Strong forms and clear colors prevent this living room from falling victim to the boring-box syndrome. On the left, the media cabinet sits under the bottom slope of the stairway
Tradition With a Twist
Texans have always had an appreciation for wide-open spaces, and this Houston living room is an indoor expression of that outlook. Working with architect Thomas Diehl, homeowners David and Karen Tidholm created a room that, as Karen says, "is really for living."
It's an addition attached to the back of the Tidholms' 1962 ranch house. Its soaring ceiling is a deliberate contrast to the 8-ft. heights in the rest of the home. "Originally, we were adding space so our three kids could watch TV," says Karen, "but when we decided to put the computer back there, it became a room for everyone."
The 21x28-ft. space comfortably accommodates several furniture groupings, allowing friends and family to gather together but with enough room to break into smaller groups. A game table, which seats four, stands near the door to the hallway that connects the room to the kitchen.
In the middle of the room, a couch, coffee table and armchairs are in just the right spot for enjoying a movie. The media center, which is built into the middle of the back wall, is definitely a focal point of the room. But because it's painted the same white as the walls and the cabinetry, it doesn't dominate the room.
The third activity area is set into the front outside corner of the room. It's more formally defined than the others, enclosed—but not cut off—by a curving half wall topped with columns. Lightheartedly called "the oval office," it's suitable for family computer use: Web surfing, online shopping and games. "Sometimes the glare is pretty strong on the computer screen late in afternoon, but because we're just using it for fun—not work—it's okay," says Karen, in a comment that reflects just how much real "living" goes on in this family's new living room.