A new decorating challenge

One word.

P i a n o .

actually three words.  P i a n o + s m a l l  r o o m

This is the deal.  My husband needs a piano and has been looking for one for ages.  He grew up in a home with a piano and thinks our boys should too.  I totally agree and love the idea of having a piano in our home. The frustrating part for my husband is I am not a musician so i don’t get the “tone thing” and all of that..I just wanted a neat old piano.  I just though i could find an old piano on the side of the road and paint it and it would be so clever….

But no, apparently pianos that have been sitting in someones pasture for 50 years may LOOK neat (think Chris Tomlin’s Amazing Grace *my chains are gone* video) but they don’t  have “good tone” and it can’t be repaired minus a fortune and so we need a newer model.   And he said no to ever painting a piano.  So this idea below, while cute isn’t feasible for us;;

I do like the plates…from the Addicted 2 decorating blog!

And then there is the space issue. Regardless, he took the plunge yesterday and bought one.  It’s coming NEXT WEEK!  We realize you are supposed to put it on an inside wall if possible and all of that…we are going to try but it may have to go near a window…we will see.  I am both scared and excited about all of this..it will be fun to hear Elton playing each day, he is really good.  But yes a little nervous about possibly having to move my sofa in front of the windows and it all looking so crowded.

In the meantime, I am scouring blogs and shelter mags for inspiration for decorating around the piano.  The fun part once we find a place for it. And while I love this gorgeous look below its just not our current reality…

{image from Southern Living}

I love how Stephanie Nielsen has all glass on top of hers but i don’t know if that will work at my house;; But i am definitely thinking a lamp and stacks of books.

{Nie Nie’s living room can be seen here}

So there you go, it’s going to be crowded and it’s going to be new (black in case you wondered, a studio upright) and we will make it work.

And there will be music in my house!

In the meantime, if you have any piano design stories to share please leave in the comments and if you run across any inspirational photos, please send my way!


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  1. oh, my heart was beating a little faster seeing those first pics and thinking that was your new piano – how gorgeous!!! too bad about the tuning thing. Good luck fitting the new one in. You’ll make it look beautiful, no doubt. I took lessons for years and would love to start back up again. Andrew has been asking to play too. No clue where I’d put one in our house.

  2. We have an upright that is in great condition tone wise, but is otherwise an eyesore. My husband, who is a musician, will not allow it to be painted, and I just don’t get it. It’s not a high-end piano, and has seen better days (it doesn’t stay tuned long). I WANT TO PAINT IT! Or AT LEAST restain it. Can you tell this is a sensitive subject?

  3. We have a beast of a piano that we bought for $75. I’ve had the most difficult time figuring out where to put ours too!

  4. Elisabeth says:

    Love the blue piano!! You’ll make it all beeeeeauuutiful!

  5. Tone wins hands down, but I also agree with you – vintage pianos are the sexiest. Our Yamaha was new and even though I love it, it’s a pain to decorate around, especially since we don’t have a designated “piano room.” And I definitely would NOT put all that glass on top if yours will actually get *played* (as ours does): the vibration makes it rattle. It does look great though……good luck!

  6. Fun!

  7. I can’t wait to see your piano solution! My parents just gave us their piano and I’m super-excited to start playing again. But I’m struggling just a wee bit with how to decorate with/around it. I don’t want it to be the entire focal point, but I can’t exactly have the sofa’s back to it! 🙂

  8. How exciting! I love pianos. When I was pregnant with my first daughter, she’d kick and roll around like crazy whenever the pianist played at church so toward the end of my pregnancy, we’d go to Nordstrom and sit next to the piano player for a couple of hours to let her “listen” to the music. Now she’s three and doesn’t seem as interested, but I still dream she’ll get into it one day and I can remember how it all started. Enjoy your music!

  9. There is absolutely nothing better than listening to your child play the piano (or make music of any kind really). My kids (teens) are no longer in lessons, but my son heads out to the piano to play for pleasure on a regular basis and it is wonderful! Congrats!

  10. I am also about to get a piano, and I’m so excited! But I prefer my pianos to be left undecorated – I have the piano lamp that I’ve had ever since I was 8 years old and just starting to learn to play, so that’s a non-negotiable item, it WILL be on the piano. I have toddlers, so I think I’m just going to put a basket or bowl of something one one side of the lamp, and glue a bunch of old music books together for the other side. I’m placing it on my half-wall of the living room, the stairs leading to the family room are on the other side of the wall.

    Now Christmas is a whole ‘nother story – there’s nothing like a piano with a Christmas village on top 🙂

  11. I’ve always grown up with a a piano in the house. I was lucky enough to inherit my great grandmother’s baby grand. I don’t follow the can’t be near a window rule though. I’m definitely more designer
    than musician! : ) You’re going to make it look stunning no matter where you put it – can’t wait to see pics!


