In our day and age, the term “Living Room” can be something of a misnomer. Although a compulsory addition in most homes that aren’t studio apartments, the modern living room can, paradoxically, be full of dead space. Often framed around a TV set and filled with expected, but sometimes unnecessary furnishings, the space can become more a showpiece—an occasional reception area— than a place for everyday congregation.
When Mississippi-based boutique owner Erin Austen Abbott decided to rethink her own home’s living room strategy, she wanted to avoid these modern pitfalls. Instead of letting prescribed notions of what a living room should be dictate her plan, she took a holistic approach, examining the limits of her space and the needs of her family. “Our house was built in 1890 and has these massive ceilings and windows, as old houses do,” Erin noted. “The open floor plan has always been a bit of a challenge for us. Too crowded, nothing placed really well. We had these couches that no one wanted to sit on, they were bulky and never fit the space well. We also had a large dining room table in the room that opened up to ten feet. Far too much table for our family of three.”
Erin’s family is dedicated to creative pursuits—she photographs and writes, her husband composes music, and their son is an avid drawer—so she wanted the space to be conducive to these activities. Erin removed the overlong dining table and sofas and replaced them with a cozy yet compact sectional and a small dining table, perfect for three people. A small desk was added in the corner for Erin’s work and ample space was left for their son to spread out with his drawings and toys. The result is a space that goes beyond the typical functions of a living room. “We don’t have a TV in the room,” Erin says, “so it’s where we can all work on projects side by side, listen to records, take naps, read books… a true family room.”