Living Room Reveal

You probably have one of those rooms in your house that was OK a few years ago and you frankly haven’t given it another thought since then. That was my living room. When we moved into our house ten years ago (a record for us as the most time ever spent in one home) the room had mustard yellow walls. Mister liked them and I though they were fine. Our grand piano took up most of the room but we threw some bookshelves in there as well as some mismatched wingback chairs. I found some lovely striped silk fabric (dirt cheap!) a few years ago and made some curtains and that was that. And then one day last year I walk past that living room and saw it for what it was: a really ugly room. It was dark and drab and screamed 2003 with the earthy colors.

I instantly knew what I wanted it to look like. The look I wanted just fell into my head. Grey,black and white with emerald green accents. The guitar we have is exactly the color I wanted. I even brought it along to the fabric store when I was trying to find a matching green for the throw pillows.

Anyway I thought about the look I wanted for the living room for about 60 seconds then I got in my car and went straight to Home Depot to buy paint. I painted the entire room and ceiling within a couple of days. What was shaping up to be the quickest and easiest room redo ended up taking almost a year to finish. My budget didn’t want to cooperate and my decorating projects were vexed at every turn.  And then life just got in the way.

But I persevered! And now I have a living room that makes me smile instead of cringe. Technically it’s more of a music room. I play the harp and several of the kids play the piano or guitar or both. There’s also a hammered dulcimer which is usually in its case because it’s quite large. And some ukeleles. And a violin. Like I said, it’s a music room. It also doubles as a library where most of my and Mister’s books are kept. (The kids’ books are all kept in their rooms). The best cell phone reception in the house is in here too, so the chairs come in extra handy for having juicy conversations.

I am a stickler for getting the best price and great deals, and this room is kind of an ode to that. These hideous chairs are from Craig’s List.  I’m just praying that brown and beige never come back into style but I know they probably will. Sigh.

I refinished the wood with chalk paint then reupholstered the chairs with a jaunty black and white buffalo checked fabric. And I sewed some new curtains and throw pillows too.

The fabric for the curtains and the chairs was a little too stark white when it arrived in the mail. I had gotten swatches but you can only tell so much from a 4″x4″ scrap of fabric. The moulding and the book cases in the room are a much warmer white. They looked awful with the fabric. Which meant a couple of hours of me stirring 15 yards of fabric around a bathtub full of hot tea to bring the fabric to a warmer shade of white (the black was unaffected by the tea treatment). Quite a pain but the fabric was less than $9 per yard so it was worth the extra effort.

Et voilà! The white on the fabric looks perfect with all the white wood in the room. The cowhide rug ended up matching beautifully too. It was another of my Craig’s List steals. The gold side table was a clearance find at Target for $30.

Lamps are quite a budge buster. How can they cost so much? They all come from Chinese factories so it’s not like you’re paying for superb craftsmanship.  There was a lamp online that I fell in love with that was green and gold but it cost over $400. For one stupid lamp! Fortunately Hobby Lobby and a can of spray paint came to my rescue.

Here’s the lamp I bought for about $45 at HobLobs. Nice shape but I find plain white pretty boring.

Here it is after I took some paint to it (I even painted the lampshade because why the heck not?):

Here’s something I learned about gold paint during this redo: It’s pretty crappy. Gold craft paint (the stuff in the smallish plastic bottles that are less than $2 at any craft store) is dull and lusterless and lacks any real panache.  Instead I opted for “liquid gold leafing” for the lamp which I found at HobLobs in the gold leafing section. It smells absolutely hideous but it covers divinely and has a shine that is unrivaled by plain old paint.

I also used authentic gold leaf on the planter. Well, not real gold because that’s expensive. But whatever the sheets are made of that look like gold. Again, Hobby Lobby has the best selection I found. I was able to change the planter that I found at Target, which I loved the shape of, but was made of ever-so-boring unfinished wood . . .

. . . to this!

I was really looking for texture and shine; gold leafing beats paint, hands down. It’s a true pain to work with but whatever. An artist has to suffer for her art.

The prints on this wall are from a superb and very affordable photographer on Etsy named Day Three Creations. I had them framed in some scratch and dent frames I found at the Pottery Outlet for less than $25 each. They were white originally but a quick can of blackish bronze spray paint added some drama. I love the extra bit of style the shape of the frames add to the wall.

All in all, I think this room was worth the wait. It’s a place my kids love to hang out in, whether they are practicing their piano or playing instruments with friends. Or just trying to stay out of my way so I don’t assign extra chores to them.

P.S. It goes without saying that the bookshelves are from Ikea. Because that’s where cheap people shop.

P.P.S. Don’t ask what color I used for the walls. It’s a grey I made up when all the samples of grey that I got from the store weren’t quite right. I mixed a few of them up until I got a result I liked, then took it to Home Depot to be color matched.


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