Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Earning its name: the living room.

The other night we had a babysitter and when she walked into our living room she was like, "Woah! Am I in a different house?"

It reminded me that I never blogged about redoing our living room over a month ago. That's crazy! I mean, if a pillow gets recovered but no one gets to see it on the Internet, does it even count...

I guess it didn't seem like that big of a deal because it was such an unplanned thing. I had always liked our living room just fine but then one day it completely stopped working for me. It was too earth toned and dark and crowded. It felt small. The rug had seen much better days. I just...hated it.

I blame our pretty new bedroom. It's made the rest of the house look sort of blah in comparison.

Not knowing where to start, I zeroed in on the wall color. It was a nice medium brown but with only one window, exposed bricks and heavy drapes, it suddenly seemed way too dark. I had to lighten it up and bring in a little contrast. For whatever reason, I had blue on the mind. (We have several different shades throughout our house and I don't hate any of them yet.)

Lucky for me it was a Saturday so when I decided I had to paint right this second, Bill was home to help. I ran to Home Depot, took almost a whole minute to choose a color, then came home and put my man to work. He hates painting (but likes me!) so it actually worked out great. He said he'd do as much as I wanted so long as he didn't have to waste the whole weekend on top of a ladder. I agreed, we got to work, and in three hours we were completely DONE. I think we set a new world record.

So the room was very light blue but the rest of the room was the same as before. And guess what? I still hated it. So I pulled out my binders full of magazine clips (like Pinterest before Pinterest!) to search for inspiration and began to pull together an idea.

After I figured out what furniture to keep, what to move out, what to move in, what to replace and what I needed to find, I decided where everything should go for now (not an easy task in a small room with two doors, a brick chimney and a very low window).

Then I just had to pull it all together.

I looked around at the light blue walls, orange bricks, green couch, brown leather chair, striped chair, warm wood floors, white wainscoting, big black TV, books, toys, etc. and thought I must have lost my mind. But with a few coordinating pillows, new window treatments and the right rug, it went from looking like a big hot mess to practically a whole new living room!

Okay, maybe it took a little more work than that (i.e. two dozen trips to various Home Goods locations and at least a million hours looking at rugs online...), but it came together. And that's the most important part.

The rug is actually two rugs. I liked the idea of layering and it just so happened that our old rug looked kind of cool upside down so I went with it. Finding the right top rug was another story. I knew I wanted something that would wear well and be easy to clean (or better yet, not look that dirty in the first place!) but every time I'd stop browsing and check my shopping cart, it was full of fancy, light-colored rugs. I knew it would only be a matter of days before we spilled something or tracked in dirt or had 50 people over to eat chili and watch the Superbowl so our rug would need to be super forgiving.

I finally decided on this one (from One King's Lane) because it was high quality/low price (under $200), indoor/outdoor (I can literally take it outside and hose it off if I need to), soft but durable, interesting but subtle...this is why it took me so long to make a choice. It was also incredibly hard for me to pull the trigger because I'm used to bringing things home to see them in the space before committing (I return as many things as I keep). Shipping back a rug sounded like a nightmare so I had to be really sure before I bought. Making a decision was the hardest part.

The easiest part was the window treatments. We have very tall windows so finding curtains that are the right size takes a lot more work than stopping by Target. But I saw something on Pinterest that was a total game changer. Instead of buying curtains, buy table cloths! They come in lots of different sizes that work great for windows. Even very tall ones! And you can easily find a wide variety at places like Home Goods for less than $20. So for around $50, I got brand new curtains for my extra tall windows! With a new custom bamboo shade (no Pinterest short cut for that one), our once so-so window now looks very grown up and lovely.

{Full disclosure: even though I could have gotten them just the right length, I messed up and bought the wrong size. By the time I went back to exchange for the longer ones, they only had one left. One! By then I really liked the curtains so I spent several days calling and driving around to different Home Goods stores (and Marshall's and TJ Maxx...) trying to find one more table cloth that was the right size. Finally I decided, screw it. People only notice my curtains are a few inches short if I tell them and thanks to our handy dandy bench, they don't even bother me anymore. So I decided to just accept that I'm not perfect and move on with my life.}

And speaking of the bench! I love having it in the living room. It's great for extra seating, makes a cute little desk when the boys pull up a chair, and is perfect for Finny to stand next to to play with his guys.

So, anyway, that's it! Friends love our new living room and so do we. It feels much so much bigger without the coffee table which is perfect for where we are in our lives right now (the more floor space for playing, the better!). It's brighter during the day and cozier at night. It's just a good fit for our family. These pictures don't really do it justice but without a wide angle lens it's hard to really capture a small indoor space. I guess you'll just have to come see for yourself! ; )

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