Bringing the Living Room To Life

Bringing the Living Room To Life

Happy Monday! I cannot believe it’s December! How did this happen? It’s insane. December means I’ve officially lived in Portland for four months. It definitely feels like I moved yesterday! However, four months seems to be about the amount of time it takes me to bring a room together because the living room is finally in a good place. It’s been all over the place since we moved here, but has always seemed un-finished slightly sad, now things are beginning to look more permanent!

Do you remember when I moved in and it looked like this? A pile of boxes, some old IKEA furniture, and my plants scattered over every surface. It was right as we were moving in and the space was in the midst of being cleaned, cleaned, cleaned!

The Duplex Moving In Tour | Land of Laurel

Eventually it began to slowly transform as we settled into the Duplex and started to get more organized. The room became a place holder for mix-matched furniture  and art we already owned.

Living Room | Land of Laurel

But it still didn’t feel quite right. Things needed adjustments. We didn’t have a sofa (because I couldn’t quite find the perfect one at the perfect price), the faux cowhide rug wasn’t very cozy, and the furniture arrangement needed tweaking to create a more conversation oriented layout. Still, it wasn’t bad, just temporary. Things were looking so much better than when we first moved in!

Living Room | Land of Laurel

Well things have continued to move around and now this space actually feels like a comfortable place to hang out! The biggest change, however, came from another room in the house! Remember the rug I bought right after ripping out the carpet and painting the subfloor in the bonus room? It’s a great Moroccan Inspired white and charcoal 8’x10′ rug that’s oh so soft and cozy! We loved it in here, but it was a tad large for the space (which I knew when I bought it) and it seemed sad to waste such a lovely rug on a space we hardly used.

Furniture in the Bonus Room | Land of Laurel

It lived up there for about a week and a half until I decided we needed to really rearrange. The next Saturday I rolled up the rug and dragged it downstairs (literally). That day I also finally decided I wasn’t going to buy a sofa for the Duplex. This place is a transitionary home and I’d rather buy a sofa for the Portland home I decide to live in more permanently when my lease here is up in June. Since I am not going to buy a sofa, it made sense for my roommate’s futon to take on that roll downstairs. So that needed to change locations as well! Down the stairs it went (I moved this by myself and nearly died when it decided to try to take me with it when I was sliding it down the staircase). I continued moving furniture around. The bench that served as primary seating before? Poof! Up into the bonus room it went. I tried the rug a couple of ways before sliding it into it’s final position and plopping the furniture back down. I also grabbed a canvas drop cloth I had in the garage and draped it over the purple futon to brighten it up. The black mud cloth stayed and popped more against it’s new white backdrop! The rest of the furniture in the room stayed and just got moved around a little bit. The entire space feels so much brighter and cleaner now! Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty to do, but this finally feels like a good space!

Living Room | Land of Laurel

Moving the rug and the futon downstairs was a huge change for the better! The room feels so much cozier and put together and a million other things. The only thing I really want to switch out now is the TV console, which I’d love to replace with an old dresser. Other than that, everything is here to stay! Luckily, even though I bought the rug for upstairs, it fits perfectly down in here! I laid it about 10″ from the window wall (to clear space for the heater vent that’s behind the sofa) and it ends with just enough room for the stools to slide out when you’re sitting at the counter. Jackson has taken over the old cherry-crate-turned-cat-bed I made Malary back in Berkeley. I placed it over in this corner to help fill in the space by the snake plant and pantry cabinet and it has become his new favorite place to sleep.

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I promise he’s not as crosseyed as this photo makes him look. He’s quickly become part of our home and absolutely dotes on Malary – following her around constantly – which annoys her to no end!

