The Beginnings Of A Living Room Makeover

When we moved into our current house from our little bungalow in the city, it was more than a change of location for me, decorating-wise. You know how people routinely tear out the walls of old houses to “open them up?” Well, I loved all our little rooms in our bungalow and when I go to houses with few walls, I’m often thinking where I’d like to put a new one. :-)

Why? Well, I like the cozy feeling of a lot of little rooms. It’s easy to paint with defined beginnings and endings (yea for door frames!). There’s LOTS of room for pictures, mirrors and other things I like to hang up. And there’s more room for furniture- a small desk here, a chair there- it all seems to work together.

So when my dream of a little rural farmhouse became, “OK, fine! How about ANYTHING in our price range?” (well, that was stick-built, we were holding out for that…), we ended up with a 1982 ranch. Granted, it was better than many we had seen, with big windows and a wood and beam peaked ceiling. But it consisted of 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and ONE large room, divided by a half-wall. That’s it. Well, before we turned the garage into a laundry room and offices.

Oh dear, why am I telling you all this? I’ve gotten off subject here. Sorry, so easy for me…

OK, that big room has been a major decorating dilemma for me, color-wise. We had to spray white paint on everything before moving in (I think you’ll agree when you see the before pictures), so that’s what we’ve had for almost five years.

I tried to tell myself there’s nothing wrong with white. A lot of people have it as a neutral background. Problem is, a lot of my things (couch, pottery, frames) are white, hence they’ve just blended into the background. And I had no white walls in my old house. I had white beadboard, but every wall surface was a color, and I liked it.

So I seriously would sit in my living room just looking at the walls and half-walls and try to think where I could put some color. Kinda sad, but true.

In last November’s issue of Country Living there was a farmhouse profiled with this entryway:

My sister-in-law happened to be over and brought my attention to it. I love green and yellow together and have had that combo for years, but I thought adding the black really punched it up a bit.

Then my daughter made this with some scrapbooking materials, and it became a beginning for the living room transformation: bringing some black touches to the room and furniture.

Oh. The quote’s great, too. :-)

But wait, I can hear you now, “black is the color you wanted to bring in?” Not really, but the photo served as a springboard to get me thinking about it, so I’m going to tackle this first and see where it leads. And I’ve got some ideas brewing around to bring in more color (greens and yellows) that I will share with you when they actually come to fruition.

So, stay tuned. In the meantime, here’s the first step along the road:

This is the couch area before with some pink and rose pillows that I never really liked for the living room (a…hem, but were there for more than a year…). The tall lamp on the right is broken and torn and listing to the side (but it’s been there for 5 years…I see a trend here).

After. I made pillow-covers with $29 worth of fabric and replaced the broken lamp with a darker one. The burlap shade is cool and looked great in The Writer’s office, but is so dim here that reading with my 40-something year old eyes is difficult. It probably won’t stay, alas.

Such a small change, really, but I already like how the black in the new pillows is picking up the black from the rug and another table that have been there all along. It’s all just coming together now, it seems. Plus, I’m now really inspired to do some more.

Hopefully soon.


*This is linked to DIY Day over at Soft Place to Land where you can browse hundreds of people’s current do-it-yourself projects!




  1. beth says

    That looks great! And I am so with you on wanting more walls in my house! We live in a brand new ranch, and everything is all open. At first, I loved it, now I wish that the spaces were broken up a little bit. We have five kids, so it would be nice if I could just go into the kitchen and “get away”, but with the open plan, I get to listen to their cartoons and noise as they play in the living room.
    Oh, by the way, we live in “an Oregon cottage”, too. :)
    Hope you have a great day!! Beth.

  2. Shyra says

    I love the black touches! I used to dislike black, but the older I get…lol. I love your blog and read it often. You have such great ideas. Thanks for stopping by mine!


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