AHOOO – The Living Room and Some Rambling Thoughts on Decorating

Before I share part of our new house I want to take a moment to write a little something about style and decorating. It’s been on my mind since last spring and I think now is probably as good a time as any to share my thoughts. When Tracy moved to DC earlier this year she got some questions about how she decorates her house so she did a great post about it. Then, a while later, I read an article about using “props” in your home. It brought up some similar ideas about understanding what you bring into your home and why.

Everyone has a different style. Last fall my SIL built a house and when we went to see it I loved how well it suited my SIL and her family. It was decorated with so many cute things. She has some cool things she likes to display so she has some shelves and niches with space to showcase those things. She has space above her kitchen cabinets for decorating. It’s her style and I love that her home is a reflection of who she is. But it isn’t my style. Just because our styles are different doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the beauty and meaning in the way she decorates. We just have different tastes. I would never have niches just to display things because that’s not something I, personally, get a lot out of (what on Earth would I display!?), but I love looking at the fun things on her shelves when I visit her house. I also love that Tracy’s house is a reflection of her. She has beautiful things she displays and her eclectic style suits her perfectly. I love that her dishes are a collection of individual plates and bowls she loves and that they don’t match perfectly. But, again, it isn’t something that would work for me because we have different tastes. If I were to have lunch at her house, though, it wouldn’t bother me because it speaks Tracy to me and I love that.

It has taken a while for me to discover what I really like in home decor and I’m sure it will be something I continue to discover as the years go by. As an example, when we first moved back to Utah I, for the first time, had a fireplace with a mantle. I wasn’t sure what to do with it so I went to Tai Pan Trading and picked up a bunch of stuff to put on it. All that stuff sat there on the mantle, gathering dust, for a year until we moved. As I gathered it all up to pack I realized how little I cared about what had been sitting on my mantle all that time. None of it meant anything to me and I didn’t even think any of it was particularly beautiful. In fact I started to kind of hate some of the pieces because it just made the mantle look cluttered. So I got rid of some of it. And after our next move I got rid of a little more. Now, four years later, I have one piece remaining that I actually like. Something about it speaks to me. Obviously when I bought all that stuff in the first place I was just trying to fill my home with “props” but it was almost all meaningless so why did I think I needed it, especially if I didn’t even really like some of it?

Basically, what I’m saying is, I believe we should be choose-y about the things we bring into our homes. I tend to not be terribly sentimental about things and lean toward the side of minimalism(Christmas decorations just about do me in by the time Christmas is over). In general I don’t like knick knacks. Anything that gets displayed in my house usually has a story. Again, that’s a personal style thing, so it will be different for everyone and there’s no right or wrong to it. It’s whatever works for you. I do think it’s important, though, to put thought into what come into your house. There should be a reason for everything – even if the reason is just that you think it’s beautiful. That is a good enough reason to keep something. On the other side, though, if it’s not something meaningful, sentimental, purposeful, or beautiful to you, give some more thought as to why it’s in your house. Is it just because that item is the trend of the moment or is it something you actually love? I try to surround myself only with things I love (or at least really like a lot) or that have some personal meaning. Just my perspective on personal style and decorating.

Now, on to what you’re really here to see: the living room! Please note, this house was built in 1885. I swear there is not a square angle or straight line in the place and the walls are very textured. It isn’t the prettiest paint job ever but it’s the best we could do.

Before.

Taken from the dining room. The walls were all sort of a dark cream color and the trim was all a lighter cream color. With the age and the monochromatic color scheme it looked a little dingy. We had no desire to try to restore the house or keep everything in the period style. While the house has some cool antique details we wanted it to have a more clean, modern feel. Note that these photos don’t really illustrate how bad the walls really are.

Living room - before

The floor is all wood. It looks like sometime in the past it had a large rug in the center and was painted around the edges. This was common practice back in the day. The floor wasn’t in bad shape but it had some coal/grease stains near the fireplace and a few other spots that could use some love.

