The Finishing Touches: Living Room Style

This week’s post is brought to you in part by Overlook Hospital: Dan’s having hand surgery today!  For those of you who don’t remember, last week I shared the unfortunate news that my husband Dan/DIY partner-in-crime broke his hand during a recreation league soccer game.  While of course having surgery is stressful, we are happy to report that his hand should heal even faster as a result, in about three weeks!   It can’t come soon enough: I am itching to get my DIY hands dirty again.  For now, there’s a lot of crafting, brainstorming, and even a little trip down memory lane to get us through the first week of spring.

Today, I wanted to share with all of you what it means to “finish a room”, or letting a room evolve into a state where you’re happy with the overall design and layout.  I’ve gotten quite a few DIY questions about how to decide what furniture to buy, how much things should match, and how to determine what projects are worth doing or just worth buying.  These are all good questions, and I’m not a trained DIY expert, but I do have some experiences worth sharing that make DIY and home decorating accessible to anyone.  I thought I would focus on the (mostly finished) living room to talk about all of the design decisions that have worked for us in this space.  Additionally, all of the projects that we completed in this room took place before the blog existed, so there’s a few things I want to recap.  Aw, here it goes…

We’ll start from all the way on the left of the above picture.  Ignore the fact that our white verticals are still hung – we upgraded those to espresso colored bamboo shades last week.  Let’s talk about our bookshelf, which is a 16-cube storage unit that acts as a room divider between the living area and the kitchen.

Here’s a full-length view of our two-way bookshelf and room divider.  When we purchased this unit, Dan got a fantastic deal. It only ran us about $140 from Improvements Catalog (the item is no longer available on their website) and it stores quite a few books!

One thing I will say about all of our bookshelves in the house is that we never have a shortage of books.  I love being able to get creative and store pretty knicknacks and colorful décor items in our shelves, but when it comes right down to it, we just have a LOT of books.  To accent everything, I added in a few fun items like those black pug bookends, a Crate and Barrel basket, and a container full of corks from old wine bottles.  Mostly, our shelf is full of books though. :)

Moving on to the wall décor in our living room space, we have our windowframe-turned-wedding photo collage.  I’ve talked about this project a lot, and I even chronicled it in detail on my previous website.  Long story short, I cleaned up this window from a home that I worked on in West Virginia as part of a work community service trip, backed the entire frame with a large sheet of cork paper, adhered a bunch of small 4×6 photos for the left side of the frame, and printed four 8×10 photos to complete the right side of the frame.  This was a really fun and minimal cost project that personalized our space but also complemented the color scheme.

In the far left corner of the living room, we placed a smaller bookshelf and topped it with our very own DIY lamp.  Dan took this project on all by himself shortly after our wedding.  He bought three pieces of walnut wood and cut them into similarly sized blocks, drilling each of them in the center.  He kept one piece slightly larger to serve as the base of the lamp.  He finished all of the wood blocks with three coats of Danish oil and stacked them together. Then, he used a lighting kit and fed the wire through the stack of wood pieces.  We topped this lamp off with a pretty blue and yellow lampshade from Target for about $15.99 (I can’t remember the exact price) which contributed the perfect amount of beachy vibes in this room.

The lamp sits on top of this super cute, three-tiered bookshelf from the Christmas Tree Shops that cost about $15.  We bought it in black and actually primed and painted it white to lighten things up and match some of the other décor in the room.  I also backed the bookshelf by adhering red and white polka dotted fabric from Spoonflower to a piece of foam core and sliding it in each shelf, which just fits the fun personality of this space.    Believe it or not, that blue box in the bookshelf was $2 from Michaels and holds about 30 DVDs!  It’s perfect for hiding all of the stuff that seems to accumulate in our living room.

Speaking of hiding stuff, I love our TV stand console, which we got a few years ago on Amazon for $245.  Again, this piece of furniture was bought in a black finish and we primed and painted it white to update it and bring some more brightness into our space.  We also change the door hardware to fit our style a little better.  Dan actually did the painting on this piece, and it’s held up pretty well over the past two years.  You might also notice that we added a mini gallery wall above the television.  This was yet another pre-blog DIY project: we wanted to take assorted pictures from our engagement photoshoot and wedding and display them in a fun way.  With any of our art or photos on display, I tried to maintain the same general color scheme by choosing those images that featured blue, yellow, or red in some way.  We also reused a canvas print from our wedding, a wooden heart and flower plaque souvenirs from our honeymoon in Maui, and some old photostrips from friends’ past weddings.  This gallery adds some interest to the wall with colors, shapes, and a variety of items, rather than just putting up a few pictures from one vacation, for example.

On top of the TV stand, we added a table runner in a Moroccan print from HomeGoods from a while back.  Again, this just adds color and a little more fun to the space (and it means less dusting!).

Lastly, I just wanted to mention our couch, ottoman, and rug.  We actually really love this navy Moroccan print rug from Rugs USA.  We bought a rug pad off of Craigslist to put underneath and prevent everything from sliding around.  My only complaint is that the rug is actually pretty thick and slightly difficult to vacuum.  The cats have already started tearing up both the rug and the couch, making it clear that we should never spend too much money on our big ticket furniture items in the near future.  The couch is from Raymour and Flanigan (I can’t exactly remember the model name) and we actually got the ottoman as a hand-me-down from my sister-in-law, Shannon.

As you can see, there are a lot of projects that have gone into this “finished” space, which is, of course, not finished.  I’d love to upgrade the ottoman with either a DIY project or a nice coffee table.  I also always think about updating art and bringing in more color with couch pillows into the room.  Overall, though, I’m really happy with how the space has turned out thus far.  What spaces in your home do you feel sum up your personalities perfectly?  How are you letting your rooms evolve with you over time?


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