Our living room has been made over, all ‘Hollywood Style’. Well, less like Renee Zellwegger, more like Kim Kardashian – total improvement in every way, but still recognizable. We didn’t reconfigure the house, no major walls were knocked out, but everything got a ‘face lift’. Lets take a little trip down memory lane before we jump into the ‘after’ shots of our living room, shall we?
When we bought the house (one year ago) it looked like this:
Lots changed immediately before we moved in: the carpet was ripped up, the false low ceiling was demo’d out, the rounded stairs were demo’d and the tint on the windows was removed.
Just lifting up the ceiling made it look and feel soo much better. The walls were skim coated (they had an insane texture) and painted white, the ceiling was painted white, the iron-work was painted white, the new stairs were built, the fireplace bench was painted white. My 8 moth belly was painted white. We painted a lot of things white, apparently. And its wonderful.
December 2nd of last year (2014) we moved in and it was magical. As you can see (below) I was 38 weeks pregnant and it really just represented such a new fresh life for us. I didn’t care that the kitchen, bathrooms and exterior were in their 1960’s state – that living room with that light and the fresh new walls and floors made everything feel so fresh and full of possibility.
Even looking these photos makes me tear up. So much has happened in a year, and I’m not just talking about the living room. I remember crawling into bed that night with such an intense excitement – the fact that we were 34 and finally buying our first house, that we were about to have our first baby, that I had purged and sold everything I didn’t want or need so I was stylistically starting fresh. I don’t want to go back because it means that I wouldn’t have that baby, but I’m so nostalgic for when we first moved in. So much possibility, so many projects and it was before I really knew how much it was going to cost or the fact that we had mold, virtually all the sliding doors need to be replaced, that we need to replace the central air, fix the fireplace, and all the other boring/stressful stuff of home ownership. We are making dents in all of them, but the not knowing about them beforehand was just wonderful.
We slowly made progress – I bought a temporary indoor/outdoor rug, we arranged all the furniture, (well, I arranged and re-arranged and re-arranged every day), and while I couldn’t commit to hanging art, I loved just having it all lean for a while. I kinda love that shot on the lower left (above) and we should reshoot that angle now – it’s just so nice to see the whole room. Meanwhile yes, I miss my sofa. An avid reader purchased it and I needed the dough because I was spending an insane amount before we shot it, and I had already bought a new sofa, so turning down the offer of $3k was too hard. I know she reads this, so dear sofa purchaser, you are so lucky. And yes, I kinda regret selling it now.
Four months ago we shot the house for Domino Magazine (as surely you must know by now). One of my best friends, Scott, teased me for months about how it was if ‘The Domino Shoot‘ was a major milestone in my life – like birth, high school graduation, college graduation, marriage, birth of first child, The Domino shoot, retirement, death, etc…. I talked about it SOOOO much. It was this looming deadline and it forced me to do some things I wouldn’t have otherwise (in a good way) and to do somethings fast that might have needed more thinking, too.
So here’s how the living room looked, four months ago, featured in the September issue of Domino:
Here’s the deal – a house only gets one feature in a print magazine. And especially for me, who has been documenting/hyping it up on the blog for months I knew that I couldn’t just sit back and have it be mediocre or even just pretty. So we worked hard, we spent money, we splurged, we BOUGHT A 14′ TREE, and we were still painting walls and hanging art the night before.
For this spread we were ‘airing on the side of elegance’ so it was a little more pulled back than I usually am. And that’s cool. In this photo you don’t really understand the impact of that Nek Buddha tree (one of the splurges) and you don’t see the view, but you get the idea – a mid-century Scandinavian inspired space that feels happy and yet quiet – or at least that’s how I see it.
When we shot this Charlie wasn’t crawling yet, so it didn’t need to be quite so family friendly, but as he has become more mobile I realized that I needed to shift some furniture. The coffee table was fine (and don’t worry, I’ve kept it) but Charlie kept almost crashing into the corner which was ruining my morning quiet coffee/play time. So we stored that and instead I stole this large pouf from Joy’s house.
So here is where we are now, as of 3 weeks ago:
And I think it looks sooooo much more like us and more inviting. Of course now I look at this photo and I’m like WHY THE HECK DID WE NOT JUST PULL BACK THE SOFA 7 INCHES!!!! It looks crowded in the room. But at least you can see the leather strapping on the back of the sofa which is ridiculous. Yes, those are leather arms, too. Check out this post for the full sofa post.
How do we actually use the room? Well certainly not with a tray with flowers on that pouf. I didn’t go out of my way to actually style these photos – instead I cleaned the house and arranged things as if my friends we coming over and then asked Tessa to photograph it like that. The toy trunk is in the corner, Charlie’s piano is out. It’s definitely more pulled together than it is on a daily basis but no, we don’t really have things on surfaces.
This is where we hang out and play every morning. Charlie has a toy trunk near the window that has enough toys to keep him occupied for our play sessions. Sure, it’s not normally this clean (and normally there are a few plastic standing toys/walkers), but photographing the mess seemed a little too try-hard in a way.
I love the Wegner style saddle chairs in the Domino shots, and I’ve kept them, but I missed the comfort of these safari chairs. I thought that they would be too matchy with the strapping on the sofa, but they aren’t. And they are just so unbelievable comfortable and so kid-friendly. The second they came back the room became wildly more comfortable.
I love the shot below so much because it gives you a sense of how the house works so much.
