Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Retrospective: 7. The Living Room, pre 2007-2015

Well, hey there.

Remember this series?
Neither do I.

No, of course I do. I just got impossibly, overwhelmingly busy last fall and didn't finish. The living room is the very last installment in a series I started last fall to celebrate my blog's eighth anniversary.

In this series, we travel back in time to see at all the changes I made (or didn't make) to the rooms in my humble little house. The last room we looked at was The Kitchen, 2007-2014. If you'd like to start at the beginning, go here: The Front and Back Yards, 2007-2014. You can also catch all the retrospective posts under the Prairie Home Tour tab, above.

So. The Living Room.

Err. No, scratch that. It's The Parlour.

That is what my husband calls it. 

It doesn't look like much of a parlour here!

Please click through to read through.

I keep this photo to remind me how tough it was to keep this room tidy when the kids were little. In fact, the last eight, nine years has been the gradual decluttering of this room from being kid-centric to being a place teenagers and grown-ups can enjoy --when we can get the dog off the couch, of course!

Before we move on, though, note the pink chair. You will never see it again. It's a platform rocker. It was in great shape--but I couldn't stand pink. 

You enter the living room through an archway from the small hallway. The big window--the "picture" window faces north and the little windows by the non-working fireplace catch the eastern morning light. 

Like so.

I started this blog to record the changes I was making to the house as a result of the extravagant eight week home transformational exercise known as The Cure from Apartment Therapy and Maxwell Ryan. I'd actually done my first Cure in the fall of 2006. 

And that, of course, means before and after pictures!

The room is something of a bowling alley: so I tried angling the couch out from the wall. It just looked weird.

Note how the room is painted all one colour. (Benjamin Moore: Decatur Buff. HC-38)

We had the piano in this corner for many years. There's my daughter, Emma, photobombing!

Those poor drapes. And that TV is so small!

That bench was from my husband's lunch room at work. He brought it home when they renovated it and were getting rid of them. I'm glad I had not known it was a full eight feet long or I might have said no.

Note how the picture rail moulding is absent from the window wall on this side. Weird. Did we run out? I know my husband had the worst time trying to get it on the chimney breast. That didn't happen for another eight years.

my son and a friend "working" at the bench

Two big changes post 2006 Fall Cure:

Yes! I lifted the room and painted the coving in a lighter colour-- Cable Knit (Benjamin Moore CC-306)

Loved this wall like this! But this isn't #2.

Not yet.

Yes. Now.

I bought the poang. 


I really detested the faux stone around the faux fireplace even though I had done my best to make the faux stone, less, well, faux looking.

So, in a fit of madness one fine summer day, I decided to do something about it.

That's nasty, bumpy stucco there--and nothing, nothing was going to remove it. Someone advised me to take a sledgehammer to the whole thing and just get rid of it--but I didn't want to get rid of the faux fireplace--just the faux.

When the Fall Cure came around, I spent most of my time working in the dining room. The living room simply got a shelf above the TV with the CD rack mounted below.

I just noticed, the moulding stops short of the curtain pole here. I remember we had hung the pole quite wide for the first set of drapes I'd made years ago. We shortened it when we took those drapes down.


Lots of changes this year.

I moved the bench to the basement. I bought a rocking chair at a garage sale. I bought a new cushion for the poang chair. As much as I loved the ivory, it just couldn't last with the kids and the dog. We also moved the guinea pig cage from my daughter's room to the living room.

But my word, that's a blah room.

I did the Spring Cure that year--mostly in the basement.

But I did address the living room. I asked for and got opinions on what to paint the trunk:

And for some reason, I went with this bright red.

I loved this living room, actually. I needed a rug, obviously, but all the warm accents were quite cheerful. We left the dog in my Mom's care while we went camping that year--and he chewed up the pillows in retaliation.

I created a big black hole in this corner when I moved the speakers in beside the television.

why yes, that is a vhs player there on the second shelf.

and then, somehow, I thought a bunch of teeny tiny tchotchkes along the top of the shelf would help matters. Um. Just no. But what did I know?

