It has become clear to me, over the last 5 years or so, just how much our styles and personal tastes change over time. When I first moved into our home, my husband had already lived here for about 10 years, so it’s not like we were starting out with a blank slate. But we were at the point of trying to blend our styles and tastes together, and for a while I didn’t do a single thing in the house to make it more “my style”. Over time I started to find I was disliking things more and more, I felt as is none of our home reflected me, and I got to a place where I just kept dreaming about our next house, our forever home, and wishing we could just move right this instant. That is not a good way to live, and it definitely is not apt to make you “feel at home” when you come home after a long day of work. So I started thinking, really thinking, about all the things I love about our home, and what areas needed improvement. And as my thinking and list making progressed, I began to realize that feeling at home and being comfortable in your home is not really about the surface appeal, and more about how to make your home work for your lifestyle. I mean, we have two rambunctious boys running through this house, and all the stuff and junk that not only comes along with kids, but with life in general. We needed to start focusing on how to make our home work for us, instead of us trying to work for our home. And boy have things been going a whole lot smoother ever since. At the beginning of this year, I went on a cleaning and de-cluttering rampage. I try not to make many resolutions at the beginning of the year, because I tend to lose steam and feel overwhelmed, and then I just give up on it all. So this year, I thought maybe choosing one word as my goal would work out a little better for me, and this year I chose to “simplify”. After spending some time reviewing everything – and I really mean everything, our possessions, our schedules, our relationships, our functionality – I realized that we have too much stuff, too much junk, too much of everything that is clouding our vision and making our lives seem hectic and unbearable when, in fact, they are not. We need to sort through all the stuff so we can finally see and actually enjoy our life, both on the day-to-day basis and long term. So that’s what I’ve been working on: trying to reduce the clutter in our lives and figure out ways to make our home work better for us, so we don’t have to work so hard to make our home work for us. And that started with the living room…
Our house was built in the early 60’s; it has little storage space, and all of the rooms are closed off from the others, which makes me a little claustrophobic. I would love to be able to rip out some walls and tear stuff down to open it all up, but it’s simply not in the budget and, to be totally honest, it’s not a need right now, it’s just a want. So I set out trying to lighten things up and gain the illusion of bigger spaces when, in fact, they are still the same smallish size. I redid the living room last October when the whole family was in Florida. Unfortunately I could not get off work for the week, so I stayed home while they enjoyed the beach, and that was actually okay with me. As much as I would have loved to get to spend some down time with my family and hang out on the beach all day, I was also totally okay being able to do what I love – and that was completely emptying out the living room and starting over.
Our living room started out with a little bit of a man cave feel to it. Tan walls, wood paneling, huge orangey wood built-in bar area, and wood trim all around. Typical 60’s and 70’s design and finishes, and most definitely NOT my style.
First, the wood paneling got filled, sanded, primed and painted, and that alone made the biggest difference in the feel of the room. I was kind of dreading all the labor that was about to go into painting that paneling and the bar, but as soon I saw it with the first coat of primer on it, I knew it was meant to be.
After painting all the rest of the trim white, and tackling the ceiling (which when you’re 5’2″, that’s a HUGE accomplishment to get done by yourself), it was time for the walls. I’ve been debating for two years what colors we should use in the house; I didn’t want every single room to be the same color, but I wanted there to be kind of a natural flow through the house, from room to room. I ended up grabbing a sample pot Target’s new paint line Devine Color, in Horizon, for another project, but thought what the heck, I already have it here, so I painted a patch of it on the walls and I absolutely fell in LOVE with the color. It’s the perfect shade of tealy blue that I was looking for, so I ran back out to Target and grabbed three cans to do the walls with. Since I didn’t take in to account that it’s only a half wall that I had to paint, due to the paneling all the way around, I only ended up needing about one and a half of the cans, but I love the color so much, I knew I would end up using it somewhere else in the house, so I wasn’t too concerned. And the coverage was amazing, so that helped too.
Once the walls were done, I figured I might as well deep clean the carpet, since all the furniture was already out of the room. After that, it was just a matter of getting the room put back together. We had recently bought a new sofa and recliner for the space, so those things stayed, but I brought a few new into the room and mixed them with some already existing fixtures. We don’t have a lighting kit on our ceiling fan so we have to rely on floor and table lamps to light up our room at night. I found this awesome floor lamp at Target and knew that it had to come home with me! I scored two awesome glass-top solid wood end tables from a friend at work, and just gave them a good scrub before wiping them down with some Old English furniture polish. The size is absolutely perfect and I love these new-to-me tables! The one issue I had with the space is that it still needs to be kid friendly, while keeping a lot of functionality at the same time. We don’t have an extra space for a playroom in our house, so the living room kind of does double duty. I got this storage trunk at Target a while back and it has been working out great for keeping toys contained, but still easily accessible when playtime comes around. I got a few new throw pillows from Home Goods and Pier 1 for the couch, and some cute art and frames for a small gallery wall. And that’s about it! Until the following week when I lost my mind and painted the bar.
Ohmygod, it’s was a huge task, and every couple of hours I would sit down, stare at the mammoth-sized project in front of me and wonder what the hell was I thinking?! I had to do about three coats of primer, and four coats of paint. It was absolutely exhausting and I honestly didn’t think I was going to get it done by the end of the week, before M’s birthday party. But I did! I can’t believe it, but I did! And after all the blood, sweat and tears (literally, all three of those things happened during this redo) the room looks like a brand new space! The living room is so much lighter and brighter now, and the room feels about twice as big. I’m pretty proud of myself for tackling this big of a project all on my own, and I think it turned out so great! Sorry for the grainy cell phone pictures, I definitely was NOT in the mood to get out the camera to take shots during this redo. But not that it’s all said and done, I promise I’ll get the camera out and take better after pictures tomorrow!
What about you? Have you ever started a project and then realized you bit off more than you can chew? Or what about those pesky New Year’s resolutions? Do you make them? Avoid them? I’d love to hear your thoughts!