Our Living Room Evolution

If you've followed along with this blog or my Instagram for some time, our living room is likely a space you're not unfamiliar with. It makes a lot of appearances as its the center of our house, however, it's never gotten a dedicated blog post of its own because we never really considered it "done." But as we approach five years of living in our home, I think we've made it... the living room is finally DONE (for now at least.)

So this post is all about our living room evolution over the time we've lived here and where things have landed now. We spend a LOT of time in this room and we're pretty happy with how things are looking currently, so we hope you do too!

First, the VERY beginning - I guess we'll call this Phase 0. We were lucky to have a pretty blank slate to work with. Our initial plans were to 1) Add bookshelves along the back wall, 2) Replace the wood doors in the hallway with glass doors, and 3) Replace the reddish trim that exists throughout the house. Overall though, not a bad starting point!

Phase 1 - Looking at this era of the living room is pretty wild because it feels very far removed from our current design style, and this was only ~5 years ago. We added a pink rug for a bright pop of color, a neutral gray sofa, and a nine-bulb chandelier that we affectionately(?) called the Arby's Heat Lamp because it made this room WARM. The art above the sofa is from Etsy - I printed these as colored engineering prints, which is still a trick I use from time-to-time. It tends to work better for busy prints with a lot of colors/textures, otherwise you may notice the quality of the paper more easily with a solid color.

We built the bookshelves during our first winter in the house (you can see the full post here.) We wanted to make them look built in with the white trim that we're using to replace the existing trim, but you'll notice that we didn't replace any of the other trim at this time. When photographing this room, I often kept the shots pretty tight so you couldn't see that red trimmed doorway 🙈. I had really wanted floor-to-ceiling color coded bookshelves for a long time, so having this project come to fruition made all of my new homeowner dreams come true.

During this phase, we also added the white console table in the entryway, a mirror for last minute checks before heading out the door, and some small plants on a picture ledge. The typewriter on the table is probably the oldest thing in our house - it was my grandmother's from when she was a stenographer and we believe this model is from the early 1900s.

Phase 1.5 - I hesitate to give this a full phase because both changes during this period were pretty short-lived. After living with the pink rug for some time, I decided I wanted something a little less bold in here. We went with an white shaggy rug, which we still have in here today. You'll notice that during phase 1, we also added some cute kittens to the mix, and they had turned our gray sofa into their dedicated scratching post. We were already feeling unhappy with the gray sofa anyway, so we decided to switch it out with a faux leather sofa that we love. With a new sofa came new artwork above it, but these engineering prints didn't last long due to the quality of the paper (see issues mentioned above.)

Phase 2 - I love phase 2 because it means HALLWAY MAKEOVER. Like I mentioned earlier, we had planned to replace the existing hallway doors with glass doors but ultimately decided that we'd prefer to not shut off the back half of the house if we don't need to. We ended up taking down the wall and instantly the room and hallway just felt bigger and more open. We have a whole post dedicated to the hallway makeover that you can read here, but I'll add that by this point, we had already worked on the music room, the bedroom, and the bathroom, so it just felt really good to have the hallway feel like an extension of those completed spaces.

Around this time, we also swapped out some different artwork above the sofa and added a new chair to round out the sitting area. We also decided to say goodbye to the Arby's Heat Lamp and go for something a little more natural with this bamboo pendant shade. We honestly don't use this overhead light much to begin with, but we're much more likely to use it now that there's just one bulb as opposed to NINE. Lastly, we really didn't change anything about the bookshelves except probably add more books!

Phase 3 - At this point we're about 10 months into a global pandemic, I've barely left my house in that time, and I'm just ready for a bit of a refresh. I decided that I'd like to spruce up this room a bit with some new pillows, a new lamp I was coveting, and a new end table to help fill out the space since our coffee table is rather small.

I get all of my new purchases in and realize that it's just not looking... right. The art above the sofa isn't matching the vibe of the new lamp, so I decide that I'll make some new artwork for above the sofa. We'd been living with the two large white frames for over 4 years, so we switched to three black frames to tie in with the new black end table. Then of course, the color coded books seem to really clash with the artwork... so we decided to reorganize the books, to the shock and dismay of many according to my Instagram poll. I love the color coded books and I still do, but I'm also really into this more neutral palette where the colors are dispersed throughout. We're really happy with the change, and it better suits the new pieces we decided to add to this room.

Around this time, I also removed the letterboard and yellow books from the entryway table and instead added a cloth storage box, a little marble sculpture, and some eucalyptus for a bit of greenery. It just felt more simple and calming to me, which is perhaps exactly what I needed in the midst of the pandemic. We also (finally) replaced the reddish trim on the wall behind the sofa and entryway table and gave the walls a fresh coat of paint. It's a pretty minor change, but it was always holding me back from calling this room "done" so checking this off the list actually felt major for me.

Phase 4 - And that all brings me to phase 4, our final phase (at least for now!) With all of the changes of phase 3 really making this room feel closer to done than ever, we wanted to make that final push to actually call it done in our book. For us, that meant a new, larger coffee table that would better fit the size of our sofa, a new tray for on the coffee table, and some other textile upgrades, like a couple more new pillows and a blanket I knitted. I think the white coffee table is the one item that was a constant in our living room from the beginning - it was a small DIY we made way back in our old apartment. It served us well, but it was time for an upgrade. So here we go, after ~5 years of living room evolution, our current and complete living room!

Thanks for coming along on this ride with us! It's pretty wild how much things change in a relatively short amount of time. Do you have a favorite phase of our living room? I love our current phase very much, but I think I'll always love a color coded bookshelf as well. I'll link as many sources as I can below - of course, some items from earlier phases may no longer be available. If I missed anything, let me know!

Wall Paint (BEHR Ultra Pure White) - Home Depot
Door Paint Color (Glidden Pink Carnation) - Home Depot
Gray Sofa - Interior Define
Tan Faux Leather Sofa - AllModern
Bookshelves - IKEA (Read about how we installed our bookshelves here)
White Shag Rug - Amazon
9 Bulb Ceiling Light - Target
Bamboo Ceiling Light - IKEA
Entryway Mirror - Target
Terrazzo Knobs - H&M
Green & Pink Wall Art - Etsy
Blue & Orange Wall Art - Etsy (Print 1, Print 2)
Gold Floor Lamp - Target
Wood and Fluted Floor Lamp - Crate and Barrel
Rattan Chair - IKEA (similar)
Black Metal End Table - AllModern
Small Ceramic Vase - H&M
White Coffee Table - DIY (See post here)
Oak Coffee Table - IconByDesign
Black Coffee Table Tray - CB2
Cream Arch Pillow - H&M (no longer available)
Pink and Red Pillow - West Elm
Black Velvet Corner Pillow - West Elm
Pink and Cream Arch Pillow - West Elm

Thanks for reading!
Sarah & Nick