Tuesday, May 19, 2015

House Update: Come See Me New Living Room...

So, this post has been a ridiculously long time coming. As in, 2 years and 3 months long. Prepare yourself for an absolute onslaught of photos, because friends ... MY LIVING ROOM IS FINISHED! This feels epic just to write, so even if no one cares, I will treasure this post, lol.

Let's begin with how this room looked when we purchased the house 2 years and 3 months ago...
This pic is ridiculously small, sorry, but this is how it looked when we toured for the first time. The house was built in 1969, but was sold (and redecorated) in 1990 before we purchased it. Oh, that nasty mauve and cream. Everything in the house was country colors: mauve, cream, country blue, butter yellow *shutter*. Oh, the awful memories.
The living room and dining room are the biggest undertaking as far as painting walls - look how tall that ceiling is! We loved the beams and the size of the room, and just how different the house is, you know? I could see the potential. We had great plans to paint and fix and decorate, and we did a bit, but then we had to move more suddenly than originally planned, filling our house with boxes of junk we didn't get to sort through, and making other more necessary fixes come first. Quickly, it all became overwhelming trying to live here, work, and fix the house all at once while still keeping our sanity. I would have small bursts of home improvement moods, but they were few and far between. We just eventually let everything sit like it was and just tried not to think about how awful it looked. Before this past January rolled around, I had manage to paint almost all of the living room, except the far wall and dining room - it was too tall for me, so the wall was the last remnant of the awful pukey mauve. 