Most everything in the room is repurposed from before, but I did buy a few things in the last few weeks. The fiddle leaf fig tree came home after my last Home Depot trip. It’s hanging out in front of the fixed panel on the slider door for now and I’m hoping to give it a nice long life. We only have eastern and northern light in this house, which I’m hoping is enough for it to thrive. I’ve decided it’s large enough to deserve a name, so I’m calling her Finley. This spot is bright in the morning through early afternoon, but doesn’t get any of the hot evening sun. In fact after 2pm or so this room is a little dim. Anyone else have a fiddle leaf fig? Let me know your tricks for keeping it alive! I’ve wanted one for ages and when I stumbled upon this nice tall one, I jumped on her! The deer head is also new – an impulse buy from Cost Plus World Market. I kind of love it! It’s green and red and gold; my favorite colors!

Living Room | Land of Laurel

This room feels so much nicer these days and we’re using it so much more. Before it was definitely a transitionary space both in look and use. We mostly passed through here on the way to our bedrooms. We’d rarely hang out down here since there was no where cozy to lounge. Now with the futon and the comfy rug, it’s just as likely you’ll find us laying on one as the other! I swear this rug is so fluffy underfoot you just want to stick your face on it!

Living Room | Land of Laurel

It’s a far cry from where we started right?

The Duplex Moving In Tour | Land of Laurel

The space is transformed and now it’s perfect for board game nights and curling up with popcorn to watch a movie. It’s cozy for winter and winters last a long time in Portland! Plus I just can’t get enough of that deer head.

Living Room | Land of Laurel

Have you switched up a room with the simple addition of a new rug lately? It’s such a quick change and yet it can make the whole space feel completely different! I’ve been designing lots of custom rugs lately and they’ve been on my mind! I want to get around to writing a “what to look for in a rug” post soon. For now, you’ll find me curled up with a blanket and two sleepy cats on the futon (as I am right now). 🙂

 

 

 

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Other Design Fails

Guess what guys? It’s Christmas. Yup, Christmas! You thought Christmas was in December? Nope. You’ve maybe heard of Christmas in July? Also wrong! It’s Christmas right now, today. Still confused? Here’s the 411.

 

When I moved into my house in Berkeley, I bought a lot of my existing furnishings and bedding with the idea of slowly updating a lot of it. It soon became clear that this might need to happen sooner rather than later for my bedding. Why? My comforter, barely warm enough during California winters in other rooms I’ve slept in, was excruciatingly hot in this 10 year old, properly insulated home. I woke up sweating almost every night and this was with the window left open in winter! Time for a change!

 

I went to IKEA and bought a new down comforter, one of their “coolest” models. This is it, I thought. This comforter weighs one third of my old one. It will be so much cooler. I will no longer get sweaty. I will sleep blissfully. Like an angel. This was right around when I bought my new West Elm duvet cover. I had high hopes for my new bedroom look!

 

A few nights in, I realized, although this new comforter was significantly cooler than my original one, it wasn’t cool enough. At all. I like to sleep snuggled up in warm bedding in a cool room and this was just too hot, even with the window open! Maybe I’m wearing the wrong pajamas, I thought. I tried long pants, I wore no pants, I tried tank tops. I wore just underwear, I tried nightgowns, I wore leggings, I wore REI moisture-wicking base layers. Nothing worked. Okay, fine, I thought, I can come up with another solution, this is so much better than having the opposite problem. And I’ve lived through that too. 

 

I started looking for quilts. A thin quilt would surely be cool enough! Now, I just need to find one in a great green color to match everything else in my room. Months past… I looked on every site and in every store I could think of. I found… nothing in green. Eventually, I stumbled on this quilt from West Elm. It didn’t come in green. At this point, I was sleep deprived from being too warm. I started to care less about green. I started to rely on my primitive lizard brain. My primitive lizard brain likes the color red. So does my frontal lobe, actually, but my frontal lobe is much better about regulating the amount of red. It’s good at mixing red with neutrals. My lizard brain doesn’t give a flying @!$&. My lizard brain wanted to sleep in a cool environment and not wake up sweating.

