Surprise Living Room Make-Over

We had been in dire need of new living room furniture for well over a year. I was having a very hard time making decisions about what to buy. I loved the idea of a sectional and have always wanted one, but the reality is that our space is just not that workable. In addition to deciding on a style, I was also struggling with leather vs. fabric. We have always had leather and our family is very accustom to the easy care and wipe-ability of leather. Like a sectional, I have also always wanted white furniture. When making a big purchase you want to make sure you are getting it right and thus we shopped and browsed for months on end with no decisions being made. Finally, when our sofa was destined for the dump, we had to make some decisions.

The first conclusion Tim and I agreed on was that the living room/dining room swap that we made a few years ago was really not working for our family. The larger of the two rooms is located in the center of the house and just off the kitchen while the second smaller room is located just to the right of the front entrance. This room is quite lovely with French doors, a wall of windows and a fireplace. The trouble with it is that with so much going on, there really are not many options for room configuration and at times this is frustrating. We suspected that a sectional would never be an option in this space and so approximately two years ago, we moved our living room (fireplace room) to the larger room just off the kitchen. At first, we loved it. It allowed Tim and I to work in the kitchen and be more engaged with the kids if they were in the living room. Our home is far from open concept, but the close proximity seemed to help. However, over time, we realized that other sacrifices were being made. It seemed like our busy schedules, coupled with the dining room’s more remote location led to more and more meals taking place in front of the television. Setting the table seemed like a big job now that everything needed to be transported across the house. We also found that the “kitchen” noises often interfered with the television and the dishwasher was often not put on until bedtime. Finally, we found that the wood burning fireplace, one of our favourite features in our house, had sadly sat unused since we made the switch. Once we decided to move the rooms back, the other decisions were also easier to make. Using our old furniture and a measuring tape, we tried many variations of furniture arrangements and came to the conclusion that a sectional would never work in that space. Since we both had our hearts set on getting one, we decided to go with a chaise sofa and chair/ottoman combo instead. Although we felt this would work, we weren’t 100% convinced it would fit properly into the room. We decided to save ourselves a few thousand dollars and go with fabric, so that we could live with it for a few years before committing thousands of dollars more to a “leather” decision. It seemed like a good compromise.  In the end we went with a darker almost charcoal gray even though I really wanted something light. Sometimes you have to consider not only your desires, but also the function of the furniture. We do not have a living room and family room or even a basement hangout for the kids. Needless to say our furniture gets lots of use. I can be pretty uptight and I knew that the change to fabric was already going to cause me some stress. The sofa covers are all washable, but the reality is that I think white or even something very light would become an ongoing battle to maintain. We opted for what we thought would work best for our family.

Feeling excited to set-up the new furniture, Tim and I unpacked and assembled our new Ikea sofa. (I never actually thought I would purchase a sofa from Ikea, but I was quite taken with the Ektorp series. I loved that there were several colour options, the style seemed both traditional and contemporary at the same time – if that’s even possible and surprisingly, it is super comfortable!)  After the months of indecisiveness, I’m sure Tim almost blew a gasket, when he saw the look on my face once everything was set up and arranged in the room. Yep…you guessed it….I hated it. Not the sofa or the style, but rather how it looked in the room. Our new sofa looked more like a denim blue against the light green walls (Castleton Mist) than gray….Yikes!  I could see it in Tim’s eyes “Oh no…here we go again!” Although he thought we should consider taking the covers back and swapping for a different colour choice, I was convinced the grey would be perfect once everything else in the room was changed! Yes, we would need to paint (wasn’t anticipating that) and the side tables don’t look right. Too bad the curtains will no longer match. Oh and that fireplace has always kind of bugged me! Ugh! I really was not planning a room make-over. Our plans included a new sofa/chair and coffee table. The end. I was prepared to refinish a coffee table because I was pretty certain I wouldn’t be able to find anything new that fit with the look I was going for, but that would have been a simple sand/paint job.

So, although there are a few things left to finish, I already love the space and am not even worrying about the few remaining projects….I’ll get to them eventually. So far, we’ve managed to paint the room, strip and stain the mantel, build a tiny side table from a vintage ashtray and sew new curtains. Believe or not, I found the perfect coffee table on Kijiji and someone else had already done the work – score! I still need to paint the cabinet that the TV is sitting on and want to shorten the little half-moon table by a few inches, but other than that we’re done.

The light gray walls (Benjamin Moore ~Stonington Grey)look fine with the oak trim (despite my reservations). Besides the limited wall space for setting up this room, it is also a difficult space because of the limited light. Although it boasts a wall of windows and two additional high windows on the fireplace wall, it is not a bright room. It is north facing and really only gets late afternoon sun. So in choosing a new colour, I not only had to consider a colour to coordinate with the furniture and strong oak presence in the room, but also the limited light. I must admit, I’ve never really paid any attention to LRV (light reflective value), but for this room I did my homework. There is nothing worse than picking a colour that you love on the swatch, but hate when you actually apply it to the walls in your space. Paint colours can look completely different depending on the lighting in your space. For this room, I chose a gray with an LRV of 59 which meant the colour would pretty much stay true to the swatch in my space. For more information on how to choose paints that will work well in your space, check out this article on Kylie M. Interiors. I found it really helpful.

As a side note – I have been a Benjamin Moore paint snob for many years now, but I decided to try Sherwin Williams Duration for this job. Their paint was 40% off and I had heard good things about it. I loved it! The application was beautiful and I even hesitated to do a second coat. My living room is about 17 and 12 and I did two coats with one gallon and the first coat was almost perfect even though it was covering green. Very impressed! (They can make colours from other companies, so I used a Benjamin Moore colour, but had it made with the Duration paint.)

About Cindy RoyI am a busy mother, wife and kindergarten teacher. I have a huge list of loves! I love my family, Springs Church, old houses, "up-cycling" and DIY projects, scrapbooking, volleyball, interior design, cake decorating, party planning, healthy eating, and sleeping. I am very organized and reflective, and am continually striving to do life more lovingly, passionately, effectively and successfully.

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