Sunday, June 16, 2019

My New Living Room: From Dark and Dated to Light and Modern

I know, surprise, surprise!  So many of you thought you would never see this post.  I started this new redecorating project of my living room WAY back in February with this Inspirational Post.  In that post I shared inspirational pictures of what I hoped the room would like and also what I wanted the purposes of the room to be.  However, everything took a lot longer than we thought it would (we waited a month and a half just for our furniture to arrive!) and we had one frustrating issue after another.  It truly was a re-decorating nightmare!  In the end, I did not get everything on my wish list, but overall I'm pleased with the room.  Let's begin our tour and I'll tell you all about it!  First, here is the "Before" picture.  It was a very dated, dark, small, cluttered room.


And here is the "AFTER" picture taken from the exact same spot as the "BEFORE" picture.  What a difference, eh? Looking at these pictures it's hard to believe it's the same room.   It is no longer a dark, cluttered space.  Now it is open, bright, and cheerful.


The most obvious difference is the wall color and new floor.  Gone is the dark, blue-green color on the walls and gold/brown rug.  The wall color was replaced with "Colonial White" in a semi gloss.  The ceiling and trim were painted in Ultra White High Gloss.  Because my house is over 100 years old, there are a lot of small rooms.  When I first purchased my house 20 years ago, I painted all the rooms dark colors because HGTV said it would make my small rooms "cozier".  Ugh!  Big mistake!  It only made the small rooms even smaller and darker.  Light colors, especially whites, open up and brighten a room!  

Finding furniture for this tiny room was a challenge as it not only is very small, but there is virtually NO wall space.  I think I went to every furniture store in town and looked on-line,  and I just could not find anything that I liked or would fit.  Finally, out of total exhaustion and frustration, I just "settled" and purchased a recliner and a leather chair.  The leather chair did not work in the room at all so we moved it to another room.  Even though we measured before we went shopping, once the chair was in the room it just seemed too dark and heavy and overwhelmed the space.  (You can see the leather chair in this post HERE if your interested).  The recliner on the other hand, I didn't mind.  The fabric had a pretty sheen to it, and it seemed to fit the corner nicely.  Although it's not my preferred style of furniture,  it's very practical, especially as I age.  It is also a "Heat & Massage" recliner, which is a big bonus to me.  I can't tell you how many times I've enjoyed sitting in this chair after a long day in the garden!

To lighten up the dark chair a bit, I added a pretty throw by Vera Wang to the back of it.  The pillow is one of my old gold pillows that I just covered with a silver pillow cover from Hobby Lobby.  Pillow covers are the most economical way to update old pillows.  They cost half as much as a pillow.  This one only cost around $2.50 because I purchased it during a half-off sale.

Once we knew we were keeping the recliner in this room, the next issue was a table to put drinks on and hold our remotes.  A table would not fit in any practical spot near the recliner where one could easily reach for their drinks.  So my husband built this floating shelf out of distressed shelving.    I also needed a place to store all our extra blankets, so I added this basket from Home Goods.

It was very important to me to not have anything in this room that doesn't serve a purpose (except for my one small corner of knick knacks, which you will see when you read on).  I really wanted it to be easy and quick to clean.

I added a basket to the top of the shelf to hold all our remotes, my eyeglasses, and hand lotion.  Now everything I need is at easy reach, yet out of site.  A pretty orchid arrangement from TJMaxx completed the look.

Once all the heavy drapes of the old room were removed we marveled at all the beautiful sunlight in the room.  Why did we ever have the windows so covered up before?  The room has a southern exposure and great views of the garden below.  At first we we weren't going to have any drapes on the windows at all.  My husband put more trim on the windows and we wanted the large windows, and the light and view to be seen.  But after I lived in the room awhile, I felt the room was incomplete without window treatments.  So we just put one white panel on each end of the windows.  This way, the window frame, and the view, can still be seen.

This window faces east and has the most gorgeous morning sunlight.  My husband surprised me and said a hanging plant would look great in this window.  I was surprised because he normally doesn't let me put real plants in any room but the sun room.  He thinks the water spills ruins floors and furniture.  But I found a ceramic hanging pot from Ross that does not have holes on the bottom so it won't leak.  The plant sits in a plastic liner inside the ceramic pot.  The macrame plant holder I found on Amazon for less than $10.00.  I love that macrame is making a comeback, don't you?

The bead board ceiling and wood stove area were left unchanged other than fresh coats of paint.  The inspirational picture is from Hobby Lobby.  We did change the sconces from the gold "funeral parlor style" ones we had before to these Tuscan beauties.

View from southern window.

In the corner opposite the recliner, next to the wood stove,  I created a little reading corner.  After wasting a lot of money on furniture, I could not bring myself to try again, so I just slip covered my old wing back chair.  Yes folks, that's a slipcover.  They don't make them like they use to!  I had a friend over to the house last week, and she couldn't believe this was a slipcover.  She thought I bought  a brand new chair.  I purchased it for $50.00 on sale from SureFit.  It's like I got a whole new chair for only $50.00!!!!!

