Friday, 21 November 2014

space: Thomas O'Brien's country living room

Designer Thomas O'Brien has a country home in Long Island, called The Academy, built in 1833 as a school for boys. In the 1920s it was extended and turned into a residence. O'Brien bought the house in 2000 and renovated it. The living room, also a dining area, is the school's original classroom, a space all mismatched and disconnected when O'Brien bought the house. He has turned it into a beautiful living room, using a central table to divide it, and opening it into the front hallway. The house is featured in a book written by the designer, American Modern (one of the favourites on my coffee table), which shows many angles of this space and various details. The styling of the space is what interests me the most; the mixing of vintage modern furniture and arrangement of decorative objects. I like how O'Brien uses trays for both books and decorative objects. It's a detail you will often come across in his work and something that I have borrowed from him. If you think about it, usually dining tables have a bowl or some other piece in the centre. By using trays instead you can add more life to a dining table and the trays are easily removable when you need the table for entertaining.

What I also like about the space is the fact that the television is not a central piece, but nests in a built-in bookcase in one corner. If there is anything that makes my design heart ache nowadays, it's how most people seem to push a sofa as close up against a wall as possible with a TV on an opposite wall, as if their entire world evolves around the telly. I don't mean to offend anyone but if the television is the first piece you notice when you walk into your living room then I suggest you either rearrange it or throw the TV out. I'm just saying.

Have a wonderful weekend!

photo credit:
Laura Resen for the book American Modern by Thomas O'Brien, published by Abrams


  1. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had a space large enough to decorate according to our wishes? I, for one, had no choice but to place the sofa against a wall in our living room because the room is not as generous as I would like and no other way would have worked if I wanted to give it a sense of more space.

    Have a lovely weekend, Lisa!

    1. Yes, I'm of course referring to spaces where there is plenty of space. In those cases I don't understand the everything-up-against-the-wall decorating policy.

  2. There is so much about this space I really appreciate... the multi-functional dinning table in the living room, the symmetrical layout, the all white base with accents of carmel, brown and black... Lovely post. All the best, Rié

    1. Rié, if you follow the 'The Academy' link you can see the rest of the house. It's one of my favourite house tours.


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