Decorating : The Formal Living Room Update

October 5, 2011 00:59 by ehouston

I know it seems like all the posts recently are about decorating, and well, they are!  I have been working to change the things I can change in each room and/or finish smaller projects that have been lingering for what seems like an eternity.  In the case of our formal living room, we are simply neglecting the space.  It’s a pretty basic room at 11 feet by 14 feet, with two large windows looking onto the front yard and nice wide crown molding.  There are a couple of issues with this space, though, the main one being the two large passageways on either end.  They make for a great flow right into the formal areas when guests arrive, but they leave the formal living room with only two walls for furniture placement.  I guess that’s really no big deal since we don’t spend a ton of time in there, but it has made decorating this room feel awkward.  Below are some before shots of how we had things laid out.


In the shot above, you can see a typical formal living room set up with the couch along the main wall, flanked by side tables and matching lamps.  Yawn.


Opposite the couch is a pair of wood framed chairs with coordinating blue cushions and a side table that matches the tables on either side of the couch.  For filler, and lack of a better place to locate them, I added our vintage black metal display shelves on the little wall in between the front windows and the chairs.  As seen in the far right corner of the photo above is the angled bookshelf, also a vintage metal piece, acting as another display shelf/table.  You can also see the other problem with this space- lack of good light.


Here is another shot of the chair side from the dining room.  You can see I also added a couple of vintage black metal magazine racks, a vintage wood and metal floor lamp and our vintage Seth Thomas wood panel clock. 


This view of the couch side, from the dining room, shows another angle of yet another vintage black metal shelf.  This mini shelf holds our funky metal flying pig made of old oil drums.  In the center of the room is a wood slat coffee table that extends at each end to give as much or as little tabletop space as needed.  You can also see the old, smaller rug in these shots.  This was the set up we lived with up until the beginning of September 2011.  All pieces in this room are vintage, modern and out of synch with the rest of our 1992 Colonial style home in the burbs.  However, I actually don’t mind having furniture that does not seem to go with the rest of the home.  I always feel that if you like a piece you can make it work.  It may take time, but eventually things will start to mesh and mingle well with each other.

There are many changes we look forward to making in this room.  First, will be to change the paint from purpley-brown to something in the grey/blue-grey family and to paint the dingy cream trim to bright white.  We have already switched out the rug for a pale, steely blue little number that now fits the scale of the room.  Next on the list is to buy or create some chunky side tables to flank the couch since this space is all legs right now.  I would also like to sell the vintage ceramic lamps from the 1950’s and possibly add something in clear or seeded glass instead.  I will know those when I see them, I think.  I am also strongly considering a tone-on-tone mural for the main wall and hope to pull something decent together soon.  In the mean time I wanted to share the recent updates that have happened in there.

After taking the room to this…


….for the Little Guy’s 2nd birthday bash, I decided to hold off on putting all the furniture back in their original spots for a few days.  For a while now I have been hoping to find two skinny display cabinets, with glass doors, to put on either side of the opening from the formal living room to the formal dining room.  Unfortunately, most glass display cases are not very tall, are to wide and usually not my design taste, so no luck with those finds yet.  For now, I thought that I could make better use of the vintage black metal shelves that we already “use” in that space.  I say “use” because they were mainly in there just to take up space and so they would not be getting dusty in the attic.  I never intended for those pieces to stay in that room for this long, but that’s what happens sometimes when your design tastes don’t match your design budget.  ;o)

This time around the two vintage metal shelves went back into the room in the little bit of wall space on either side of the passage to the dining room. 






Even though each shelf is different in width and height, visually they seem a little closer in size when balanced with the framed photos and other pieces from our travels.  I also tried to move the display items on the top shelves to roughly the same height as each other.  The black and white photos spent their early years hanging above the couch in the family room prior to being nixed in favor of the Little Guy’s 1 year portraits.  They are shots from vacations that I had blown up to 8 X 10 size and then placed in metal frames from Target that already had white mats.  Below the photos I reworked some of our display items into the collections on the shelves and pulled some more things out of storage. 



I was also able to use the smallest of the vintage metal shelves as a plant stand in one of the opposite corners of the room, which looks much more proportioned than it did before as a flying pig stand.  I eased the chairs together a bit to balance that wall, as well and placed the floor lamp in between for reading.  It’s hard to tell from the shot above, but that green glass blob is a really cool elephant sculpture that I found at the Sal. Army a few weeks ago for only $3.99.  Not sure if it’s old or new, just thought it was neat looking and a nice color.



