Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Living Room Progress

Let’s talk about the living room. The bones of the room are great. It has a fireplace great molding and a marble surround, three huge windows that are on the front of the house, and 2 regular windows on the side. It also opens to the study/Joe’s office.

Here are some before shots from when we were looking at the house. Since the house was a foreclosure, there was no power, so the shots are a little dark.

The color is hard to see, but it was a tan color. Not bad, but I definitely wanted to put my own spin on things. I was really wanting gray, but with the dining room and hall between the 2 rooms being various shades of gray, I wanted the gray to be a little different than just plain-old-gray. With there being at least 50 shades of gray paint (not the book – c’mon! Can’t you get Christian Gray off your mind for at least one second?) to choose from, I was a little overwhelmed by all the different grays. My mom suggested a gray with some brown under tones. (Which, for all you non-art majors/designers out there means it needs to be a warm gray.) I was a little unsure of how I would figure out which grays are warm and which are cool, but Benjamin Moore (who has the best grays in my opinion) is one step ahead of me. They have a great system to determine the undertones of their neutral colors. 

See the little “W” in the corner of the paint chip? If you read the back of the paint swatch, it tells you that this paint color has a warm undertone. If the color had a cool undertone, you would see a little "C" in the corner. Not all BM paint colors have those codes, but the codes definitely helped me in my search for a warm gray. Armed with that knowledge, I settled on Elephant Gray (in the pic above). 

So I painted the walls Elephant Gray. The result was unexpected. The room looked purple to me! 

I did not intend to have purple walls in the living room, but I was tired of painting (we painted 4 rooms at the same time – one of which was the wrong color, so we had to repaint… but that’s another story for another day). So I decided to live with it for a little while, and if I still hated it, I would repaint when the thought of painting didn’t repulse me. 

But then, my mom saved the day!

She called me at work one day and told me she found some curtains for my living room at Ikea. She said they were an iridescent coppery color. I told her I was not a fan of the idea. But she bought them anyway. She’s so stubborn! But we got them home and hung them, and….. I love them!

I think they look so great with the color of the walls. I have tried pillows and accessories in many different colors in the room, and I haven’t found a color yet that doesn’t look great with the walls and the curtains.

The other cool thing about the paint color is how it ties into the marble fireplace surround.

I originally wanted to replace the marble fireplace surround, because I thought the colors were outdated. The veining in the marble looked so 80s mauve and plum to me. But with the new purpley-gray paint, I think the marble looks like it was picked out to coordinate with the paint color. What a happy accident!

So the paint is staying. Now onto the furnishings. We got our couch at the Hickory Furniture Mart.

One of the best things about living in North Carolina is that we’re so close to Furniture Country! The HickoryFurniture Mart is a furniture lovers’ paradise. It’s like a giant shopping mall full of furniture showrooms. The prices are unbeatable, and most of the furniture was made right here in North Carolina. How’s that for buying local?

The couch is made by Taylor King. The day we bought the couch, they were having a great sale, and we were able to buy a couch that was custom made for us, but it wasn't outrageously expensive. So I was able to pick the fabric of the couch and even some throw pillows. I went with a neutral fabric, and I HAD to have a contrast cording.

I’m so fickle with color schemes; I like the main (read expensive) pieces, such as couches, chairs, and even rugs, to be neutral. It’s so much easier to change out some lamps and throw pillows when that latest trend that you HAD to incorporate into your living room is no longer in style than it is to recover your couch or purchase a new one. I mean, we all know that the chevron trend is bound to die out sometime. I’d rather toss a pillow cover when I no longer die for chevron than cringe every day for years, kicking myself for buying a chevron couch. 

While we were at the furniture mart, we also scored a great chair and ottoman in a neutral print. This chair is made by Rowe. Not a NC company – they are in Virginia – but it's still made in the USA! (So is the puppy who's crashing the picture)

Here are some things to keep in mind when shopping for furniture that you want to have for generations:

  • Frame – you want a hardwood, kiln-dried frame. This will give you a heavy, sturdy frame and should protect the frame from warping and cracking. Pick up a corner of the couch. Is it really light? Does the couch twist? If you find either of these things to be true, the frame may not be hardwood, kiln-dried.
  • Springs – you want 8-way, hand-tied springs. This is the gold standard of spring systems. Ask your salesperson to explain the springing system. If he can’t, you should consider buying from another source.
  • Cushions – a big part of the cushion choice is up to personal preference. In my experience, down-wrapped cushions work the best for my house, because they are comfortable, and they can be reshaped when they get flattened (which can definitely happen with giants - like my 6'5" husband - living in your house). Foam cushions will flatten over time as the foam compresses and starts to deteriorate, but fluffing is not really possible with foam.
  • Fabric – Does the fabric match over the entire piece? Does the pattern line up over the entire couch? Are the seams even? Does the piping fall in the correct places? These are the things you want to look for in the fabric. Some other things you want to consider are how well the fabric will stand up to wear and tear and stains.

If you follow these rules of thumb when shopping for furniture, you will most likely end up with a piece that you will have in your family for many years. Even if you have to have it slipcovered or reupholstered, furniture with good bones will serve you well and will probably save you money in the long run.

So I got a little sidetracked with my living room tour… I will finish up the living room tour in my next post. I’ll leave you with one more picture.

In the meantime – What is your method for furniture shopping? Do you like the furniture to make the design statement in your room, or would you rather change out accessories to accent your style? Do you buy furniture that you could pass down to your grandkids, or is el cheapo furniture that you change out every few years good enough for you?



  1. great post Lrae; Love the info about choosing paint colors and furniture construction. Pictures look great too.

  2. Beautiful Linz! You are very inspiring!!! Love you!

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Thanks for the comment Melia! I did not mean to remove it, and now I can't undo it. :( gotta love hitting the wrong part of the screen on the iPad!

  4. I really am putting my life on the line her but I will say it anyway ... Linz, you give Trix a run for the money with your decorating panache.