The slipcover is a stretchy jacquard damask material.  It forms beautifully to the chair and is secured underneath with Velcro straps.  I chose blue instead of white or grey because even though "all white everything" is "in" my husband and I both like a little contrast between the furniture and the wall.  Blue, especially this color of blue, is very trendy right now in home decor too.  To keep with the modern trend of "all white everything" I simply added a white pillow and throw to the chair.
The white pillow (Home Goods) and crochet throw (vintage) soften the blue and help blend it just a bit to the all white room without losing the color.

When I initially designed the room, I wasn't going to have any rug in the room at all.  One reason is that we loved the new floor so much, we didn't want to cover it up.  The second reason is that this is such a high traffic room because you have to walk through this room to get to the upstairs bedrooms.  Any rug we ever put in this room before always got worn very quickly.  But, my husband and I both felt the reading corner needed be distinguished from the rest of the room and what better way to do that than to anchor it with a rug.  The round rug was a perfect choice, because it never gets stepped on  when walking across the room to get to the staircase.  I purchased it from Amazon.  The colors go great with the room colors.

This is a view looking down into the room from the staircase.  Some of my readers may remember me writing about the footstool.  I love the crochet footstool.  I feel it adds a contemporary touch to the room and needs to stay to balance out all the more traditional elements.  My husband on the other hand hates it and wants it to go.  But it's past the point of no return now, so it's staying!  At least, until it's worn or I find a better one for a good price.  When shopping for footstools, I was shocked at how expensive they were.  I found this one at TJMaxx for $40.00.

As always, I had the hardest time finding a table and lamp for this room.  Every time I redecorate a room, these two items are always the most difficult for me to find.  I couldn't stomach spending hundreds of dollars for an end table;  especially the ones that were heavily distressed and looked like they came from a rummage sale.   So I hit my local thrift store and found this one for $25.00.  I'm trying to decide whether I should chalk paint and distress it.  My hubby and daughter both say "no" but my friend says "yes".  What are your thoughts?

The lamp I purchased at Ross for $15.00.  I liked the neutral color and burlap shade.  I framed one of my favorite pictures of Alethea and I with a new frame from Kirklands.  The color and style of the frame went perfect with the boho look I have going on in the room.  The colors in the picture also go well with the rest of the room decor.  Two baskets were added, one for the top of the shelf and one to hold magazines on the lower shelf.  And lastly, I added a coaster to protect the table top surface.

This picture was the only item left from the previous room.  I thought the design and colors went beautifully with the new decor so I kept it.  I simply moved it from the opposite wall to above the wing back chair.

Right side view of living room as seen from inside the adjoining dining room.  In addition to painting living room "Colonial White" this winter,  I also painted the dining room and office the same color.  The office is right next to the dining room (not shown in this post.  I will do another post showing all three rooms later).  I love how my semi-open floor plan seems even more open now just because all three rooms are painted the same color.

Left side view of living room as seen from dining room

I really wanted to keep this room clutter free and minimally decorated as possible.  I didn't want a lot of nick knacks that I have to dust.  As I have been going around my house, updating and redecorating rooms,   I try to keep my old age in mind.  I want the flow to be unrestricted, nothing to trip over,  and I want the rooms to be easy to clean.  But when all was said and done, this room seemed a little too minimalist to me.  So I went and bought this corner shelf from Hobby Lobby ($55.00) and filled it with just a few nick knacks.  There use to be a round table in this corner, which really tightened up the space.  The corner shelf on the other hand, is so minuscule, that it still allow plenty of room for foot traffic at the stair case landing.  And, I have a little spot for my nick knacks.  What can I say?  A Granny has to have a spot for her nick knacks.

On the top shelf,  I put a modern blue glass vase (Home Goods $5.00).  On the second shelf I placed a Dollar Store bird canvas on an easel and then I added a succulent planter that I made myself.  The third shelf is a picture of our entire family at my daughter's wedding.  I thought the teal dress I was wearing coordinated perfectly with the other blues in the room.  I then added a teal vase with white faux flowers next to it.  I painted the vase teal myself (post coming soon).  The bottom shelf was a tricky one as it is so close to the floor I couldn't put anything breakable on it.  When I found this lantern at Aldi for around $6.00 I thought it was perfect for the spot.

View of living room as seen from back wall of dining room.

View of living room as seen from staircase landing.

I really needed a TV in this room as it is right off the kitchen.  Often when cooking, I like to sit down and watch TV when something is in the oven or simmering on the stove.  The other living space is too far away for that.  So, we then mulled over how to put a TV in such a small, awkward space.  It used to be in the corner, where the wing back chair is now.  But I never really liked it there because of the windows.  So we decided to move it and put it between the two windows.  The size of the TV fit perfect there.  At first, we we were going to purchase a new entertainment center.  We couldn't just put the TV on the wall because we have components.  But again, price sticker shock affected me.  I just can't believe how much furniture costs these days, can you?  So I started looking at thrift stores for something I could alter.  But then hubby said "Why do we need an entertainment center?  We don't need the storage for Cd's or videos anymore.  All we need is a way to hold our components."  So he came up with this ingenious idea of creating another floating shelf.  The TV sits on the top shelf, and the components sit on the second shelf. We hung a black cloth to hide the cords and the rest of the cords inside the molding on the lower left window.  The window curtain covers up the bottom portion of the cords that go into the basement.