We had a tumultuous New Year, as I've mentioned several times before. My sister, Shannon, was staying for a few months to visit over Christmas, and she decided I needed a project to get my mind off of my personal life, and that my house needed serious need of assistance. She loves fixing up houses, and she hadn't gotten to do any home improving since she left for Japan over a year before, so she was itching to paint something, lol. She lit a fire under me, and we tackled the projects I had started years before while she was visiting. I have other things to show as well, but I'm still doing the final touches. The living room though got its final finesse two weeks ago, and I've been working on this post ever since. So ...  without further ado ... here is what my living room looks like now...
This is the view as you walk in the front door and turn to the living room. Notice anything different, lol? The paint was purchased long ago from Sherwin Williams on sale. It's their Super Paint Latex paint in Sedate Gray (possibly the most depressing color name ever, ha ha) with a satin finish, and the trim is their Pro Classic Latex Acrylic paint in untinted white. This was the largest single expense of the room, and I'm guessing I spent $200 on the paint, but that was back when I still had a little money so it worked out.
This area was the first to be finished, but I've made some little additions over time. We used to have our tv in here, but back in October of last year we decided to move the tv into the cleaned out den since it's cosier in there. So, details. The metal thing on the wall came from the clearance section at Target about 1.5 years ago for $24.00. The couch and chairs were the best Craigslist score I've ever had - yes, I kid you not, they are from Craigslist. Amazing, right? A man down in Vero Beach had purchased a model house that came fully furnished, so they sold off some of the model furniture. I happened to see the listing 10 minutes after he posted the couch, and I was the first to contact him out of what would be over 50 people. My dad and I drove down that night with his truck and got this baby for $100 (I know, right?!). Since we had come so far, he said he was eventually planning to list the chairs as well, so he went ahead and let us get them as well for another $100. These chairs were almost brand new - only sat on when people toured the model house. It's still crazy when I think about it, lol, but I've had them since shortly after we purchased the house.
The side tables were ours from our condo, and the coffee table was a yard sale score at $15 - it has a small scratch on the top, but other than that it is perfect. 
The other half of the living room is pretty sparse looking at the moment. I have a coffee table that I purchased a long time ago that will become a bench for that space under the window - I'm just trying to find fabric that looks good with the other couches. The table in the window was Justin's grandparent's. I even painted the metal frames of the windows white back when I painted the bay window area and it's still holding up wonderfully :) Back when I painted this window area, I replaced the funky dirty cream colored blinds. Oddly enough the smaller windows were the most expensive because they were a custom cut size. All the blinds in this bay window cost $100.00, but it was worth every penny as it is so much brighter in here now!
Here's the little corner I previewed a few months ago when I painted this table. The table was free from a friend when she moved and I painted it Espresso brown. The lamp was thrifted for $3, the shade was a clearance grab from Target for $6, the doily was thrifted for $0.25, and the plant came from Liz when she moved. The painting is one of my favorites I found at a thrift store for $5 (more info on that below), and I put that creepy wicker monkey in the archway as a joke and he has now become a fixture - he was free.
Ugh, it's a terrible quality before photo, but this is the bay window before and after. Pretty crazy, right? I love this area now. 
As you rotate around the room, the music area is next. This area will change a little over time. The old hi-fi cabinet was inherited by my husband, along with the cabinet holding the records (the record player is on top) and about 1/3 of the records inside. Next to the hi-fi is a stack of the larger record collections from the 60s (The Longines Symphony Orchestra plays Nat King Cole, etc.) - these won't fit in the cabinet now, so I have them here until I figure something else out. On top of them is a neat Italian cookie tin that I use to hold things like record cleaner and other accessories. Eventually, I will do a little carpentry and cut out a bigger area for the record player, and set mine inside to kind of re-do the cabinet.
The other side has the record player and speakers (some day to live inside the other cabinet), along with my keyboard and piano music. The red chair will be painted another color sometime - I just haven't decided what color yet. The red chair was a thrift store score for $6.00, and it has a really neat pattern on the seat.
As soon as I positioned everything like this, my first order of business was to alphabetize my records. Before this, they were in about 4 different places in boxes and stacks, so it is AMAZING to have them not only all in one spot, but also to have them in alpha order so I can summon up any one that I want. Ah, sweet organization :) I also celebrated this new spot by playing my Wham! album. Like you do...
The next area around the room is the dining area. Gordo even posed for this shot - how lucky are you? :) Look a little different? 
The dining room has my awesome solid wood table in the center, which was given to me by a friend when we bought the house. It needs to be redone, but until then it just always has a table cloth on it. The table cloth was a sale purchase forever ago for $9, and it was actually too long. This was one of my finishing touches two weeks ago - I finally cut down the table cloth to fit the table and the leftover piece was just large enough to cover the top of the sewing machine table (the actual top is horribly rusted because its former owner kept it around their pool deck - weird, right?). The chairs are a mix of two sets - 4 are Ikea Ivar chairs that we used with our Ikea table in our old condo (that table is now in my sewing room), and the other 4 were a set that I bought at a thrift store for $15.00 just so we would have chairs. I can technically fit all 8 at the table, but it's a bit crammed, so that extra just chills in the corner unless we need it. I also replaced the blinds on all these side windows - I was worried it would be too expensive at first, but seriously lucked out. All 3 of these large windows are actually 6 smaller windows of a standard bedroom size. So I was able to buy 6 regular sized mini blinds for $3.99 each! How cool is that?! This is such a vast improvement from the horribly dirty cream colored ones. The light coming in the room is so worth the $24 these cost, no question. 
Again, sorry for the bad before picture here, but this is a before and after of the dining room. The walls were cream colored with cream trim and 2 layers of wallpaper under the chair rail. Getting all that wallpaper off was not a fun experience, and it took me a long time to decide what I wanted on the bottom. Should it be all the same color with contrasting trim? Should it be an accent color under there? I just didn't like any of the options mentioned, until Shannon suggested painting it all white and eventually making fake wainscoting. Since it was the only appealing sounding idea to me, we went for it and I really do love how it turned out. The entire area under the chair rail is painted with the same semi gloss pure white paint as all the trim, and I plan to eventually add wooden frames of the same size all the way around and paint them white to match so it looks like real wainscoting. Also, we do have a new light fixture to hang above the dining room table, but I have to wait until I can afford a professional electrician to install it for us. One of these days.
That extra chair just lives here, but it comes in handy occasionally elsewhere in the house. That gold colored chandelier belonged to my Great Grandmother, and it is at least as old as the early 1950s (I know this because my Grandmother says her mother-in-law had it before she married my Grandfather and she just remembers how much she hated cleaning it when they lived with his parents, lol). The square framed print was picked up at Marshall's (with another to match on the other side of the room) way back when we were in our condo. I plan on cutting the frames open and putting some of my shots in them from when I shot square format film during my experimental photography years.
This china hutch as well as the lovely Noritake china inside came from my Grammy - they brought it all back from when they lived in Okinawa. I have her fancy silverware in a case in there too :) The china pattern is a pretty pink rose with silver rims on the dishes. I have a crazy huge service, including 14 tea cups, lol. Now that it's finally in its place and accessible, I can actually use it for company :) The vases at the top all came from Justin's Grandma.
This cute Bistro sign was in our condo too, and I thought it was fitting to have it over the kitchen archway. And that picture is the one that matches the other frame so its print will change soon. Also, I still need to spray paint that ac vent white.
I love my gallery wall in the center of this room, but it is still a work in progress. I'm searching through my final junk room to find a few more things before I make everything a done deal up there. Everything up there is a mixture of thrift store finds, things I picked up on vacations, some of my husband's photography prints, or things I've won :) I also absolutely LOVE the sewing machine table. This was an estate sale deal that I snagged for $20 because it was still left at the end of the sale. Like I said earlier, it was kept around a pool deck before so it is pretty rusty. The bottom still looks good - it's just the awful top that has weathered boards and a metal top that is all rusted. I plan to replace the top later on, but until then the table cloth works well. 
The art work around the room are all total favorites that were great finds over the last few years. Let's start with the top corner. This is a metal hurricane map that is an enamel sign so you can get a little hurricane shaped magnet to track the storms - how cool is that? Not only that, but it's colors were awesome, and it was only $6.00 at a thrift store frame and all - it had to be mine! One of these days I'll try to find a hurricane magnet, lol. The globe map is a really recent find - originally the hurricane map was in this spot, but it looked a bit small so when I found this it was ousted. This map is this weird golden metallic iridescent print of a 15th century or so map. It has Latin writing around the edges, and the gold color shimmers and moves as you move in front of it. This also came framed, but there's no glass, and it was only $5.00. It looks great above the record player! The butterfly print is one of my favorite pieces of artwork in the house - it was another $5.00 thrift store find. This is a signed and numbered lithograph that looks to be hand colored by the artist. It's called Fantasia II by Pearl Abrams and it is number 95 out of 200. This came professionally framed from a gallery and it's a very high quality piece. I tried looking it up and it would sell for somewhere around $150 from what I can find, so that's pretty cool :) I put it next to the arch into the foyer, so it is a prime location that I pass every time I need to leave. Even the colors go great in the room. I just love this thing, lol. The coffee table has another recent item - the Buddha statue. I grabbed the statue back in March at Marshall's (of all places, right?) and he was sold as a yard ornament. My husband and I have both gotten pretty into Buddhism this past year, so I had been looking for a small Buddha to have around, and then found this randomly for $14.99 - sold! Also the plants and the neat plates they are on came from my friend Liz when she moved. They were kept outside before, plus they had plants on them, so the plates were pretty dirty. A quick cleaning though, and they are a really lovely turquoise glaze on them and they look great in the room :)
Isn't it amazing that the room once looked like this? This was during my frantic search for the perfect wall color - the room would just suck any good aspects out of any color I chose. It was something to do with the beams and the carpet and the lighting - I don't know, but it was a nightmare. I'm glad  I persevered though, because this really is the perfect wall color. I was even complimented by a friend of mine who sells paint for a living on how well the wall color went with the sofa, so I was pretty pleased :)
And just for posterity's sake, this is what the room looked like in January when Shannon had just finished the large wall and we were working on the kitchen cabinets. Yes, I lived with my room like this for weeks, lol.
And even just a month ago, the room looked like this. This was just after I finally finished painting the cabinets so I got to clear this area of painting supplies. Just this change was a major celebration, but I still had to figure out the record player placement and whatnot.
I didn't clear out all this clutter and excess furniture until just two weeks ago. Now that it's all finished and I love the room so much, I can't believe that I ever lived like this complacently. I'm addicted to clean spaces now at least. 
And, because I could, I had to post a panoramic view of the whole room :) Isn't it awesome?!
This is now one of my favorite rooms in the house and I find myself deliberately hanging out in here while I knit or read just because I can. Finishing this room also coincided with when I read Marie Kondo's book, and it really made me understand why I want to be in here. I can now honestly say that I LOVE most all of the items in this room. The furniture may not match the rest, and the carpet may not be in great shape, and the bay window is pretty stark still, etc, etc, but every one of the items I have put in this room bring me joy. It's amazing how much that simple fact changes how the room feels. Each item in here was hand picked by me, even down to the framed quotes. I have other plans, of course - I'm still digging out all of our "family pictures" we had in our condo so I can make a gallery wall next to the arch into the foyer, for example - but even in its current state I can't fully describe how much the feeling of the room has changed. Every item brings back fond memories or pleases my own personal eye, and no professional decorator could have given me that individualism in this room no matter how much money was spent. Yes it took two years, but it feels so worth it to have everything just as I like it :)