Living room - before

ODD decided to use a belt sander to sand it down. We knew it wouldn’t be smooth and that’s okay with us. We aren’t the kind of people who want the perfectly polished wood floors. So it has some rough texture to it. Then he put down several layers of polyurethane. It’s shiny but you can still tell that it’s rough. We like it.

Living room - before

Now for the after. Sorry about the bright light from the windows. The snow was so reflective that even though the sun wasn’t shining right into the window it still blew out the photo.

Mini Dew living room

Most of the walls are a gray color – Behr Classic Silver. It’s a medium-light gray so it brightens the room quite a bit but still contrasts nicely with the trim which is a bright, glossy white – Behr Falling Snow.

Mini Dew living room

The wall with the TV and fireplace is a medium-deep green – Behr Oregano Spice. The chair in the corner is a glider given to us by a friend in Oakland. It’s great for nursing. I have plans to eventually reupholster the cushions. You know, in all my spare time. The table next to it was a night stand in it’s last life but has been an end table at our last three apartments. ODD painted it black 3 years ago. The TV stand is an EXPEDIT bookshelf from IKEA. The boxes hold Bob books, dry erase cards and markers, art supplies, and odds and ends. The middle two shelves on the bottom hold some scrapbooks and picture books. My “The Luckiest” typography piece was made by my brother as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago and is still one of my favorite pieces.

Mini Dew living room

The couch is the same one we’ve had for six years. We bought it from the couple we replaced as apartment managers in Oakland. It’s seen a lot of wear and will likely be replaced in the next few years but in the mean time it’s still a good couch for us. There’s the other night stand turned end table. The lamp is one of the last we still have from our first apartment in Oakland. When it got dark our first night in Oakland we realized there were only light fixtures in the bathroom and kitchen so the next day we paid our first visit to IKEA and bought lamps for every room. It’s still hanging in there. The large photo is one I took of Peanut a couple of months before Wingnut was born. It was taken at Garden Park Ward and I made a composite of it and a free stock photo of trees because in real life there’s a house behind the window. We’ve had it for years. The other art piece is a print I made in illustrator. The area rug is from Target and the coffee table belonged to my maternal grandparents. We’ve used it since we got married.

Mini Dew living room

This bookshelf was acquired from IKEA a couple of apartments ago. This time around it holds magazines, photo books, journals, and design books. When I unearth the wooden box the postal stuff goes in the second shelf will look a bit cleaner but for now the box it all goes in is lost in my craft/crap corner. The two framed art pieces are salted watercolors Peanut and Wingnut did with my mom after Cashew was born. They’re quite proud to have them on display. There are two porcelain dolls above that didn’t really make the phot0. The one on the left was given to me on my 8th birthday at The Lion House. My Grandma L planned it before she passed on and it always makes me think of her when I look at it. The doll on the right is Cinderella. It was given to me when I was a junior in high school because I’d played Cinderella in the school musical that fall and it looked remarkably like me. The big leather book next to the dolls holds our professional wedding photos. The box on the bottom shelf is actually a soap stone chess/checker board my parents brought back for us from Brazil. The cupboard below holds most of our games and puzzles (obviously Blukus and Ticket to Ride don’t fit inside). The rug in front of the door is from Target.

Mini Dew living room

Some of the decorative trim around the door. It’s around all the windows, too. Our lot is so private and the trim is so pretty I don’t have plans to hang any curtains downstairs. By the way, all this trim has, like, 80 layers of paint on it.

Mini Dew living room

I don’t know if it’s original to the property or not but we have a wood burning stove! We need to have the chimney swept but then we’ll be able to use it this winter.

Mini Dew living room

Mini Dew living room

This hung in our bedroom in our last apartment but I love where it is now in the living room. It’s an original oil on canvas my Grandma Audry painted.

Mini Dew living room

This is a hardanger needlework piece I made in college. It was designed by our dear family friend, Emie.

Mini Dew living room

My cedar chest full of memories sits in front of the big window. And yes, that’s dust all over the floor. We’ve sanded so many things in this house I don’t think the dust will ever all settle.

Mini Dew living room

Check back later for the dining room. Read more “A Home Of Our Own” posts here.

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