Reader Design Dilemma: Repurposing a media unit

First, let me say how much I love hearing from you guys--keep your design dilemmas coming, they keep me sharp.

Lauren writes to me as she and her husband move from a one bedroom apartment in Murray Hill, Manhattan, to a two bedroom in Gramercy Park.  For now, the second bedroom serves as an office for Lauren's booming events business, Bellafare, as well as hosting guests, as needed.  Their old media unit, the Logan Suite from Pottery Barn, doesn't work in their new living room, so she's looking to repurpose it in the office.  Only problem: what to do with the middle bit, where a TV clearly goes?


As I understand it, this unit is modular.  One option that could be pretty seamless: remove the TV stand and tuck the bed right on in there, kind of like this.


At 54" wide, a full sized bed should just fit.  To keep the set up from looking like one of those terrible 80s headboard shelf contraptions that are always showing up on craigslist, I would keep the shelves very styled with a mix of objects and guest-friendly books, and consider wallpapering the backs of shelves and painting above the bed in a coordinating color.  Cute. no?

Another possibility, and perhaps more realistic: to turn the TV stand into a bench.  Lauren wrote that she's inclined to this idea, but I would take it one step further than a simple seat cushion and go ahead and upholster the back.  This is straight out of Candace Olsen's playbook.


(Do you watch Candice Tells All?  This is a screen shot from a recent episode.  You can watch full episodes on HGTV.com, and while the interiors are not always my favorite, I like that each episode focuses on a design principle like "flow" or "rhythm.")

But I digress.  See the brown bench?  that's a black quilted-leather upholstered wall behind it, in the niche.  That's kinda what I'm talking about.

To do something like this, cut a piece of plywood the size of the opening (from bench to bridge), and cut 1" or 2" foam to match.  Adhere the foam with spray adhesive, drill holes for tufting, upholster, and attach to the wall.  )Basically, you're making a rectangular headboard).  Have a cushion made in a matching or coordinating fabric.  A variation on the theme: cover a number of wood "tiles" in matched or mixed fabric to create the same effect, and attach them to the wall with industrial velcro.  (Like this wall in a Muriel Brandolini room--though, to be clear, I would just use one fabric).

Either way, this will look much more built in and custom than a bunch of throw pillows, and will be comfortable enough that guest might actually sit here to put on their shoes or peruse the travel books you've left out on the shelves.

Lauren, hope this helps--let me know what you decide to do!