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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I’m bringin’ vintage back… (to our wet-bar!)

Yes, that title is to the tune of JT’s classic jam.   Anybody else awkwardly bobbing their heads to the music in your brain?  Just me?  That’s okay.  Anything for JT. 😉

So, anyways, I’ve decided that I should never make statements like “I’ll (maybe) write that post today”.   Heehee!  Every time I do that it seems like life gets in the way and it doesn’t happen.  So, from now on if I make preposterous ambitious statements, I give you permission to insert a well-intentioned eyeroll.  At least I threw the “maybe” in there, though. Just sayin’.  😉

If you’re new to my little blog here, you can check out this post to get caught up on our wet-bar progress thus far.   To summarize, we started out here…

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Then, I painted the cabinetry white, ripped off the backsplash/sidesplashes, mirror, and the seizure-inducing wallpaper we found beneath it.  I patched/primed and painted the wall, and updated the dated faucet. (although, this next shot was taken before  the faucet switcheroo)…

So, next the plan is to to add a concrete coating to the countertop, tile that back wall, hang a mirror in the center, and mount two pendant lights overhead.  But until those projects commence, I decided to style the wet-bar to look as nice as possible.   I never mind putting in the effort to accessorize a space, even for a short time, if it means I get to enjoy the pretty in the meantime.  So, I collected a bunch o’ stuff that I already owned and got to it.  At one point, I got here…

…and, to be honest, I wasn’t super happy with it.  I mean, it was o-KAAAAYY.  Just not exciting for me. I think it was the mirror.   I’ve had that mirror since my very first apartment and I felt like it just wasn’t right for the space. It was a smidge too traditional, whereas I felt that something either more modern or vintage-y would be a better fit.   Modern to contrast the new door/drawer pulls (which are the same ones I used for our built-ins) or vintage-y to accentuate them.  Traditional just wasn’t really jiving with either goal in my opinion.  Plus, I knew that once the countertops were grey concrete, they may clash with the frame color anyways.   The next day, I hopped onto the internet to see what Sir Craig was offering in the way of mirrors and I came across this gem…

A HUGE vintage mirror for $25!!!

The size was perfect for the wet-bar and I loved that the wood tone would play off of our mid-century media stand on the opposite side of the room.  Plus, I felt like I was replacing the vintage mirror that we’d torn out with a BETTER vintage mirror.  Vintage-lover-guilt officially stowed.  I texted the seller, who stated that it was still available and that she could meet me in Fort Worth (which is halfway between us) the following day.  I met her as planned, loved the mirror even more in person, and took ‘er home.

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It was a bit dirty and the wooden frame had a few nicks and scratches, but it wasn’t anything a little stain, a craft brush, and some elbow grease couldn’t fix (Tip: Varathane’s Early American stain is the PERFECT mid-century-toned-brown.  It matched the frame exactly.).   The following day, my dad and Joey hung the beast.   Which left this…

Here’s a detail shot so you can see the texture of the frame…

And here’s the wet-bar in the context of the entire wall.   I took this pic on a dark and gloomy day and the lighting in this part of the room isn’t great (which’ll be remedied eventually), but you can see that the vintage mirror nicely offsets the more modern furnishings beside it.   I definitely plan to hang the alphabet canvas higher now that the mirror is hung so that they’re at similar heights…

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As for the bar styling, it’ll change.   There’s a bit too much brown happening with the wine-rack, but it was all I had (fornow), so it stays until I either paint it or find something else.  I can’t tell you how perfect the mirror is, though.  I literally bounced around the house in excitement when I saw it in the wet-bar.  I mean, the size couldn’t be better and the shape really softens the bar and makes it feel less square.   Once the lighting situation changes with the addition of two pendant lights and that peach countertop bites the big one, the bar will appear much more balanced and bright.  I really think that adding concrete to the counters will add some nice visual weight below and a cool contrast in color and texture which will further balance the space.  I plan to use some sort of modern small mosaic tile behind it. Something simple that lets the mirror shine, but still adds a touch o’ bling.  I have no idea what yet, but I’m tossing around a solid color square glass mosaic, or maybe a sleek penny tile.  It really depends on how the space feels with the concrete counters and difference in lighting, so we will see.

Next up, I’ll be concreting the countertop (once time allows… probably not this weekend, maybe next), then we’ll get pendant lights installed, and finally, tile behind the mirror. It’s coming together, people! It’s coming together…

TDC Before and After