Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Living Room Inspiration: Gathering my Thoughts

To build a home that truly reflects its occupants, I think it's really important to reflect on where you've come from and where you want to go with your home. In that spirit, I started last weekend by making a long list of the things that drive me crazy about our home and what I need to do to fix them. This led to several trips to Ikea, Home Goods, and Target (of course), and I'm finally starting to be happy with our downstairs living room.

Latest update: We just added these $15 floating shelves from Ikea, and they have done wonders to help make the room look more complete. Although, they do make the bare windows look a little more sad...

So, naturally, with the downstairs living area nearing completion (fingers crossed--still need to buy a large piece of slate and a mantle for the fireplace before we can finish that project!), I'm turning my attention to the top floor living room. This room gets the most use in our home and, paradoxically, is the least complete. 

Here's a quick idea of what we're dealing with:

View from the dining room, facing the front door

Working fireplace--which we use all the time in the winter :)

The windows are French door-style and I love them, although they leak badly and I wish they'd swing the other way. Hate the TV console, hate the Lack coffee table from Ikea.

Hand-me-down sofa with a mismatched ottoman from our old sofa set. The only things I like in this image are the large photo and the big brass thrifted lamp.

With my back to the French windows, you can see the dining room with our chalkboard wall off to the right, and the door to the hallway with the 2 upstairs bedrooms and bathroom straight ahead.

And from the front door, facing into the dining area:

Yes, those ARE folding chairs as dining chairs. Yes, they ARE covered in paint from painting our house THREE YEARS AGO. No, I don't want to talk about it...

As you may be able to tell, this room has become a breeding ground for all of the 'stuff' that doesn't fit elsewhere. Things I'd love to ditch: every single piece of furniture (sofa, futon, crappy ottoman, side table, coffee table, and media console). Things I love and will keep: large brass lamp, console table that my bf and I refinished together, large photo artwork over the sofa, most of the room's accessories. And the TV, like duh.

So given the room's constraints (and...ahem....monetary constraints), I turned to Pinterest to help me formulate a direction for our living area. I find that when I have a clear vision of what I want to happen, I get less "internet anxiety" when it comes to pulling the trigger on big-ticket items. Here are my favorite inspiration photos (all images can be found on my Inspiration: Living Room or Living Rooms boards). 

My number one favorite image is from the home of Emerson Fry of Emerson Made:
I love how truly livable it is--lots of neutral colors, great mix of texutres, nothing is too fussy or perfect. My boyfriend likes the wood beams.

My second favorite is from the Refinery 29 offices:

I'm a sucker for the white/dark/wood mix, plus mixed metal and wood, lots of textures, and ethnic patterns.

Other images that have caught my attention include:

I like the mix of patterns without it all getting too crazy. Boy likes that it's symmetrical.

Fairly neutral with several nice bohemian and naturalist touches. Love the wood support beam!

Grey and coppery brass, yum. Once again, love the pattern mixing in a mostly neutral room.

Hate the antlers (Boy liked them of course), but everything else is pretty great. Table's too small though!

Neutral room, pattern mixing in small doses. Notice a pattern?

Stripes and textural goodness. Boy liked that the table looks 'roughed up, not manufactured' and the mantle if it was a higher-contrast color.

This room looks so cozy and livable. Love that coffee table and the sconce in the corner.

Doesn't this just feel homey? I am a sucker for all things mixed metal and wood.

Dog, obviously. But also the eclectic gallery wall and neutral tones.

Stripes + wood + metal + neutral.

I showed these images to the Boy and, not surprisingly, we disagreed on many points. Boy likes modern, straight lines, symmetrical....basically everything I don't. Ha. But, we were able to agree on the following things: Wood tones that  have character and are a bit 'roughed up,' as opposed to super manufactured/smooth-looking. Flowing greenery (a 'bringing the outdoors in' vibe). Pattern mixing that isn't too busy or too colorful. Mix of metals and wood.  Neutral base and not lots of bright colors. High contrast.

And that, my friends, is the basis of a good compromise for this room :)

So here's the general plan for the room:
Fixin' the Living Room: To Do List

  • Replace the sofa and futon with a matching set, preferably in charcoal grey (this is going to take a while to pool the moola)
  • Ditch the Lack coffee table in favor of a warm, worn wood table
  • Replace the old media cabinet with a wood and metal one that coordinates with but doesn't exactly match the coffee table
  • Add a rug, either my favorite striped one from Ikea or a kilim (although both those looks are getting overplayed lately)
  • Replace the pillows with a mix of patterned ones--I'm going for a relaxed boho look.
  • Swap the ugly Walmart curtains for something more textural with a minimal pattern, plus white sheers behind them
  • Keep the large brass lamp, maybe add black trim to the shades
  • Perhaps replace the ski map over the fireplace with a black and white photo of the mountains out our window, probably in a large black square frame with wide white mat. Although this  has been vetoed by the Boy.
  • Get a floor lamp for the far corner by the big sofa
What do you guys think of this general plan? How do you go about plotting ways to make your home uniquely yours?


  1. Planning makes makeover projects easier! Your house has a lot of windows and french doors; you should use them properly to make your house look a lot better. My simple advice would be to keep things organized and don't over do the design and set of furniture.

  2. I agree, I love the doors and windows although in person they're in pretty bad shape. I'm planning on adding really simple curtains and currently have some pillows being made by my wonderful mother. Tune in soon for an update, and thanks for commenting! :)