Jazz Lair
December 18, 2007 11:16 AM   Subscribe

I want to transform my room into a jazz lair!

i don't really know what its going to look like when its finished, but these are some things i'd like to include:

-jazz themed/pop art posters, paintings on the wall
-maybe red walls (i'd love brick, but thats probably not possible..maybe fake brick?)
-i'd love a fluffy rug, and other cosy things to put on the walls and in the corners
-i have a sink in an corner of my room which id like to cover up, so maybe room seperators.
-some red tinted light, what could i put on my existing light?
-i have furniture which i cant afford to get rid of and need but doesnt fit into the whole cosy jazz lair thing, how should i cover them up?

These are just some ideas i had, and i'd appreciate some more.
Low budget so nothing too expensive, and hand made is also fine, if anyone has any tutorials!
posted by freddymetz to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know how you can get anything, but Nina Simone has to be up somewhere. Maybe someone can knit you a Nina Simone throw for some of the furniture? I don't know, but there must be Nina. Damn, now I want to do this too.
posted by cashman at 11:27 AM on December 18, 2007

i have a sink in an corner of my room which id like to cover up, so maybe room seperators.

Dude -- don't cover it up, turn it into a wet bar! Nothing says "lair" like a wet bar!

Another idea that comes to mind (that I and perhaps you too have seen before) is the look of vintage LPs or 45s hung on a wall. I've never tried to implement this myself, and it would depend on how much wall space you had, but I like the idea of creating some sort of checkerboard pattern on a wall of 45s or LPs. If you've got a good thrift store in your town, you should be able to come up with something appropriate for not too much money. You could paint the wall in the background red to get closer to your vision of a brick wall.
posted by missmobtown at 11:28 AM on December 18, 2007

i also like the sink - not so much for wet bar, but, honestly, most of the cracked out jazzers of the 50-s and 60s spent a lot of time in shoddy rooming houses with sinks in the rooms, i'm sure

i like the idea!

you could go on ebay and get a cheap sax and put it up somewhere
posted by Salvatorparadise at 11:38 AM on December 18, 2007

Three things would help us out here:

1) Photos of the space as it is, to help to know what we're starting from. Ideally taken from a top corner of the room.

2) A better description of the space: dimensions, nature (dorm? loft? what?), and the degree of freedom you have to modify things (painting the walls is ok? ripping up the carpet?)

3) Your definition of Jazz, or at least, the particular aesthetic you're shooting for. Honestly, if you want your room to look like the secret mountaintop hideout of Spyro Gyra, we need to know before giving your tons of advice on how to turn it into something Robert Johnsony.
posted by mumkin at 11:49 AM on December 18, 2007

Response by poster: okay pics will be up in about 10 minutes.
About the degree of freedom, Ripping up the carpet and ruining expensive things isnt such a good idea. :p But i could paint the walls. I also have a parquetry floor which i dont want to ruin either.

I have no idea how spyro gyra or robert johnson live, but im looking for the type of aesthetics i described in my post. It doesnt have to be solely jazz, but should have elements of it. I have enough instruments to make it look authentic and thanks for the tip about the cheap sax!
posted by freddymetz at 12:02 PM on December 18, 2007

Response by poster: Firstly, the furniture i already have in my room and cant remove.



and my room:
posted by freddymetz at 12:16 PM on December 18, 2007

This site sells faux brick panels, but they're quite pricey (about $10/sq. ft.)

If these brick faux panels could talk, they'd say, 'Thank you for all the compliments on how we look.'

You might also be interested in "thin brick" or "brick veneer," apparently two words for thin (1/2"-3/4") real bricks that might you might be able to install yourself if you're ambitious. Given the shipping weight, you're probably best off sourcing these locally. Here's an example.
posted by contraption at 12:29 PM on December 18, 2007

Response by poster: thanks! by the way, im in germany so US online shops arent a good idea :D
posted by freddymetz at 12:45 PM on December 18, 2007

Definitely paint the walls a deep red, if you don't go with actual or fake brick.
Also, covering the shelves is a good idea (like in your last picture). Do that for as many things as possible, with plain dark fabric. Or hang panels from the ceiling (rather than from the actual shelves) as a more sophisticated way of doing this. Carpet is easy, as you indicated in your post. And you can buy tinted light bulbs, so that would be easy.
posted by bassjump at 1:58 PM on December 18, 2007

I have no idea how Spyro Gyra live either, but somehow I imagine that it's a hideous crystal-filled, white-carpeted world where Yanni drops by for tea. Robert Johnson, on the other hand, would have occupied shitty boardinghouses with peeling wallpaper and damp spotted ceilings, and junkie hookers would drop by to shoot smack. Neither of these directions seem particularly useful to your ends, but then, they're extremes.

