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Monday, May 4, 2009

Pianos

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Thank you to the Washington Post for including this post in your Blog Watch, May 7, 2009!

When it became apparent that music would be an integral part of my children's lives, I purchased a gently used 5'10" ebony grand piano. Although my house is not large, I have an unusually long living room; the piano fits beautifully into the space and is the true focus of the room. In fact, my children refer to the room as 'the piano room' because that is truly the primary purpose of the room - for music. In my search for a new home, one of the first things I look for is a good place for the grand piano. I also notice when there is a piano in a picture of a beautiful room, because so much about the owner can be determined by looking at the placement of the piano in the room.

I really like this room because it is not a huge cavernous space, but instead is more intimate. It has a great balance of furniture - not too much, not too little. I think it is very effective to have a round ottoman positioned under a piano; it can be tucked away, provides a nice soft effect in contrast with the glossy black piano, and can be pulled out for additional seating. Notice that the piano is positioned so the opening faces the biggest part of the room, which is best for the piano sound. Interior design by Christopher Maya.

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This is one of the most memorable pictures of a piano in a room (from Traditional Home); the bay window looks like it was custom made with a piano in mind. However, the opening of the piano is facing the window - it should face out into the room for best sound. Interiors by Nancy Bernstein.

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I think this picture must have been stretched out with a wide angle lens (it is from an Atlanta real estate listing); I have seen this room in person, and it is not nearly so elongated. I like that there is a separate area of the living room for the piano; it allows the piano some breathing room.

ingaro_thumb5_cdt
This is one of my favorite images in the 'piano file'. The room is not designed around the piano; the deep nature of the room and the placement of the fireplace allows for room for both ample seating and a piano. The piano is to the side, but is well placed in the room, and provides a nice bit of contrast in the light room. It helps that this piano is smaller - probably a baby grand, which is defined as 5'2" and under. A medium grand is 5'3" to 7'2"; anything larger than that is a concert grand. Design by Ingrao, image via Cote de Texas.

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This living room has a great mixture of seating, and is very well balanced. It seems like the perfect place for a piano performance! Interiors by Bellacasa Design Associates.

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This piano, from an Atlanta real estate listing, is tucked into the corner. I suspect that this piano is rarely played both because of the floral arrangement on the piano, and because of the piano opening into the corner. The piano looks great as a piece of furniture, but it is not positioned well as a musical instrument. I wonder if some home owners and designers think that pianos look better when the keys can be seen?

cdt_showhouse
I have a few pictures of pianos that are adjacent to dining rooms. I think this is a clever idea - it would be great entertainment during a dinner party (particularly for pianos that have the auto play feature. Image via Cote de Texas.

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Another room where the piano is adjacent to the dining room. This is such a great use of space to me, mainly because my own dining room is so rarely used. Interiors by Bellacasa Design Associates.

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This looks like a piano that get played on a regular basis. The piano opens into a good sized room, which is ideal from a sound perspective. Interiors by Albert Hadley, image via Habitually Chic.

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The piano in this room is somewhat hard to see at first, as it is tucked into the corner and closed. Keeping a piano closed when not in use is a good idea for preventing dust accumulation on the soundboard. This room is from a townhouse in London that was once the studio of the great portrait artist John Singer Sargent; it is now owned by Sir Evelyn de Rothschild. Image via W Magazine (see full article here).

Trad Home_windlost
Another room that has not been designed around the piano, as the room is so deep. Image via Traditional Home and Wind Lost.

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This room, designed by Anne Coyle, has several seating areas, one of which is focused on the piano. I like the placement and position of the piano in this room.

alissaportman
Beautiful space, and gorgeous piano. But, the piano really needs to be turned around so the piano opens into the room, not the wall; the projection from the piano will go right into the wall instead of the room. As a side note, I love the look of a bold, dramatic painting behind a piano; to me, it is a good balance to the size and scale of the piano. This painting is particularly effective as it is somewhat evocative of piano symbols. Interior design by Atlanta based designer Alissa Portman.

velvet_linen
A beautiful home designed by Brooke Giannetti, with architecture by Steve Giannetti. The large living room spans the back of the house, and is divided into several seating areas. One of the seating areas is focused around the piano.

