Here it is, the long awaited living room refresh. I did a full kitchen gut and makeover in less time than it took me to do a living room refresh, but sometimes that's the way things go.
This past February I added some molding to my hallway, and we ended up in a give a mouse a cookie situation because I realized you could see my hallway from the living room. The living room felt a lot more "me" than any of the decor in my living room ever did, and if I'm being honest the living room was always just an awkwardly decorated space, it was never quite right.
So here it is, my refresh, which involved DIY molding, paint, slipcovers and hanging some art. It took far longer than it should have, you could do something similar in a week or so, but I enjoyed the process and am continuing to work on it.
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The thing that really kicked off this refresh was probably the Aruhaus Dupe bookcases that I built last year. Check out that blog post for the how-to. For the rest of the projects and decor, keep reading.
The first big part of this refresh involved changing up the brown sofa. A new couch was just not in our budget right now, and with furniture back-ordered, ordering something new didn't really make sense. So I ordered these slipcovers from Amazon and to my delight I really liked them. I originally was planning on a jewel colored sofa, but the white ended up being just right, and I like that I can always get another slipcover down the line if I want to change it up again, because they are so affordable. I also got a slipcover for our recliner to give it a leather look. A key to making the sofa slipcover look realistic was ordering extra cushion covers. The actual slipcover is meant to go over the top in one piece and then cover each seat cushion. I ordered extra cushion covers for the back cushions, and I think this made a big difference in the way it looked. Is it perfect? No. Does it make me happy for now? Yes. All in all the 2 sofa slipcovers plush cushion covers cost me $140 and the recliner cover was $50. So for under $200 I had "new" furniture.
DIY PICTURE FRAME MOLDING
I extended the molding from the hallway and continued it into the living room. I used the same polystyrene molding because it was affordable ($5 per 8' piece) and easy to work with. While a miter saw makes it easy, I actually used my miter box for this so that I could work on it at night without making too much noise. The molding is super easy to do, you just cut all 45 degree angles and create boxes. You attach them to the wall with liquid nails, finishing nails (or both), or 2 sided stick tape (if you're renting). Caulk around the boxes, paint and you're good to go. My biggest tip about this is to lay out your pattern with painters tape first. It will help you visualize and help you to avoid wasting materials if you change your mind on layout. I used Benjamine Moore's Chantilly Lace on the walls to match my kitchen cabinets (which you can also see from the living room). Lowes doesn't have this type of molding on their website, but if you go to Lowes or Home Depot there's a whole aisle to pick from. Amazon also sells molding, which while not quite the same could give you a fun decorative addition if you don't want to do a full wall, I haven't actually purchased that so I can't vouch for it's quality.
Once the walls and furniture were done it was time for a new rug. My old run had more of a gold hue to it, so I moved it to the dining room and got a rug from HomeGoods. At first I was worried it was too cold but once I added some accents it warmed up and I really love it now. I can't find my actual rug anywhere, but this rug on Amazon has a similar feel, though I haven't ordered it so I can't speak to the quality. If I ever do find it online, I'll update this post.
Even though the rug had blue and gold in it, I saw dark green velvet curtains with my mom at IKEA and fell in love with them. Unfortunately they were sold out and not being made any more. I was able to get the pillow covers (for the brown pillows that came with the couch) in green velvet but had to turn to Amazon for the actual curtains. I purchased a few pairs that weren't quite right and almost gave up, but decided to give Amazon one more shot. I'm actually glad I did, the curtains I got are a great quality, light blocking, fall beautifully and do not attract dust. All in all I was delighted with them. These are the exact ones I ordered. They are more than I normally spend on curtains (I'm usually a 2 for $25 girl at HomeGoods though, so most people would probably think they were reasonable). Although, I've always stayed away from color, I really love the elegance they bring to the room. I had already painted the window panes black, and I love the way they look against the black and white.
DIY SOFA TABLE
I knew I wanted to add a "faux sofa table" behind my couch, as I've always had one. I see it as an opportunity to add some texture, decor, and visual interest in a way that doesn't crowd the actual room.
I made the "table" which I put in quotation marks because it is only 6 inches wide, from two old 1x6 shelf boards and the wood from my former blanket ladder (which was just a bunch of 1x3's). You could do something similar with shelf brackets and boards, or an actual table.
The decor for the table was all shopped from my house, except the maroon floral steps which I got off of Amazon. I love how they complement the dark green and give a little dimension. I used two orders worth and they definitely look realistic. While I have lots of books, and old books at that, a tip for finding books with beautiful spines or even coffee table books, is to go to your local used book store. You can usually find books for as low as $1, though I strongly urge you to use books you have read and loved in your decor.