You have a very small space and a fair amount of stuff. Remove as much stuff as possible to cut down on the visual clutter. If you can stash it all on those shelves, and then neatly hang something to conceal their contents, that's cool. That grey blanket you're using is a start, but its droopy, not neat, and doesn't cover the whole thing. Get to a fabric store and buy inexpensive unbleached canvas. Ideally you'd be able to sew a sort of slipcover for the shelves, but if not, you can at least hang long panels down in front of each, with something heavy at the top to weigh it down.

Reducing visual clutter goes for the stuff on your walls, too: you have many posters, photos and the like. Yes, Father Christmas and the cross of St. George as well. If you can bear to take most of it down and box it up, it will help to create a more restful space, where the eye isn't being constantly drawn from one thing to another to another. I think you'd be much better off finding one or two LARGE posters — really big. AllPosters.de doesn't let you restrict your search by size, unfortunately. I suggest large-scale advertising posters, like you'd get in a train station, rather than the smallish kind that are a portrait with the subject's name underneath. The former have interesting elements of graphical design, and a certain verity... the latter are more like objects of veneration. If you are able to find very attractive album covers inexpensively in your local shops, then by all means consider doing a wall (or perhaps just a column or row or two) of them. Frames will make this easiest, but those Pirke ones are a bit expensive (there are some commonly available in the US for $12.50, so shop around).

Definitely work with the signifiers of music that you already have. You obviously have a few guitars, a keyboard, an amp or two -- display them, and be neat about it. Whatever's in that soft-sided case should probably come out and be displayed... if it needs a stand, buy one. They're cheap. Better yet, if you can screw things deeply into your walls, hang those guitars. They'll be up out of the way, safer, and decorative all at once. It's probably best to be a bit wabi-sabi about how you hang them -- too much precision and balance and it'll look more like a Hard Rock Café shrine than an actual musician's digs.

Buying an inexpensive saxophone is ok if you can/want to play a reed instrument. Don't be a poseur and just have one for show, though. I think it would be better to get something brass, like a trumpet or trombone, anyway, where reed care &c. isn't part of what you'll have to learn, if you're going to be a casual noodler on the horn.

That sink alcove is cool. Bit messy at the moment, but cool :). Don't cover it up -- it provides a nice geometric counterpoint to the main room. The white porcelain of the sink will be awesome against a darker color, and sinks are just cool things. Can you paint the walls around it? I can't tell if there's tile or not. Try to find a way to contain and conceal all of the stuff you use at the sink. A box you can put everything in, open when you need to, and then closeup again. Or a drawer. Something.

I don't see a picture of your light fixture, so it's difficult to advise you on what to do about that. If it's a single, central incandescent bulb, then you can achieve interesting effects by using a colander as a light shade -- oughtn't be more than a euro or two in a thrift shoppe, no? If it's not to your liking, well, your kitchen is off to a good start. You can get red light bulbs too, of course. Ultimately, you will achieve a cozier environment if your light isn't primarily coming from above, but comes from several sources around the room, creating pools of light which highlight certain features (like an awesome poster, or a work area) and downplay others (like the armoire). Small lamps are easy to make, if you fancy a spot of crafting.

I have no idea what to suggest about that computer desk. It is, as you say, completely out of place in the cozy jazz lair of your dreams. The material it's constructed of is wrong, the weird ovular form is wrong -- you couldn't even save it with a slipcover, I don't think. No advice there.

The dresser, on the other hand, is fine... traditional style, traditional material, sortof blends in with the floor. Could be better, but I'm not worried about that.

The armoire is a bit mod, with its chrome and black panels, but at least it's subtle. I'd leave it alone. Covering the doors with something "jazzy" would probably draw unwanted attention to it, and it looks like it recedes a bit in its current form. Is the desk chair part of the room's furniture, or is it yours? Because a more retro chair would be preferable, if you can find one.

Do not overlook your bed. It's a large, horizontal element of the room and you can easily find different linens for it. Something dark. A few throw pillows will turn it into a sofa, of sorts, and a place for guests to sit. The less "bed" you make it and the more "sofa," the less it's going to feel like you're in a dormitory.

