Creating illusion of height on a long wall
February 5, 2018 12:42 PM   Subscribe

We already have two bookcases in our living room, but there is a space that aesthetically requires a tall piece of furniture. Suggestions for tall pieces of furniture or other ideas to create an illusion of height?

Our living room is a long rectangle. We have a media console on one long wall, flanked by two tall bookcases. On either side of the bookcases are doorways, one leading to the patio and the other to a hallway.

The long arm of our sectional is on the other long wall, but there is a space of about 90" between the end of the sectional and the bar overlooking the dining area (the linked layout makes that wall look crowded but it actually isn't, it's just a big awkward space.) To visually balance the bookcases on the opposite wall, we need a tall piece of furniture in that space.

My initial idea was to repurpose a hall tree - one that has drawers or cubbies at the bottom so my son can put his toys in when he's done playing there. I'd remove the hooks and hang photos or a painting on the upper part of it. However, my boyfriend doesn't think this would look appropriate, as it is definitely not an entryway or hallway. Fine. Moving right along, is there anything other than a bookcase we could use there to create the illusion of height? An armoire would be too bulky, and I'd prefer something with open shelves or space for both utilitarian and decor purposes. I also have to be careful with hanging a large frame in that space because about three feet away on the same side is a gallery wall, centered on the long arm of the sectional. Whatever we decide to put there would need to be anchored to the wall because toddler. The floor in that area is carpet.

I'm sure the answer here might be apparent to most, and I'm being a silly overthinker, but for some reason the idea of another bookcase (it would be the seventh in the house overall) seems ...boring. TIA!
posted by Everydayville to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Since the space is near your dining/living area, could you repurpose the hall tree (or other tall thing with shelves) to hold bar stuff/dish stuff? Alcohol and glasses if you drink, or plates, serving bowls etc if you don't (or a combo of the two).
posted by mrmurbles at 12:51 PM on February 5, 2018

Response by poster: Oh! Will stop threadsitting, but forgot to mention that the dining area has its own dining-related shelving/ storage, etc., so we'd like to keep the living area separate from that.
posted by Everydayville at 12:55 PM on February 5, 2018

This could be weird, but since you mentioned kiddos in the house – these thingies (are they just called ladders??) are popping up all over in Finland in peeps houses...i dunno? kids like to climb on stuff?
posted by speakeasy at 12:55 PM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Also may sound weird, but I've been considering something like a bathroom linen tower for a narrow spot in my living room. Not the obviously bathroom-y ones, but ones with glass-fronted doors and a drawer.

Here's a random search from Wayfair, if you scroll down, you will see many examples. Some of them look good enough to place in a living room area.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 1:03 PM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Grandfather clock. I was a kid, my grandparents had one, we never touched it.
posted by aniola at 1:06 PM on February 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

So it sounds like you actually have enough storage furniture -- maybe investigate something like a large tree on a plant stand (for added height), a tall piece of art, or a rug/tapestry?
posted by mrmurbles at 1:07 PM on February 5, 2018

Best answer: Google "armoire secretary hacks" and hundreds of images of repurposed armoires will pop up, many being used as bars in modern rooms. Look for a slim one on Craigslist or at thrift shops. People paint them, back shelves with graphic wallpaperas, use the drawers for storage--cheaper than anything you'll find new.
posted by Elsie at 1:07 PM on February 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

If that drawing is at all to scale I think breaking up the sectional would go a long way toward de-emphasizing the length of the room. However if you're just looking to balance the big bookcases a nice big mirror, wall mural, or piece of art would be my choice. Another tall piece of furniture and you run the risk of things looking tunnel-like.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:23 PM on February 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I love the idea of a secretary with a hutch in that space.

onirodynia, the drawing isn't to scale - it's a very bright, open rectangle that looks incomplete and unbalanced in that one area.
posted by Everydayville at 1:39 PM on February 5, 2018

"Hall tree" variation: a tall, felt tree on the wall, with a storage box of some kind at the base for toddler toys. Use Velcro to display kid drawings, photos, and seasonal decorations on the branches.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:34 PM on February 5, 2018

I would do a tall arched floor lamp like this with a blanket ladder propped against the wall, and maybe depending on how deep the space is, an artificial plant in a lightweight basket. You can anchor the lamp and the ladder to the wall, and if the plant gets tipped over, oh well--no dirt! We have kind of a similar set up and it's nice to have some layering while still letting the open space breathe a bit, especially if you have a lot of other furniture (and the space is flanked by a gallery wall).
posted by stellaluna at 5:02 PM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you don't want something that screams "toy storage" but that is appropriate for toy storage, I'd get a console table/buffet that fits the space width-wise and that's a normal buffet type height for staging some more sculptural pieces. Then, take up the height/balance the tall furniture/gallery wall with a BIG piece of wall art. I mean , if you're thinking about a tall piece of furniture where you can stage photos or a painting, surely you can also simply stage decor on the wall itself?
posted by drlith at 5:05 PM on February 5, 2018

I was going to suggest a hutch or secretary, depending on whether you’d find a desk-like surface useful.
posted by MadamM at 5:50 PM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This space is visible when entering the room and looking to the left, after looking toward the window at the end of the room. The space is visible in front of one of the hallways.

Maybe add a vertical treatment directly on the wall, like one or more light framed pieces of beautiful cloth, something that echos the view outside the window. If you can, visually bring the view inside.
Perhaps take a supersized photograph (not necessarily the exact view) and cut apart and set in frames, like the grilles inside a window. Change the divided photograph with the seasons.
As an alternative, use something light-reflective in what seems to be the darkest corner of the room, like dark-glazed mirrors or brushed metal that can be securely fastened to the wall in a vertical display.
The side walls can also be incorporated into this "indoor patio."
How does this look from the entry, the hallway, and the patio door?

Then, I would consider furnishing the space for the toddler or a pet (your previous AskMeFi mentioned a cat). This focal point may be too prominent for a cluttered use, however.

Personally, you can never have too many bookcases, or cozy corners to enjoy their contents.
posted by TrishaU at 5:56 PM on February 5, 2018

I have a Hoosier Cabinet. It has an enameled surface at the center that pulls out to work on, they used to be used as bakers hutches. The surface is a little taller than a table top. It has a big storage under and three side drawers, above is a roll top area and a higher cabinet. Right now I use it as an office that separates my living room from my bedroom in the studio where I live. It is about 6 feet high and 4 feet wide.
posted by Oyéah at 8:21 PM on February 5, 2018

Response by poster: We decided to go with a secretary + hutch in that space, flanked by a tall skinny floor lamp of some sort. (I think I already found a lovely antique secretary that's relatively narrow that will work beautifully!) We'll make up the height with a medium sized piece of art that my boyfriend and I will work on together, as we're both amateur calligraphers. This way, we get to choose the colors and keep the wall light and airy to offset the darker color of the secretary.

Thank you all for the suggestions.
posted by Everydayville at 2:06 PM on February 7, 2018

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