The rooms we live in
A Lament for the Den Before we all built great rooms, a house had a den. Not much natural light. The old couch. Unhung art. An out-of-place elephant sculpture. A door its owners could close. It was a retreat that let a family live together as comfortably, quietly and weirdly as it liked. It was for everyone— everyone except company.
A good room gives you a feeling that you forget is there. It’s not just the simple pleasure of relaxing on a recliner whose colour you picked. Or knowing you can navigate it in power-outage darkness without stubbing your toe. It’s deeper. It’s that low hum of feeling safe, and in control, and like you have one thing you can rely on at any time of any day, and that it was you who built that reliable thing.
What goes in a good room, then, should age, but more importantly, improve with you over decades—like leather does. Apply that thinking to the most prominent element of the room: the sofa. But don’t go for something old, or young, either. Echo the
classic with a streamlined version of a Chesterfield ([ Room & Board Macalester leather sofa; SGD7,000; roomandboard.com).
Next, something sturdy: a marble coffee table ([ CB2 Slab Marble coffee table; SGD419; cb2.com). (Or granite.) It’s a hard surface that lasts far longer than wood.
Now energy. There’s little vitality in similarity, not even with two items that are leather. Even less if it is a leather set. (Never buy a set. A set is a decision made by one person for many people.) Instead, a fabric chair ([ CB2 Suitor chair; SGD1,330; cb2.com), by being different, creates interest and energy, even when in a neutral tone.
With three pieces, you have mo- mentum—though it’d be good to note: men often don’t trust their taste with this stuff. Not at first. You won’t always be right. But if you think about your needs, you’ll find yourself striding forward. So that momentum. With it, atop a foundation, you can shift.
Buck tradition. Get a simple yet almost sculptural lamp ([ Rejuvenation stand floor lamp; SGD560; rejuvenation.com). Then set the neutrals alight with a bright-red bar table ([ B&B Italia Alcor storage unit; price upon request; bebitalia.com) that is classic and reliable yet also aspirational, and welcomes others to that feeling you know—as in: it’s everything, at once.
And that’s where you start.