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And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for – I am ready to show you pictures of the new and improved living room!  The impetus for all these little changes was the fact that, with no dedicated nursery, I found myself changing Miss E on the floor in the middle of the living room… and realized I didn’t really want to be doing that for the next two years.

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I redid a thrift store lamp to make a pair of navy blue lamps on either side of the loveseat, moved the diaper station to the new entryway console, and replaced the office-y brown rug with a synthetic sisal rug.

Here’s what this view looks like now.  No more diapers in the middle, hurrah :)



I love the new rug!!  It’s not the most noticeable change in the photos, but it adds quite a bit of texture to the atmosphere.  Here’s a side by side comparison of the old rug (left) getting rolled out of the way for the new rug (right).


The rug is baby-approved too.

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My next problem area was directly across from the front door.  This is what you saw coming into the house.

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I moved the grandfather clock to the dining room, where it has finally found a permanent home.  It’s been all over and it never quite looked like it belonged until it arrived at its newest spot.

I turned the desk 90 degrees so as not to have everything on that wall shoved up against it in a line, tweaked the spacing of the printer stand to create a more defined office spot, and moved in a tall bookcase where the clock used to be.  I hid the worst of the cords with some wraparound cord binder (not sure what that stuff is called).  The stroller is not bee-you-tiful but it has a good, handy home in the corner now.

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Here’s another shot with some more of my “before” issues.

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I cheated on trimming my curtains – you can read about it here.

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In this “after” you can see that the mirror has a new frame (psst… it’s a $5 thrift store find that is just leaning against the mirror while we decide how to make one that is a perfect fit.)  It gives the mirror a ton more presence!



You may have noticed that I also messed with the gallery wall.  It was a little too random for me before.  It felt more kitschy than I liked, so I regularized its shape.  I can’t swear that I’m done tweaking that…

I’m very fond of my bright pillows & throw on the loveseat.  I like to think they detract from the BLACKNESS of the black leather furniture – please smile and tell me I am totally right :)  Darlene at Fieldstone Hill Design posted about ugly duckling furniture a couple weeks back and this is mine.  When I nurse Miss E I sit in the armchair opposite and stare at my gallery wall and bright pillows instead of the loveseat, and it feels good inside.

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Finally, here is the old view of the back wall…

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…and the new and improved view.



I have a bonus for you too.  Guess what, I actually painted the inside of the front door!  It’s been this bluish gray primed steel for three years and I finally finally finally painted it white.  It took a day’s worth of naps and four coats but it was so overdue.


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And now…

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So there you have it!  This was not a dramatic makeover but a series of important tweaks that make the living room look more intentional and cohesive.  And that’s what a good re-design should do.  I’d still love to paint the walls a deeper tobacco tan shade but first I have to convince the Chief ;)  Other than that, the living room is pretty much done.  At least for now!


It’s possible my eyes are bigger than my checkbook on this one, but… it’s time to wrangle with the living room again!

When we first got married, I had been renting furnished rooms in family homes and as far as furniture went, I didn’t own more than a couple bookcases and a chair.  The Chief had been renting out his spare bedrooms to bachelor-type roommates and the house reflected that. We didn’t have much of our own stuff to work with when we began life together, but over the past 2 1/2 years the living room has coalesced into an inviting place to hang out.

For six weeks I’ve been using this room in conjunction with the needs of a baby and am slowly learning how I’d like to re-organize things to accommodate her. I’ve been changing her on the floor and while this works quite well, I don’t really want a baby changing station in the middle of the main room for the next two years!

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Besides the diapering dilemma, this room has always struggled with Many Little Furnishings Cluttering It Up.  My plan is to move out all the little pieces on the wall shown below and get a nice big long dresser there instead.  Did you know that fewer large pieces of furniture will make a room feel more spacious than several smaller scale pieces of furniture – especially in a small room?

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I envision that one end of the long dresser will be my changing station with the necessaries stowed away in drawers and baskets when not in use, and the other end will be a landing zone for my purse and keys.  I’m currently searching Craigslist for the right piece at the right price and I will most likely be painting it green or blue-green (not 100% sure of the color yet).  Here are a couple pieces that we looked at so far to give you an idea.


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So hopefully instead of looking all cluttery and busy like this:

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That side of the room should end up looking like this:

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Doesn’t that look so much better?  Too many tiny cluttery things over there, what did I tell you?

