Keeping good on my promises you guys! I really wanted to start back writing on my blog somewhat regularly, and sharing some of the exciting updates we’ve made to our place! First up, our living room.
Since moving back into our new/old apartment in February, I’ve been working slowly but steadily to attack each room with updates.
I actually used to live in this apartment with my best friend Kira, but when Kris and I moved in together, he and I found a new apartment, and Kira stayed in this one that we shared. Fast forward almost two years later, she decided to move cross-country to Chicago, so Kris and I moved back in. It has a great layout, lots of natural light, and so much more space than we had in our first place together.
The only problem was that after 5 years of wear and tear, things were looking a little worn.
I’ve got to say, it was somewhat of a surreal experience to be living back in an apartment that used to be mine – it wasn’t the normal process of getting to know all the quirks of a new home. I already knew that the fake drawer front below the sink fell out from time to time…. that there is a super creepy clicking sound in the middle of the night as the steam heat turns on and the pipes warm up… that you have to open the refrigerator to open the dishwasher. Nothing about the apartment was a surprise, but instead of feeling like I was coming back home, it felt like I was moving into a strangers’ apartment. The apartment was the same, but somehow it had changed in the time I was gone. It was older. There were more holes in the walls. There were more scuffs in the paint. Nothing abnormal, just older, more worn, and not mine.
Luckily for me, the process of getting everything updated and back in tip-top shape felt like a fun project to tackle instead of a massive undertaking. It’s been a slow process, but don’t they say “slow and steady wins the race”? It’s taken me almost a year, quite a few gallons of paint, spackle, sandpaper, and elbow grease, but it’s feeling refreshed, and most importantly, like it’s ours.
Today I want to share with you the living room – it’s the room where we spend the most time, and one of my favorite spots in our house. Here’s where it started a few days after we moved in.
Here’s what we started with:
The Bones of the Room:
The walls were all scuffed from the multiple moves, had tons of holes from past pictures and shelves, and were painted a yellowed beige color. The fireplace had a really dirty, cracked stone facade in a peach-y color. The curtain rods I’d hung up when I was 24 years old weren’t hung straight, and were staggered to fit into the tight bay window space.
We started with two sad looking love seats that I’ve been dying to replace for the past two years, a console table that really felt out of place for not only the space but our style. We had our huge, dark, bulky coffee table, that took up more space than the love seats, and matching side tables.
This is not to say that I hated everything we owned. Quite the opposite.
I really tried to be creative in our last apartment with how to make what we had work for our space – while nothing matched, and everything was a mish-mash of our starter furniture from our early 20’s, I used new throw pillows and decorative accessories to doll things up, and I’ll always think back fondly of our first apartment together, and all the things in it.
The truth was, all the stuff we were holding onto wasn’t functioning well with the new layout, and it wasn’t comfortable. Aside from nostalgia and feeling frugal, there was literally no reason to hold onto any of it anymore. What was worse, our old furniture, paired with the dingy walls felt especially bland and actually kind of dark and dingy, despite the light color palate.
This past year was a big one, and for so many reasons, it felt like the start of a new chapter. I turned 30 and got engaged, so moving into a new place felt like the perfect opportunity to get rid of the falling apart “starter” furniture we’d been holding onto, and invest in things we love… pieces that we’d take with us to our future homes, and have for a long time. What I wanted was a bright space that felt new, while highlighting the lovely architectural details this space has to offer, and pieces that could transition from an apartment to a home that we own.
So what updates did the space get??
Well first, we painted – all the walls got a coat of Intense White by Benjamin Moore.
The first rule of renting is to not make changes that the landlord won’t approve of. This color is so fresh, light and neutral, we won’t be re-painting when we move out.
It’s hands down my favorite color of grey – coming from the same color card as Grey Owl, it’s the lightest on the paint card, but it is definitely grey – not white, despite it’s name. It’s a very bright, clean neutral grey, and doesn’t err on the blue side which absorbs light, and can make a room feel dark. The first color I painted was very blue, and I ended up having to paint this room twice. Lesson learned – paint swatches and lots of research when it comes to grey.
The trim got a coat of Decorator’s White – another Benjamin Moore color, and together the trim and walls look really crisp and fresh.
My goal with the walls was to minimize all the imperfections – cracks in the wall, paint blobs from drips the last time this room was painted, and little bumps and nicks, holes from pictures and shelves but as you can see it’s not perfect. I patched all the holes in the walls with spackle, sanded them down, but it’s an old building, and these walls are plaster from the 30’s, so there’s not just 5 years of wear and tear, but almost 80 years… at least. While there are still some lumps and bumps, the paint and the touch-ups changed how bright and new the room felt.
Simple, easy to do, and inexpensive fixes with paint = huge difference.
I also updated the fireplace.
I posted about that process a few months ago, and we’re still loving the updates. The stone that was there was not very beautiful to begin with, and was so dirty and cracked – even scrubbing it, the years of soot were not going anywhere.
Here’s a close up of how it looked before:
Let me also add, that this “before” picture was taken AFTER scrubbing and scrubbing… the dirt was not going anywhere.
