For some, a living room is a formal space, reserved for guests or antiques or furniture meant to look at and not to sit on. My husband’s living room growing up was a space like that; so much so, that he used to have anxiety when he’d throw parties that someone would enter the museum-like space and move a pillow or knock over a knick-knack.
Even my own parents have a more formal living room, where many of their good furniture and art pieces are displayed. While it’s not as pristine and untouchable, it isn’t a place where we would choose to hang.
But not my living room. My living room is where I like to literally live. It is the room in which we can spend an entire weekend day in our pajamas; it is the host for most of our dance parties; it is where our friends gather with glasses of wine and board games; it is where my husband and I light fires and talk. There is nothing precious about it. But it is precious to me.
Here is a before shot from the previous owners:
The first order of business for this room was painting. The room features incredible molding, which we wanted to feature in a subtle but elegant way. We had the walls painted in Benjamin Moore Mascarpone with the trim in Decorators White. I adore the result; the walls are so rich and creamy that my parents are currently in the process of removing their entry way wallpaper and replacing it with Mascarpone.
Our room features my comfort zone colors (gray, black and white) with pops of other favorites, like fuschia, cobalt and teal. It also has two separate seating areas, making it a great place to entertain. However, we often find ourselves sprawled out on the floor with friends picnicking on charcuterie. Or engaging in physical fitness challenges. See what I mean? We live in this room.
We had our couch custom made at Thomasville and it is comfortable and attractive (it has nailhead details down the arms and bottom that are hard to see from the picture). The pillows are West Elm and Cynthia Rowley and the silver velvet ottoman was a former life steal at American Signature Furniture. I am pretty sure I got it on clearance for $99.00 and I will never let it leave me.
A focal point in our room is the first piece that we bought once our offer was accepted on this house; The giant 70’s pop poster we found on ebay is from the International Music Festival in Barcelona. Music and Barca? It had to be mine.
Our ottoman tray is another great West Elm find and picks up the exact emerald green in the poster above. My coffee table books are both gifts from dear friends: O’KEEFFE, from one of my English Major compatriots who is a talented and beautiful designer; Neruda: Intimacies, Poems of love from my dear love and daughter’s Godmother.
This, I made. My husband had brought home purple roses and weeks ago and I loved the look of the flowers on the ottoman. But I was looking for something more permanent, so I dried them and arranged them in this square vase with woven balls from a set from home goods.
This seating area is a temporary solution that works relatively well until we find the perfect love seat; two white leather chairs that we have put together from, once again, home goods, coordinated together with this awesome west elm linen pillow and fuschia throw from Crate and Barrel that used to be in our old bedroom. The painted wooden chest brought some much needed earthiness to the room, when I was feeling like we were getting into a decorating territory that was too stark and maybe even formal. I found it at Nadeau and topped it with other natural elements to achieve a blend of elegance and earth.
Now we travel to the far corner of our room with a bunch of home goods finds, and the new home for my husbands birthday present, an XBox1. That’s all I need to say about that.
The framed artwork is how I decided to decorate the rest of the walls in this room; Because I am not in a position, now, to purchase real art, I wanted to fill our walls with things that were both meaningful and nice looking. So I went through our camera rolls from past travel, printed our photos and framed them. I am very happy with the result as they mean something. They reflect how we’ve lived. The frames above are both from favorite trips: above, a photo from the graffiti wall by the Romeo and Juliet memorial in Verona, Italy where we traveled with my family in 2007 and below, a picture of a small, beautiful alley way in Makawao, an old rodeo town in Hawaii, where my husband and I travelled in ’09.
This gold piece my most recent home goods purchase, one I bought with my credit, and filled it with faux roses from a very old flower arrangement I took apart (more on that to come) and placed in a square vase that came with a beautiful bouquet from my special Mama friends when I needed a pick-me-up.
Here is our fireplace. It is a definite perk of our home, as our old house did not have one and I had always longed to be able to curl up by a fire. And now I can. And I do.
I wanted to top the fireplace, the most prominent feature of the room, and I found it with this beautiful Antique Tiled Wall Mirror from West Elm.
I replaced the old brass sconces with these mirrored ones, but I have a secret to tell you; they don’t work. They are simply decorative. But they work, right? The lion is my favorite color and from TJMaxx.
This silver sculptural piece is from Material Culture and the antique wheelbarrow that holds our firewood is from my paternal grandfather. It was in my dad’s childhood home and is very special to me. This is that open wall again, between the Living Room and Sunroom. It is awesome for parents of young children to keep an eye on, and also for the flow of entertaining.
This is the aforementioned antique coffee table from a Co-Op in Lambertville. It’s legs were a light, peachy wood, so I had our painters transform them with our same Benjamin Moore black bannister paint. And I love it. But there is a story behind it; The reason that I was in Lambertville that day was for the Rago Discovery Auction, which just so happens to be today. I had my eyes on a pair of mirrored coffee tables that were a late lot, and while I was killing time antiquing, I saw this coffee table. The auctioned pair ended up going for four times the price of the one I bought, and mine works perfectly in the space.
The beautiful bowl in the center of the table is from Home Grown that was a wedding gift. It is crystal, sitting in woven gold, with glass flowers and butterflies. It is very special.
I’ve mentioned before that our house is sideways facing. That means that our living room window looks out at our driveway. That windowsill has two large obelisks from Material Culture that make a bold statement from both inside the room and from outside, when approaching our house. Finally, a framed photo of a flower we captured during our trip to Maui and these cool little elephants resting on a horn that, of course, I found at HG.
Oh. Wait. Spoke too soon. I should not have said “Finally”. So prematurely. Because I missed what my husband thinks is a most crucial piece of our room; the newest “decoration”. This was a husband thing, his one stamp on our room. My daughter doesn’t seem to mind it either.
As much as it isn’t art, it reflects our lifestyle and allows us to use our living room even more than before. It is a room to live. And in it we really, truly do.