 

Then the quilt went on sale. My lizard brain just loves a good sale. It was definitely in control when I hopped on those nightstands I posted about Monday like they were big, juicy, lizard-food bugs. What happened next? I’m sure you can guess. I bought the quilt in the paprika color and the matching standard shams. When these came in the mail, I love them. They’re a beautiful red, my absolute favorite shade of red! I was excited. These will look fantastic, I thought.

 

Then I washed them and made up my bed…

 

West Elm Duvet and Quilt | Land of Laurel

 

Merry Christmas! Don’t you just love decorating with red and green? OOPS.

 

I’d convinced myself before pushing the “Place Order” button, that the red quilt would look fine in my bedroom. After all, the duvet had plenty of red in it!  In reality? Happy Christmas. My pale green walls, green throw, and even the floral duvet met up with the red quilt and started celebrating the birth of Jesus. Throw in some gold sequined throw pillows and you’ve really got a Christmas party! Doggoneit. Switching up the nightstands with the blue and green books was also an attempt to help with my new holiday inspired space.

 

Nightstands and Red Quilt | Land of Laurel

 

 

… it didn’t really help much.

 

The red completely dominated the other colors in my duvet. The shades of white, blue, green– they all disappeared. All I see now is red. And it’s not because I’m angry. Let’s call this learning. Let’s call this evolving.

 

Even Malary wasn’t happy with the new look.

 

New Bedding | Land of Laurel

 

Here’s the thing though, the quilt did solve some of my problems. It is the perfect weight. I am no longer super hot at night. I can even sleep with the window closed now! I don’t wake up all hot and sweaty. I no longer sing Nelly’s Hot in Herre at 2:00am. My roommates are much appreciative! So in some ways, this quilt is the best thing ever! Now, if only I had bought it in that pretty Natural/Flax color rather than Paprika… But, I am no good at keeping light neutrals, oh, how should I say it? Light and neutral. They usually become spotted and dark. Quickly. Nope, white and lights don’t mix well with clumsy ole me! Slate might have worked… but it was so dark!

 

So what am I going to do? Live with it for now. Maybe switch up the shams and get some different throw pillows. Or! Move to a place with a guest bedroom and split up the bedding, since I love them both so dearly. That’s not happening anytime soon though… And I do love throw pillows. Until I move forward with a new plan, I’ll just be over here celebrating Christmas. All day. Everyday. Good thing I love holidays!! I would like a design win though… I’m over failing!

Glitzing Things Up with Gold

My goodness, it has been a while. Sorry, my friends! I’ve been having a crazy January! Lots of things going on personally and professionally. I’ve been falling into bed totally exhausted all month long. I have lots of blog posts planned though! Yay! Now I just need to write them… but I will! I will! I promise!

 

So, do you remember approximately 50 thousand years ago when I made over a nightstand for my friend Hannah? And I showed you all the prep process and never showed the final thing? I promise that I will – I just need to get myself into San Francisco in the daylight to style it and take some pictures… any day now…  Anyways, you may recall, that when I found that nightstand I also found some ceramic lamps. They were a hideous brown-purple color, but they had an excellent curvy shape that I knew would look fantastic in a different color.

 

Thrift Store Lamps and Nightstand

 

You may also recall that I already have two perfectly good matching lamps in my room. They are a bright apple green color and are Robert Abbey. Basically, they’re great, but they don’t actually function. They need to be rewired and I just don’t love them enough to get on that. I also think they need to be a different color. But because they’re so nice in the factory finish, I’m having difficulty getting myself to re-do them. I think I will eventually, but right now, I’m happy to tuck them away in the attic. Maybe they’ll have a new life in navy blue in my parent’s family room. Or maybe they’ll live in attics for ten years, because I am a hoarder at heart. 🙂

 

West Elm Bedding | Land of Laurel

 

