Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Living Room: Before and After

Just to review...this is how we found it.

The single-paned window, and perhaps even the deck, were most likely added sometime in the 80's. When the contractors put in the new Marvin window, they had to tear down the deck in order to put in both the headers and footers. We'll rebuild something more period looking to the house - a balcony with a wide center staircase going down the middle and into the back yard.

This is the opposite wall. See all that brown trim? That's all covered in faux wood tack paper to assimilate wood trim. It was horrible to remove.

This room has evolved over the three years we've owned our house (we once had our bed in here). It was the very first room we tackled when we bought the place (the picture of Hubby was within hours of taking ownership) and so it was the first room we finished in terms of the bare bones part. The actual decorating would come much later, as in now...and it's quite serendipitous as again, we're 'moving' into this room just before Christmas.

Here's sort of another 'before' picture that shows our previous color scheme, dictated primarily by the furniture and rug we had on hand at the time.

And here are the 'afters.' I took these pictures on the darkest days of the year as we're having lots of fog and rain - hope they turned out alright!

As you can see, I painted the room white. It's Simply White by Benjamin Moore (Eco-Spec line), which is the same color we've used on all of our house trim and many of our walls. The old color just felt too ruddy looking and I realized (no agonized over) that I'm most drawn to that classic white wall farmhouse look where the color of the walls isn't what the room is about.

I wanted the room to be more about the fireplace, the windows, the view, the light coming in, the furniture, and the artwork. And I just thought that white allowed these things to shine more than any other color. Also, Janet (hi Janet!) over at The Gardener's Cottage just painted her living room Simply White and it completely inspired me!

The mirror over the mantle is such a better fit than our other one. I found this several weeks ago at an antique store for $120.

I picked up the brass sconces at an antique store for $20 each. I had been looking for some sconces online but found them to be very expensive. So these were in our price range and I've always loved the look of a pair of sconces over a mantle.

The seagrass rug is a 9x12 (it hasn't quite flattened out yet after being rolled) and will be relocated to the dining room once I decide what size seagrass rug I want for this room. I know it will be several feet bigger but still trying to figure out exact dimensions before I order it (the first one I ordered had a mid-January delivery date so I cancelled it).

The furniture is by a company called Rowe Furniture. We knew we'd choose something from their line because they are committed to natural fiber fabrics, eco cushion cores and wood from replenished forests. They are also members of the Sustainable Furniture Council (SFC).

This was all very important to us as we have made great efforts to make our home as green and healthy as possible. We also liked the price - due to a special sale that they were having at the time, the couch was just $1,099 and the chairs were $599 each (and we chose the highest grade fabrics).

The velvet couch is extremely luxurious. We love the high curved arms (much like a sleigh bed) as it provides the perfect support for reading a book, sipping a cup of tea or snuggling up next to the warm fire - especially on days like today.

I picked up the brass easel a few years ago for $40 - a price I just couldn't pass up. The antique frame was my Great Great Grandfather's and I'm in the process of ordering a beautiful print for it. I can't wait as I've always loved the artist and will be absolutely delighted to have a piece of hers in our home.

The cabinet used to be in the dining room. It got bumped from there because there will be two new windows going in this spring/summer leaving no room for it. It's sad but I absolutely love it in the living room. It's gone from dining cabinet to secretary, a look I have always loved.

I also like the height it provides and think it really adds a nice finishing touch to the room. We found this piece at a local antique store that used to get antique furniture shipments in from England. During my semester abroad in college, I lived in England and would spend hours going through all of the gorgeous antique stores looking at beautiful cabinets very similar to ours. So it's sort of serendipitous that this piece found me after all of these years.

The cabinet came with black oriental pulls on the drawers, which I don't believe were original due to the lovely brass button knobs on all of the cabinet doors. So I switched them out for Eastlake pulls which offer it more of a country look (and of course, I absolutely love all things Eastlake).

So there it is! I'm sure it will continue to evolve as all rooms do! I hope you like it! We just got our Christmas tree today so we'll be putting that up tomorrow more photos to follow!

