Musical Furniture: The Game We Love to Play

It’s a running joke in my family that one of our unofficial side businesses is furniture moving.  That’s because we do it ALL. THE. TIME. We like to play furniture shuffle within our homes on a regular basis, always searching for a better arrangement that maximizes space, storage, etc. It’s part of our exercise plan. Kidding. Sort of.

Of course, the game is made more difficult by, you guessed it, musical furniture. I rarely see design bloggers working around grand pianos in small or modestly sized homes, so I thought I’d tackle this topic for our home and blog.

Musical instruments have particular needs. Climate control is important, so avoiding placement near sources of heat, cold, and moisture is vital. Dreams of baby grands gleaming in Victorian window bays shattered. Tragic, I know.  

When placing a grand piano near a wall (avoid those exterior ones, remember!), you’ll also want to allow enough room to open and raise the lid and to access all parts of it for cleaning and polishing, which typically means a minimum allowance of 12 inches away from the wall. Positioning the piano so that the long side runs parallel to the wall is more aesthetically and acoustically pleasing.

People with larger homes, multiple living rooms, and/or extra bedrooms/bonus rooms have it easy. Not so with the ‘Zoo. We have a three bedroom home with only one (not-so) great room, and we need every bedroom we have as a bedroom. No dedicated home office. No home gym. No music room. No home theater room. No basement. No bonus room. No playroom. No library. Just one modest living room with a little nook off to the side.When we bought the ‘Zoo, we were delighted that the living room had that extra nook so that my 5’ baby grand piano would only encroach upon the main walkway by a foot or so. Unfortunately, when the lid is not raised but flipped back, Chris frequently runs into its sharp corner. Sacrifices must be made right? Kidding. Definitely not for the best.

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To prevent further stabbings, we tried a number of different furniture arrangements in the living room over the past year or so, but nothing really felt like THE ONE. Consequently, during #flooringmarathon2015 I played around with furniture arrangements for when we could move everything from our personal “Room of Requirement” into the rest of the house. Here’s the rub:

  1. The piano has to stay in the main interior space and not in direct light or near a heat source. It cannot stay in its present position due to stabbings, nor can it be rotated in this spot without causing increased stabbings. If you are thinking that we could simply raise the lid and solve this stabbing problem, let me add that we have all tile floors and vaulted ceilings…and I’m fairly certain the neighbors can hear me playing/singing with the lid shut. I trained as a vocal performance major before shifting into education, and I’m fairly certain that my neighbors don’t dig opera…or anything remotely classical.
  2. The computer desk must be in the main interior space and receive some natural light but not suffer glare. I won’t go into detail, but suffice it to say that I don’t like working in bedrooms where relaxation is supposed to happen. Especially if said bedrooms get hot in the afternoon. 
  3. The black bookcase, like the piano, is visually and spatially dominant. It looks best when positioned against the long, tall walls of our home.  Who are we kidding? These are the only walls where it fits!IMG_4428
  4. Obviously, we need to have the sofa and love seat be in the living room if we want company. And we do. But our sofa is 92″ long.
  5. Also the TV. There is only one wall in the true living room area on which the TV fits and only one functional cable jack (not on that same wall, though, because that would make TOO MUCH SENSE). This area of the house is inaccessible for rewiring without tearing down the ceiling because there is no attic above it, so the TV cannot relocate to more spacious walls.  Awesome, right? I KNOW.IMG_4589
  6. The dining area is too small for the sitting area, and the dining set doesn’t fit in the current music nook.IMG_4375-1
  7. The thermostat also happens to be on one of the only tall long walls and could be blocked by the black bookcase, depending on its placement.
  8. No TV in the bedroom. I’m a firm believer that TV in the bedroom = less, well, ya know. Sleeping. Plus, our TV (an older model flat screen) emits some serious warmth, making our bedroom way too hot. And watching TV from the bed encourages bad back problems. Definitely don’t want more of those.
  9. I need room for exercising in front of the TV. Gyms = germs . I also am firmly opposed to exercise equipment in the bedroom or main living spaces. Call me a design snob, but it is what it is: Gym furniture is hideous. This doesn’t bother some people, and that’s to their advantage.  It kills me. Now, if someone could make a home gym disappear into an attractive armoire, then I’d be all for it. Hmmm…MY IDEA. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS CLAIMED.
  10. Last of all, we must be able to walk from area to area without gut stabbings. We are anti-stabbing in this family, as all families should be.
  11. We celebrate Christmas and inherited an artificial tree with a large diameter that also gets to be squeezed into our bursting-at-the-seams living room. Christmas doesn’t get sacrificed around here, so I always include a Christmas tree in my furniture arrangements, knowing that the arrangement will be more spacious without it the rest of the year but will have sufficient space for it during the Christmas season.

If this sounds like a cross between an LSAT question and a design dilemma, you’re right.

After much deliberation, we developed a new arrangement, and the piano moved. I decided to throw caution to the winds and take a leaf out of the luxury home design book by sliding the piano into the center of our open living room area, directly in the main thoroughfare of the house.

Crazy? Yep. Tight? Definitely. BUT…

  1.  The TV, flanked by bookcases, stays where it fits (and functions) best in the living room, and the bookcases (will) hide the tangle of cords currently housed in a Homer bucket.IMG_5468 Yep, we painted the walls again. This color is for keeps.  Note the FLOORS!
  2. I prefer floating sofas, but the piano will be floating instead. Sacrifices. At least the long, plain back of the sofa won’t be visible anymore. Plus, the cats like the back of the sofa for afternoon siestas, and I’m sure they’ll like the window seat effect.
  3. The desk receives some natural light but not too much, and is located where I can cook dinner on the stove and check email simultaneously. Stay tuned for more on this in a future post.
  4. The black bookcase leaves the dining room (score), but the dining table stays, which is ideal for grabbing seconds or dessert from the adjacent kitchen (double score). Keeping it real, people.IMG_3897
  5. The piano has enough ‘walkaround’ space to avoid stabbings and is now a featured furniture piece in our home, yet it feels more tucked away than it did before somehow.
  6. Best of all, the new arrangement creates room for a new “library nook,” complete with our black behemoth bookcase and a cozy chair with optional ottoman.  The piano bench can even be used for seating! Eventually, we may add our old coffee table for puzzles, games, etc., but right now, we are enjoying the openness.  We’ve always wanted a dedicated library, and this might be the best we can do for a long time. #bibliophiles

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And now, because it has taken us so long to accomplish #flooringmarathon2015 that the holiday season is upon us, I give you the Christmasy version of the new music/library nook so you can actually see the piano in its new location:

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