Here was how it looked during it’s facelift:
And a few more pretty afters:
Inside the fireplace, you’ll notice an abundance of candles. I would NOT light a fire in the fireplace at this point. It hasnt been used in years, it likely is full of soot and god knows what else, and I don’t want to risk setting this building on fire.
So candles are a good alternative – they are super cozy at night when they’re all lit, and in the day, they offer a pretty architectural element. As we burn them, I love the wax drips that come down the sides.
The contact paper is holding up really well, and everyone who comes over always comments how much they love it. No one knows it’s not marble, and I’m certainly not going to be the one to tell them 🙂 Read about the whole process here.
Another update? The old coffee table (which was part of a matching set) got sold to a new home on Craigslist, and we replaced it with this beauty.
This is the Box Frame Coffee Table – Café from West Elm. Overall, we’re really happy with it. The wood is such a pretty warm color, the metal frame is incredibly sturdy, and without the storage shelf on the bottom that we had on our last coffee table, it invites less clutter, and looks really open and light. My ONLY complaint is that it scratches easily. It came with a few small scratches in it already, but after waiting for months for it to be delivered (it was back-ordered) the tray camouflages those little scratches, and some good wood oil also helps them disappear.
Padded coasters are our best friend.
You might also notice that those awful mis-matched love seats are gone. Woooooo hoooooooo!!
They’ve also gone to greener pastures on Craigslist, and we replaced them with the BEST sofa ever made. It’s the PB Comfort Square sofa, with chaise from Pottery Barn.
First I want to say how much we love this couch. Second, let me say that Pottery Barn was THE WORST company to work with from a customer service perspective. Truly awful. I won’t go into all the dirty details on here since everything ended well, and we love the sofa so much, but if anyone wants to hear about our experience, send me a private message.
What we love most about it:
It has really deep seat cushions, a nice high back, and it’s BIG. It looks kind of dainty in these pictures, but Kris and I can both lay down on it without touching – he’s 6’3″ and I’m 5’8″. The pillows on the sofa here are 24″ square, so you can really see how large it is from a scale perspective. It’s amazing.
A few more glory shots of our amazing sofa…
We got the cushions filled with down, and let me just say, it’s worth the extra money my friends. Not only can we re-fluff the cushions, but it adds this element of sinking in and being so cozy when you’re curled up on it in the evenings.
Here’s a close-up of the fabric.
We ordered the Textured Twill in Oatmeal after seeing it in the store on another sofa. It is really durable for scrubbing IN CASE something spills, but has the look of a more organic linen which I love. The other twill options are flat looking – similar to denim almost – and this color is wonderful at masking everyday wear and tear.
Kris was the one who wanted it, and he could not have made a better call here.
Final details? The new lamps, the woven rug, layered with the cowhide from our last apartment, the new pillows, and long white linen curtains.
I ordered the pillow covers off of Etsy, and agonized over which to get. I loved the large greek key trim, but matching the navy velvet was tough. I wanted a small scale print to coordinate, and ended up with this Schumacher fabric. I love the heavy weight of each – perfect for the colder months right now, and my mom and I are working on others pillow covers that we’ll swap in for the spring / summer months.
The knit creme colored throw was a find at Ikea (of all places), and it’s so cozy, and adds a bit of texture to the sofa. It also lives on the chaise lounge, and protects the sofa from dirty feet.
You can kind of take a peek into the entry and the dining room, but more updates on those spaces later…
The lamps are from Target, the side tables were the ones we had in our last apartment, and while I wasn’t crazy about them before, they don’t bother me anymore now that the big bulky coffee table is gone. They just sort of blend into the background, and the idea of replacing them is in the very very VERY distant future. Like years maybe.
The large frames are from Ikea also. A great find – the wood ties in with the coffee table nicely, and you cannot beat the price for a frame that size. The sailing prints are from Art.com, and as my dad aptly pointed out, I’ve hung them in the reverse order. It’s actually two prints of one single boat!
Oops! Need to rehang those…..
There are a few last pieces to finish to room off – a nice chair to fill in the seating area around the coffee table, a small side table for placing cold drinks, and a few more small details, but I’m really happy with where we’ve come in the last year.
It feels clean, refreshed, and is incredibly comfortable and welcoming, which to me was the most important part. It was impossible to lounge around watching movies on those old teeny love seats, and all the furniture we’ve got now, are things I want to keep for a long, LONG time.
OH! And I almost forgot one of my favorite things… rounding out our coffee table is the new book from Erin Gates – Elements of Style. I love her so much, and her book is absolutely beautiful – from the striped spine that kills me, to everything inside. One of my favorite books to flip through – not a surprise coming from her #designporn
So that’s where we are!
It’s taken a year to get here, and I’m sure that there are more (minor) changes to come, but I’m so happy with the space as it stands now, and let’s be honest… I’ve got a wedding to plan, so our house will be the furthest thing from my mind in a few months.
Next update coming your way… the dining room!
Happy Monday friends!