  12. Teresa S. says:

    Holly– I am so glad to hear that you guys took the plunge and got a piano! I have no musical talent, but my husband loves to play! We bought a beautiful used upright a few years back and it has been such a blessing. My husband comes home from work and just plays and plays. It always puts him in a peaceful mood. We have lived in several rental houses with our piano, and I will admit that it is sometimes hard to smush into a room. I will caution you to keep from getting you hopes of decorating on top of the piano too high. I tried this at first and my hubby begged me to take it down for several reasons. One being that it messes with the tone! You also might get some vibration up there that drives him nuts while he is playing, and if your piano opens on top to release greater sound, you will have to remove it everytime you want to open it! Hope that helps!

  13. How fun! Can’t wait to see what you do with it! What a wonderful experience to grow up in a home with music!

  14. I think there is definitely a place for those things that are “functional” and that real life doesn’t always revolve around decor. (Although I can say that because MY life doesn’t, but that’s also why I read your blog because your life revolves around it much more than mine, and I love what you come up with!) I had never thought about painting a piano; as a musician, it kind of seems like sacrilege, but maybe that’s just me! 🙂 🙂 Our piano is a working piano, I have struggled with finding the best placement for it, but we have always found a way to make it work. The piano itself is beautiful to me. Walking into a house with one makes me feel like it’s home. I’m so excited for you to get one (even if you do end up painting it!).

  15. We inherited an upright piano that I love love love. It has totally dictated a lot of the design in our living room, which I’m fine with cause it has great character (and is pretty in tune, except one key :). Even though I don’t play piano, I like hearing my husband & little boy tinker with it. I especially love it at Christmas – so fun to decorate! Here’s what we did the last few years: http://bennettwilliams.wordpress.com/2009/12/21/christmas-progress/. It’s great cause it adds a little variety of height in our room. Enjoy yours!

  16. Can’t live without a piano! I still have mine from when I started playing 43 years ago, and my daughter now plays it. It’s not very attractive but it IS music in the house. I pushed it into various locations in my parents house growing up (probably the source of my old age back pain!)and have had it moved into 3 different houses now. Watch out for the wheels. Mine cut tracks in my old pine flooring when we moved it to our second home. It has x-large black and white photos framed standing atop it- leaned against the wall. A collection of photos and silhouettes would be lovely in your house. And by the way, loved your post over at Layla’s today!

  17. I can’t wait to see what you come up with. My husband and I received my great-grandmother’s beautiful baby grand as a wedding gift in 2007 and it has since been living in my in-law’s dining room. I have no idea how to decorate with it. We currently live in a house with small rooms. An upright would definitely be easier. If and when I do move it to our house it will have to be on an outside wall and near a window.

  18. Kyle understands your dilemma. A few years my parents sent me the grand I grew up playing. He wasn’t thrilled, but we have made it work and it IS wonderful for my kids to have one to play. I can’t wait to see you work your magic with the new piano! Enjoy!!!!

  19. Holly:
    I HEAR you! I found and bought a vintage baby grand that looked so good! Brought it home, and my husband (who is the musician in our family) sat down and the first note he hit, he said, “i hate it.” So, we ended up with a black upright that he loves the sound of, but I don’t care for the look of….I can’t wait to see what you do with yours! I still haven’t come up with a solution that I can be happy about…..

  20. I feel ya! My sweet husband plays beautifully- grew up in a very musical family. I, sadly, can’t carry a tune in a bucket. So, like you, I enjoy it, but don’t totally ‘get’ it. About 7 years ago we bought a black baby grand from a piano store that was shutting down. It even has a player on it where you can put special CDs in it and it plays itself! I wish we had an upright, though, honestly. Design-wise, the one we have is like decorating around a big black hole! (My hubs, too, is TOTALLY against painting it) It’s sitting in the office/library now, so I can’t wait to see what you do with yours…hopefully I’ll get some inspiration on what to do with mine! I know you’ll make it perfect!

  21. As soon as my daughter was old enough to start piano lessons I went out to get a piano. I left the house with all intentions to RENT an upright. Instead I came home with a baby grand (black) and purchased! Yikes. My husband was pretty silent about it but not thrilled – our house was TINY. We subsequently added on to make more room for the piano 😉 It is still my favorite piece of furniture and we enjoyed the girls playing more than anything.

  22. I bought a cheap piano on craiglist and painted it. I love how it looks now, and I have fun changing up the accessories I put on top. I’m no profession, but I’m happy with the sound too. Here are a couple posts with pictures:

    http://ryan-erica.blogspot.com/2010/10/getting-crafty.html (This one includes the bench I recovered)

    http://ryan-erica.blogspot.com/2010/09/im-proud-new-owner.html (And this one has the “before” shot)

    Good luck, and I love your blog!