We were still homeschooling.


This was the year the faux fireplace face lift was finally finished. (Say that fast three times.) In my post, I noted it had taken us 25 months to get it done.

With that change came the urge to lighten up the living room walls. Oddly enough, I didn't mind them in winter. It was in the summer that the room felt dark and cave-like. That had a lot to do with the lawn outside--light reflecting off of the snow in the winter brightened everything.

So, in the summer, I painted the walls the same as my dining room. I also bought a rug. But not this rug. (It was returned. I was just trying it out for size.)

The brown ottoman made it's first appearance towards the end of the year. The red trunk was eased out slowly.

You can just make it out in the above picture, but when I painted the walls French Vanilla (Benjamin Moore CC-248, now known as Papaya), I didn't change the coving. I left it just a smidge darker to help tie in the oak trim which Chris did not want me to paint.

 whew, all those nerve wracking little tchotchkes are gone. thank goodness.


I have a not in my bullet journal which says:

2010-2011  "orange" phase.

I guess I'm referring to these pillows:

I bought the slipcover that year too, but didn't really use it consistently until my mother re-sewed it in the fall of 2014.

It's time for the story of that couch.

Years and years ago, when I was about sixteen, seventeen, my mother married a man whose mother had this couch. It came to live in our family home. Then, I left and in a few years, my mother and step-father split up. But this couch remained in my Mom's possession. When my husband and I got married, I asked for this couch. It was green. It was ancient but in excellent shape. I tracked down the matching chair, but it was missing one of its legs, the upholstery was in worse shape and the springs in the seat were shot. We could not afford to restore it--so after a couple of years in the basement, we hauled it off to the dump.

But we did our best to save this couch. My Mom generously paid for it to be reupholstered after we had had it for a few years. But I screwed it up. First, I chose the wrong colour. For some reason I thought I had to "honour" the couch and reupholster it in the same colour as before. And, I do like green. But I chose a light green--and because it was my mother's money--a cheap fabric which didn't wear well.

With two young kids allowed free reign --it slowly became destroyed. But I have always loved its lines--and the scale! It was built for a small room like this one.

So I bought a slip cover--but it was much too large--and an absolute pain to put on and adjust properly.

We also got rid of the vhs--and those big ghastly speakers.


This was the year I transitioned from orange and green and brown--to teal and green and purple. (I also lost all my pictures from March to December so everything here you've seen before.)

That spring, I did my own "hybrid cure"--a combination of The Cure and Spring Cleaning. In March, here's how things looked:

I am not sure that this mantle belongs in this room.

Looking back, it feels all rather blah.

By October, it was entirely different, thanks to a curb side find.

Chris and I found this teal rug in perfect condition on someone's lawn with other things that made it clear it was available. Note, I now have a gallery wall instead of a lone painting. (I don't have a decent picture of it in 2011.)

I started doing small things to bring things together, better.

I bought a few teal tchochtkes:

And did some small projects, like painting the piano bench:

and switching out the dvd boxes:

I see the summer curtains are up. For the longest time, I hung heavy, lined, dark brown drapes in the winter and these unlined off-white cotton tab tops in the summer. I eventually replaced them with white Ritva curtains from Ikea.


The changes continued.

First, I sewed some curtains for the small windows on the mantle wall. Then, I painted the backs of the bookcases. I also sewed a new cover for the old rocking chair pillow.

In June, I added to the gallery wall:

I still loved playing around with the mantle.

In August, a big change: I returned the piano to my Mother. The kids had taken lessons for many years, but once we stopped, they never touched the piano again. Mom wanted it for my nephew (of whom she has custody), so I happily gave it to her.

I was at a bit of a loss for a while what to do with the space. I put the cabinet from the hallway in its place for a while.

It was awkward.

By late August, this is where things stood:

Those are purple lined polyester drapes, not the brown ones. I have no idea where they came from. They were identical to the brown ones--just not quite as wide.

I like this room.


Two rather significant things happened this year.