There are still a bunch of changes on the horizon, but for now we are really enjoying the new view of our collections and more balance and cohesion in the formal living room.  It’s amazing what moving your things around can do for a space.  Now we will just have to figure out where we are going to put the Christmas tree this time around!

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It’s A Girl!

February 3, 2011 08:50 by ehouston

Just kidding.  No more babies for now.  I am talking about my new furniture baby, though.  Finally, after years of searching I found the perfect dining room table and chair set.  Right before I met The Mister I acquired the teak dining room hutch that you all have seen in many of our recently DIY’d dining room pictures. 


During all these years together, I have been on a search for a Danish Modern dining set to match…even though we have never had a dining room in any place we have ever lived.  I know, I’m crazy.  I just knew that one day I wanted a dining room and I thought it would be nice to have all the pieces in a similar style.

Well flash forward about 13 years and I find myself window shopping with a friend at the beginning of January.  This is not a time that I spend money.  In fact, I always try to plan out our Christmas spending so well that we can hit the sales at the beginning of the next year, but things have yet to go my way in that area of organization.  So here we were just taking some mom time, alone, to check out a few of the consignment shops around our area, when we stumbled upon it.  “It” being the perfect little round table with cute corded chairs.  They had it set up as a little reading area, but the split down the middle of the table caught my eye.  I realized this table potentially had matching leaves and it could be “the one”. 

Sure enough, the table had not just one, but two leaves, opened to eight feet and had six chairs!  There is definitely a lot of restoration work that needs to take place before this new furniture baby is brought back to its former glory and we will need to find two end chairs to have decent seating for eight.  Also, several of the chair seats have seen better days, but I could not pass up the cheap price.  I found this set, which ended up having a seventh chair hiding in the warehouse, for $400 bones!  That’s right, my entire dining room furniture set (table and chairs, refurbished bar and vintage hutch) comes in at a whopping, wait for it…..$545.00!  Yeah, that’s right!  It’s high five time for the budget!


I definitely have some work to do and I have been surfing the web and sending out emails to different Danish furniture sites for help with the best way to refinish everything.  So far it sounds like a cheap and easy fix with just a lot of elbow grease involved.  The only thing I am sort of fearing at the moment is reworking the cords on a couple of the chair seats.  Several have just a broken string or two (See Below) and I know with a little patience I can fix those, but one in particular looks like it was hit with a weedwacker.  I may have to breakdown and pay for it to be made whole.  I don’t know yet.



This room is finally coming together in a way that makes all of us very happy.  The Mister likes that we have a functioning space, the Little Guy loves running circles around the dining set and I am happy my search is finally over.  Whew!

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Freaky Baby Styley!

March 12, 2009 08:01 by ehouston

With one on the way, my current obsession revolves around outfitting our little one in total style.  So far, this kid is going to end up being way more hip than his parents.  My furniture style tastes tend toward the mod, or at least the retro modern (as in Danish style furnishings from the 40's-60's).  The real issue I am dealing with is that I love....I mean LOVE several "on the high end" necessities that are just outrageously expensive (at least to me).  I have tried.  I have looked and looked online.  I have attempted to find knock-offs and even sought out a builder that would create what I want but on the cheap.  Unfortunately, I cannot find the quality or look for my thrift store budget (and frugal nature).  Now, I know you are thinking....the kid doesn't care what his bed, stroller, highchair, etc looks like...why do you care so much?  Well, I figure that if I have to look at and use this stuff for years I want it to grow with the kid and I want to at least enjoy having it in my home.  I am just not the Winnie the Pooh, Precious Moments, (insert your love to hate favorite baby room theme here) kind of mom.  So, I have succumbed.  Second job, here I come!  I have done my due diligence and now I just have to save.  I figure if I don't eat for the next couple of months I can have all the pieces on my wish list within no time at all.  :-D

Month one at crappy retail job should produce the crib money:

My dream crib by Stokke.

If I had all the money in the world I would get this bassinet and just the crib above, but alas, I don't have all the money in the world.  :0(

Nest Bassinet by Ooba.

Month number two at crappy retail job should set us up with the high chair.

Convertible High Chair by Stokke.  Do you see a theme running here?

It will probably take months number three and four to afford this baby, so I am still working on an alternative.

It's so cute with it's Red Cross attitude.  Stroller by Bugaboo.

After all of this, I will probably immediately start freaking out about college.  Third job I'm looking for you now!


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