Evolution of a living room

Like I mentioned awhile back, I am working on updating my house tour. It takes a long time to make a house feel like a home—at least it does for me. I'm pretty sure there's just no getting around that ugly-duckling stage. It's that annoying and unpleasant transition phase of knowing in your head what you want, but not quite knowing how to get there. Kind of like puberty. House puberty.

Take my living room for example. Here was the realtor listing before we bought the house. It had been a rental property for years, so not much had been updated. 

Here the living room. It's a bit of an awkward space, because it's pretty narrow and long. It has nice windows, though...

Here the living room. It's a bit of an awkward space, because it's pretty narrow and long. It has nice windows, though...

This is a shot of the other side of the living room, originally meant as the dining room. We turned it into an office/piano area.

This is a shot of the other side of the living room, originally meant as the dining room. We turned it into an office/piano area.

Thankfully, we were able to paint and have wood floors installed at move in—we were just going to replace the carpet, but decided at the last minute to go ahead and install oak to match the rest of the main level. I found a company that basically did it for us at cost. I think they were trying to establish their client base, so it really worked out in our favor. Even though it cost some money up front, I have never regretted that decision. I really wish we had been able to afford it for the upstairs... 

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As much as the wood floor and gray walls helped the fundamentals of the room, I really hit a brick wall with the decor. Our former living room furniture got moved into our new basement, and we didn't want to invest in a new couch until we really knew what we wanted. I felt so much pressure to feel at home, but I really didn't have the means or the knowledge to know how to make that happen. Ugly duckling stage. 

I think if I learned anything from moving into a new house, it is this. You have to start somewhere. Peter often reminds me that mistakes can be really helpful and it is okay to take risks. Sometimes you just have to try things. This is tough for me, because with limited resources and time, I always feel so wasteful and discouraged when I make the wrong decision. 

My effort to "just start somewhere" began with these super cheap, old gray couches from   the thrift store—sprayed heavily with disinfectant Febreeze, I might add! Since it was a short-term solution, I was okay with the fact that they were really chunky and weirdly textured. I bought a cheapo, too small, white rug at IKEA, and hung some homemade pictures in frames from our previous apartment. We bought some lamps and pillows, and just lived with it for awhile.

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You can kind of see the piano and the desk in this shot. We actually DIY'ed a new desk from two old file cabinets, and got rid of the one in the picture--more shots of that later. I was really into the chunky dark wood for awhile, but I have since realized it didn't really fit with the scale and color scheme of our house. 

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We bought new couches from Macy's a few months later. I tried some different pillows and started working on a gallery wall. I changed it out like 3 or 4 times before I was satisfied. The brown paper lived in the frames for a few months before I put anything up.

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The wall across from the large couch also remained pretty awkward for a long time, due in large part to the annoying return air vent near the ceiling. I finally decided to just ignore it. Most of my work on the living room happened when I was pregnant with my 21-month old son, so it was definitely slow progress, with morning sickness and chasing a two-year-old.

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In a valiant nesting effort, I got an IKEA shelf and chair for this wall. I put some yellow and gray fabrics in the gallery wall, and we bought a large jute boucle rug (which I love). This is a terrible picture, but it sort of shows the progress of the room. That's me on the couch four days before R was born. He was a week late, and I was a whale. 

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At this point everything was definitely feeling more settled, but there were a few details that I tweaked along the way, especially along the awkward wall. More on that next week, though...

I feel like this post might seem self-conscious or overwrought, but I basically just want to demonstrate that creating a home takes a long time, a lot of mistakes, and a lot of tweaking. But even thought it was uncomfortable for me, the process was valuable, and I learned a lot. Not that my house is perfect or anything! I have so many things that I still want to change... Next week, I'll have more shots of what the living room is looking like now. Here's a little preview. Happy Tuesday!

 

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