We’ve made some changes over here in the living room and it’s time to talk about them – and I’m very curious what you think. If you are one of those readers who like to see how people like us (bloggers, designers, moms, crazy people) change their homes far more regularly than normal people, hopefully you’ll enjoy this post. Brady and Sara styled and shot it (I was out of town and I’m working on involving myself less :)) and I told them to style it more for everyday, not a magazine so you could see more how we live.
When we first bought this 100-year-old English Tudor I was super excited to take my style in a different direction – more old world antiques and less midcentury furniture, more neutral tones and less bright colors. And yet my living room felt just too busy and chaotic for me. I loved everything, but needed it to feel more calm.
But I had to pull it together so fast for the reveal so I made it work. Since then (May of last year) I’ve made some changes and removed some ‘busy’ culprits:
1.) The Rug. I struggled HARD to find a rug that checked my boxes: beautiful, kid-friendly, would ‘pop’ off the floor and be photogenic (aka no sisal), large (at least 10×14) and not offensively expensive (under $5k). This rug was $2500 on Ebay, it is beautiful and hid ANY stain possible (the new owner might have inherited some smoothie). But I knew it wasn’t going to be our forever rug because I wanted something calmer (don’t worry, I sold it to a reader and it’s gone to a very happy, new home). So when Dash and Albert came out with a large size of the rug you are about to see, I JUMPED on it (literally and figuratively). I had used it in the boathouse makeover and LOVED how soft and beautiful it was in person (rugs are kinda hard to buy online, thus the rug-swatch industry). But I can vouch for this one.
SO much more calm, and it really simplified everything. This lady is so soft (and we have it on a 1/2″ memory foam rug pad, so it’s like a trampoline and perfect for wrestling). It’s a medium tone which I wanted – I didn’t want dark, but with two kids I can’t do anything lighter than this. And it’s a nice tone of blue – not too bright, mixing indigo and cream threads. I LOVE IT. It’s a subtle pattern that wears well and hides many stains. The cats, however, are pulling at it with their claws so if you have cats be careful because it is looped, not pulled so they can get their claws in there and they do. I end up ‘mowing’ the rug before every shoot (clipping the strings with scissors). But when it comes to the kids and dirt, it’s been GREAT so far (we’ve had it since October and it’s HIGHLY trafficked with shoed kids and our friend’s dogs).
2.) The Artwork. I liked it, but wanted it to feel more modern.
As much as I loved the creepy portrait above the fireplace, I generally wanted the room to feel more modern and young. I fell in LOVE with that piece by Colin Glasgow from the Parisian hotel makeover and bought it. It has high impact and brought an instant jolt to the room and modernized that fireplace a ton.
The art you see in this angle (above) stayed the same, but we moved the one on the piano to above the credenza to create a mini gallery wall.
I also moved some of the art around on the credenza which I’m WAY happier with (below) and I’m sad to say that I prefer the credenza without the record player, which is a massive bummer because that was EXPENSIVE. Ugh. I might end up bringing it back but it competed too much with the lamp before, and I like that it’s simpler over there now.
3.) The Bookshelf. Here it was before:
I’ve always struggled with those shelves, fearing that they look cluttered and bitsy and busy.
But when I turned all the books around, to show their neutral spines, for Halloween I loved it. So I styled it without the really colorful books, leaving some blue, black, and all the neutrals.
The shelves still have all of my favorite things, family photos, objects, weird wood things, but it’s WAY less busy. YAY. I think I’ll reduce it even more and maybe store some of those bright turquoise books. (P.S. as you can see, the rug we had was slightly smaller than the new one, thus our rug pad is slightly too small for this rug – creating that line you see. Now there is an easy visual fix – just shove the rug further in the room so that that line is at the back, thus less in view, but if any of you have ever moved a rug before with a rug pad with full furniture on top you’ll know that is the worst hour of your life, so I’m avoiding it at all costs. Moving rugs that are already placed is the least favorite part of my job, with hanging curtain rods coming in close at #2).
3.) The Plants. While I love plants obviously, they were annoying to care for and added too much visual weight in the room, thus adding to the chaos.
The fig tree found a new home (my styling assistant Emily) and the plant by the fireplace moved to our exterior front door.
Almost all the accessories stayed – the lighting and pillows barely changed, but I moved some trays and vessels around, as you do.
Generally, things are simplified, quieter and yes, more calm. If I were to shoot it again for a magazine we’d likely change a few things (add some more flowers, maybe some books on the credenza above) but I’m pretty happy with it for the day to day living that we do in there.
The piano area didn’t change too much. It used to look like this:
And now looks like this:
I actually like how it was styled a bit more before, but one of my schoolhouse lamps (the blue shade) shattered so It couldn’t live here anymore, plus I like that piece of art above the credenza more now. But just having some family frames, a modern lamp that contrasted the wood of the piano and some books was enough. I’m not sure if that abstract piece of art (the blue) will stay there or not, I just don’t have a place for it right now.
Below is how this sideboard was styled:
And now it’s more like this:
I traded the vintage Cherner that was in our bedroom with the 100-year-old Windsor that was here because it was FAR too fragile (although I still don’t let anyone sit on that gorgeous sculptural piece above).
Overall I’m happy with it (for now). It feels low-maintenance, kid-friendly and extremely comfortable. And now, thanks to these changes it’s WILDLY less chaotic. The kids have almost free reign (not the Cherner and they generally know that the accessories on the shelves aren’t toys).
So which do you prefer?
The old living room or the new version? Let us know below.