  23. It’s a Piano, you will love it, and make it work, I know it… Show pics when you get it congratulations!Maryannexo

  24. We got a piano about a year ago. I was doing some research and I guess the advice that it has to go against an inside wall is out dated. I came across some sources that said with today’s better insulated homes this is really not an issue. That advice is more suited for houses 100 years ago. You may want to do some research and check it out. We love hearing our children learn the piano (but I did put the piano on a wall that does not make it the center of the design for our living room.)Enjoy.

  25. Rachel E. J. says:

    It’s just begging for silhouettes by it. Maybe with sheet music beneath them. And a little sheet music page flower like the book page ones you make. All pressed in a frame that ties the black and any wood tones you have together. Oh, what fun you’ll have! Like you need our advice!

  26. I am a musician (sometimes it feels like a former life since the busyness of kids, but I did actually practice hard the other day!). Anyway, I have on old wooden metronome in a grouping with a hymnbook (because we use it frequently) and a plant on one side and some photos on the other. Perhaps it would be nice if you were able to get a lamp on an arm that is meant to be for pianos to see the music better- it could be pretty and practical. Also, when we were stationed over here the first time, our job was to travel and we were able to visit the church where Bach did a lot of work and is buried. I purchased some old piano books on ebay (just the perfect aged look and in German) and had two pages of one of his piano works framed to hang above the piano. It reminds me of our trip and one of the greatest musicians to have ever lived.

  27. Years ago when houses were not as well insulated as they are now it was important not to have then against an outside wall. But any house built from the 60’s on would be insulated well enough not to effect the piano with humidity. Good luck!

  28. Six words….Why didn’t I take music lessons….! I would love to be able to play!

  29. Can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with… we have an old piano from my husband’s family, too. Thorugh the holidays, it is where our Hummel nativity set is set out… keeps it out of reach of little hands and looks nice, too. It’s a work in progress the rest of the year. Right now I’ve got my three kiddos pictures above it, a family pic to the side (it’s in a corner), lamp on top to the side, and a collection of old and newer extended family photos in frames on top. It needs something on the other end of the top… I’m going with either a plant (and hoping I don’t kill it or poison my cat) or a lantern filled with little white lights. I may even prop some frames filled with more old family photos along the front where the music sheets usually go, kind of like a gallery of sorts. Over the whole thing, I plan to add a quote about families and love. That’s the plan, at least!

  30. We have an upright grand piano that no one in the house plays but we keep it because we love the look of a piano in our home. My husband plays violin so we changed our living room into our music room and that’s where the piano lives. Good luck and you’ll love having your piano.

  31. We too have a piano in our home, that I inherited from my parents…they bought it when I was very young and took piano lessons (not much of a player, if at all!)…ours is housed in our living room/office in the bay window-I would prefer to have 2 beautiful wingback chairs in the space, but who knows, my 8 month old might want to play someday so we’ll have one! Good luck, they are big, and difficult to find space for!

  32. We have a piano that belonged to my husband’s grandmother. We rescued it from a shed. Took it because it was one of hers (she had many), and because we thought it’d be fun to have. – We don’t play. Anyway, we have moved that thing all over the US. It’s spent quite a few years in garages – since there wasn’t a spot for it in some of our homes. It has now landed in my daughter’s room. She’s able to take lessons at school during one of her PE classes. I’d been contemplating painting it or adding some bling. She is a 9 year old (how fun would that be?) and the piano probably isn’t worth much. – Debated the thought because it IS an instrument. However, my father-in-law recently informed us that he would like for us to have THEIR much nicer piano at some point. Which is much better than our existing. That being said… I think that that definitely gives me the green light to trick the OLD piano out… right?

  33. My piano isn’t necessarily inspirational, but it has a beautiful painting over it. and yes, I still have the manger scene up on top- It’s the last thing I pack up and the saddest to put away 🙁

  34. Hi, Holly! I am *supposed* to be working right now, but I checked Heather’s blog and then thought, hey, I’ll check over at Holly’s site…and now an hour later, here I am! I had to go back to my blogs because I KNOW there are pictures of our piano, but I can’t find one. Sigh! Isn’t that the way it always works? Anyway…on our family blog (ipharaon.blogspot.com), the logo is actually a photo of the top of our piano. And in this post I have some pics of the living room (http://adventuresofmommygirl.blogspot.com/2011/01/ahhh.html). Our house is teeny tiny, and when we had the opportunity to adopt James’ Grandmother’s piano, we couldn’t say no…even though we had NO space. That was 4 years ago, and now it’s just part of the landscape around here. Maybe someday the kids will play it…
    By the way, I love your blog. Thanks for reminding us that we (and our families) can LIVE in beauty and surround ourselves with things we love!

