever and they’ll look up your purchase on your credit card and refund you! Don’t be “stuck” with anything from Target they’re super good about returns especially when you don’t pay cash (who does anymore?!).

    • Kate F
      October 8, 2015 at 8:15 am

      I was going to say the same thing! Of all places, Target is the best about returns, even without a tag or receipt.

    • beks
      October 8, 2015 at 5:18 pm

      Hmmm I don’t know if I approve of this practice that bloggers / stagers have. The used items end up getting tossed and driving up the prices to cover it.

  • Gail
    October 8, 2015 at 8:13 am

    I like the wing chairs best..but only 2 and large.
    As little as your children are right now, the Target chairs seem the second best option.
    As JC mentions you can return them to Target if you bought them with your credit card.
    However, if you do keep them, for now, how about painting the silver legs oil rubbed bronze? They will look less modern and blend in better. $40 each is worth experimenting!

    • Ellen
      October 8, 2015 at 11:32 am

      I second painting the legs. I don’t think the chairs are all that bad but it is definitely the legs that are most distracting.

      I personally like the Hoffman Prague chairs, but having put a knee through a seat like that as late as in high school, I don’t think they’re kid-friendly.

      Love seeing all the possibilities and how they change the space!

  • Nitya
    October 8, 2015 at 8:57 am

    Roadhouse chairs from CB2 and the leather chairs from Jayson home. Best,

  • Vanessa
    October 8, 2015 at 9:29 am

    putting aside the ups and downs of what people like – I love this post! This is like your style posts around 1 piece of furniture but played up in a real room setting! More photoshop things like this which I find super helpful in helping me visualize my own spaces now. Even though some of those chairs I don’t care for, it’s still interesting to see your thought process what what you think works for your space.

    • kgw
      October 8, 2015 at 8:16 pm

      Ditto this! Cool process post…

  • Cassie @ Little Red Window
    October 8, 2015 at 9:32 am

    Loved this post! I like hearing more behind the scenes stuff!

  • Joanna
    October 8, 2015 at 9:43 am

    I like the teal chairs best! But I would also paint the legs copper or ORB.

  • Jessica
    October 8, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Hmmm… They don’t bother me actually! Knowing you have three small children and they were affordable and the kids like ’em… I dunno… keep em!

    Also, you do take criticism with grace, but I think it’s SO WEIRD to make comments about someone else’s home, outfit, what she ate for dinner, etc. I know a lot of folks disagree, by virtue of you sharing (and making money) on the internet. But I can see you’re a real person too… and that’s why I love your blog.

    Ok, If I’m forced to pick… I like the first ones. Amazing photoshop fun!

  • Holly
    October 8, 2015 at 10:30 am

    If I had all the time and all the money in the world to pick out chairs, I wouldn’t have picked the blue ones either. But you know what? They look like perfect chairs for kids. Sturdy enough, easy enough to keep clean, not easy to tip over. There is more to decor that just looks. Functionality for your personal situation is important too.

  • Lauralou
    October 8, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Such a fun post. I enjoyed your whole thought process. Loved the leather jayson home chairs. And, I love that table and the wall of books. Swooning.

  • Sarah @ onesuchlife
    October 8, 2015 at 11:04 am

    #1 or #2 are my favorite.

  • Jen
    October 8, 2015 at 11:07 am

    I love the table and most of the chair selections, but is that really a functioning table or just a round console table?

  • Chernee
    October 8, 2015 at 11:15 am

    I love the room and how you play off different styles and colors, but of all the chair choices, I liked the ones from Target – I just wish the legs were different, but when you have kids you have to be creative. I think the teal color pulls the two rooms together. The other options blend too much with the room.

  • Gwen
    October 8, 2015 at 11:47 am

    I love that your room was the only room NOT white! So cozy, love all the wood, very Library. Since the blue rug, chairs are colorful they perfectly illustrate how easy it is to only change one or two items to completely change the look and feel of the room. My textural eye missed having more fabric in your library. Great work, keep it coming!

  • Amy
    October 8, 2015 at 11:50 am

    I really like the stripes, honestly. They bring a Beetlejuice vibe to the room, haha.

  • Emily
    October 8, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    I really liked this post! I have such a hard time visualizing what different options might look like when I’m trying to purchase an item for my own home, so it was cool to see you cycle through a bunch of options for this room, and explain what you liked/didn’t like about each. Very helpful and fun!

  • Ashly
    October 8, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    I think the Thonet chairs are the right track, but I would go with one of the upholstered versions where you chould bring in color, and only do two.

  • judy
    October 8, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    The Baldwin arm chair makes that table more acceptable but I don’t care for that version of that design-prefer the column be less bulbous not so slender it looks inadequate to hold up the table top just less mass-why you ask? Haven’t a clue, The only other one I liked with the table are the black and white striped jobbies…just cause they’re kinda whimsical and a Library,especially one as formal as yours,needs a bit of whimsy but I don’t think the two really blend with the overall look of the house. Man……decorating is Hard! That’s why I suck at it and follow your Blog.

  • DawnV
    October 8, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    I love this kind of post. The RH chairs are amazing. Here are several reasons you should splurge on them (or something similar)!

    1) They are more comfy than most of those chairs meant for dining. Since this is a library, you want something comfy.
    2) The scale is right. They are big enough to be comfy but small enough that you can have a chair for each family member.
    3) They have a bit of a wingback sensibility – which is required for libraries, in my opinion.
    4) They are not too wingbacked – they are interesting and the modern-ness adds a bit of whimsy.

    The only other chairs that are appealing to me are the Jayson chairs. But they are a bit too expected.

    Oh, and I think if you go with something as large as the World Market chairs, you should consider adding casters so the kids can push them around and pull them up to the table.

