Home Swoon Home: Living Room before & after

I think I have mentioned one or two or twenty times that I'm currently redecorating my entire house.  Up today: my living room transformation.

The front door of my home opens up right into the living room.  Hi - come on in.  There is no entry way or vestibule.  One huge decorating conundrum in this room was the size: it was really long and narrow.  When we first moved in, we placed the sofa and chair along the same wall, which made conversations awkward to say the least.  We also purchased the antique armoire that the former owner had in the corner of the room. It seemed *perfect* to hold our television and television components.  And it was.  Unfortunately, it was a monster of a piece and ate up a ton of square footage, which is precious in a 1400 square foot house like mine.

When it came time to redecorate, I enlisted the help of my good friend Angie from Minnesota.  Angie has an eye for design that I simply do not have.  I like to think I am learning a lot, but it is all due to her help.  I sent Angie pictures of my living room ... "befores" that were just dying to be turned into "afters."  With Angie's guidance, I set to work.  (note: I highly recommend this practice if you are all unsure of how or where to start.  Ask a friend whose style you admire to help.  It's fun! and here is a shout out to Angie - THANK YOU!)

I knew I wanted a different color palette.  We had a warm scheme going on: reds, golds, greens, deep eggplants.  This felt too heavy for me.  Thankfully I had chosen the perfect wall color years ago: Parisian Taupe by Behr.  It stayed.  Almost everything else did not.  The new color palette was taupe, cream, pale "seaglass" blue, and pops of black and brown.  And without further ado, here are the pix!

Before:  As you can see, the antique armoire was massive -- functional, but massive. It took up too much real estate in the room and looked like clutter junction.  I also had two crown molding shelves with pictures, but they were always hidden by the armoire door.

After: Ahhhhh.  I measured and realized that hello! a loveseat would fit on this wall!  I instantly doubled the amount of seating in the room (which would later be tripled ... stay tuned).  I ditched the armoire, brought in a new love seat and matching sofa, splurged on a flat screen wall mounted television and bought a $50 bookcase from Target to hold toys and the tv components.  I bought some fabric and glued it to foam board and tacked the foam board to the back of the bookcase for a pop of pattern.  Love it.  The floor lamp is from Target.  The art over the loveseat is from a calendar believe it or not!  I absolutely adore the Susy Jack calendar, and loved this print so much I framed it (and am doing the same with my daughter's room).  The baskets in the bookshelf are from Home Goods, as is the large canvas box next to the shelf; the blue canvas bins in the shelf are from Babies R Us.

Before: Our sofa wall was long and awkward.  I loved this sofa and it repelled stains like you would not believe.  But I knew I wanted a matching loveseat and sofa, so I gave my sister our sofa (so long to the best sofa for naps ever!).  I had dark wood in the room: the one end table and the coffee table (both Pottery Barn) were deep brown and the CD cabinet (Pier 1) was red print.  The lamps were mismatched (which I thought were kind of shabby chic, but now that I look, they were just kind of sad).  The print over the sofa was from my law school days, as were the two Pottery Barn candle sconces flanking the print.  I also had plain tab-top white cotton panels on the windows. (please excuse the lounging toddler on the couch)

After: I mean ... can you believe it?  I ditched the curtain panels and cannot believe what a difference that made alone.  So much brighter and cleaner in the room.  I took down the stuff on the wall and added a wall of family pictures (note: I'll post a how-to on creating your own family picture wall soon - it's so easy).  I sold the Pottery Barn coffee table on Craigslist, as it was taking up too much room, and moved my trunk (formerly next to the armoire) as the coffee table.  I painted the end table and CD cabinet cream.  I bought new matching silver lamps that are smaller in scale.  (again: please excuse formerly sleeping toddler's toy on couch)

Before: This corner was so not functional before.  We had a chair here, but no one, except for the cat, hung out there.  I had a mishmash of frames on the wall and random accessories.  Plus, the door was right there, so it would hit the chair if opened too far. Not exactly ideal ... especially if someone was actually sitting in it.

After: The formerly unused corner became our office!  I used the Christmas money from my grandmothers and splurged on this awesome, compact secretary from Ballard Designs. The secretary has our computers (we have two laptops), our bills & checkbook stuff, business stuff and the bottom drawer is a filing cabinet.  Perfect.  Where's the printer you ask? Oh, on top in the "printer cozy" I fashioned out of a basket.  I have a wireless printer, so when I need to print, I just lift off the basket, turn it on, load with paper and print.  I bought the dandelion print from Pier 1 for about $30.  The baskets on the floor are from Home Goods (the larger one) and Crate & Barrel (the smaller) and add some texture to the area (and also hold the kids' puzzles!).   The cool vase is a steal from Ross, and I have since painted the small square metal frame white and added a tall narrow vase from IKEA.

Before: Again, wasted space.  This desk area is almost a textbook example of what not to do.  Nothing worked here.  We never, ever sat at that desk.  It served as a place to drop our bags and mail.  And it took up a ton of space.  The little mirror above the desk was functional (it had hooks to hold our keys), but way too small and pathetic looking.

After: Since our coat closet is all the way across the living room, I turned this area into a pseudo-entryway.  I bought this shelf & bench from JC Penney (sadly, I do not see it there anymore).  I changed out the hooks (bought some larger oil-rubbed bronze numbers from Target) and recovered the cushions with the same fabric as I used on the back of the bookshelf.  I added two small hooks on the side to hold our keys, too.  During the week, we use this as our coat hanging area.  The kids keep their jackets, hats, gloves in the baskets underneath.  We keep scarves and gloves in the baskets on top, and in the summer, I store sunscreen up there.  When we have company over, I just move the "stuff" into the coat closet and the bench is freed up to seat more guests.

And that does it!  I have to say, the room feels so much larger and is so much more functional than it was before.  I absolutely love it.  Let us know if you would like a little (or a lot!) decorating or organizing advice.  We will tonto jump on it.

See you swoon,

{note: none of the above-referenced sites and companies have sponsored or comped us for mentioning them}


  1. Love this one, Shanna! I'm in the process of re-organizing my entire house prepping for the new addition to our family and love these ideas! I know it's a bit early to start baby preparations but our house may take me the next 71/2 months to get under control!

  2. Julia,

    Congratulations! I'm so happy for you and Eric (and Sophia!) Let us know if you need any help organizing/decorating/whatever! We'd love to help!