This is where we live.

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:

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This mirror that took up the entire wall was deemed hazardous during our 7 hour inspection. That’s always good. LR

And here is our after:photo 1_2

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. photo 2_2

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.
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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. photo 4_3

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.
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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.photo 4_4

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. photo 1_3

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. photo 2

I love these purple flowers. They tie everything together. photo 2_3

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. photo 5

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.photo 3_2

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 TJMaxxphoto 4_2

As are these silver vases. The horn is HG. photo 1_5

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. photo 2_4 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. photo 1_4

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 white, leather Barcelona chairs were my one big win from the Rago auction. They were one of the first lots and we got them at a price lower than they had been estimated for. And I love them. photo 2_5

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. photo 3_4

Once again, we found our perfect pillows at West Elm (as they pick up the pinks and reds in our painting), and our faux fur throw was a great One Kings Lane find at a great discount.
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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. photo 4 photo 3_3 photo 5_2Finally, 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.

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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.

Dining Time

Our dining room is probably my favorite in the house. I love the aesthetics of it, but more than that it is a woven tapestry; a journey through time and across the world and a fine blend of contributions from many of our cherished loved ones. It is also the room in which we signed the deal when our offer was accepted on the house nearly 18 months ago.

The room had great bones; Big, sunny windows, incredible molding, french doors, all covered in dull paint and tired window treatments and, literally, dust.

Here is a before shot:

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I mentioned earlier that I had (have) a thing for paint colors, and the story of my dining room transformation begins with an obsession to find the perfect paint. I should mention now that before we moved into the house we did several things: First, we installed central air. Second, we did some structural work like building a bannister to the third floor and some window seats. But the greatest transformation was the painting. We painted every single wall of the house. Every wall, every door, every single thing I could think of to paint (including an antique mirrored table I found while antiquing in Lambertville, but more on that later). And 90% of the walls in my house I painted in some shade of white. This house needed a fresh start, and to me, warm white was the way to go. However, not in this dining room. This dining room, I felt, had the potential to be spectacular. And so, after much agonizing, I chose Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray and I could not love it more. The molding and French Doors we painted in Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White. It is so special.

And so, here are some shots of the After. As always, click on the photos below to see them in their full size.

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So here it is. Our dining room. photo 3_4

This table is one of our newest pieces, originally from Material Culture, the two pieces bookending are from Nadeau and the Frame holding the tapestry is from my go-to, Home Goods, all being some of our favorite furniture spots. Inside the frame is a very special piece, fabric my parents brought back for us from their trip to Vietnam. It finally has a home.
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The table and chairs, which are a rich terra cotta, were given to us by my husband’s father, as they had formerly been used as his board room set. His parents also gave us the Kilim rug.

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I love this little nook. This chair has an interesting story; we saw it in one of our favorite (but extremely expensive) stores in Lambertville this past summer and thought it was beautiful and reasonable, but could not think of a place for it. Weeks later, we thought about using it for our Living Room, so we called the store and it had not been sold, but it had been moved back to their warehouse, so if we wanted it, we had to come immediately. So my husband made the round trip drive, 90 minutes each way, and the chair came to live with us, where it had always been meant to reside. The botanicals hanging are also special to us; one was a wedding gift and the other from my parents from London. The large painting which is a depiction of Eve is from my grandparents. See what I mean? This room has so much history. So much soul.

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Our credenza is a spectacular marble and carved piece given to us by dear family friends, to whom it had been gifted by their dear family friends. The tapestry of our story continues…Most of the decor on top of the credenza is from Home Grown, not to be confused with the other HG. These are some of my more high end pieces, and also some of my most meaningful. The beautiful candlesticks you see were an engagement gift from my Aunt and Late Uncle. I love seeing them every day. The “Art” displayed is another example of a picture that I liked, printed and framed. It cost me next to nothing. High/Low strikes again.

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Our light fixture we brought from our old house’s kitchen. It came with the house and was always my favorite. The sconces are from good old Home Depot. Fahn-cy, indeed.

photo 3_3In the shot above, to the left of the French doors, you can see another one of my most meaningful pieces; a gift from my parents that says “Woman of Valor” with a Hamsa. It is an honor to have it hanging in my home. From this vantage point you can see into both our Living Room and Sunroom, which is one of my favorite attributes of our house; the openness. It also gives a bit of a sneak peak for what’s to come…