How My Living Room Has Evolved

Lately, I’ve been working on whipping my living room into better shape and I’ve excited to chat about the evolution of this space! I recently hemmed and re-hung my favorite, budget friendly curtains and got a new rug. But before we get too far into that, let’s talk about where this space started!

This is one of the first shots I snapped of the Living Room at Berrybrier when I first bought the house back in August 2017! It was the space that really sold me on the house, can you believe that? It was a decent sized space and felt so open. I knew the wide cased opening to the Dining Room would be great for entertaining.

The fact that when the original porch had been enclosed as part of this room, the sloped floor hadn’t been corrected nor the wood turned to match the rest of the room, didn’t bother me. I had a vision for the space!

Sure the floors needed to be refinished and everything needed to be repainted, but compared to the work needed in the kitchen, these seemed like minor details.

One thing that definitely needed to happen? Getting rid of this 1980’s accordion door which someone had installed in this opening! Not exactly period appropriate, but then again, this opening didn’t exist at all when the house was first built!

During the majority of the renovations in 2017 and early 2018, the living room room sat neglected and full of crap. It was part living room, part kitchen, part storage room. It was chaos. For almost 5 months the only place to sit was a camping cot covered in a sheet. It was super uninviting.

Then finally in January 2018, my sister, Bronwyn, moved into the house bringing her two awesome, pink velvet, swivel lounge chairs with her. Real seating! Shortly after that, my cousin Mary replaced her sofa and handed her old one down to me. Now I had furniture! It was still chaos, but at least there was a comfortable place to sit!

Once the stairway had been painted, I knew which colors I was using in this space (Benjamin Moore Brushed Aluminum on the walls and Forrest Floor on the trim!), so in April 2018 I painted all the trim and walls, just a few weeks before my housewarming party. I didn’t take very many pictures of this process, since it’s similar to painting any other room (here’s the order I like to paint walls, trim, and ceilings).

In general though, I always follow the same process for painting my interiors. First I paint all the trim and then I roll out the walls, then a second coat on the trim, and once that’s dry I cut in the walls and roll the final coat on the rest of the wall. I did snap this terribly blurry iPhone shot of Jackson incredibly intent on diving into the can of trim paint! Luckily, he decided not to carry out this idea, because what a mess he would have created!

My sister helped me out and greywashed the fireplace, taking the jarring color variation down a notch.

Right before my housewarming party in April 2018, I moved everything out of the space and laid down my West Elm shag rug. It was the only rug I owned and I’d bought it for the Duplex years ago. Suddenly there was a seating area and this room looked like it made sense, 8 months after I’d bought the house! While this layout was nice and open to the dining area, it required the sofa in chairs sit pretty far from each other with two cocktail “tables” between.

This layout felt like the only way to make the room work… but also didn’t feel right. The bonded leather ottoman had also been a purchase I’d made at the Duplex and I just never really liked it. I’m not sure whatever made me purchase red, but it was not the good choice! It was pretty lovely for propping my feet up on, however. Besides it was the vintage trunk I’d bought when living in the Bay Area, which I adored, but was a tad high for a cocktail table. The art on the walls were random collections of things I’d framed previously and a big slashed painting I’d gotten out of the dumpster at work. Yes, that’s not a painted line, that’s a slash mark! I’d planned to try to rehab it, repairing it with tape and adding paint on top to cover the damage… but never got around to it. I did a few other projects instead!

The thing is, white shag rugs do not work particularly well with my living room life style. First of all, this hand-tufted West Elm rug never, ever, ever stopped shedding. Like entire vacuum bags full of fuzz and fuzz all over the floor and in every corner kind of shedding. It’s ridiculous and the heavy foot traffic was only increasing the shedding. I know people who’ve actually returned this same rug to West Elm after realizing it was never going to stop shedding. This combined with the fact that I tend to eat every meal in the Living Room (seriously, why do I even have a Dining Room, can it just be a Library already?), made the white, shag rug less than ideal.

That was okay though, because as I got my own bedroom painted and started getting that space together, a nice heavy shag rug started sounding pretty perfect underfoot. So in December 2018, I dragged the rug into my room and left it in there. The living room went back to being rug-less. This meant the furniture floated all around the room and the space looked off.

If you follow me on Instagram (click in the sidebar to follow along and see recent posts!) , you may have seen my Instastories documenting my new seagrass rug! I bought it from RugsUSA during their Father’s Day sale in June 2019 for less than $175. I figured this price would give me a good look until I find the perfect antique rug for the space. Plus, with a new puppy, I probably shouldn’t be buying a forever rug right now! I took all the furniture out of the room and gave the floors a good scrubbing. Then I carefully laid out the new rug and pad. It was delightful!

