Living Our Best Room

By Melissa

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As we finally put away the Christmas decorations (the garage counts as putting them away, right???) I felt like my front living room was naked! And then I let my eyes breathe for a minute and was able to once again appreciate the simple decor of our living room.

This room had a late start in our home. For the first seven years we lived here, we simply ushered visitors quickly past it. It was an eyesore, an armpit, an ugly thorn in my side that I just didn’t want to address. We hadn’t painted it, hung anything up or done anything to beautify the very first thing someone would see when they walked into our house. We plopped our old couches from our condo in it and called it good. But then, enough was enough.

Philip said to me one day as we were discussing it and I was again saying that it wasn’t a priority, “I’m tired of being embarrassed by it when people come over.” Uhhhhhh, I hadn’t thought about it like that. And while I wouldn’t say it was an active embarrassment, one that I was constantly aware of, it was more passive, just sat there quietly until a new guest would come over and I would have to explain that I didn’t want them to think that I had TRIED in there, and that’s the reason it was completely bare. And then I would just get all sorts of cringey and awkward as they said it wasn’t bad. Uh, do you have eyeballs? It was bad.

So we decided to do something about it. I told Philip that I would just do something quickly and cheaply. Something to buy us some time until I was ready to put thought into it.

Newsflash. It didn’t end up being quick or cheap. But it sure did end up being oh so lovely. And honestly it didn’t break the bank. I decided to spend money where I thought it would last the longest, and try to save in other areas. So I’m going to run through my process as I decorated and link to the things I’m able, as well as show a zillion pictures.

The first thing I did was painted. We had an unfortunate creamy yellow that just never was my favorite thing. And while I love color, I was also torn because every interior designer on this green earth, as well as their dogs, were all painting everything white. But did I want white? Ugggggg, I wanted it to be classy but also current, without leaning too trendy… that’s not too much to ask, right???

Painting with toddlers is not advised, ever ever ever.

Anyway, I painted it white. Shocker. I figured that worst case scenario, I wouldn’t like it and I would repaint it. I decided to go with something that was close to what the ceiling, baseboards and shutters were already, that way I would’t need to paint all of them too. So is it my very favorite white that is perfectly creamy and doesn’t have undertones of who-knows-what color? Nope, but it is fine, and it looks white. At first I thought it was maybe a little too cold and sterile, but once I got furniture in there and things hung on the wall, I liked it.

From there, I got a rug. I knew I wanted something BIG, and I also needed something with color since I was needing contrast for the white walls. I love navy blue with all my heart, and when a favorite designer posted a link to a rug that was navy and on sale and really wasn’t outrageous, I jumped on it. It sat rolled up for far too long and if you learn one thing from this post, let it be this: UNROLL YOUR RUGS ASAP!!! Mine still has a weird lump about a foot from one end that won’t unlump. 🙁 Anyway, the rug was just over $200, which can seem like a lot, but then when you look at other large rugs, you realize that goodness, why are rugs so expensive?! This one isn’t too bad. (And it’s even cheaper now!) RUG LINKED HERE.

From there I directed my attention to a sofa. Do you know what else is expensive?? SOFAS! Basically this whole room was me being appalled at how much things cost. I just hadn’t looked in a while, and I am just so cheap at heart so everything made me shudder a bit as I saw the price. So I found one that I loved. But it was $1200. And that seemed like a lot. So then I looked and looked and looked and looked for ANYTHING that I would like half as much that might cost half as much. And when I couldn’t find that, I realized, that even if I did buy something for half the cost, I would look at it every time and think, “Yep, that is fine. I like that half as much as the other one.” And even if I only paid half as much for it, that is still $600! Who wants to spend that much money on something that is so mediocre in your mind? And then to get really technical about it, my sister told me, “If you keep this couch for five years, it would only cost you 65 cents a day!” Well with that logic, how could I not? Sixty-five cents is nothing! I would gladly pay that every day to love the sofa that is in the room. So I bought ANTON from Article. And he is every bit as lovely in real life as he was in the pictures. I honestly couldn’t be happier and after two years, I am still as enamored with him as I was when I first set eyes on him and his cute legs and adorable buttons. Apparently love at first sight is a love that lasts when it comes to sofas. SOFA LINKED HERE.

