I’m going to interrupt your regularly scheduled international blog series to focus on some domestic affairs: my living room.
A few weeks ago Apartment Therapy posted this little gem to Instagram…
…and it really got me thinking about how much I love the contrast of an oriental rug paired with sleek modern design. It’s totally in step with the whole “modern eclectic” vibe I’m going for. So, immediately I went in search of more inspiration to satiate my appetite. The internets did not disappoint. Designers seem to be loving the whole modern-meets-traditional vibe that this pairing provides.
Clearly its not a new concept, but nevertheless, it struck a chord with me. And, as his holiness The Dude professed unto his disciples, the power to tie a room together belongs to that of the truly great rug.
Naturally, I went out in search of one of my own. A couple of tryout rugs later (thanks to Kaskas very convenient try-before-you-buy policy) I ended up with a winner, and it led to a complete transformation of our living room.
I can’t side step that one big reason for the living room transformation lies not only with the rug but also with the change in wall color. The new rug is definitely an accent piece and as such, demands a lot of attention. Attention that my beloved stencil wall could not compete with.
While it was with a bit of a heavy heart that I painted over the old Stecie, I remain convinced it was the right call. One can only take so much attention-seeking behavior in one room. (Though I will say, the wall does demand some kind of artistic treatment beyond plane white. I’ve just yet to determine what will be the best fit for this new style.) Along with the stencil wall, I also big adieu to the green accent wall. That wall too felt a little funny painting over. I remember coming in the night we closed on the house to get it painted up before we moved in. How interesting to discover how my styles and preferences have shifted over these 3 years.
But I’ve not regretted making the change away from our vibrant walls. I loved our little green room while we had it, and as I loved that, I’m also loving this next design progression.
I don’t feel great about the nearly one month that has passed since my last post, especially since I have, in this blogger’s opinion, actually accomplished some pretty magnificent things… I made some cool bathroom art, learned to cook Pad Thai, and downloaded the new Beyonce album… you know, the stuff Hollywood movies are made of. But in all seriousness, I’m painfully aware that I’ve let the blog kind of fall by the wayside over the past couple of months. Because of the holidays, maybe? Or lack of inspiration? Busy schedule? I can’t pin down the precise reason, but dang if I’m not going to do better in ’14, starting now with the obligatory look back at the best and worst of our escapades in the past year.
Proudest Accomplishment: Kitchen Overhaul
In April, we put the finishing touches on our once beige and boring kitchen.
This project is/was the most time and energy intensive DIY renovation we’ve sunk our teeth into, but it has also been the most gratifying. It started before we officially moved in when I painted the walls a nearly day-glow shade of green called “Spritz of Lime” which just seemed an appropriate if not nauseating color choice for a kitchen. From there, we—to be read in one breath now—replaced the florescent lighting, striped and restained the cabinets and added new hardware, removed the wood paneling from the wall and added custom shelving, replaced the faucet and added water cut offs, demolished the countertops, replaced the countertops, and…gasp…retiled the backsplash. A project more than a year in the making, it felt indecently good to marvel at the successful culmination of a lot of hard work.
Biggest Transformation: Hardwoods in the Living Room
Thanks to a ridiculous sale on laminate flooring at our local Habitat for Humanity Restore, what started as a routine Saturday errand resulted in Heath and I throwing caution to the wind and just doing it already—”it” being ripping out the carpet in our living room and replacing it with some sweet, sweet laminate wood flooring. Oooh. That is fresh.
Biggest headache: Rebuilding the chicken coop
After finding a possum in the chicken coop one evening, we knew we had to prioritize a task we had long been delaying—rebuilding the chicken coop, a project that literally stinks, is labor intensive and painful. We finished it in a day, and the coop is certainly in better shape now than it was before, but it didn’t go down, or rather up , smoothly. We endured cuts, scrapes, mosquito bites, sun burns and blows to our egos along the way, but at day’s end, a bigger, brighter, possum-free coup stood triumphantly in the dh backyard.
Riskiest project: The stencil wall
It was nearly a year ago exactly that I finished totally weirding out our living room by painting an accent wall with a scallop stencil. It was kind of a gamble as a floor-to-ceiling geometric pattern could potentially be overwhelming, but there is something hypnotic and appealing about the repetitive nature of geometric prints. Since geometric scribbles practically dominate all of my handouts of staff meeting agendas, I thought I should take the concept that had been gnawing away at my subconscious to heart and put that idea on the wall. A year later, I still get lost in the rhythm of the green scallops and love it as much as the day I started painting.
Biggest fail: the garden
2013 was not the year of the garden for House Doodle. Because of the heat and other various preoccupations, we slowly stopped tending to our veggies and other flora. Next we knew, a once lush and sustainable backyard paradise transformed to a desolate and pathetic excuse for a garden. As it turns out, plants don’t respond well to gross neglect. It is was not our finest hour.