  • Michelle
    October 8, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    I actually really like the teal chairs, especially because of the sofa in the other room. I understand what you’re saying about the silver legs though, perhaps you could spray paint them brass or black?

    • Kathy
      October 9, 2015 at 9:51 am

      I agree with Michelle! I think it looks great given the couch in the other room. Spray paint the legs if they really bother you. With 3 young children, I could see that table being used for readings, crafts, puzzle, imagination play, etc. Love those bookcases!!!

  • Elizabeth
    October 8, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    The Baldwin or the Stripes are my faves.

  • Sava
    October 8, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    Ohh! I really like the color, but the scale and the quality are off. So I choose new teal chairs, with more oomph!
    Sometimes as designers, we need to make these decision. I’ve recently starting edesigning and I’m constantly feeling like I’m playing the hi/lo game. You can’t spend too much time paying attention to the actual budget because you only get picked 1 out of 4-5 (and that only the people that actually go through with it). So every time you don’t win the bid, you’ve lost money on the time spent generating the proposal. So you pick these great things, but in the end there is often something you are compromising on quality.

  • Amy
    October 8, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    Could you spry paint the legs black or gold?

  • Feisty Harriet
    October 8, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    I have a set of chairs in a similar shape as those R.H. wingbacks in a gorgeous soft mustard velvet. I found them at a thrift store for $4.00 each, there are a few places where the velvet is a bit worn, but I’m pretty sure they were used in a waiting room of a church building, not in a dining room full of children or anything. Dah, they are beautiful!


  • Maddie
    October 8, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    I totally vote wishbone chair! Love them

  • Amy
    October 8, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    I actually like the blue target ones the best. If the legs bother you then paint them. the added color is nice!

  • Kathryn
    October 8, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    These world market chairs, but in the b/w floral pattern I just got them in, might also be pretty great. It looks like it’s discontinued online, but they are still in the stores. If you want to go for it, or a similar chair, you’re welcome to borrow mine to check scale. They’re very comfortable and cheap, but markers could be a problem.

  • Michelle
    October 9, 2015 at 4:42 am

    Those chairs are my FAVORITE COLOR and I like how slim they are. And I am in Chicago. If I had ANY money at all, and a car, I’d swing by on my way to Dominican and take them off your hands!

    Alas, there is no money for new chairs here. But I really love them!

    No I don’t think they “go” in the library, but most of what you chose doesn’t “go” in my mind. Sometimes I like the choice, sometimes I don’t – I usually don’t bother to criticize.

  • Carrie S.
    October 9, 2015 at 8:30 am

    I actually really like the new chairs; they don’t detract from the surrounding pieces and make the table much more of a focal point. Have you considered painting the bases? Black or gold? Just a thought, since they are now yours ;)

  • Emily
    October 9, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    I still love the color of the very first option. That’s my favorite.

  • Lisa
    October 10, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    I work in commercial furnishing/interior design and LOVE Industry West. Check out there Tika chair in teal or their Sling chair with mint legs!

  • Julia
    October 11, 2015 at 10:21 am

    I saw this kitchen and thought of yours:

  • TaraJAne
    October 12, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    I like the blue ones! Paint the legs, but I think that they shake things up and reference the blue couch in the next room!

  • Annie Callister
    October 12, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    cb2 leathers are dynamite!
    or restoration chairs.

  • Carly
    October 12, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    I liked the ones from the original post! I also like the very last ones in this post.

  • Aura Modern Bedrooms | Bedhead Perth
    October 13, 2015 at 8:31 am

    I love the last set of chairs that you featured on this post. I think they perfectly match the place.They look so inviting that I’d probably reading several books if I’ll be in that place. Thanks for sharing those design inspirations!

  • Constance
    October 13, 2015 at 9:15 am

    All the different ideas here are pretty interesting – so many directions in which to go. I am a fan of the leather CB2 chairs. THAT said, I’m randomly chiming in and this may already have been covered, but have you already considered arranging this room as an actual library? By that I mean deep chair and/or a very library-looking table like in older/university libraries. I like all the furniture I have seen you put in there if used in a different room, and am secretly hoping you’ll stumble across a long wooden table with green-glass table lamps + deep distressed arm chairs (ala Fisher Fine Arts Library at Penn).

  • Trudy
    October 13, 2015 at 11:35 am

    Love the striped chairs…..

  • Norah
    October 14, 2015 at 9:14 am

    Wishbone chairs come in bright colors, at least the authentic ones do. Best of both worlds? Super $$$$$$ though. Also, HIIII

  • kara
    October 14, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    i actually like the target chairs the best – and good for you for not spending way more $$ on a chair than most people can afford just so you can get fancy points!

  • Rebecca
    October 14, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    Jeez! I just read a few of the comments from the AT post and those folks are CRABBY. I’ve felt that way before about AT- I love the site, but the reader comments are super negative sometimes. Especially the “Good Question” column. People ask innocuous things like, “How hard would it be to refinish this table? Should I paint it?” and people respond like “YOU ARE A DISGUSTING HUMAN FOR TRYING TO PAINT THAT TABLE.” Anyway, all that to say, you’re in a very weird position and you handle it well. I love that you’re honest about your design triumphs and mistakes.

  • Tabitha
    November 6, 2015 at 11:13 am

    Hey Nicole!

    Long time follower and admirer of your blog : ) Without sounding too gimmicky, I wanted to let you know that I work at Jayson Home in Chicago as their trade liason. Noticed you weren’t set up with a business account – please email me if you ever wanted trade pricing on anything!

    Besides shop talk – love that library!

  • Rachael
    December 17, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    There time in our homes is a brief moment in time – you’ll find yourself wanting them back in your house, wishing for the messes one day. Mine are still young too. Take a can a spray paint to the legs and make them gold! Figure out how to make them yours!