The vase is from Target, I got it over five years ago and I don't believe they carry it anymore, however this is a similar vase. The other purchase for this area was the battery operated candles. These were around $20 for the set of three and are honestly so realistic that guests tried to blow them out thinking they were a fire hazard! They are battery operated and come with a remote control. I plan on ordering more for other areas of my home.
DIY LARGE FRAMES AND MAP PRINTS
I knew I wanted some larger pieces for the wall behind my sofa and finally decided to do large maps from cities we've been to and loved. I found these awesome prints on Etsy (this was the shop) and had them printed at Walgreens (I waited for a 50% off sale and got them printed 24x36 for $15). The next challenge was finding three frames that didn't break the bank. I went to Michael s and got their poster frames during a buy one get one free sale, which made them $20 each. I also had an additional coupon which brought them down to closer to $17 each. I used Rub N' Buff to paint them gold, but after hanging them, I felt like they needed something a little bit more to compete with the molding. I used decorative molding from Lowes, cut it down (with the miter box) and attached it with liquid nails. A little more gold paint, and I really liked how they turned out. I may add more molding in the future, but for now they are doing the trick and turned out to be $26 each in total. This is a great deal considering these frames are 24"x36".
My husband has begun collecting Bourbon, and I enjoy cocktails that need different liquors so it made sense for us to have a bar cart for entertaining. I knew I wanted three levels so we could put our record player on it as well and quickly realized this would be more of a table situation than a cart. I got a gold and glass table from HomeSense and fits all of our cocktail gear perfectly. Here is a similar option from Amazon. The gold lamp was from our office, but I originally got it from Target, and they still have it.
The black accent table in between our couch and recliner is from Amazon. It was $35 and is the perfect size. We had a larger end table here before and it just collected junk, I knew I wanted something smaller that would fit the room better and also force us to not just toss things on it. This table is big enough for a lamp (which I got a few years ago at Target) a decorative bowl (leftover from my wedding) and space for your drink. It's perfect and actually great quality for the price. I also wanted another drink table and was loving the marble ones from West Elm, however I found a very similar table in Marshalls for half the price! So keep an eye out, you'll be surprised what you find.
Finally the front door opens into the living room, so we don't really have an "entry way." I wanted to create something of an entry. My mother and I were shopping at HomeGoods when she spotted this mirror and gold table. I had originally pictured a wooden live edge table, but she talked me into this one, and I'm glad she did. We found the mirror at the same time, and this shifted the style of the room away from boho farmhouse more towards a mix of art deco/traditional/mid century (who knows haha) where it ended up being, which I'm grateful for because it's much more me. Here is a similar table from Amazon and a similar mirror. The decor on the table is a mix of thrifted items (the bust and candle stick), Target (frames), and HomeGoods (vase). I added a picture of the train station that my husband's great-grandfather was a gatekeeper at and a photo from our engagement shoot.
FANCY FAUX ANTIQUE FRAMES
My favorite pieces in this space are the two frames next to my front door. These were the most expensive frames I have purchased (again relative because I usually buy $12 frames at TJ Maxx). They were just what I wanted however, black and gold and ornate. The quality is great and they came Prime shipping. They also come in bronze and gold, which I may consider purchasing for another space in the future. I filled the frames with two of my favorite pieces of art, both of which you can see in Boston. The top image is Childe Hassan's Boston Common at Twilight. I love that you can stand in this same spot today and still make out the curve of the road and know exactly where this painting was set. The second photo is a print of the sketches from the Make Way for Ducklings book. This is a near and dear book to Bostonians and New Englanders (in fact you used to get a copy in the hospital when you had a baby) and there was a great exhibit years ago that I saw showcasing Robert McCloskey's art. I love the story, it was one of my favorites growing up, and I love the statues in the Public Garden, so I wanted a piece of that book framed. I chose the page with Clancy the policemen because my husband's father who passed away was a police officer, and this was a nice way of paying a subtle tribute to him. You may not know this but if you go to your favorite art museums website, you can get some really cool prints. Some are actually free and in the public domain, some you have to pay for.
DIY FIREPLACE MANTLE
The final area in the refresh was the mantle. I built this mantle a few years ago as a place to hang our stockings and I've added trim to it over the years. I painted it with leftover paint from the coffee table makeover and added some decorative wood cutouts from Lowes. It's still a work in progress but for now I like it.
Add a few throw pillows and blankets and this space is the cozy living room that I've been wanting, and just couldn't figure out how to achieve. It's possible in a few years I decide to change it up again, but that's the nice thing about DIY, you can always adapt as you change.
I wanted a place to drink wine and read books, and I think I've achieved that. So if you need me, I'll be over here with my wine and my book, thinking about what area of the house to tackle next. What space in your home really feels like, "you" lately?