Wednesday, October 9, 2013

calling all HGTV wannabes.

You guys, help. Seriously.

This is my living room (please pardon the terrible iPod Touch photos throughout. And the mess.). My mom refers to it as "the family room" because we have another living room at the front of the house which I refer to as "the front room" (apparently that's a regional thing?). It's an eyesore, and we've done nothing with it since moving in in January besides buying a sectional and an armchair (where I obviously spend a lot of time - notice the Boppy). Do you see that big dark wall? What I want to do with it is something like this -

- but the other adult living here says he wants to wait until he gets tenure before we do anything "significant" to the house. That also means that the nasty carpet with stains from the previous owners (the downside of a short sale - they left the house in crappy condition) is staying for a while, too. So I'm trying to decide on some quick fixes that don't require a lot of DIY effort, since I seriously don't have time anymore. Will you weigh in with your ideas? Read about them after the jump!

Thought #1: Rug Over Carpet
Is this a major faux-pas? I want to hide the stains, of course, but also would like to bring some color into the room. I'm thinking something like this might be nice? Is it a waste to spend $200 now when we'll probably be getting new carpet in three years? Or is $65 a year worth it? (I just answered my own question.)

Thought #2: Square or Round Coffee Table
The midcentury coffee table we've been using - a hand-me-down from my parents that technically belongs to my brother (though I think his wife wishes we'd break or torch it) - just doesn't work in this room. Since we have a sectional now, I'm thinking a square or round shape might be nice, but I haven't found one I like at a decent price.

Did I bother to clean up for this photo shoot? No, I did not. I'm past the point of shame.

Thought #3: The Dreaded Entertainment Center
I don't want one. At all. But our current setup is embarrassing. I have my eye on this one from a local vintage shop:

Do you think it would look okay against this wall, across from the sofa?

As you can see, our TV is tiny, so we don't need much room for it on those shelves. And I like the idea of a secretary so we could put things we don't want visible all the time behind it (TV, if it fits, or other electronic stuff). But it's pretty big. And we have to pay to have it delivered, too, so it'll be over $100 per year on this one. Worth it?

Thought #4: The Big Dark Wall
You already know what I really want to do with it. But I did buy some gray paint. I'm thinking about doing a gallery wall with all kinds of things - photographs, art prints, kid art, pretty book covers, like this:

But it's a huge wall, so to cover it would require a LOT of frames (and money). Would I be better off just painting it and doing a smaller gallery above the sofa instead?

Thanks for your input!


  1. OK, first, I think your whole perspective on the room will change when you get rid of that brown wall. I love saturated colors, but I am not feeling that one.

    I see no problem with a rug over a rug if that makes you feel better about the carpet.

    Sounds like you're already thrift shopping... but much of my good furniture came from estate sales and auctions. Prime auction season has sort of come and gone, but watch the paper. You actually tend to get stuff way cheaper at a good auction than at a thrift store.

    I have my "media center" in an old buffet. If you are more into TV, you'd put the TV on top of the buffet, but ours is inside it, along with the DVD player, the playstation, and the movies, etc. I like all the drawers. I did have to have my dad cut a hole into the back of the buffet (he almost cried...)

    Melissa and I totally disagree here, but I love a few big, high impact art pieces rather than many small ones because I think it makes the room look more peaceful and unified.

    Six years in, I still haven't fully decorated my own house.


  2. My friends have a beautiful accent wall in their apartment. It's a tall wall, maybe 10 feet high and it's painted red. It's decorated with a variety of frames all painted black. It's absolutely stunning. Since you're handy and crafty, I'd look for ugly frames at the thrift store and paint them all one uniform color. Then you can frame whatever you want - pictures, posters, pretty paper, whatever floats your boat.

  3. I love that rug but agree that $65/year is probably a little steep. Ikea and Urban Outfitters have a few fun options for under $100. I also love that gallery wall and agree that shopping for a few larger thrift store pieces might help keep your costs down.

    P.S. I love that sectional and can't wait to see how everything comes together.

  4. The first thing that popped into my head is that you need something on that wall, painted or not. When I saw the first top picture, I thought - get to hobby lobby with a 40% coupon and buy yourself the most ginormous canvas you can find. Then spend some time on pinterest and see if you can find something that will be super simple and possibly work with colors you want in that space. You can use craft paints which run less than a dollar a bottle. Stripes, boxes, swirls, whatever.
    I guess I didn't share the finished piece in place on my blog but that is what we did in our foyer (for the time being). I made a big pinwheel painting and hung it over our foyer table
    For a picture of the foyer space,
    and for a picture of the giant canvas itself

    I love the framed picture wall, and I'm actually working on a similar wall to go up on the tall and narrow facing wall over our stairwell to the basement. You can once again buy cheaper frames at hobby lobby and michael's using the 40% coupons, as well as pick up frames at one of the bobajillion thrift stores in town. Who cares if they don't even match, you can always spray paint them to be cohesive. Also, this just popped into my head - one of the first times I ever went to Ikea I saw a display piece in one of the kitchen rooms and was so in love with it. It was a framed piece of fabric, voila, that's it. Looked like an art piece, that way you don't even have to hunt for pictures for every frame, or create your own artwork.

    And then lastly, you can go the blow up a huge photograph at copy service route.
    It only costs $6. The picture in this post doesn't show my final touch, because ya know, I'm always too impatient to fully finish a tutorial before posting it online. Afterward, I went to lowe's and bought a couple long pieces of quarter round. Cut them to the length of the poster, literally hot glued them to the top and bottom of the poster paper, giving it a vintage-classroom-map-poster-pull-down-thingamabob look.

  5. If you want a big canvas painted for the wall (or a couple big ones together) I'd be happy to paint one for you. Last year my boss found a painting she loved and I replicated it for 1/8th the price!
    (You're super crafty you probably don't really need my help).

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  7. Also, I know this isn't exactly what you were looking for... but here is a relatively easy/cheap "ikea hack" to create built in bookcases. The bookcases are super cheap on craigslist (usually like 20-40 bucks) and would be a simple DIY option to brighten up the room. I went out to lunch with your mom today and we were talking about this and saying that Steve would be happy to come out and do the building/installation!

  8. Definitely a good idea to repaint. Consider putting the sectional against the wall instead of the windows-- you could look outside and there would be less dauting wall space to cover. Maybe you could put a cute lamp in the corner behind the sectional, a couple wall shelves on one side and some kind of wall hanging(s)/pictures/art whatever on the other. Plants by the window and/on on wall shelves would be great! I agree with finding an inexpensive, but nice rug. Good luck! I'm amazed you even have time to think of this two months into having a new baby!


  9. My husband HATES anything from Ikea...but we bought two black/brown bookshelves with the glass doors (to keep Avery out), and they are like new 3 1/2 years later. I LOVE THEM. And the glass doors make them look so finished. They were really inexpensive too. Maybe you could do something like that on either end on the brown (or gray) wall, and then put the tv in the middle with a portrait wall above the tv, between the two bookshelves. : )