Once I banished them, it was really time to get a hop on the thrifted lamps though. I got the lamps from where they’d been living (the corner of my bedroom!) and brought them outside to our courtyard to take inventory.  They were in pretty awesome shape considering their misfortunate coloring. The finish was still shiny and in good shape, they even worked when I plugged them into the outlet! Working lamps from the thrift store for 10 bucks each?! What is this victorious feeling? Thrift store success! Let me tell you, it’s a real high. 😉

 

Inventory of the Lamps

 

Now that I new these lamps did not even require re-wiring, this make over got super easy. All they needed was a quick coat of paint! We all know how much I love to paint. But what color should they be? My first thought was a nice dark green, since that was my go-to color for my bedroom in the beginning. But then my new bedding incorporates so much of my true life long love: the color red! I was in a bit of a conundrum. I like design conundrums though. I get to sit back and think about things for a little while. So after letting this cook on the back burner of my head for a bit, things became clear. Around this time I was also redoing my bathroom plant stand and then a little while later I stumbled upon my gold sequined pillows; things suddenly became very clear. Am I obsessed? I’m still undecided, but as I’m sure you’ve guessed, I decided to go with the gold again! Time to get cooking! I got out my trusty canvas painter’s cloth and began my prep work.

 

First  I taped off the electrical where the light bulb sits and then the plug itself. Because these were fully functioning lamps, I did NOT want to mess with these bits! Every thing else though? Go for the gold! I even decided to try spraying the brown cord. I figured the worst that could happen is it would flake off and I’d be left with a brown cord again. Since I intended to fully hide the cord, I couldn’t think of a reason to not give it a try.

 

Once things were taped off, I wiped down the entire lamp with liquid deglosser. I know a lot of people skip this step, but since I already have the liquid deglosser, I figure it can’t hurt. Once I’d checked that off the list it was time for my favorite part: paint!

 

Prepping the Lamps | Land of Laurel

 

When I spray paint, I like to look like a deranged college student/clown. I wear my hair up, I wear eye goggles, I wear an intense mask/respirator rated for spray painting. Spray paints still have VOCs. VOCs are terrible for you. It’s important to take safety precautions. This is another reason I always spray paint outside. May the internet forever treasure this photo of me. Also NESCAC represent!

 

Spray Paint Precautions | Land of Laurel

 

Once I’d donned my safety equipment, I grabbed my favorite primer and went to town.

 

Rustoleum Primer | Land of Laurel

 

After the first coat things were looking pretty rough. I always like to show you these in priming progress shots, because spray painting is all about thin coats! It doesn’t happen magically all of a sudden! It definitely takes patience and many coats to get a nice spray paint finish. I could definitely use more patience in this arena!

 

Priming the Lamps | Land of Laurel

 

You can see that everything totally looks crazy town for a minute or two. But, don’t worry! Another coat of primer and they start to look quite dashing! Now, at this point I always start to doubt myself. Do I really want to paint them a different color? White looks so good!! I think white is classic, elegant, just lovely. You know what white isn’t though? Me. White isn’t me. I don’t handle white things well… In fact, I usually destroy white things. You should see the mud stains I have on my formerly white jeans. I just can’t be trusted with white! But I do have an appreciation for all that class! If you look closely though, you can see that the original color peeking out under the priming job. It doesn’t matter, because what comes next is even better.

 

White Primed Lamps | Land of Laurel

 

To no one’s surprise but my own, I grabbed my favorite gold spray paint and had a little fun. The first coat went on and things were back to crazy town, but this was Vegas-crazy-town! Glitz! Glamour! Gold! Okay, I freely admit to being obsessed now… 😀

 

First Coat of Gold | Land of Laurel

 

After two more coats, my lamps looked fantastic! Everything I imagined when I saw them at the thrift store after work that first evening. This is the kind of thing I get excited about people, seeing my projects come to fruition. Even if it does take a century and a half for me to get it done. It’s better than chocolate cake. And I love chocolate cake.