It was a brilliant idea!  The floating shelf has a clean, modern look, yet, the distressed wood shelving keeps with the character of the house.  Above the TV I hung a boho style architectural piece.  We felt something was missing above the TV but we didn't want to put a real picture there because we felt it would compete for attention with the TV.  Because it is white, and blends with the wall, the architectural pieces fills the space without overwhelming it.

And before I close, I should also mention we replaced our old stair case runner with a new one.  I had to go through old post archives to find a picture, as I forgot to take one.  But that's OK because now I have my precious Alethea in a picture!  The new runner is a beautiful grey and white with flecks of blue in it.  It matches the round rug very well.

Well, that's it.  Sorry it took me four months to post the final results but we had a lot of struggles, frustrations, and waiting periods till it was all done.  Even though the room didn't exactly turn out like my dreams,  I'm pretty pleased with it.  What do you think?

Summary of Room Remodel Costs:

Flooring:                                                                                                                                    $500.00

Paint:  Free, with rebates

Lighting:                                                                                                                                     $75.00

Rug and Runner:                                                                                                                         $125.00                  

Furniture:  (I'm not including the cost of the leather chair as we did not use it in this room)  $525.00

Wood For Shelves, Trim:                                                                                                            $125.00

Window Treatments:                                                                                                                    $50.00

Decorations:                                                                                                                                 $245.00

Grand Total:                                                                                                                           $1645.00

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!


  1. Love how it turned out!! I'm glad you didn't go with all white! The furniture piece from the thrift store looks great and I personally would leave it as is. I think it's a nice contrast next to the blue chair.
    The floating shelves are such a great idea! And love how you mentioned you only wanted things that serve a purpose in this room. I really need to remember that and start getting rid of things that are useless.
    Alethea is such a cutie!!

    1. Thanks Ellie! Yes, less clutter is the way to go. It makes life easier.

  2. What a transformation! Your living space is so airy and bright! Love the beadboard ceiling above the wood stove!

    Jill - Doused in Pink

    1. Thank you. The entire room has bead board ceiling, not just the wood stove area.

  3. It sure is beautiful now! You really lightened up the space a lot.

  4. aww...amazing.... how the room turned out....
    Lovely interior designs

  5. It looks beautiful! Love the reading corner! So fresh and airy now. Nice job!

    1. Thank you! I love that description "Fresh and Airy"!

  6. Thanks so much for linking up at the #UnlimitedMonthlyLinkParty 1! Pinned ♥

  7. What an amazing transformation. It is beautiful, great job!!
    Blessings, Nellie

  8. Perfection. I wasn't sure whether this was your living room or a little parlor of sorts until I read on to discover how you use it. I love how open it feels, how uncluttered and light. You have me looking at my camel colored walls and wishing I could wave a wand to lighten them. And might even try removing the curtains/drapes from the living areas. The sun is so bright though that our furniture is fading where the light is able to stream in.

    Beautiful space, Amy. Well done on keeping the budget reasonable, too.

    1. It's probably more of a "little parlor of sorts", but I call it my living room. I have a far more spacious room in another part of our home that I call a "family room". That's where we all go for family gatherings, tv watching, etc. I wish I had a wand to paint rooms too. I spent the entire winter painting! It's so hard painting an old home, there are so many intricate moldings and details. I get what you mean about the sun fading furniture. The recliner is no where near where the sun hits, so I don't have to worry about that. The wing chair is, but it's a slipcover, so if the sun fades it, I just buy a new slipcover. I do have this issue in my sun room. I have to keep a blanket over the back of the furniture to keep the sun from fading it.

  9. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!! I wish I had discovered that colonial white color before I redid my living room. The color I ended up buying or thought I was buying ended up being way darker in our living room. (Note to self, never paint unless you swatch it first!) lol.

    I LOVE the painting that you kept from the original room. It really does go so nice with new color scheme.

    Thanks for sharing. Your house is lovely. :-)

    1. Thanks so much! Painting a room can be so frustrating. The color on the paint card can look so different in a room than it does on a paint card. Even if you do a swatch, it's still different when the whole room is painted that color. It's so hard to tell.

  10. I've lived in a lot of dreary places so I know how amazing and life-changing a makeover like this can be! Congrats on doing an incredible job - excited to share that you are one of our Featured Guests at Inspire Me Monday at Create With Joy this week! :-)


Thank you for leaving a comment. I love feedback from my readers. If you have a blog, I always return the love by visiting within a week whoever leaves a comment.