Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Living Room Makeover

When we first moved into our new house, the living room drove me batty. The far end of the room has a large brick fireplace. It made the room feel dark. It seemed like it was in a constant standoff with the tv for attention. And most importantly, it was not centered on the wall! Dude. Where's my symmetry?

No matter what I did, I just couldn't get the furniture arrangement to look right. So I did what all people of my generation do when faced with an epic dilemma. I turned to Google. Thus began many nights spent pouring over blogs, forums, and interior design websites. I learned new words like "focal point." I became embroiled in the fascinatingly divisive issue of tv placement over the fireplace versus tv placement not over the fireplace. Turns out this issue is as divisive as how to replace a roll of toilet paper (over or under?!). Basically, for a long, long time, furniture arrangement consumed me. It was the biggest and most pressing problem in my life (first world problems). I would wake up pondering the dauntingly unsolvable puzzle of where to put the couch and fall asleep arranging all my actual and nonexistent furniture in my head.

This is what I had to work with. 


A big pile of ew. The ew was so great, I didn't even know where to begin. My furniture was (obviously) purchased to fit my old house and just didn't seem to work in the new place. At least not in a way that I could envision. Nothing seemed to fit. It was like an absurd and unwinnable game of furniture Tetris. 

My living room in it's awkward, teenage stage:

Hey living room, there's a pimple on your forehead. Oh nevermind. That's just a visually cumbersome couch. 

I was kind of stumped for a while so I decided to let go of furniture placement and do something bold. For several weeks I had played with the idea of white washing that dark brick. So I just went for it! It was scary at first. I mean, when you go white, you go white. You can't dip your toe in and test the waters. You have to put your big girl panties on and straight-up commit. 

I initially tried to white wash the brick using 50% paint and 50% water. I read so many "before and after" blog posts that made the whole process seem so easy. But it was much harder than the pictures showed (or I'm just unusually inept at white washing brick, which could totally be the case. I'll just add it to the list of other important things I cannot do, like roll my "r's," eat anchovies, and say "facetious"). After one coat of white wash, my fireplace just looked....weird. "Hey, I like your fireplace. Is it intentionally blotchy or did a giant seagull have explosive diarrhea in here?" So I ended up doing three coats of the white wash and in the end it just looked white. Next time, I'll just do my whole family (who had to listen to me complain about my sore painting hand and swear over my excessive paint spillage for five hours) a favor and I'll just paint it straight out of the can!

Pshhh. White wash. Whatevs. Sounds like something British people during their afternoon tea. 

With the painted fireplace under my belt, I decided to tackle the furniture placement one more time. Since we just bought a house and are a little strapped for cash, I wanted to make the furniture that we already have work as much as possible. With that goal in mind, I employed a couple interior designer "tips" that seemed to keep cropping up all over the internet. I was skeptical...but you know what? The tips actually worked! Internet - 1,000 bonus points!

1) Le Focal Point

First tip was to find the focal point of the room. Obviously that was the very large (and now bright white) fireplace. With the focal point in mind, I arranged the largest piece of furniture to face the focal point and then placed the rest of the furniture around that configuration. The best tip I read regarding furniture placement was to consider your furniture from two points- 1) facing the focal point and 2) from the entrance of the room. You want the room to look nice from these two perspectives. 

2) Take Out Your Competition 

If you have a room with a TV AND a fireplace, these two elements seem to want to compete. To solve this, you CAN put the tv above the fireplace. But that's typically not ideal tv-viewing height. You could put the tv on a completely different wall but your room may seem off-balance or as if it is lacking a focal point. I scoured and scoured the internet and the best solution I could find was to have the tv either built in next to the fireplace or placed at an angle. The fireplace can still be the focus but you can comfortably view tv while facing the focal point.

3) No Wallflower Furniture

The hardest tip for me to follow was to pull furniture away from the walls. Apparently shoving furniture against the wall is kind of a designer no-no. Ooops. That's what I've done basically my entire life. But I tried it and it actually worked! By bringing the furniture away from the wall and closer together, the entire room seemed cozier. I am now a huge fan of this tip.

4) I like Big Rugs (And I Cannot Lie)

All the interior design tips I read said that your rug should be large enough that at the front two legs of your furniture pieces (or at least the couch) are on top of the rug. This seemed weird to me. I always had my rug free floating in the middle of the room. But when I tried it, I found that this tip was golden. Eventually, I had to go buy a bigger rug. But I don't regret it in the tiniest bit!

And TA-DA! Here is the end result (ignore the blue garland).

It's not 100% complete. I still need to find some art to go on the other side of the TV to balance everything out and get rid of the empty wall space (who am I kidding, I probably won't touch it again for like ten years). But it's such a huge improvement over how it was before. It is now my favorite room in the house!


(except technically, the green chair should be moved a little to the left and a little farther from the wall. STOP OCD. STOP IT!)

And this rug is ah-mazing. It's like laying on a bed of brand new stuffed animals. The blue color is pretty fun too. I want to roll around in it and eat fishy crackers. Cause that would be totally glamorous.

Tonight, I put on a fire and sprawled out all over the rug. I just couldn't help myself.

I envision many living room camp-outs in our future!

Or I can just put the kids to bed and roast marshmallows by myself. That way I don't have to share. And none of the marshmallows get burnt.


  1. WOW, what a transformation! That fireplace needed to be white! Enjoy!

  2. how did you get the wreath to attach to the mirror? is that one of those over-the-door hangers that's been slipped over the frame?

    1. Yes, the over the door wreath hook fit perfectly!

  3. That looks amazing- it even made your furniture look different and brand new again! Fabulous job!

  4. Great job! If the lawyer thing doesn't work out, design is calling!