The Living Room Updated

Aka:   The heart of our home.

Many people say the kitchen is the heart, but for us, it’s the living room.   It’s where we spend the bulk of our time.   It’s where the kiddos play.  It’s where the adults wind down. Many a robot dance-a-thon have occurred here.  It’s where Batman and SuperBaby roam.   It’s our home’s mothership.

Now, I’m gonna be real… this is the living room cleaned up to the nines.   Most of the time, there’s a pile of toys just to the right of the television (which often extends… everywhere.).  It gets cleaned up at night, since I find it hard to have adult time when ankle-deep in toddler toys.  And, on those rare occasions where the kiddos are out of the house and we get a good grown-up day, the room reverts back to this.   So, let’s just say that the living room is donning it’s little black dress in these pics, all cleaned up and ready for adult time.  😉

When we first moved in, our living room was a blank slate…

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I walked into it for the very first time during our initial showing and just KNEW.   This was it.   The vaulted ceiling and stone fireplace had just the character we were looking for, and the view out of the large picture window and sliding doors along the back wall was so quaint and homey…

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These windows look out onto the covered back patio which boasts three skylights, clay tile flooring, and a line of mature trees/hedges.   It felt like an extension of the living space.   Whimsical.  SO.  Much.  Potential.   Plus, the size of the living space was great.    Plenty of room to accommodate guests and for kids to play.

Now, as much as we loved these things, obviously, some items needed to change.   For example:

  1. The beige carpet – Normally, we’re okay with carpeting in a living room, but because the living room (and hence, the beige carpet) extends into the dining space (see pic below), we knew we needed to change it.   Beige carpet + dining room + boys = recipe for grossness.

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2. The wood tone of the built-ins – i.e.: 1970’s brown that competed with the awesome fireplace.   ‘Nuff said.

3. The dated wet-bar –  just BEGGING for an update, amiright??…..

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The previous owners had de-popcorned the ceilings (thankyou) and painted the space a neutral tone (Gallery Grey by Kelly-Williams), which we haven’t changed (yet — but we will eventually).

Before we moved in, we had ebony laminate installed….

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From a distance, the flooring seems nice, but if there’s any chance that our experience with this particular flooring may save someone else some grief, let me tell you a little about it. We purchased this laminate flooring from Empire Today and soon learned that this particular wide-planked ebony laminate is awful.   It scratches and chips easier than ANY flooring we’ve ever lived with.  EVER.  After having lived with just about every type of flooring out there over the years (including laminate which we installed in our first house), we know how it *should* perform.  And it doesn’t.   I mean, when your kid plays with his trucks on the floor and they leave permanent scratches, there’s something wrong.   We fought to get Empire Today to replace it as we strongly believed that it was defective, but we lost that battle, unfortunately.  We’ve since decided to live with it until the boys are older (because $$$ – and BOYS), but long-term, we plan to replace it with some sort of flooring that possesses natural strength.

Anyways… back to the decor.  After some preliminary styling and such, the space looked like this….

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…which is how it stayed for several years (give or take a few decor changes).

As we lived with it, a few things became clear:

  •  First, we needed more play space for the boys, meaning, the sofa needed to be pushed back a bit.
  • Second, a larger, softer rug was in order to help support this goal.   This grey jute rug was 8’x11′, which isn’t tiny, but it was dwarfed by the sizes of both our sofa and the large room.  Also, it wasn’t the most comfortable thing to sit/play on.  Once we had Henry, we knew that our current rug needed to go in favor of something more cushy.
  • Lastly, the decor was lacking cohesiveness.   There was too much going on and it felt really chopped up and piecey to me.

I suspect that the final issue above stemmed from the fact that I’d tried to make many of our pieces from our last house work in this house.  Unfortunately, they just weren’t, and I finally accepted this.  For example, that red table.  I LOVED that table.   I wanted to keep it, but it became more and more evident as the house evolved that the bright color wasn’t consistent with the more muted color palette that we had going on everywhere else.    We needed something more neutral in this space and I was unwilling to alter the red table as it was completely awesome as-is.   It’s hard to tell in a photo, but it was decoupaged.   It had such texture and visual interest in person.  We always received compliments on it.   My in-laws had built and finished it, so we returned it to them when it was time.   But I’m getting ahead of myself.

For my birthday this year, my in-laws offered to build something for me.   I asked for a table to replace the red one.   I designed a narrower, mid-century inspired table and drew up some plans.  My father-in-law built the table and then I stained and finished it with tung oil.

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Didn’t my FIL knock it out the park???    It came out PERFECT.    This gorgeous table was the catalyst that got the ball rolling on the changes throughout the rest of the room.   I mean, ain’t she a beaut???

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Next up was the rug.   I’ve always loved shag rugs… there’s nothing cozier.   So, when I found the Hudson Diamond Shag by Safavieh online, I was enamored.    The reviews were great and the pattern and tone was just what I was looking for.   I stalked this rug all over the internet, and after months of hunting, I scored it on sale at Jet.com for about 30% off with free shipping (AND I went through ebates to get another 7.5% off)  —  which means we ultimately paid $355 for this giant, plush 10 x 14′ rug.   I used gift cards from my birthday to cover most of it, so really we got off paying pennies for this gem.  I mean, you guys KNOW I love a good bargain, so I was dancing all over the place when I scored this beaut.   😉

Anyways, here’s the room as it stands now…

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The rug MAKES the room.   So cozy.   We find ourselves on the floor in here regularly now because we WANT to be there.   It’s such good quality, too.   Soft, plush, it doesn’t shed, and has enough color variation in the fibers that stains are easily hidden.   It’s the BEST.