That is the entrance on the left and the stairs on the second level go up to the bedrooms. Also please note our extremely child friendly stairs going down into the living room. The stairs used to be rounded and carpeted and they took up WAYYY too much real estate in the room. So we replaced them with modern stairs and it was fine before Charlie started crawling and now, clearly, it’s a problem. Just yesterday Brian called again about getting a quote to add a banister (which visually I don’t want to do, obviously). Meanwhile we are adding a baby gate at the bottom. Man baby proofing is a massive bummer.
Sofa: Vintage from Amsterdam Modern| Blue Blanket: Vintage | Floral Pillow: Vintage | Pink Pillow: Ikea | Blue Velvet Bench: Target | Teal Tray: Target| Side Table: Vintage | Tree: Nek Buddah from Tropics Inc. | Entry Chandelier: Park Studio Collective LA
We moved the collection of pottery on the hearth for obvious reasons – old ‘wrecking ball Charlie Henderson’ would break them all, but also I wanted to add more pillows – again, I just wanted more warmth and more layers. Shocking, I know. That credenza above needs to be replaced because it is bowing REALLY bad (read this post about that).
Rug: Loloi Byron | Blue Velvet Bench: Target | White Pouf: Lulu and Georgia | Teal Tray: Target | Safari Chair: Vintage | String Art: Nike Schroeder | Dining Room Chairs: MidCentury LA | Dining Room Chandelier: Park Studio Collective LA
See, you can see it bowing here pretty bad.
Lets talk bench cushions. Scott had this old piece of vintage indigo that he had been hoarding and I had a much large piece of vintage indigo that I got in Laos years ago that I had been hoarding, so while they didn’t match, I didn’t care because they are both beautiful. I took them to my upholsterer, gave him the dimensions and he sewed us up these little cushions. Definitely something you could do yourself, but we were out of time. I think they were $120 total to sew.
For this shot we moved the toy trunk because it, well, ruined the shot. Not because its ugly but because you couldn’t tell what it was, and it confused your eye and I hate it when my eye gets all confused. Most morning I’m sitting up there or leaning against the bench, playing with little guy. Adding more pillows actually made a HUGE difference in the space. It doesn’t feel busier, it just feels more inviting.
The blimp painting has a lot of sentimental feelings for me. So much so that I wrote a whole post about how/where/how much I purchased it for and the whole framing process. Check it out HERE.
Art: Vintage, framed by Curve Line Space | Cream Pillow: Target | Cream and Gold Metallic Chevron Pillow: Target |Pink Pillow: Vintage | Grey Pillow: West Elm| Floral Pillow: Vintage | Pink Pillow: Ikea | Blue Triangle Blanket: Happy Habitat | Brass Floor Lamp: Vintage
Cream Pillow: Target | Floral Pillow: Vintage | Geometric Blue Pillow: Steven Allen for West Elm (no longer available)
Art: Vintage, framed by Curve Line Space | Cream Pillow: Target | Cream and Gold Metallic Chevron Pillow: Target |Pink Pillow: Vintage | Grey Pillow: West Elm| Floral Pillow: Vintage | Pink Pillow: Ikea | Blue Triangle Blanket: Happy Habitat | Rug: Loloi Byron
Here’s what we do when we set up a shot – we find the angle we like then we make sure that every thing looks good – this takes sometimes an hour to tweak. Every time you tweak you take a new picture (because its hooked up to a laptop and you can see it better on the bigger screen). So we took some of the photos/progress and turned it into a gif for you:
You might notice yes, some people i it, a bunch of stuff in the dining room, a black box (I think it’s the doorbell box) up on the wall on the second floor, and then yes, we brightened it in post. The magic of shooting and styling a space, right?
This one, below, was more about tweaking everything:
We started with the blue pillows on the sofa and the empty tray on the coffee table and gradually tweaked and tweaked until the pink floral pillow was on the sofa and the pink flowers on the pouf.
This one shows you how we started, how we style it when guests are over, fully styled out and then how we have it every day (in other words with nothing on any surfaces):
So that’s our living room all madeover. As of right now I want to change a few things (the white bowing piece needs to be replaced) and I’m still grappling with the fireplace surround (which is another post coming up), but I pretty much love being in it. Its feels good in there and while I’m sure I’ll change it, the morning play/coffee time with Charlie and the sunset occasional happy hour is pretty wonderful.
For related posts check out the story behind the string art piece, the blimp art piece, the sofa (and its white stain-resistant fabric), and the design of the bookcase.
We put together a ‘get the look’ board, but a lot of the pieces are vintage so we did our best to find replicas:
1. Brass Chandelier: Park Studio Collective LA | 2. Blue Triangle Blanket: Happy Habitat| 3. Wood Hand Chair | 4. Blue Velvet Bench: Target | 5. Woven Textile Art: Jane Denton | 6. Glass Agate Tray: Target | 7: Safari Chair: Anthropologie | 8. Wire Table: Target | 9. Pink Pillow: Ikea | 10: Blue and Purple Wool Blanket | 11. Blue and Green Floral Pillow: Etsy | 12. Hand Sculpture | 13. White Pouf: Lulu and Georgia | 14. Byron Rug: Loloi | 15. Gold Foil Pillow: Target | 16. Copper Barware: Target
Photos (except the Domino magazine shoot which was by Brittany Ambridge) by Tessa Neustadt. Thank you Tessa!
Just joining and curious about the other rooms? Check out the family room, kitchen, nursery (final not posted yet), the built-in bookcase, our guest room, our master bedroom (new update coming soon), the deck, and the unfinished bathrooms.