Anton tolerates mild jumping also. 🙂

The last bigger line item I needed was armchairs. Did you know that chairs are also expensive? It just never ends! I was thinking I wanted a creamy cognac leather (ps, did you know that cognac is pronounced CONE-YAK? Ask me how hard my family laughed at me when I confidently said I loved COG-NAC. In my defense, I had only read the word, never said it out loud, how was I supposed to know?!), but they were impossible to find under approximately one million dollars. So I found these cognac chairs and when I unboxed them my heart sank. The shape was pretty, but the leather was too dark, more of a milk chocolate than a caramel. But how much would shipping be to return them??? UGGG, this is the one downside of doing basically all online shopping. Luckily, after pouring over the terms and conditions on the website, I found that they could be returned for free (rather than paying $40 to ship them back) if I opted for store credit. Since I had originally ordered them from Wayfair and I still had other accessories to purchase, I gladly returned them for credit.

I ended up finding my blue chairs on and love the contrast that they bring, without being too matchy matchy with the rug. BLUE CHAIRS LINKED HERE.

As far as art for the main wall went, I had this print that I had purchased from Beth Allen that I was in love with. It was an odd size, but instead of having an odd sized frame made for it, I just used a budget frame from Michael’s, and had a $12 mat cut at Hobby Lobby. But then the mat was way too creamy for the frame and the print, so I did what any classy designer would do, and I spray painted the mat. 🙂

This was the before when it was just a little too off white for my taste.

I knew I wanted that to be the focal point, but needed other things to fill it out too. I had seen these framed prints (from Urban Outfitters of all places!) recommended by another designer and scoured the site for one that would work for my room and landed on this one. I loved that it came with a frame of your choice too! The other prints I downloaded from Juniper Print Shop, had printed at Costco, and then hung in Target frames. I love how they came together and bring in so much color without being too loud.

From there it was just a matter of bringing in filler items, things to fill the space and be pretty, but that I didn’t need to be crazy durable or that I wouldn’t mind replacing in a few years to update the space. Enter the bookshelf, the long bench, the round side table, the striped ottoman/stools and the coffee table. None of these were terribly expensive, and thank goodness, because when Philip was assembling the coffee table, he said, “Please tell me you didn’t spend more than $100 on this.” To which I snapped, “YOU TRY TO FIND CUTE FURNITURE FOR CHEAP!!!” I should also add that I was seven months pregnant and didn’t need his smart commentary. 🙂 But it was just barely over $100, and if it breaks or if a kid ruins it tomorrow, I wouldn’t be devastated since it didn’t break the bank to start with.

From there it was mostly accessories, which I tend to lean towards less expensive items, but you just need SO MANY to fill up a book case or finish a corner. I love greenery and have added several live plants, but didn’t want to have to deal with a real fiddle leaf fig tree, since they are so dang fickle, so I opted for this faux fiddle leaf fig, that had been recommended by another designer and plopped it in this basket. And I really think the round mirror finished off that little corner.

Pillows were also a thorn in my side, so I ended up going to World Market and just buying EVERYTHING that I liked, and then I took it all home to see what worked and what didn’t, and then returned what I didn’t use. I mixed them with a couple that I had from Target already, and then afterwards looked for specific colors or designs to finish off a look or a color story. I ended up using these linked HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

On the coffee table, I just needed something simple. Enough to look intentional without so much that my kids would forever be ruining it. I opted for the gold tray from Target with a gifted plant and gifted candle, and a book. I thought the travel book was lovely and would be fun to thumb through, and then I was gifted not one, but two of the Justin Timberlake books for my birthday, so it obviously tells our guests a little about my likes. I linked our current two books HERE and HERE, but other good ones are HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.

Currently missing the pretty pot for my plant since I gave my current one as a house warming gift to someone else. 🙂

The last bit of hunting and gathering was done at Hobby Lobby, HomeGoods, Ross, Ikea, and from my own closets and shelves. When looking for accessories, I tend to take the same approach as with pillows; I buy everything that I think could work, fill in the shelves and spots that need attention, and then return anything that didn’t end up finding a home in the room.

When it is all said and done, I was so thrilled with how it turned out. It no longer is the embarrassment that it had been for the SEVEN years prior to this and it is nice to have somewhere quiet and usually clean (except the smudges on the windows and the endless amounts of tiny train cars that are always in the windowsill) to sit and pretend that the rest of my house is equally as clean and well maintained. 🙂

I linked to everything I could, but if you have questions about the source of anything else, let me know!

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