Pianos are notoriously difficult to get rid of so it begs the question, how to decorate around a piano? Once upon a time, many a middle-class home had an upright piano tucked into a corner. But the days of sing-a-longs for entertainment purposes are pretty much long gone (except with my friends – we’ll still get a good showtimes sing-a-long going when given the chance!)
I have a good double piano story to share. My Casual Coastal client had a Yamaha Clavinova electronic player piano which she loved. It’s also beautiful and tiny at only 4FT Deep.
But, the problem is that their new home here in Massachusetts just didn’t have the room in the main living area for both the piano and a dining table and chairs. Now, I am not a designer who tells clients they must get rid of things like a piano – I have a Bachelors in Music Performance degree on Flute after all. But, I did have to give them the choice as there was no room for a dining table and chairs with the piano in the corner of what is meant to be the dining area. And really, while many happily sit at a counter to eat, it’s not conducive to entertaining and good conversation – while staring at the pots and pans that need cleaning.
So, as it happened, another client/friend of mine was looking to take piano lessons, so he bought the piano and has already started lessons! At the end of this post, I’ll show where it’s going. Meanwhile, furniture and carpets are slowly coming in and I took some pics of how things are looking so far. The dining table opens up to 60″ DIA and closes to 42″ square. Very handy for a smaller space.
Here’s another project I did where I had to decorate around a piano. This was actually a home staging project in order to sell the house . The dining room was completely empty and the homeowner who was still in the house didn’t want to fill it up with new big furniture just to fill it. So, I created a kind of music salon concept. They already had a beautiful round smaller table elsewhere in the home so we set up a cozy dining area in front of the fireplace with new leather chairs and colorful rug with a beautiful view of the bay and in the other corner was the grand piano. I loved the open feeling of this space. This photo is old and not great but gives the idea of how it looked.
I am planning the formal living room of my Dream Home project to include a grand piano as well (because sing-a-longs can happen!). (Note, this room is still a work in progress, no final decisions regarding colors, fabrics, etc).
So, aside from just dealing with the pretty – what are important considerations to decorate around a piano?
A traditional piano – grand or upright – is kind of a living thing and as such, is affected by temperature and humidity. Bradfield Piano has an excellent list of the why’s and how’s to protect a piano. The basics are:
- Keep the temperature at a fairly stable 68 degrees or so. Hence, sunlight, drafts and fireplaces are important considerations. In my “Dream Home” example, I would likely plant tall bushes outside the window to cut down on the light and would probably keep the drapery closed more often than not. The fireplace wouldn’t be used very often. Plus the house would have good temperature controls.
- Keep the humidity consistent and fairly low – low 40% is ideal per Bradfield Piano. Oftentimes, piano owners have humidifiers by their pianos. The issue is that the wood of the piano, the soundboard, the steel strings, and hammers and felt pads are all affected by temperature and humidity fluctuations – which all affects the tuning.
- Avoid placing drinks and vases with flowers on a piano as accidents can happen. Worst is water flowing into the body of the piano, but just dealing with rings on the finish is not good with an expensive item.
- Keep the keys covered when not in use and keep the whole thing dust free.
Here are some stock images of pianos in various spaces.
I love the look of this space above – so open and casual and it’s not unlike my client’s deck house which we’ll be using his new (to him) tiny grand piano. This would be a difficult space to keep the temperature and humidity consistent but the sound would be glorious with the high ceiling and all the hard surfaces. From the bag and sheet music on the floor, this appears to be a serious player. All the plants help with humidity and there’s a good amount of tree coverage as well.
This image above is beautiful and so elegant – but the placement by the window and radiator is not ideal.
This is a very chic space though I’m not sure cramming the piano into the corner this way makes for the best sound, but it appears to be away from heat and light sources. Also, the “bench” isn’t usable to sit at the piano – it’s too high. But then, it’s a staged model image so who knows!
Another chic space and I love the piano alcove! Likely, the drapery is pulled most of the time to protect the piano. But tsk tsk on the flowers in vase on the piano!
Here is a lovely space designed by my friend Scot Meacham Wood , of New York and San Francisco, in the Four Seasons in San Francisco. This beautiful piano is tucked into the corner and has protective drapery to keep the sun at bay. Love the window seats!
Another design friend, Ruthie Staalsen located in Texas designed this grand space for a grand piano. The sound would reverberate beautifully around this space – wouldn’t it be lovely to sit and listen to a concert here?
Ruthie shows here that she can design small intimate spaces as well.
Decorate around a piano project Sneak Peek
As I mentioned above, my Sudbury Mid-Century Deck House client purchased the tiny grand from my Casual Coastal client and he’s already enjoying taking piano lessons. Below are the images from the prior homeowner from the real estate listing. Currently, the piano is on the far wall about center in the first image – where the former bookshelves are at their tallest. We haven’t started working on this yet, but the issues are that the front door is just down the stairs on the left and there is a wall of sliding doors across the back wall of the house.
However, we have installed solar roller shades in these windows and there is a deep overhang as well. That said, this is an electronic piano – so there are no issues related to tuning – no strings, hammers or soundboard! But the black lacquer finish is beautiful so we wouldn’t want to expose it to sun damage.
Facing in the other direction, the dining room is on the right and the kitchen is behind the fireplace. The TV is currently on this far wall and the fireplace is being fitted with a gas insert so it will be used more than if it were a wood burning fireplace. The room could be flipped with the tv on the book case wall, but then the tv is visible when driving up the road on the side – which is a pet peeve of my client.
More to come on this project.
Have you struggled with how to decorate around a piano? Or, having you done it successfully – I’d love to hear about it!