carole_weaks_piano
This room was decorated by Carole Weaks for a showhouse a few years ago. The bay window is the perfect place for the piano, and the piano is positioned well with the opening facing the room. Although some people (and designers) may prefer the look of seeing the keys, sometimes function needs to be chosen over form.

traditionalhome
I have seen this set up in a few pictures - there is a transition spot between two areas (sometimes living and dining, in this case two seating areas) and a piano bridges the gap. Image via Traditional Home.

lr1
Here is the dilemma when you have a small house but a large piano! This room is not large, it has a lot of furniture, plus a grand piano. It looks a bit crowded to me. The scale of all the furniture in a room like this must be carefully considered when a grand piano is involved. If you have a grand piano, a room like this should be primarily a music room instead of trying to be both a living room and a music room.

foxnahem2
This room has been seen so many times on the blogs, but have you ever noticed the piano tucked into the corner?

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This picture in a recent Elle Decor was featured prominently in many design blogs. I admired it along with everyone else, but did not even notice the piano until I had seen this picture at least five times. Of course it is fitting that there is a piano in the house; it belongs to Lindsey Buckingham, who is part of Fleetwood Mac. The designer is Kristen Buckingham.

dallas_dougnewby
The contemporary architecture fan in me just loves this picture. Can you imagine the view when playing this piano?

Creating this post and looking through all of these pictures has been so inspirational to me. I love seeing how home owners and designers place pianos in their homes; whether they are used regularly or not, grand pianos have such beautiful and graceful lines, and really add such a great quality to a room.



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48 comments:

  1. I LOVE pianos & I LOVE this post! Am linking to it on my blog. :)

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  2. I'm so happy when folks play as well as use pianos as decoration, pretty as the are. I'd bet putting a piano in a window where direct sun could heat it wouldn't be good for the finish or the works inside. My own young life with piano lessons: I loved to play but preferred playing alone and unheard. The most dreaded thing was having to play in front of moma's garden club when they met at our house. I hated that our piano was in the living room.

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  3. That olive green room by Bellacasa was featured in Traditional Home last year and it's one of my favorite 'piano room's too!

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  4. I love the look of a piano in the room. It really adds to the decor. Of course someone to play it alot would be good too!

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  5. My parents have an extra piano collecting dust in their basement and your post makes me want to claim it as my own. (I'd also like to think I have retained something from my years of piano lessons--ha ha). Of course once a piano is in place it is tough to move, so I must consider my space (or lack thereof) carefully first! Inspiring post.

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  6. What an amazing array of images! My husband came into our relationship with a baby grand piano. He plays it beautifully...and much like with you it's an important part of our family's daily lives.

    Luckily my house has a rather long living room as well, so the piano has a nice niche to live in and music is easily enjoyed throughout the entire room.

    I've always thought that a piano and a pet make a home.

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  7. I totally agree. These are beautiful rooms. And every time I see a piano, I wish I had stuck with it as a kid!

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  8. I think a house is not a home without a piano.

    I have an ancient, decrepid upright that sounds great. She came to us in a roundabout way from a bar in Chicago where B.B. King used to play. His piano player was named Queenie, so we named the piano Queenie and now I can never get rid of it!

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  9. Thank you for the comments, everyone.

    I too wish I stuck with piano lessons as a child...I think it takes the right teacher combined with the right temperament. I will not let my children quit - we have rough patches here and there, and work through them. Thankfully, they have great teachers!

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  10. Thanks for visiting my blog, I really enjoyed your post too. That C. M. room is one of my favorite's, I did a post on his work not long ago. Don't be a stranger.

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  11. So many gorgeous rooms, but what is amazing is that you are right - some I had never noticed there was a piano in there! is that a good thing or bad thing? interesting!!!!!!!

    great post, as usual.

    Joni

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  12. The piano definitely adds something to the rooms, a potential for glamour, a different kind of hosting. As a person who practices piano(sometimes), I have to say that I will never NEVER play for people, and so could easily be guilty of tucking the piano in, so that I faced the window, instead of the sound facing the room. But I also don't put anything that might spill on a piano either.