  35. Awww. We had a quite lovely piano…old upright baby grand…kids all played on it but went on to outgrow it’s problems. It now sits lonely in the garage…and my youngest plays a keyboard (with headphones) in her room. I miss the tinkling of tiny fingers practicing! Enjoy that sound!

  36. My eight-year-old daughter started taking piano lessons this year. Since we are in transition (Charlottesville, here we come!!!!) I didn’t want to buy a piano and have to move it and possibly damage it, so we bought a digital piano from a graduating music student at one of the local universities. It is a full size keyboard with weighted keys so it feels and sounds like a real piano. Our piano teacher recommended it. It has a stand but all of it can be stored when not in use. I considered it a temporary solution (even though it is still huge and wasn’t cheap) but it’s been a brilliant alternative, since we don’t have a dedicated space for a piano in this house. Holly, there is nothing sweeter than listening to your child play piano and singing along softly as they tap out a melody. My daughter has taken to music like I never would have believed. Music is a gift you give to your child. It will be worth a little crowding to have that piano in your home!

  37. Holly, I have a similar issue. My eldest daughter, Missouri, inherited a piano years ago, so it came to live in our foyer. Missouri is now away at college (note: she is NOT a music major) and the piano still lives in my foyer. I too lack musical talent. Therefore, dear Aunt Earnestine’s beloved piano collects dust, holds pictures, and nic nacks, but does not delight our home with music. Since I don’t want to permanently alter my daughter’s piano, I’m planning to make a floor length, skirted slipcover in linen to dress up the piano bench. It is not a very exciting option, but painting or covering something in beautiful fabric is usually the answer to all of my decorating dilemmas.

  38. At some point, you have to step back and ask yourself what exactly you’re doing.

    It’s a piano. A musical instrument. Yes, they present some challenges in cramped spaces, but they are beautiful things in and of themselves. And if you find yourself covering the whole thing with photos and curios, maybe you should just consider donating your piano to a local school or church. They are meant to played, and the tone coming out of them trumps any kind of decoupage or fern collection.

    Keep the tops clear and prop the tops open – the sweeps of the soundboard and strings are elegant and beautiful. The sound that fills the room when it’s played are worth a thousand yards of cloth or a hundred gallons of paint.

    • which is exactly why we are buying one david..we love music and think it is important..thanks for your input! it will be played daily..not just collecting dust or “curios”;;

  39. We have a lovely grand piano, as all three of my daughters play (and one of them is really good). I can peck out a song, but am hopeless – not sure how I ended up with three musical children!

    In our current house, the piano is really the star of the living room, and in the new house it will be the only thing in the living room as I am going to have to decorate in phases. I think that will be ok, though!

  40. I love having a piano in our home, but face the same decorating challenges that you do. There’s not really a great space for it and it’s so big and heavy that it’s not like you can try it in a bunch of spots until you find the perfect place. When you find a solution, please share!

  41. You can never, ever beat having a piano in your house. Congratulations. Personally, I’m waiting to inherit my mother-in-law’s baby grand and have the room all picked out but I don’t think that is happening anytime soon. So, I’m stuck with my old upright (out of someone’s basement) that I stripped, refinished, had the keys recovered and strings fixed and had tuned. It weighs a million pounds, but it’s beautiful.

  42. Not putting the piano or any good furniture next to a window could be about sun damage. I have stained and varnished window sills, it’s only been a few years and they are really damaged . I’m not looking forward to all the sanding and varnishing.

  43. We could only afford a cheap piano that had a crazed finished. It had a very nice sound but was not so attractive. Inspired by a friend who refinished his piano, I did just that. I took it all apart (not so difficult, just be sure you remember to put it back the same way) refinished each piece, and put it back together. I did this at night after my three children were in bed. It was very therapeutic to rescue a nasty looking piano into one that shows off the lovely, warm walnut wood. It sounds daunting but was really fun to do. Just know that it will take awhile. The results are worth it. It was also interesting to find out how a piano is put together.

  44. Vicki Walton says:

    We recently purchased my Grandmother’s baby grand piano from my aunt. We had no place in the living or family rooms to put it. We, well really I since my hubby was at work and I knew he would have a cow, decided to put it in our entryway. It fits perfectly in the corner where the staircase makes a turn. Not only is the piano a perfect spot to place a lamp and seasonal decor, you can hear it all thru the house when my mini virtuoso plays! I hope you enjoy your piano as much as we do ours. I have soooo many wonderful memories of my grandmother and I playing it together.

  45. We like to buy old piano, it is old more than 100 years.

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