 

I let the freshly painted lamps air out in the little shed off our house for three or four weeks. Because they were going into my bedroom I wanted them to have plenty of time to off gas. No one wants to smell spray paint when they’re going to sleep at night. Nuh-uh, no way. I am particularly sensitive to smells too. Another reason they sat out there for so long is that I got busy and forgot about them. But shhhh! The off-gassing is a much better (and very real) reason!

 

Once I brought them indoors I stripped the white lamp shades from my old lamps and plopped them on my new gold ones. Cue the excited squealing! I become about five years old when I am happy. It’s glorious if you enjoy small children. Once I had my lampshades on I placed the new lamps in the center of my nightstands and boy had the view changed. Goodbye apple green.

 

Green Lamps | Land of Laurel

 

Heellloooo gold!

 

Gold Lamps | Land of Laurel

 

Okay, maybe it’s a minor change. But whatever. My lamps are gold, people! I think the curvy shape is much more pleasing to the eye and the gold pops against the white shade similar to the gold sequined throw pillows against the white standards. While repetition isn’t a design requirement, it’s usually a good thing. Just like that things were coming together. My nightstands were looking better too. Just in time for me to get new ones… still need to find those!

 

On the left side of the bed (the unused side of the bed), I keep a picture of my dear friend Hannah and my grandmothers comb, brush, and mirror set. I love having the latter, it’s something I remember seeing every time I walked into her bedroom. Now it’s in mine. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, having little memories of my Oma scattered around my house makes me feel connected to her even though it’s been almost two years since she passed. That woman meant the world to me. And now I’m crying. Pheww. Deep breath and back to design. Since I never use this nightstand, it’s the perfect place to display things.

 

Left Nightstand | Land of Laurel

 

The other nightstand is a bit more functional. The rightstand usually has a glass of water, an empty tea mug, and receipts laying on it, but I decided to clean up a little for the internet. 🙂 I keep my journal either on top of the night stand or in one of the drawers. I like to write from bed, so it’s good to keep it handy. Writing in it calms me down and it’s a great de-stressor. Which makes this the perfect before bed activity. My plant addiction means I usually have a plant or two stuck somewhere on the nightstand as well. I have plans to go to IKEA later this week, I’ve already told my shopping companion to blindfold me past the garden section. I have literally no will power people! There’s usually a framed picture of my friend Claudia on here too… but it’s run off somewhere. I think it’s having a love affair with one of the pictures in the living room. Gosh, I wish Harry Potter was real.  🙂

 

You’ll see too that I have a small framed book above my lamp on this side. I’m experimenting with the idea of having these above the lamps… but I’m still not committed. What do you think? Good? Bad? Ugly? There’s so much wall space… matching mirrors would be great, but I don’t want plain ones or more IKEA. The idea of thrifting matching mirrors is a dream only, which leaves me with buying. Since mirrors get pricy quickly, I’d like to find another solution. I’ve been eyeing pinterest to see how others have managed this. No lightbulb moments yet! Unless – I go all out and hang plants from the ceiling in both corners… 😀 I like that idea!

 

Rightstand | Land of Laurel

 

Over all, I’m loving my new lamps. They actually work. Which is mind boggling. I can now get into bed after turning off the overhead lights without running into my trunk, tripping over piles of clothes, and falling on my face. It’s pretty life changing. I mean, I still usually stub my toe, but clumsy can’t be helped. Sometimes these little things make such a big difference though. Convenience is everything. Plus it’s much better reading light. And mood lighting. 😉

 

Now I still have quite a few things left to do in here, but I’m getting happier and happier about where it’s heading! You can see I finally hung some art in here too. Guess what? It’s more Oma memories. More on that soon! In other news, I want to buy a quilt. My new comforter is still too hot in this room. Dang insulation is doing it’s job too well!

 

Gold Bedroom Lamps | Land of Laurel

 

Can’t wait to tell you more about what’s going on in this space! Lots of exciting changes underfoot! Have you painted anything lately? Dealt with the empty space by your bedside table lamps? Give me your advice! How’s your January been? Can you believe it’s already February? How did this happen so quickly?