Greatest discovery: Homebrew
At the recommendation of some dear friends, Heath picked up brewing beer at home as a new hobby, and boy have we enjoyed it. We cooked up our first batch in February, and by June we committed to going full throttle when we installed kegerator in our kitchen so we could enjoy draft homebrew at our leisure. Yes, we’ve officially crossed the beer snob threshold, and it’s delicious.
We saw triumphs and tribulations in our home projects this year, but 2013 was also a year of significant personal achievement, loss and transition: Heath conquered a mountain when he hiked 26 miles through the Weminuche Wilderness, we bid farewell to a beloved home from my childhood, my always bro/sometime roommate joined the navy, and I left my communications job with the school district. Good/bad/ugly/beautiful….2013 was peppered with experiences that will stick with us for awhile.
Before I get too far into things, I will start with a disclaimer that my emotional investment in the forthcoming subject matter is a little ridiculous. But that’s how I roll…just slightly on the side of ridiculous. That being said, I announce the following: Heath and I decided to ditch the sectional sofa formerly known as The Most Comfortable Couch in the World.
I admit the sofa wasn’t much to look at, but the hand-me-down sectional was a pretty big part of our lives for the past 4 years or so. It moved with us from our place in North Campus where Heath and I first lived together, to our 36th street cottage, and now to our current abode. I had gotten pretty accustomed to having it around. It’s been the resting place for dozens (Maybe hundreds? No…dozens.) of overnight guests throughout the years and was THE place to be on movie nights. It was a magical sofa that endured splendidly the wear and tear of my playful pets and red wine spills without showing stains. It was the sort of couch that, even if you had the intention of resting there for only a few moments, could convince you to stay and hang out for the duration of, oh say, an entire season of Downton Abbey. It was that good. Ask anyone.
So, it was sort of a big deal that we decided to put the old girl on craigslist. You see, in our house, most of the stuff is either:
- Hand-me-down (armoire, couch, coffee table)
- Purchased second-hand (dining room table, TV credenza, bedroom dresser)
- Made by Heath (office day bed, office desk, our bed, book shelf)
Nothing’s wrong with any of that of course. In fact, normally I prefer it. But after a point I REALLY wanted the opportunity to pick something out for ourselves; something that felt like us and not like the discarded collections of others. And since I’ve settled into my new job and Heath’s been enjoying his new title at work, we thought why not “TREAT YO SELF.” And the couch was put up for sale in the hopes we could trade it for something a little more slick, stylish and, dare I say, sexy?
And what’s more sexy than IKEA couches?! AmIRightLadies?!?!?!
Yeah, I know that saying an IKEA couch is some kind of an upgrade over any situation might be treason to some folks, but bear with me here. I recently stumbled upon of the most genius, cost-saving ideas invented in the history of ever: the customizable Karlstad. It was brought to me by the folks at our mid century who proved that IKEA affordability + creativity = wonderfully attainable personal design. They picked up the Karlstad sofa, switched out the legs and tufted the cushions for a look that is completely, one-hundred-percently up my alley—a 50s-60s vibe on a comfortable sofa for a fraction of the cost of what designer furniture costs. Sign. Me. Up.
After making that discovery, all bets were off. I knew what I had to do. The sectional went up on craigslist and we headed to IKEA. Next thing we know, this is our living room.
It was a little sad to see the beloved old sectional go, but we’re all pretty happy (Stella included) with the new addition. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some couch potato-ing to do.
Not so long ago I posted here about my disgust with the TV set up in our new living room (our lives are filled with monumental levels of adversity). Boring, drab and uninspired it was. Fortunately, I found a solution–one that involved a major overhaul of the living room layout and resulted in a much more feng shui entertaining environment. The before and after photos have me breathing a sigh of relief.
Ultimately the TV had to change walls. Instead of sitting against a blank white canvas, I repositioned it in front of an oversized window framed by a green accent wall. Now all eyes are on the bright “retro avocado” wall and dramatic curtains rather than an expansive plane of icky nothingness. Me Likey.
You might recognize the shelves from the office in the old house. I loved them so much, I thought they deserved to be front and center rather than tucked away in the office or guest bedroom. Here’s how they looked pre-move and pre-stain.
The empty wall turned out to be the perfect backdrop against which the shelves and their various knick knacks could pop.
We also changed the wall color from the same neutral beige that I wrote about in our office to a bright white that packs a nice punch. The difference is subtle but, again, keeps the beige cloud feeling from creeping in on us.
Plus, against the green accent wall, the new white looks much crisper than the beige color did.
I also finally made the effort to focus in on some of the smaller details, like creating an entryway table. Sadly our house lacks an actual foyer, so a decorative little side table next to the front door has to suffice for a barrier between the living room and entryway until a more established room divider can come into play. Fortunately, it’s a pretty cute interim set up.
I never stop being amazed at the difference a coat of paint and a little rearranging can make.
I’m clearly not winning any Pulitzer Prizes for obsessively blogging about my new and improved living room, but I’m a big believer that a happy environment makes a happy person, and our new space is very happy.