Photo updates:


  1. It has been wonderful following your blog and watching the amazing transformation of your home. You have done a beautiful job. Your lovely bookcase is nearly identical to one I inherited from my mother. It was one of a very few antiques she bought that she herself did not refinish, and it was quite a splurge for her. Thank you for your inspiring blog. Sam in Houston.

  2. So gorgeous! Everything looks so fresh and clean. I love the simplicity of the mantle. So glad I found your blog! I'm enjoying the visit.

  3. It is a beautiful space. I love your sofa. I also have a sofa by Rowe, I love their pieces. You have done an amazing job.


  4. Trina - beautiful, just beautiful. You've done the most wonderful job on your living room. It's hard to believe the ugly room in the before photo is now this elegant, lovely room. Fabulous! Have a wonderful Christmas - look forward to next years installments of your renovation. Best wishes, Leigh

  5. Hi Trina,

    Well the day has finally arrived. We have been waiting here paitently for this wonderful posting (for the most part). Your new furniture looks very beautiful, great lines, very classical. Your couch looks very comfortable and it's really nice to have a high back to it....I don't think there's anything worse than not having any head support, yes I think I'm getting old! Love the bookcase, it's amazing how one piece of furniture can change depending what room it goes in. Also love the artist easel....I think you have solved the corner problem, can't wait to see the painting. Thanks for sharing and wishing you both a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Take care 'till next time.
    Tasmania, Australia

  6. Your new room looks incredible. I love everything. Is the furniture comfortable? I love the colours and agree with the white! Where did you order your seagrass? is it comfy to walk on? Love the secretary, the mirror, the decorations and especially the Rowe chairs! Wish I could plunk down on that sofa for a wee visit with you!! Happy Christmas. Yuo've done a superb job!! xo Terri

  7. A beautiful room and that cabinet is perfect in it -- gives color and I love everything you have in it!

    And I love your simple decorating! So natural!

  8. It looks stunning. I love everything you picked out. I bought some new furniture which was delivered last month, all Rowe and I love it too. I love seeing the seagrass rug in your room, I've been debating about getting it for my living room and I think I'm sold now! It looks great.

  9. That is just about the best transformation I've seen. I love everything you've done. (I'm secretly happy that it took you a bit of time to do all that - makes me feel a little less slow in the decorating department. It takes time, after all!) The mirror, furniture, whites - all looks divine.

    All best wishes for the holidays,

  10. What glorious light in this room - with a bright fire in the fireplace, it looks so inviting. The velvet sofa does look sumptuous and I really like the handsome 'secretary.' It's all lovely - Merry Christmas to you all!

  11. Amazing transformation! Your living room looks absolutely beautiful. You should enter this post on Between Naps on the Porch's Metamorphosis Monday - people would love to see the transformation!

  12. Hi Trina,

    Wow, I just love it. Love the paint color. It just brightens the whole room. Great decision. Also the sconces are perfect, so classically simple. And the sofa and chairs are really to die for. I love the velvet fabric you chose. And what a fantastic value. Your home is absolutely beautiful!!!


    ps- even though it was foggy the room still looks bathed in light.

  13. Hi Trina! So happy to hear you are loving the new white walls! Everything looks perfect and serene. I'm really loving the sofa and chairs- such classic designs. I love the 'secretary' in the living room- it looks perfect there! I wish there was a way to get those humps out of the sisal, I'm battling that myself with one rug. Congratulations to you and hubby on a spectacular living renovation!
    xo, j.

  14. WOW! LOVE everything about this room!

    BTW, I'd love to hear more about where you find your bread boards. Antique stores?
    I've been looking for a nice wood one, but haven't had any luck.

  15. Simply beautiful! So nice to see another white room! We just redid our kitchen in all white, cabinets and walls and people looked at us like we had two heads when we told them it was our plan. I love the simplicity of white, everything stands out against it. Gorgeous room, you really did a wonderful job.
    Merry Christmas!

  16. It's so lovely. I particularly love the white walls; I feel as though it allows the outdoors to come in, with Nature as the star. The light is so uplifting and as Joan so perfectly put it, it is serene. Congratulations on a such a lovely transformation.