Paint: approx. $200
Furniture: $260 (and counting)
Blinds: $124.00
Art Work and Decor: $114.25 (and counting)
Misc Hardware: $30.00 (plug, switches, plate covers, nails for pictures, etc.)
Total: $836.50

Holy crap, that's much more expensive than I thought, lol, but the fact that the price is including a new couch set, that's pretty freaking good, right? We paid more than that just for our other couches that are in the den, you know? So considering that this price is a completely custom, finished room that's really cheap. Plus this expense was spread out over the past 2 years, so it never felt like that large of an expense. By the time I get other planned projects finished up, this room will still be about $1000 - and this is technically two finished rooms :) I'm totally happy with that price.

So, if you are still reading, and you have put off doing home improvements because you think it will be too expensive, I hope this shows that it really doesn't have to cost much. It won't be quick, and it won't be without lots of hard work and labor, but I can say it is all 100% worth it. I can't wait to see how this room develops now :)


  1. Wow, its amazing how a bit of paint can transform a room! Were also living in a fixer-upper. Just a pity that the whole process is so slow because one never has all the money in the world to fix and decorate everything at once...

    1. I feel your pain! My house has several "big money" items that need fixing too (like plumbing), and it really killed my mojo to get simpler projects like this room finished. Happily it doesn't have to take 2 years like to do this, lol. It's not so bad to do things little by little though - I definitely appreciated the little changes over the years even though the room wasn't finished. Also, if I had any idea it would cost $800 I would have probably never started this project, so I guess it's good that I did it over the course of 2 years, you know?


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