This is when I decided to go a little rogue. I was never all that happy with the living room layout of the facing chairs and sofa. They were slightly too far away from each other and I wanted to be able to fit one more seat. When I’d bought the house I’d drawn up the plans in AutoCAD and played around with furniture layouts, and the layout I had seemed to be the only one that actually worked since the circulation in the long narrow room was a bit difficult.

Despite knowing this, I decided to get a good work out in and move all the furniture in the room around once more. I put the sofa directly across from the fireplace and put the swivel lounge chairs facing in on the right side of it. Then I stole the cute wing chair from the Dining Room and put that opposite the swivel chairs. Instantly I knew this had to work. The room felt instantly more cozy and conversational, perfect for the cloudy, cool days of which Portland is famous! The layout is a little tight in places and although I probably wouldn’t propose it for a client, it works for my lifestyle.

So here we are, a new room with almost all the same pieces as before. A space that’s evolved so much since I bought the house in 2017 and – I’m sure – will continue to evolve in the future!

A few things that definitely need to change soon in this space are the sofa, light fixture, and console. I desperately want a new sofa, preferably a sleeper sofa that could be pulled out easily for guests. I’ve been eyeing this one from West Elm for months. I think it would be fantastic in green velvet, but I wish the outside was tufted too. The way my sofa sits in the room it really needs some interest on the exterior rather than the interior. We’ll see where I land. I’m hoping to bite the bullet sometime at the end of the year during holiday sales. Let me know if you see any awesome sleeper sofa’s with tufting or channeling on the back and sides!

As far as the lighting goes, I found an awesome light fixture at the Laurelhurst Neighborhood Garage Sale and am just waiting to rewire it. I’ll hook it into the existing junction box (which is waaay off center in the room) and then with a long wire and chain swoop it over to be centered on the fireplace. Eventually I’ll get the ceiling rewired to have better electrical locations and updated wiring, but this and some LED bulbs will work for now.

As for this console… it needs an update. The top is rather damaged from something red and perhaps water as well. I want to paint the whole thing black to tie into the border on the new rug. I think it will be a fun place to add some contrast. It’s packed with books right now because I have a book problem overabundance, but I think I’ll be rotating in some more objects. While I like having all my German steins together on the corner, it’s not working overall, so these may need to go into storage until I can find a more permanent home for them.

The antelope head over the fireplace I’ve had since the Duplex, and while I love it, it’s not really the right style for this house. He needs to find a new home (perhaps in my parent’s Spanish style abode?). The fireplace itself is fine for now, but one day I’d love to replace it with a wooden mantle and surround in a more early 1900s style.

This wing chair is fantastic in here. Although I loved the idea of a reading chair in the dining room, it didn’t really get much use. In this cozy corner though, the chair is a wonderful addition and one of the favorite seats in the house! It’s nice and high and like all wingbacks, feels like a giant hug! It’s a piece I got from work when it came in with a severely damaged leg. I was able to fix it and save it from the landfill. The lamp besides it is IKEA. It’s magical at an amazing price. I love that it turns on at the pivot point on the top of the stem and has a fabric covered cord. This floor lamp looks way more expensive than $50!

The other side of the room is a bit calmer and I like the vibe going on here. I think if the sofa was either charcoal, wine, or a deep green, this would feel just about perfect! This trunk is one I got for free when I picked up the secretary that’s in the dining room. It’s shorter than my other tunk and is almost exactly the right size for in here. I’ve filled it with candles and balloons and other party stuff!

Overall, this room feels like it’s beginning to come together. I’ve experimented with layouts and ideas. My to-list for this space now feels really achievable!

  • Rearrange gallery wall now that center TV is gone
  • Remove antelope head, full length mirror, some accessories for less busy space
  • Paint console table
  • Buy new sleeper sofa
  • Build new fireplace mantle and surround (that’s for waaay down the line!)
  • Style space with fresh accessories (maybe a few more blue and white pottery pieces?)

I’ll just leave you with a few before and afters now, so we can truly appreciate how far this space has come! This change has brought the space to life!

It’s refreshing to see the space looking cozy, clean, and comforting rather than empty and dirty! And that old low hanging light fixture in the entry found a new home in the dining room!

Have you ever switched up your furniture layout and created a whole new room? Doesn’t it feel amazing? Let me know how your space transformed in the comments!

4 thoughts on “How My Living Room Has Evolved

  1. Laurel! I’m your neighbor and it has been great fun following your efforts. Inspiring!
    What are you thinking in terms of a sleeper sofa? It is next on my own list of to-do’s. Well, furniture-wise, that is. We just bought a 720 square foot bungalow near the middle school and are trying to make it work.

    1. Hi Babs! Thanks for following along. 🙂 I’m looking at one from West Elm the Rochester. Maybe waiting until the holiday sales though. Pottery Barn also has some good ones. I keep meaning to go to Kuhnhausens here in PDX to see if they have any good options! I think a sleeper in a space the size of your bungalow would be an awesome option!

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