You might notice the grandfather clock is missing in the “after” photo.  That’s because I see this as an opportunity to work on some of the finishing touches I’ve been meaning to get to for a while.

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After I take care of that list, maybe if I’m really lucky I’ll finally paint the inside of our front door and then find a great deal on a less drab rug (indoor-outdoor, perhaps?) to put under the armchairs.  I’m feeling a bit like Cinderella looking at the list her stepsisters put together before she can go to the ball, but a girl can dream!

Now here’s my personal challenge: I want to do all these things with a budget of $200 (not counting that unlikely rug).  This means I’ll be making my own chalk paint to paint the big dresser, getting a lamp from the thrift store, using clearance sales and scrounging for materials from what we already have in the craft room and the garage!  I’m really looking forward to it.

Have you re-thought any rooms lately?

In my last post, I explained how the living room gave me a lot of trouble as I tried to find a furniture configuration that worked, due to its doorway placement and smaller size.  After 14 months of coming up empty, I finally consulted a professional interior decorator by using a free e-consultation service that they offer to new clients. 

Here’s what the room looked like at the time I applied for advice.  (I marked my problem areas for this post.) It was the best I had figured out, but it wasn’t good enough.  I knew I had to get the furniture off the walls somehow so I’d rotated my desk out from the wall.  The landing strip to the right of the front door was working pretty well for us, the painted backs of the bookshelves added depth, and the round mirror across from the  beautiful windows was a favorite.  Other than that, there wasn’t a whole lot I was loving about this room in terms of form OR function.   (Sorry for the phone pix!)

What to do to make this better?? Basically, here’s what they told me, paraphrased Julie-style:

  • Get some color in there!  Take the rust red in the drum seats and spread it around, and add another accent color to finish it.  Follow the 60/30/10 percent rule – 60% neutral/main, 30% supporting color, 10% spicy accent color. 
  • The desk at right angles to the wall is good, but move it to the right corner of the room so that the landing strip is less crowded and so you can put that small corner to good use.
  • Since you want the 6-over-6 double windows to be a focus, bring a loveseat into an L with the existing sofa, slipcovering to match.  No need for a coffee table as space is tight: the drum seats can double for that if needed by adding a tray to one.
  • The bookcase on the back wall is one of the first things you see, so de-clutter it, and switch out the mirror for a bigger one.
  • add two more sources of light for greater ambience and an inviting, layered look. 

A fresh, professional eye speaking to some of the room’s details, and the encouragement that I CAN fit more seating and did not need a coffee table completely re-inspired me.  I spent that weekend rearranging and editing everything in there, and started to come up with more and better ideas.  Around the same time, I discovered The Nester’s blog and was convicted by her posts about using lots of little junk to personalize a space when really you are just fussing because the big things about the room are bothering you.    Here’s what I came up with on my own, in addition to/instead of what the designer suggested.

  • Acknowledge that I hate the sofa, and make peace with that while saving for a new sectional.  Meanwhile, concentrate on making the rest of the room better and cohesive, so that the sofa doesn’t stand out so much.  Don’t allow it to dictate what else happens with the room, but make it fade away as gracefully as possible.
  • Make that bookcase into a substantial feature to love! by buying another of the same for cheap on Craigslist and putting them right next to each other, thus making one big piece instead of lots of little furniture bits scattered around.  I am really proud of this idea!
  • Switch out the beloved round mirror for a huge [frameless] rectangular one currently collecting dust.  Get husband to mount it and install a mitered frame around it.Use the loveseat and armchair from our sofa set for the L seating configuration, switching them out of our TV Watching Room in exchange for the sofa piece.   Since our bachelory leather sofa set is large, these smaller pieces will fit in the living room better and leave us room to breathe.
  • Turn squared off gallery collection into freeform gallery wall.   I’ve lived with this square configuration for several months and it feels too angular, too narrow, and hung about three inches too high, going from A to B: 
  • Add in robin’s egg/aqua/turquoise accents around the room.  Blue-green is my favorite color, so why not use it?  Plus, I always liked the combo of muted red and light blue-green.

Now this is a big room change, so I don’t have a fancy look-I-threw-$5000-at-it-and-have-a-new-living-r0om “after” to show you.  You knew that though :)  I’ll be back soon with a sneak peek at what’s changed in the few weeks since I got my Room-ReDo design advice.  Plenty more to do of course, which I will expand on in future posts.

Has someone’s tasteful advice ever gotten YOU out of a design dilemma, or even sparked a whole room redo?