1) In June, I  participated in The Nester's Tchotchke Challenge. I removed about 80% of my home's decor--and found myself extremely reluctant to put it back up.

I also rearranged the living room as per the challenge.

I left it that way for a few months: I moved everything back to where it belonged before Christmas.

2) For the first time in seventeen years, I got a job. A part-time job, true, but the adjustment was huge.

I did manage one small project before the year was through. I changed the gallery wall.


The year it all changed.

In six frantic, exhilarating weeks, my Mom, my husband and I diy'ed, painted and redecorated the entire room.

Here it is:

It all started because of the rug, of course. Too many accidents from the dog and it just would not stay clean. That--and Target. For the brief time it was here, I took full advantage.

Notice the trim on the chimney breast is finally finished.

A new smaller, tighter gallery wall. Navy and white will always be one of my most favouite colour combinations.

The walls were painted an off-white called Glass of Milk by Martha Stewart (MSL029 ) and the coving is Wythe Blue (Benjamin Moore, HC 143).


One of my goals in re-doing the living room in 2014 was to create a back drop that would be easy to decorate with according to my whim or the season. A year later--in the fall of 2015, I was ready to try. I decided to deck out my living room for Fall.

When I first posted about it, I was quite discouraged. Looking at the pictures now, I think it looks fine. There is no doubt I wore myself to the bone working on my Mom's dressing room--and my exhaustion was most likely still being felt.

And then with just switching out a few pillow covers and blankets, we had Christmas.

I managed to add another picture to the group. And I sewed that pillow cover. 

And there we have it. So many changes through the years--and so many more to come!

Thanks for taking this ride back through time with me.

Want more good stuff? Have these posts delivered right to your inbox!



Anonymous said...

i love these posts.


Alana in Canada said...

Thank you, Wilma. I appreciate that. It takes hours and hours to put these together.

t said...

Wow - what an evolution! I really like it in its current state with the white walls, and a colorful coving. And in the pictures, I love how the mirror looks over the mantel - the width of its frame mimics the width of the coving making it look very pulled together and providing some balance in terms of height.

I also love the scale and proportion of your couch - it works well in that room.

You have done a great job in this room.

Janina Laird said...

Alana, thank you for a walk through memory lane with you. I just kept thinking, "Wow, she's kept a pictoral record over all the years! She's even got record of the paint colours she's used!!"

I figured out I've moved through 12 different homes in the 39 years I've been married and in 3 different provinces. Prior to getting married I only moved once. 😮

I wasn't at all consistent at taking pictures and my husband had absolutely no interest in taking pictures at all. So the pictures I do have were taken by me and focused solely on my 3 kids and husband. There are no picturrs of me at sll. Haha I don't actually exist. My decor ended up being just being the background scenery. Since my husband flew out every Sunday for business travel, I was left with the home front on my own. I remember where I lived by where my kids were going to school and my routes to and from my schools and their schools and our homes. The only thing that kept me sane living so far away from all my family was having wonderful neighbours, new friends/colleagues at my schools, and working on 'small little' decorating projects at home after I got the kids in bed. Simple things like making a new wreath, creating a new flower arrangement, or making a new picture to go on a wall (crewel work).

'Creating' beauty in our homes is one way many women like us find joy in our lives. I've always loved trying to create a cozy nest for my family, especially now when I manage to get all my chickens gathered under one roof again! They've all flown my coop with my 2 daughters enjoying life in Calgary and my son living about an hour's drive north of me here in the Toronto area.

Alana, I do appreciate how much time you put into this post. Thank you for that. It made delightful breakfast time reading for me today alongside my toasted Hot Cross Bun and a cup of fresh coffee. Have a wonderful start to your week! Spring is creeping up on us and that is a wonderful thing to Canadians. 😄

Alana in Canada said...

t--thanks! I do love that mirror, there, too. Though I love the change introducing the painting has brought.

Jan--I love reading your long, informative responses. My, but you have lived in a lot of homes! I've always admired crewel work, though I have never tried it.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...