Today I wanted to share pictures of my living room makeover. The room is on the front of the house and before we even moved in I had it painted white with pale pink ceilings. (Continue reading below for the full story.)
The paint made such a difference! We moved our furniture in and lived with it but the layout wasn’t really working. Every few months I would work on it a little bit but the whole process has been pretty slow. I thought I would go through each challenge below and talk about the process.
Problem #1: NEW, BIGGER SOFA. The first decision I made was to get this green sofa. The one we had felt a little small for this room and I had owned it for 6 years and it felt a little dated to me. The green sofa felt like a splurge but it really is the sofa of my dreams and I haven’t regretted it. It took three months to have it made (a lifetime!) but I love the color and it’s very comfortable. The clean lines on it make it feel fresh to me and even though I have a bad habit of buying and selling sofas I think I’ll stay with this one a long time. The art above the sofa is fine for the time being but I’m still looking for something else. I think proportion-wise it needs something bigger. I’m hoping I find the perfect thing at a flea market or I was going to commission an artist (or my own husband!) to do something that would fit.
Problem #2: THE SPACES NEXT TO THE MANTLE. I felt like bookshelves made sense next to the mantle but I couldn’t find anything the right size. I wanted some sort of credenza at the bottom for storage and to hide unsightly things like camera storage or cable boxes. I saw Victoria’s awesome bookshelf and thought maybe I would have something custom made. In the end the quotes I was getting were around $10K which was not in the budget. Then I saw this DIY Fauxdenza made from Ikea cabinets and I figured I could add some Ikea shelves and the measurements seemed just right. We had to hack the shelving part a bit because it was 2″ too long but it worked! I liked the solution of the shelving on both sides of the mantle because it added symmetry to the room and it also made the tv blend in a little more. It is so nice to have some shelving and storage in that space and we were able to do the whole thing for a few hundred dollars with materials all from Ikea.
Problem #3: BAY WINDOWS The biggest problem of the layout of the room was the bay windows. They’re beautiful and I love the architectural details but I tried all sorts of furniture in the space and nothing worked. It felt like all the space was being wasted and when you looked at it something felt wrong. I just didn’t know what the answer was. I scoured photos online for solutions and could not figure it out. One thing I considered was a custom sofa but I was worried about how expensive they are and about the risk (I’ve seen lots of custom sofas that came out looking strange.) Once you make them there are no returns and I wasn’t even sure if I would like how it looked anyway. It seemed to risky for me so I continued buying random cheap furniture from the Flea Market and trying to see if it worked any better. After a few months I just felt confused. I texted my friend Jenny from Little Green Notebook with a picture of the bay windows and said “What do I do here? I’m stuck! I’m thinking of a custom sofa but I am too scared.” She sent over a picture reference from Pinterest and it was PERFECT! I couldn’t believe how easy that was. I wished I had texted her earlier! When I could see a photograph it was way easier for me to visualize it in my own space and I knew it would look great.
Once I had a plan I emailed Clad Home who does custom sofas based in LA. They had me make a paper cut out of the exact dimensions of the Bay Window nook and mail it to them. From there they did a sketch and then a CAD Drawing and they mailed me swatches so I could see the fabric in person and choose the right one. I measured three times and compared it to the plans just to make sure it would fit. It was scary and I had to be talked down a few times before I actually pulled the trigger. The sofa cost $1200 which I thought was a really amazing price for a custom sofa. At the last moment I added some down filling to the order so it would look and feel “fuller” so the price went up a few hundred dollars more. In about 6 weeks they delivered my sofa to me and it was perfect! It was EXACTLY what we needed. The room all of a sudden felt bigger and the layout finally felt “right.” It’s funny to me how a big part of design is just problem solving and trying out different options until it works. I bought extra fabric and had my friend Madina Aryeh make me some pretty custom drapes from the same fabric. (I had printed her some letterpress cards a while back so we did a little trade.) I felt like such a grown up getting custom furniture and drapes made! There are always little things I’d like to switch out in the room but It feels good to have it mostly figured out and it is my favorite room in our house.
Sources: Black Sofa – Custom (from Clad Home), Green Sofa – Room & Board, Rug – Vintage (from Morocco), Green Pillow – Furbish, Drapes: Custom (from Madina Aryeh), Coffee Table – Ikea (no longer available, similar here), Yellow Chair – Vintage, Floor Lamp – Vintage, Shelving – Ikea, Brass planter – eBay, Stool – Vintage (from Book/Shop), Shelving – Ikea
Photos by Paul Ferney for Oh Happy Day