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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The Laundry Room (isawesomenow)

You guys.   I’ve been restoring all of my past photos as I mentioned in my last post and I tackled our House Tour page the other day.  It was TOTALLY the giant kick in the pants that I needed to get a move on.  The photos on there are so outdated and I’m SO proud of how far we’ve come since I published many of those photos that I seriously can’t wait to update you guys on all the changes we’ve made in the past year.   Thus, I hereby dub this the beginning of our Catch-Up Period.    I took photos of our laundry room and toilet room the other day, so these will be the next spaces I’ll show you.

And today… laundry room.   Oh. Yes.

Our laundry room is not a space that I’ve discussed much on the blog.  Namely, because it was a basic white box located off of our breakfast nook.  Nothing of interest.  Nothing to see. One giant yawn.

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Am I right??  Of course I am.

It came to us with a white sink cabinet… aaaaaand that’s about it.  Otherwise, it was a blank slate.

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We’re lucky in that this room is a decent size and boasts a pretty large closet (which we used as a pantry up until our kitchen reno) and a toilet room, which is convenient to the pool.    The door straight ahead in the pic above is an exterior door that leads to our covered back patio, but you’d never know by looking at it.   The previous owners replaced it, but with a solid door.   That looked like it led to a garage.

I knew from the second I saw it that the space was absolutely yearning for a door with a full length window.   Needy laundry room?  Yep.  You bet.   I mean, it just made sense to let in some natural light and enjoy the view of our patio, since WE COULD.  I mean, not everyone is fortunate enough to have a potential portal to a pretty view.   And, sadly, said portal was just going to waste, wallowing in a mortal sea of artificial light  (…like how I’m getting all profound with my verbiage today? (Isaidverbiage) — I feel like I should be wearing a beret with far too much eye makeup.). 😉

Aaaaanyways, the funny part is that when the time came to install the new door, both the measurer and the installer who came out on separate occasions, both seemed thoroughly confused when I showed them the door we were replacing.  They ALSO thought that it led to a garage and wondered why we wanted a window to that.  Ha!  But, alas, I’m getting ahead of myself.    Let’s step back.

For a while (like, 2.5 years), the laundry room looked like this…

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… Blah.  Mismatched.   With our only storage being an unfinished wood shelf that we stuck in the space…

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Because of its basic blankness, the room was severely lacking in function.   It was constantly collecting piles of stuff since there was nowhere to really store or hang anything.  Coats and bags were shoved onto the wood shelving unit or piled on the floor.  Detergent and other laundry paraphernalia sat on the dryer.   I couldn’t.even.stand.it.  Also, because this space accesses the closest bathroom to the pool and the kitchen from the back patio, it is a space that is frequented by guests when we have get-togethers.  No closing the door and brushing the dysfunction under the rug when company arrives so to speak.   And let’s face it… this wasn’t exactly the impression that I was wanting to give them.   So, when we found out that we were expecting our little nugget, I made it clear that we NEEDED to make this room work for us.   I mean, new baby = crazy laundry and if I’m going to have to spend years of my life in this space, then darnnit, it’d better function and make me happy.  Yeah.

Plus, it drove me nuts that this room felt like an afterthought as I stared at it from the kitchen table while drinking my coffee each morning.  Yes.  I’m sorry to say that the first photo above was my view at meals for over two years.    The room felt dark and cavernous and bland and all of the things that the rest of the house didn’t.

I have to tell you that we have a more extensive, built-in plan for the sink and mud areas that we want to incorporate down the line, but given some rather large expenses that we’ve had recently, we opted for a more budget-friendly makeover to tide us over.

And guys, we think it’s pretty great.

I mean, the space actually functions now and we’re totally loving it.   So, lets get down to it.

 

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Way better right???   That door is a GAME-CHANGER, lemme tell ya.   The full-lite window opened up the space in a way that far surpassed my expectations.   This corner of our home can breathe now.   It’s how it should’ve always been.

Much of the work on this space happened before Henry was born, though I did paint the space and complete a few finishing touches afterwards (giant preggo belly + ladder + clumsiness = NO).    The space is painted the same color as the kitchen for cohesiveness (Silverbirch by Glidden).

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I knew from the getgo that I wanted to utilize simple metal shelving brackets (sold at any home improvement store), paired with stained wood shelves over the washer and dryer.   I knew this from Day One.  Just like adding the door. … So, years later we finally got on that.  😉  It was important to me that we use adjustable shelving as our plan is to replace our current washer and dryer with sweet-looking front loaders once our current ones crap out, that will then be draped with a lovely waterfall-edge butcher-block countertop.  The adjustable shelves will allow for this without having to worry about rehanging/rebuying stuff.  Plus, they look cool.  Just sayin’.

 

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I went with a black finish on the brackets and Varathane’s Early American stain on the shelves to coordinate with the kitchen shelving in the adjoining room.    I hung a laundry symbol cheat sheet that I’ve had for years, and added storage boxes from Ikea which hold towels, chargers/headphones, and other odds-and-ends.   The canisters act as storage for dryer sheets/stain remover and a makeshift trash container for dryer lint.

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Over the vanity, I switched out the more traditional red mirror, for a simpler one that we’ve had for years.  I’d love to hang a round mirror here to break up the straight lines, but I figured waste not, want not.  That being said, if I find one at the right price, it’s on.   I also added matte black pulls to tie in with the kitchen.

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Looking back towards the breakfast nook, we kept the wood shelf, though I stained it to match the shelves.   Above it hangs a vintage painting that I thrifted.    We created a small “mud area” beside the shelf by mounting stained 1×4’s with white hooks for coats and bags (that I found on clearance at Target a few years ago) and smaller cup hooks for keys.   A magnet board keeps Lucas’s weekly homework, party invitations, and other items that we need quick and easy access to in view.

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The shelving unit got a huge dose of organization for paperwork and random stuff….

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A box for longer term paperwork is above the dryer, but these bins here corral most of the random paperwork that we see daily.   The organizer on the top shelf holds paperwork specific to each person in our family, plus a tray for “to be addressed” items like bills and such.

This system works so well for us.  No more piles of paper.  No more losing track of time-sensitive materials.   Everything has a place and I adore it.   I can quickly stash our daily paper trail where it belongs and the world can be right again.  I even bought a label maker.   I excitedly professed my newfound love for this inanimate bundle of organization to my cousin and she responded that she needed to leave my house as my feelings for my label maker made her uncomfortable.  Heehee!   My family is hilarious.

In case you’re a sucker for a sexy room-to-room shot…

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Also,  check out that natural light bathing our vanity in warmth and happiness!!!   (Too much? Never.)

Finally, I know you’re probably worried about my view from the breakfast nook.   Well, fear no more…

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I’m not great at photographing windows, but you get the gist.   I can see into our backyard from both the laundry room AND the picture window in our dining room.   The fact that Lucas is also in this shot is a bonus.  You are welcome.   He’s playing with Lego Batman, in case you’re wondering.   His favorite toy of the moment.

So, that’s our laundry room as it stands now and we couldn’t be happier…  That door, though.   Gah.   Best decision that we’ve made yet.   🙂