Monday, January 26, 2015

Living Room Reveal

So I wanted to show you the last place of our house that I hadn't really touched on....The living room.
We did a complete overhaul here too.

If we could have bought any kind of house, we would have picked something older, something with more character. But we had to be in a specific area for the school district, and were forced into a builder basic home. 

So the only thing to do, was make it into something that we wanted. Paint, and simple changes can help make a house into your dream home...but sometimes you need more. Making areas that are super simple look more custom can help you get there. In each room of our house, we changed a big part of the room, something that was permanent. In the living room, the floor was changed, which carried through to the whole lower floor. That wouldn't be enough though to set it apart from any other house. 

The fireplace was the most obvious in this room. It was a super ugly tiled surround, with a dinky mantel above it. 
I want to say this was an easy change, and when we were finished and look back, it seems like an easy change...but it was be messy and frustrating along the way. 

My husband found this antique mantel on Craigslist, a major deal! And it almost fit perfectly. The bigger problem was the tile surround. 

Luckily the tiles popped off pretty easy, it was the thin set left behind that made the mess. We dealt with this at our last house, so we knew what to do, and how to do it, but that didn't make it any easier. A scraping tool with a blade, took off most of the thin set, and a grinder tool with a heavy duty wire brush attachment, helped clean up the rest of the floor.
This makes a HUGE mess..... prep your space, and wear goggles and a respirator.
Think, giant dust cloud inside your house.
 In the entry way we used plastic and tape, to block the upstairs from getting covered with the dust.

As far as the wall  goes, instead of trying to salvage the drywall, we just cut out the messy stuff, and replaced it. As you can see here below, only a little bit was showing. You don't need to be, or need to hire a professional drywall person here, it's very simple. I used a putty knife to fill in the new drywall area with a thicker than normal layer of joint compound ( you can but it in small quart tubs), covering a bit over the exsisitng wall as well. After drying, I gave it a good sand, and used a can of spray texture to lightly cover the area. We did repair the wall, before attaching the mantel to the wall. For the texture, you can try it on a piece of cardboard until you get a heaviness close to your existing wall. 

I knew I didn't want the mantel to be the solid white, like it was...but you never know what you will find underneath. I took a heavy gel stripper, and tried it on the side of the mantel at the bottom. Putting enough on to get through any layers of paint. It looked like it had only ever been a cream, and a white. So I went ahead and distressed the whole thing. I wanted it to look old, since we were going to all the trouble to install an old mantel. You could just paint it a solid color, but I wanted to see the age. I took the same heavy duty gel stripper, and worked in small areas at a time, just brushing enough on to cover the surface, then with a metal putty knife, I scraped away at it slowly. Not adding enough gel, and not pushing hard enough to take off all of the paint. I wasn't trying to get to solid wood here. My father in law was in town, and was a huge help at getting the paint off. Once it was to a look I liked, I took some sandpaper to it, just to clean up the surface, not to take off an paint. I took a tiny bit of stain to the decorative piece in the middle since the wood didn't have the same tone as the mantel itself. It was much lighter. This just enhanced it a bit so it didn't blend in. 

Once the mantel was attached and the walls were painted, you would think the piece was built with the home. If the mantel doesn't fit perfectly to your fireplace, you can always add a bit of wood, or molding to make it cohesive. 

Our theme to the house was a farm-house, meets beach-house. So we used a good mix of the two. Not all of our pieces we added were meant to be there for ever. Some, like our tv cabinet, were a temporary fix and didn't fit either theme. 

I'm a big fab of a full mantel space. Not everyone would agree, but I think you can get into a space not looking proportionate, or to simple with nothing on it. So I pile all sorts of old books, and beachy decor on. I had revamped this mantel probably 10 times in two years. The mirror was a generic mirror from Hobby Lobby, that I painted in a navy, and added a glaze to. 

LOVE this lantern, I found it at Target a few years ago, and loved the frosted lettering on the glass, and the galvanized look of it. I filled the inside with driftwood, instead of your typical candle. 

This sponge was one of my most favorite finds ever. Strangely from a restaurant gift shop at the coast...but I had to have it. I love the shape, though it is quite large, and was hard to find a spot for.  Using old nostalgic books (off clearance section) from the used book store, is the perfect way to prop up items, and give a varied height to a mantel. You don't want everything on the same level. 

This beautiful crock held some "faux" firewood. 

Since the living room was open all the way through to the kitchen, none of the pieces could be very heavy in color or pattern. Otherwise the room starts to feel heavy on one side or the other. Since we went with a white on the cabinets, we kept the large sectional sofa (from Ikea) in a similar color. This is by far the cheapest slip covered sectional you will ever find, at around $800. It has been comfy and has held up great. I would have loved a white (bleach-able) but my husband vetoed that from the get go.  We had a more formal linen colored slipcover before, and had just changed over to this softer, actual linen fabric cover. 

Our coffee table was made some time ago, inspired from a Ballard Designs table. We bought some old barn wood, and I cleaned it up, distressed it, and sealed it. Originally, I had made a wood frame base, and painted it to look like metal. When we moved into the house, the movers destroy the base, so we had a friend of my husbands makes us one out of steel. Painted it again, in an aged bronze finish. Costing less than $80 for the whole thing.

Window treatments can get expensive, so I just used yards of this red striped linen fabric. From Renees Fabrics on Etsy.

Hemming the tops, bottoms, and sides of each panel. I didn't really want them to close since we had blinds, so I made them to be thin panels.  

The chair and ottoman are also Ikea, with the red striped cover.
 Some antique boat paintings, done by family members, hang above the chair.

Since there wasn't much space by the chair for a side table, I used an antique metal milk jug as a spot to rest a glass. 

You can see how the space is just one long narrow room. So you have to be conscious of each piece, and how it balances the whole room out. I love a white base, and adding in pops of color. It makes it easy to change up the room, when your style or color choices change. We used lots of reds, and blues throughout our home. 

The floor was obviously the biggest change in the space, and unified the whole lower level. 

We have two small dogs, and instead of using a traditional dog bed in the space, I made them a custom bed. I found this antique wood wagon, at an antique store. What made this piece so great was that the sides came off, each panel, individually. 
My husband thought I was nuts when I brought it home!!
 He took off the wheels, and we added a 4"x4" block of wood to each side, where the wheels were previously attached. I gave them a quick wash of stain to match the rest of the wood. I took off one panel so they could get in and out of it. 

For the bed, I used a 1' thick piece of foam, cut to the size of the bottom. I found a kind sized pillow case, in a color similar to the wood. The case fit almost perfectly so I just left it as it was. Super easy to take it off and wash it. 
The dogs love it!!

There you have it...our farm-house meets beach-house styled living room!!


  1. Yay! SO glad you are writing again. I have missed it so soo much! Love how you keep me creative as I see what you are doing. Keep on writing, gal. You are so talented. xoxo

  2. I LOVE your house. It is so beautiful!