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By the fireplace, I traded out our navy ikat poufs for these sweet plaid ones.   I found them at Ross for $9.99 each!!!!!   It was like fate.   I grabbed them and practically ran to the check-out line.   When the cashier saw the price on them, she even freaked out a little.   Major score in my book.  They tie in so well to the rug and the new neutral tones of the space.

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The TV area also got a little love.   Two black and white landscape prints in black metal frames flank the TV and really help to ground the clocks above them.   I moved the basket to the other side and added a fake fiddle for some greenery on the other side.

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Over the chair in this little corner, I hung a plant from a rod to visually balance the display.   I sketched out two cactus line-drawings on poster board which I framed with two Ribba frames from Ikea and hung on the adjoining wall.   I love this little area now.   It just feels right to me.

And here is the view from the other side of the room…

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Much more cohesive.   Chill.   Us.

Another view over the couch into the dining room…

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And finally, the wet bar…

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After a rotating string of decor, I finally settled on this simple, modern bench (from Target.com) and a print of NY City (from Ikea).   I grew up in New York, so I think it’s fitting.  And guys.   It’s my favorite.   This area, I mean.   It’s functional and not overdone like some of my previous attempts (you may have seen the barcart if you follow me on Instagram).   And the pillow.  The pillow is so good, guys.  I absolutely love it.   It was also a Target find.   I’m planning to concrete the countertop on the wet bar and tile the backsplash.   I know.   I’ve said this for about three years now, but I really mean it this time.  Swear!  🙂

And for those who aren’t on Insta, allow me to leave you with this gem.   (Ie: Joey, making things interesting on one dark, stormy day)…

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So, that’s where the living room stands now.   It’s cozy, functional, and exactly the vibe I’ve been trying for.   It only took three years, but we’re finally on the right track.  Haha!  😉

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Toilet room: Take two

Alright guys, you ready for a quick, inexpensive makeover that we did to the teeniest, tiniest space in our home??    It’s one of those “why didn’t I do this sooner?” tweaks that, seriously, I should’ve done many, many moons ago.  I became especially antsy about wanting to get this done while I was nesting during my pregnancy, but alas… I feared that my belly was too big to actually fit in the space to reach all the nooks and crannies.  Haha.  Better late than never, though.

The space in question?  The toilet room. (applause! applause!)

If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that this is a space that lives up to its name….

It’s a toilet.

In a room.

And that’s it.

Literally.

When we moved in, it was a purple blank slate.  Observe….

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See what I mean??   No baby bump could safely fit next to that toilet.  😉

Back when we took possession of the house, this space had nothing, and I mean, NOTHING in it but a toilet.   And copious amounts of purple paint.  We.mustn’t.discount.the.purple.paint.  It looks greyish here, but no… it was purple.   And it made me cranky.   Not joking.   I know that color can affect mood, and I’ve never heard of purple inducing anger, but seriously guys… It made me ornery.  It needed to be gone.  Big time.

In addition to the color, there was no function, no storage, etc.  It had nothing but a *well loved* over-the-tank TP dispenser left by the previous owners.  #no

So, a while back, I painted the room a bright color, built a pipe shelf and industrial toilet paper dispenser, and hung some art, which brought us here…

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To be honest, I’m not really sure what I was thinking with this space.  I was going for “fun pool bath” and,  I mean, it was cute-ish, but not really our style at all.  Plus, every time I looked at it, I felt like there was something lacking.   It was seriously falling flat in some way.   This became blatantly obvious as the rest of our home started coming together in a way that DID feel like us.   More neutral.  More simple.  A mix of old with new.  Warmth and coziness is key in our home, and this space felt just… cold.

So, on a whim, during one of Henry’s naps, I busted out the paint roller and some leftover paint and toned down the space with my FAVORITE grey tone ever (Driftwood Grey by Glidden).

Oh look, here she is now…

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Isn’t this color the Sophia Loren of greys??  Sophisticated and rich.  For real.

This tone is also in the guest bath (stay tuned for that update) as well as the master bedroom and Lucas’s room.   It looks slightly different in each space, but just as lovely.  The power of paint, guys.  It never ceases to amaze me how just changing the color of a space can actually make it look more expensive… that’s my impression of this color.  It somehow makes the room look higher quality.

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After painting the walls, I sanded and restained the shelf I built with Varathane’s Early American stain to match the wood tones throughout the rest of the house, and then I decorated it more simply with practicality in mind.   TP = necessary.  A simple faux rosemary (from Target) and white plate (to hold jewelry and such while swimming) completed the look.

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As for art, I kept the New York print (from Urban Outfitters), and found this vintage painting at a thrift store a while ago.   I love the mix of bold and modern with subtle and old-school.   The entire space flows now, both in itself and with the rest of the house.

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I still want to do something with the ceiling in this space, whether it be simply adding crown moulding, or possibly something more architectural.   Plus, wainscoting or some sort of board and batten would be nice on the walls.   We’ll get to it.  I’m sure of it.  In any case, I spent zero dollars on this as I already had everything on hand and it took a mere afternoon to complete.   This little refresh really, REALLY goes a long way into making the space fit the vibe of our home so much better.  No more random aqua room in this Casa.  And I’m okay with that.   🙂

So, that’s our toilet room, and boy are we so much happier with it.   Next up, I’ve taken pics of our living and dining spaces as they stand now, and lemme tell ya, I’m so, SO happy with how those rooms are coming together.   I can’t wait to put those posts together for you guys, so stay tuned.