I’m pretty proud of how our living room looks today, but let me tell ya, it took a long time to get to this point. During our remodel, this will be the only room that remains as is, which is good, because I have a feeling we’re going to do a lot of living in this living room.
Our living room story begins after we moved to here. While we were thrilled to have a new home in Mill Valley, it wasn’t long before I was less than thrilled at living in our beige kingdom.
This strangely hazy photo gives a pretty good representation of what it looked like for about three years.
Do you notice how you can’t quite tell where the carpet ends and the wall begins? A sea of beige. And that carpet. Oh my. With two toddlers and a dog that loved to wipe his butt on the floor, it got nasty pretty quickly.
There were other problems with the room.
– We had a skylight (yes!) covered with a nice, brown-tinted, 1970s bubble (no!) We were practically bathing in a glass of Coca-Cola.
– Our ceiling was completely uninsulated. Not only did it make the room freezing cold, but it was so loud when it rained that it was hard to talk.
– We had a lot of bare walls, thanks to the room’s vaulted ceiling and my inability to decide on artwork.
– We didn’t have a lot of storage. Toys were spilling out all over the place or shored up under the piano. The kids were winning!
– Our sad, little brick fireplace was covered with a weird, mottled red-and-white brick. Quite the opposite of rustic.
– A small rip that had appeared in our leather couch had been split wide open thanks to much jumping by the children. Secretly I was ecstatic. While I had once loved our oversized couch and Big Boy chair, I had since outgrown them. We tried to “fix” the rip by slapping a few strips of trusty Duct tape on it. That’ll hold her!
I had just gotten pregnant with #3 when I threw up my hands in frustration. “If I have to sit in this room breastfeeding our son for hours at a time I’m going to scream,” I told my husband.
Thankfully, he’s one of these guys who knows that a happy wife makes for a happy life. And so, we remodeled our living room. Let’s see it again from an ever so slightly different angle.
Ahhh! Where to begin?
Our biggest priority was insulating that ceiling … and paint it, for God’s sake! It was raw wood and tied in quite nicely to the rest of the beige going on. So we dropped the ceiling to allow for insulation, then repeated the same board and beams and painted it a nice crisp white.
We also installed a second skylight and replaced the Coke bottle version with one that was nice and clear. The clean light streaming through almost made me cry.
Like half the country, we jumped on the blue-gray bandwagon for our paint color. I believe we chose Benjamin Moore Timber Wolf, but I didn’t write it down.
This time, I tried a new approach to picking out paint colors. In our first house, I went to the paint store at least three times and paid for no fewer than 17 quarts of paint to test throughout the house. I liked almost none of them, cried in frustration and then picked the lesser of all the evils.
This time, I did my research! I haunted Houzz and Pinterest and read articles on picking paint and coordinating colors. I was especially inspired by all of the lovely paint tutorials on The Creativity Exchange, especially her Paint It Monday series. Probably common knowledge for most people, but consider my mind blown at such a novel concept.
Armed with this knowledge, I picked five colors, brought them home and fell in love with four of them. Four! I felt like a rock star.
Ok, next up, floors! I went to several flooring stores and brought home many, many samples. It wasn’t long before I fell in love with these beauties.
*Sigh* They were Navarre floors in the Sebastian finish, available through US Floors. And they cost about $13 a square foot. Of course they just had to be twice as much as we had in our limited budget.
And yet, I couldn’t stop dreaming of those floors. I knew I had to have them. It became an obsession, and it wasn’t long before I was Goggling the heck out of them. How to get them cheaper?
It took some doing, but I eventually found them for $8.29 a foot — and no sales tax — from somewhere in New Jersey. I’d list their website here, but it appears they have since gone out of business, (which worries me as I will need to buy more for the rest of the house!!)
It seemed a little shady, so I called US Floors to ask about the vendor. They didn’t seem to think they were a disreputable business, but that price did seem a little –. Click. That was good enough for me. I quickly placed an order and haven’t regretted it since.
Gorgeous, no? They been quite durable as well, all things considered. I love that they have a very matte finish. And being that they are oiled, as opposed to polyurethaned, I’m told we can spot treat them with oil instead of having to sand them down every time the finish wears down.
Ok, next up was our chandelier. For awhile there, my husband and I debated whether we should just sheet rock and paint the ceiling or cover the insulation with boards and beams.