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  13. Interesting post - makes me wish I knew how to play. My cousin has a grand piano in his house and we've gathered in there at Christmas to sing carols. I love the green dining room featured half-way through - love the simple moldings.

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  14. I am a suzuki piano mom & teacher. What a fantastic combination of interior design and practicality in this post. Fantastic. Truly inspiring ~ as usual.

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  15. When we married, my husband and I owned a bed and a grand piano. I mean really, what more does a couple need?

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  16. Pamela, your comment is interesting - a few months ago a blogger posted about things that are irreplaceable. I don't really have too many things that are irreplaceable, but if I found myself in a position where I would have to start over, my first two purchases would be a bed and a piano!

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. I can tell that pianos are special in many readers' homes too!

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  17. My Mom is a concert pianist and professional opera singer. The piano was always a key player in the living/parlor rooms. It remains my understanding that serious pros place the carpets first, then the instrument. It has to do with acoustics for both the piano and the vocalist. It was a lovely, cultured thing and I miss it in my own home.

    On another note, I once read an entertaining blog that used the piano as a buffet. It was perfectly awful. No respect for the instrument or the craftsmen...

    The phots are lovely.

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  18. I love your post. It would be difficult to pick my favorite photo. On the picture that has been on different blogs, no, I had not noticed the piano!

    Thank you so much for gathering all of the lovely pictures for this post.

    Charla

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  19. Interesting post, thanks for sharing the great pictures and information about pianos :-)

    As I was reading through your post, I was thinking that the reason why pianos aren't always positioned properly is for the reason you mentioned -- most people probably think the keyboard side of the piano is more interesting to look at. Although really, a grand piano looks great from any angle!!

    Kelly @ DesignTies

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  20. I am new to your blog, this one was so inspiring: bringing back memories childhood piano hours, what a difference a perfectly located piano and a great teacher would have made--loved the pianos placed in windows with views--the modern view was definitely a winner. Thanks.

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  21. PS I love the room with the striped ottoman/bench. Light& bright.

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  22. According to Steinway, no piano should be placed near a window due to drafts, change in temperature and humidity, not to mention sunlight. This does present a decorating dilemma, but most pianists know that the placement of the instrument is most important for sound as well as proper care. Our son is a pianist and we have a grand in the living room. I found your pictures to be beautiful and appreciate all the time it took to gather them for this wonderful post. A piano adds a certain elegance to a living room. Now that my son is away in college, I miss the classical music playing in our home day and night! A piano is a big investment with most decent pianos starting at 20K. I love having a piano in the house. I loved this post. Thank you!

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  23. My husband's great uncle was the family millionaire. When he built his Georgian mansion he had a baby grand made of the same mahagony as the interior woodwork including the double staircase. He also had a stage built on the third floor ballroom with small doors that opened. This way he could entertain his guests on his piano and later do magic tricks on the third floor overlooking his guests below. Someone else got the piano. We have a few pieces of furniture, but I think I've collected the most stories. Irish boy does good...for awhile!

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  24. Great comments, everyone!

    Blushing hostess, very interesting that your mother is a concert pianist and opera singer! Are you musical?

    Margaret, thank you for the tips on placement of a piano away from sunlight. I wonder if insulation and/or window protection help?

    My grand piano is placed near a French door, but there is a Juliet balcony above and there is never any direct sunlight. The piano is also near our fireplace, which we never light because the piano can't be near the heat. Oh, the sacrifices we make for music!

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  25. I love this post, fascinating to notice the piano's. I was going to say I don't think I have one photo with a grand piano in it until you pointed out that Elle Decor one with the orange tulips which I do have but to your point, also didn't notice the piano in the corner.

    The only thing missing from the closed piano's is a bunch of different frames with famous people in them :) which is what you usually see in Architectural Digest, etc. Thanks for a great post!

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  26. Placing the piano in a room is quite a challenge.
    In the room that we designed, it was important to integrate the piano and maintain areas that still felt comfortable and allowed for intimate seating.
    I can't thank you enough for doing this post.
    These images will be wonderful inspiration for the next "piano room" that I design.

