The Makings of a Living Room

Thank you everyone for the lovely comments about my little living room. It really made me feel all warm and fuzzy!

Now, as promised, here are some details about how I achieved the look.

When we first moved in we had nothing to sit on for a while. Then we borrowed my now brother-in-laws bulky 70’s setting. Then we decided to buy some sofas.
It doesn’t really look it in the photos, though our living room is pretty tiny so the requirements were: compact, decent quality, comfy enough and budget-savvy!
I was really craving some gorgeous vintage leather style sofas (not even close to in the realm of possibility for us back then) when I spotted these sofas on clearance in a furniture store.
Although not quite as classic in shape as I wanted they have a nice neutral palette and clean lines.
$900 (for both)

This is the third coffee table I’ve had in this space. The first was a glorified side table suitable for holding precisely one glass of wine at most (okay, exaggerating slightly) though it was ridiculously inadequate. The second was a big round ottoman I made and covered in blue and beige damask (now sold) and the current one was picked up on eBay. Sorry, I don’t have a before pic (had no idea I’d need one for a future blog back when I bought it) though it was jarrah stained. All it needed was a light sand, a few coats of black acrylic, a distress and a seal coat. The handle is original and I love the fact it has a drawer so I can hide the remotes.

As you can probably tell from the photos, it needed to have pretty perfect dimensions to look ‘just right’ in that space. I searched for a l-o-n-g time and was so excited when I finally came across an orange stained hall table. I lopped off the legs with my friend Mr Circular Saw, stained the top walnut and painted the base a soft antique white before distressing and sealing it. The handles were originally shiny brass so I scorched them with a blow torch (to penetrate the protective coating) then soaked them in some verdigris solution for an aged patina.

At the risk of sounding like some kind of eBay addict (okay, I may as well just confess now) that’s exactly where I picked up both the side tables.
The drawered table was sun-damaged and had unattractive veneered drawer fronts so I painted them black. I wanted to retain the remaining timber finish so freshened it up with a light coat of walnut stain. The gorgeous handles are original.
The elegant tray style table is as I found it. It came complete with a hall console which I didn’t require so on-sold for a profit which more than covered the original cost of both tables which basically made them FREE.

Okay, so these were reasonably affordable though not super-duper cheap.
We needed blockouts (for light filtering and weather reasons) and I certainly wasn’t going to make them! I had seen these ones at a homeware store and knew they’d be just right so waited until they went on sale. The day I chose to buy them there was also a storewide 20% off everything including sale items so I ended up saving a couple of hundred dollars.

Found as is on eBay (yes, I know, eBay…again!).

Both throw rugs were gifts (thanks Mum!).
The floral cushion is from Ikea ($30 when I bought it a few years back).
I got the faux fur one in a pack with a blanket from a local manchester store. It was mega cheap though feels quite plush ($8).
I made the dark brown one ($6).
The three linen cushions were bought on clearance from a local furniture store ($18 for all three). I added numbers to two of them using iron-on transfer paper. By cutting precisely around the graphics I was left with no shiny residue as can be the case with transfer paper.

The wrought iron grille was a gift (thanks again Mum!). The six timber frames above the sofa were found in a dollar store. I painted and distressed them before filling with ‘Cavallini and Co.’ postcards gifted by one of my sister-in-laws. I made the matt boards myself.

These are both old picnic baskets I’ve had forever. One was a gift and one is my sister’s (shhh, don’t tell her I’ve got it!). They were hiding away in the cupboard for a while then one day I had a sudden wicker craving so dragged them out and put them on show (not sure why I didn’t think of it sooner).
I added the numbers myself with a stencil I made and some black craft paint.

Tray – Another gift from Mum – $0
Wire Basket and Apples – I found two of these baskets (the other is in my entryway) at a local charity store. They were gold so I sprayed them. The faux apples are from one of my favourite stores: Provincial Home Living – $17
Pewter Jug – Yet another gift from Mum (hmmm, is it starting to sound like she’s accessorised my whole house?) – $0
Cane Basket and Hydrangeas – The basket (actually supposed to be a candle holder) is from Target and the hydrangeas are from the décor section of a local hardware store – $18
Books – The two large books were gifts. The little blue one was my Dad’s primary school dictionary and the green one was hubby’s Dad’s ‘How to Play Tennis’ book (I love little personal touches like that). The other two are vintage thrift store finds – $1
Birdcage – Dollar store find (I wish I’d bought more!) – $15
Topiary, Terracotta and Twine – I made the standard topiary by attaching a bought topiary ball to a stick I found outside (rocket science I tell you). The terracotta pots were bought cheap from a local plant nursery. The twine is from a hardware store and the spanish moss I already had – $16
Letter ‘F’ – Bought as plain MDF then painted with hammered metallic black – $3
Vintage Fan – Found at a local antique store – $15
Cane Basket and Pinecones – The basket is a thrift store find and there are millions of pinecones in the reserve behind my house. It’s always nice to go hunting for them with my little puppy – $2
Large Wire Basket – Wedding gift – $0
Decor Total $87

Overall Total $1624

Living Room Reveal

On a crisp, sunny morning the french windows in our little living room greedily catch the first toasty beams of light and spread a gentle warmth throughout the space. When it’s cool and gloomy outside however, they frame a haunting view of dispersing mists rolling over the nearby hills. Either way, a sense of nostalgia is somehow born in me, conjuring feelings reminiscent of childhood which always seem to evoke contentment.