Well, I’m pleased to say that I won that debate! I just couldn’t imagine having a ceiling that lofty without any kind of architectural element to ground it. While adding this fabulous chandelier was a bit of a splurge, I felt it helped in drawing the eye upward and filling the space.
The room was starting to take shape and it felt great because for the first time, I felt confident in my vision. What a nice feeling!
Our curtains were a no-brainer. In fact, I’d say they were a jumping off point for me. I fell in love with horizontal-striped curtains the moment I saw these on Nesting Place.
For a split second I considered making them myself, just like The Nester did. But who was I kidding? If I did make them, I knew I would only be able to see all of the sleepless nights, tears and frustration that went into them.
Besides, I found EXACTLY what I wanted at Crate and Barrel! When does that ever happen? AND they were lined, which I’ve decided is a must-have in any curtain.
It was time to turn our attention to our seating situation.
By this point, I was starting to get little grumbles from my husband about costs. Not that I was going over budget, mind you, but I think he just didn’t want me “shopping” for much longer.
I had my eye on a number of sectionals, but they were all either way out of our budget or just too nice for a family of five … and a dog who never slept in his pre-approved dog bed. As I watched my kids beat our couch and slather it in mac-n-cheese sauce, I knew that we weren’t ready for a “grown-up” couch.
I was, however, becoming more and more intrigued with Ikea’s Karlstad. I never considered an Ikea sectional, but after reading about Young House Love‘s experience with their “Karl,” (miss your blog!!) I kept an open mind and we went to check it out.
My husband thought it looked cheap, and it was! Just $899 (and it’s on sale for $764.15 until Oct. 28). But he also agreed that now wasn’t the time to invest in our dream sofa, and so we took this bad boy home. A majority of the pillows are Allegra Hicks for West Elm.
I probably would’ve pulled the trigger on this “Jaded Pebbles” one I saw on Horchow but it was thoroughly out of stock. Although now, I see it’s back in action again! Must remember for master bedroom.
After bringing home a few samples, I quickly decided against tufted wool, and I will probably never get another one again.
We had a gorgeous Crate and Barrel rug that I loved but had to throw away because our cat peed on it repeatedly. We even tried to have it cleaned several times and lived in a denial for awhile. “Do you smell it?” “Uh, no. I don’t.” “Yes, you do, you liar. The cat pee lives on!”
Despite how much I loved that rug, I hated the balls of fuzz that constantly fluffed off. We would go on vacation for a week and there would STILL be clumps of fuzz all over it. I would vacuum for no other reason than to clean up the mess.
Retail websites would mention it, but it would sound rather benign. “Shedding of fibers is normal and will diminish with regular vacuuming.” Except that it didn’t.
Plus, most of the rugs I sampled didn’t feel good under bare feet! Why?? I wanted it to be so comfortable that my kids would camp out on it during movie night.
I was running out of options when I went over to my friend’s house, took off my shoes and sank into her shag rug. Shaaaaagggggg. Of course!
It wasn’t long before we had this little beauty sitting underneath our Karlstad.
I almost got it in Stone, but am so glad I went with Steel. I mean, who am I kidding. A cream rug? Please.
It feels soooooo good, and why shouldn’t we expect that from a rug, right?
Sure, things get lost in it all the time. Usually Legos and pennies, but aside from vacuuming, all you need to do is grab a corner and shake it occasionally to reveal its secrets. The kids love it!
Ok, what’s left in this overly long post? I’ll try and wrap it up quickly.
– Art! Yes, I finally bit the bullet and bought a piece of art. Naturally, it’s abstract, because I just couldn’t commit on actual subject matter and instead settled for the colors.
But I still love it, especially when paired with my husband’s guitar. And on a chilly evening with the fire going, I appreciate it even more.
– But I think my favorite piece was the last item I bought for the room. I almost didn’t think my husband would go for it, but he did! And I have loved him ever since. Oh, and my husband, too. I especially like to decorate him around the holidays.
Now, I’m not one to overuse the word “whimsy”, but I really do believe that this deer head from Z Gallerie brings that little touch of whimsy to the room. And just like the chandelier, to draws the eye upward and lends som interest in that lofty ceiling.
And there you have it! Our living room. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.