If there's any storage space available to you elsewhere in the building, keep as much stuff there as you can. Reducing the number of things in your space creates more room for you there, and for your guests. Oh, and while we haven't talked about a soundscape for the room, if jazz is what the room is about, I assume jazz will be heard. Obviously you want to pay careful attention to where the seating areas in the room are, and arrange your speakers to play to the sweet spots.
posted by mumkin at 2:03 PM on December 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

Oh, and I know that some of those links I provided aren't in Germany, but I really just meant them as examples. You're going to be much better at googling for red german lightbulbs and whatnot than I :)
posted by mumkin at 2:04 PM on December 18, 2007

I find fake brick tacky. I would paint it a dark, seductive red. Keep the light low, look at the scene in Eyes Wide Shut where Tom Cruise's character goes to the jazz house. You want low levels of indirect lighting, like a bunch of LED candles or something similar. Make sure you have small taples, like really small bar tables. Just enough for someone to put a drink down.

A side of the room that can be used for the sound system would be great. I don't have any vinyls, but I have them all as MP3. People like going through my vinyls and then queuing it up using their iPhone (my system is connected to my media server).

A small liquor cart from something like DesignWithinReach, which really reminds me of a modern 1950s office where a girl would go around offering drinks at the end of the day. This is going to be all in the little details, mid-century modern accessory pieces should be affordable (as oppose to putting in a Barcelona couch).

Also, and this is very important, put as much seating as possible. I remember some designer for hedge fund kids was in some magazine stressing the importance of chairs/couches everywhere. If this is a lair, people are going to be ontop of each other, but at least they're sitting down somewhere. I have a room and I put comfortable seating everywhere, trying to match the same height so you don't have people at odd angles to each other. There is no longer a rush for the couch or everyone lumped against one section.

I generally do not like hanging things on the walls that are not meant to be hung on the walls, like 45s. It reminds me of an Applebees or some sort of "neighborhood" restaurant. Very hard to do tastefully!
posted by geoff. at 2:08 PM on December 18, 2007

Oh I should add that the advice for more seating than seems necessary comes from people with huge rooms, but it scales incredibly well. Nothing is less inviting than having to stand or having to sit on the floor.
posted by geoff. at 2:09 PM on December 18, 2007

On the subject of deep, rich wall paint, by the way: the color you want your walls to be does not come in a single can. No matter what. For rich, complex tones, you're going to have to apply some kind of tinted, semi-translucent glaze layer on top, preferably with a stippling brush.
posted by mumkin at 2:21 PM on December 18, 2007

If I had room for it, I'd definitely put up a jazz history poster like this, preferably in a hallway where guests can study it before coming back into the room to discuss it with you.

Simple nails in the walls in odd, small spaces can hold classic jazz (or standards) 45s that you can find at flea markets. You can also find album covers that you can frame.

Lastly, I don't think any jazz lair would be complete without a poster of A Great Day in Harlem.
posted by Morrigan at 3:53 PM on December 18, 2007

A few more things:

Soften this window by mounting a curtain rod above it and hanging a drape. Mount a hook, too, to swag it off to one side when you want it pulled back. You should be able to find a tab-topped velvet panel curtain relatively inexpensively. You can leave the blinds up, but hanging a drapery over the window will go a long way to making the room seem less institutional. Don't get a spring-loaded curtain rod for inside the window... the goal is to hide the hard edges of the window, so it needs to be mounted on the outside.

It's difficult appreciate the dimensions of your furniture. Could your shelves move to the opposite wall, where the dresser and desk are? I'm not suggesting it, and don't think I really could suggest a furniture arrangement based on the pics, but if you're just living with the furniture arranged as it was when you moved in, certainly spend the time to see how it might be rearranged to better create the cozy den you want. Consider using some of the furniture to define different spaces, if possible, instead of just clinging to the walls. If you run the dresser out from a wall sideways, for example, like a peninsula, can you create a separate "study nook" in one corner?
posted by mumkin at 4:08 PM on December 18, 2007

Response by poster: thats a good idea, but the back of furniture isnt designed to be seen :p how should i cover it up?
posted by freddymetz at 11:27 PM on December 18, 2007

Well, you could:

a) put two similarly-sized pieces of furniture, like your dresser and desk, back-to-back, so that neither back is really showing
b) paint the back of a tall piece, like your armoire, with an interesting, bold color to create a unique visual element
c) hot glue or staple tightly stretched fabric, in a pattern matching other fabric in the room (the duvet? the slipcover for the bookshelves? the new curtain?) across the back.

Honestly, worry about that after you decide if you even can or should position your furniture at odd angles. It may not be necessary.
posted by mumkin at 12:12 AM on December 19, 2007

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