It’s quite amazing how a home can make you feel and to imagine that it may well be the simplest things which will become our fondest memories in the years to come.

Our living room is still evolving and while I’m happy with its calming colour palette and layers of natural texture there are a couple of pieces I’m kinda just making do with for now (I’m writing a separate post dedicated to some of the changes I’ve got planned).
All of the furniture, sofas aside, is second-hand and pretty much everything else was either thrifted, bought on sale or gifted.

To give you an idea of the layout, here’s my hive’s floor plan:
And here are some (very fuzzy – sorry!) before shots from the previous owners mid-way through moving out:

It’s a bit hard to tell though the walls were apple green and all of the trim was natural brown timber. To lighten up the space we painted the walls pale cream and all of the timber gloss white.

The original owners had installed a faux timber floating floor which, whilst it wouldn’t necessarily have been my first choice, is nice, clean and neutral.

I would’ve liked to have been able to keep the windows free of bulky furniture though there was nowhere else to put the second sofa and I couldn’t swap the dining room space for the living area cause it’s far too small :-(

It kinda looks like you might be able to put something horizontally between the dining and living rooms as some kind of divider, though trust me, it’s nowhere near wide enough!

As you can see from the floor plan there’s this weird little diagonal wall. The previous owners had a sofa against it though if you look at the floor plan and picture a deep piece of furniture on that wall it’s easy to imagine it leaving a pretty narrow gap from the entryway to the living room. We instead decided to put the TV there and it works perfectly. To the left you can glimpse the little entryway.

Now, just for comparisons sake, here’s some side by side before and afters:


And here’s some more photos just because I can’t help myself:


Retro School Stools

Not sure about you, though typographics always seem to catch my eye.

These stools were originally salvaged from an old secondary college where I assume they were used in woodwork class as most of them have what look like saw cuts, nail holes and chisel marks, not to mention the obligatory “Mark waz ere” and “Sharon luvs Paul’ graffitied on their undersides.

Here they are before:

When I first brought six of these stools home everyone thought I was crazy – myself included to be honest. I loved the pared back industrial feel of them though they were a little too raw for me. I wanted to freshen them up (a bit) and add something eye-catching. I wasn’t quite sure what, however, so the stools sat in the garage for a while until I finally had a brain wave which told me to make three stencils from old x-ray slides (see, there is some use in those seemingly defunct internal photo sheets) and use them to paint some funky looking numbers on the seats!

Before I added the numbers, I lightly sanded each seat before wiping on a diluted walnut stain to add some extra depth and richness. Once dry, I stencilled on the numbers with standard acrylic craft paint. To finish I applied two coats of my beloved danish oil.

I decided to leave the naturally distressed metal legs in original condition. I adore the extra character the old screws provide too.

I recently sold two sets of these stools to a client who has three children and wanted to use three at her breakfast bar and one in each of their bedrooms as little side tables – how cute.

How I Met My Hive

I passed by the then vacant block of land almost everyday, never really taking too much notice.
I absently recall a FOR SALE sign going up, a SOLD sticker being slapped on it, the slab being poured and bricks being layed.
I remember a young couple moving in. At the time, to me, they seemed much older.
They weren’t just a couple for long and soon enough had out-grown their first home.
This time around, almost twelve years on, I definitely noticed the FOR SALE sign go up.
My boyfriend and I were in the market and went along to the open house really just to peek.
How perfect for us though…needs some work of course…the price is right…

As a young pre-teen walking home from school everyday, I never could have imagined that one of the houses I passed each time would eventually be mine. It’s so strange to think back, knowing how attached and invested we are now, that I barely even gave my sweet little hive a second glance.

Sometimes at night, Luke leans over and whispers: “I really love our house”. And although we still have a ways to go, it always makes me smile.

Cottage Chair Makeover

I bought four of these second-hand colonial carvers (advertised as dining chairs) for $5 each with visions of using them with my dining table. Though when I picked them up and saw them in person I knew straight away it was not to be….they were massive and waaay too imposing for my little dining space.

So, they sat in my parent’s garage for a while, looking sad and dusty, waiting for me to get motivated (or for my Dad to run out of actual firewood- whichever came first):

I eventually mustered enough creative energy to make-over one of them in a simple white, ticking and toile theme.

The head rest has a wonderful pressed-back.

Given the amount of detail in the chair’s frame I used a spray gun to paint it before distressing the finish and coating it with a clear acrylic sealer.
The co-ordinating footstool was built from scratch out of old timber. It was then upholstered and given four cute little feet made from cut down old side table legs.

The braid trim gives a nice finishing touch.

The plain seat pad was enhanced with the addition of four buttons and to complete the look a new cushion was made from ticking and toile.

Now complete, this charming little ensemble is like a breath of fresh air. What a sweet addition for someone’s living room, reading corner or boudoir.