    Thank you again for including our work!

    xo
    Brooke

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  27. We have a grand piano that was my grandmother's. My kids used to play but have not really stayed with it, and I am too sentimental to give up the piano. I have dreams of one of my daughters playing it again someday, or of someone else playing it at a home wedding! Nevertheless, they are beautiful and are especially so in the rooms you featured. What a lovely post.

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  28. My Inlaw's have a baby grand, and I just love it! My Husband plays and I 'dabble'. I'd love to have one in my new home...I may be able to slot it in somewhere! You have given me some wonderful ideas, thankyou for the inspirational post.

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  29. i've always harbored a fantasy of having a baby grand in the living room of a future home- of course in that fantasy, i can play it too!

    and thanks for letting all of us in on the tip about the way a piano should be placed for best sound- i would have never known...

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  30. All gorgeous images of my favorite instrument! What a treat to have one in your home. :)
    xo T.

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  31. Congratualtions on your mention in the Post! Well deserved - you know I am one of your biggest fans!
    xx-Gina

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  32. Congrats on your mention in the Washington Post! That's exciting--and well deserved.

    My piano is one of my most-prized possessions because it's the one my mom grew up with, and so did I. :-)

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  33. Oh I so loved this post. As a musician (I feel like I should say former musician now) I appreciate the placement for acoustics and the design decor around a piano...I played the 'cello.
    Delightful and well done. Thank you.
    Blessings...

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  34. All these rooms are gorgeous and we have the piano to thank for playing its part (no pun intended). My client wishes she had gotten her piano in the black laquer finish as opposed to matte, now that laquer is acceptable again!

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  35. I have been thinking about buying a piano lately. I wish I'd kept up my lessons too - but I moved to a tiny town in the Australian outback at the age of 13 and they didn't have a teacher, so I dropped it, sadly.
    Congratulations on the Washington Post mention - we're famous! :)

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  36. georgous rooms. I have have a client where we left enough room for a piano. I can't wait to see it when they finally fill the hole.

    Great post idea!!

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  37. I really enjoyed this post. We have a small upright piano that we bought used when my daughter was small, (she's now 26 with a baby of her own). My husband refinished it in a beautiful black lacquer finish. We used to have a
    piano tuner that was blind and I remember him running his hands over the finish and saying it was "well done".
    Pianos are almost like living things in a home. I do think a piano should have relevance to the family that owns it, not just be there for decoration.
    I miss my little daughter practicing with her little legs swinging from the piano bench.

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  38. Congratulations on the Washington Post! Your well researched posts so deserve it! (wow do you have about 6 of these now) you are so amazing!

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  39. Musical instruments in the rooms gives amazing attraction for rooms and whole house.Pianos and Grand Pianos are most poplar musical instruments for this purpose.They not only give nice music but also give tremendous attraction for room.By the pictures in this blog we can know that easily.

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  40. Nice reportage about piano's!

    I'll link to this one when i'll do a post about the ideal place in a house to put a piano.

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  41. THANK YOU!!!

    I have grown up with a grand piano or two in our house, and I always get a bit upset when someone has "styled" the piano with a tablecloth, framed pictures, or vases of flowers smothering a piano. Ugh--drives me crazy.

    A grand piano is beautiful, sexy, and best left unadorned and, as you said several times, with the opening to the room.

    Great post,
    xox

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  42. Bravo on the Wash Post! Your blog is well done and very thoughtful. Readers appreciate that and notice. I am a new follower!

    http://simplifiedbee.blogspot.com/

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  43. Hey I really like your blog…!
    I am regular visitor of your blog..
    Sir i would request to write more about green architecture...
    architects as architecural know more about Green eco architectural designs are reusable materials, green designs etc.. ..… Create an Eco friendly Green design… Save Earth.. interior designers Bangalore as of natural materials interior designers in Bangalore with almost modern concepts architects bangalore

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  44. This was truly helpful to me as I was trying to place my piano in my house. Many thanks

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  45. We recently moved into a home with a large rectangular living room and just couldn't decide how to situate our 5'4" grand piano. Your pictures gave us great inspiration and ideas. Thank you!

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  46. This is a great post. I am having so much trouble figuring out where our baby grand should be place in our LR/DR. It is one room w/o any separation. This post helped me with some ideas of placement. Thanks so much!

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