  17. Lovely, Classic, Timeless. Thanks for sharing.

  18. uhm....seriously? This is amazing!!! It's gorgeous, these pics definitely look like they are coming out of a magazine! I so want to sit in here by the fire...still deciding if I would sit on one of the chairs or the sofa;) This room is such a lovely mix of textures and subtle layering and soft color. And I really can't stop looking at all that fresh green garland, its perfect in there for the holiday!!

  19. Really really pretty. I love the contrast of the white walls with the dark wood of the furniture!

    Have a wonderful holiday.....beat~*~kelley

  20. absolutely beautiful, Trina! hope you have a lovely holiday!

  21. It is absolutely gorgeous! white was definitely the way to go. We went with a Rowe sofa too, but I am embarrassed to say I had no idea they were a part of the SFC.

  22. I thought the first picture was the after (the one with your sweet hubby reading on the sofa)! And I thought, "Lovely." But there's more! The new furniture is beautiful. I like your taste -- simple and functional. I suppose it's rather easy to take a deep breath at your house. I'm so over color and clutter and the rest of it. I think you're super lucky to fulfill such an amazing dream as to renovate your dream house. Cheers, and happy holidays! xoxo

  23. Hi Friends! I've been so busy running around for last minute presents and grocery items (and going into the city to see The Nutcracker!) - BUT wanted to take a minute to say thank you for all of your wonderful comments! The couch is very comfortable -ALTHOUGH I FORGOT TO ADD THE PILLOWS!!! I guess my head has been in the clouds with all the Christmas flurry! They add a nice finishing and cozy touch to the couch so I'll take more pictures once we get our tree up! That's right, tree is still on the porch! Talk soon xoxoTrina

  24. Great light. I think I love the frame the best. You had a great vision for this room, love the simplicity. There's no rule about keeping dining room furniture (or any furniture) in the original room or even keeping the original room function. I've been known to switch living room to dining room.

  25. Wow, an amazing achievement! I have my own farmhouse renovation project blog at Garvinweasel and will be back here often for inspiration.

  26. I'm new to your blog. Nice to meet you! What an amazing transformation! Great job - it's beautiful! :)

    I'm off to catch up and check out more.

  27. Living in the Midwest I am always drawn to the simple pleasures of home and garden decorating, so ANYTHING country or associated with "the farmhouse look" is so natually ME! LOVE your blog, your pictures and words are inspiring. Look forward to see what 2010 brings to your beautiful world. Thanks for sharing.

  28. Wow! I just found your blog through Kim at Twice Remembered, and I feel like I found a little treasure! Your home and blog are just beautiful, and your photos are lovely! I would say they turned out more than okay. What kind of camera do you use? I would love to be able to take better photos.

    I am going to add you to my blogroll right now! Beth.


    Your home is so beautiful and inspiring!

    Thank you for sharing.

  30. WOW!!!! I can't believe it is even the same room! You guys did such a wonderful job recreating that room! It's gorgeous! They look like pictures from a magazine!!!

  31. Amazing transformation I love the all white palate its so clean. That fireplace is unrecognizable nice work!

  32. Just browsing your blog. It's beautiful. This room is gorgeous. So clean and classic.

  33. where did you get the mantel it's gorgeous!

  34. We have always dreamed of purchasing an old farmhouse and making it our own. What a wonderful job you both are doing. Love what you have done with this room.

  35. I wonder how your farmhouse is coming along two years later? It looked great when you posted this. I love the white. Simply White is in all the decorating magazines all the time. But I also love color! I just did my old farmhouse living room orange/red. My kitchen is what I call Depression green. I'll have to come back to this blog again. I'm looking for something to read that will inspire me. My old farmhouse also has some 80s atrocities but nothing as bad as that stick-on paper you had on your molding. Well, wait. I had a hunting scene border in one of my bathrooms. Men in red coats and top hats on horses.

  36. WOW!! You guys did a wonderful job. I love the pictures!


Thank you for leaving your thoughts. Kind regards, Catherine

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