On a whim, (typical of the way that so many of our household decisions seem to be made!) my husband and I decided to redecorate our living room a few weeks ago.
When we moved in five years ago we plumped for what we (then!) perceived to be a vibrant red flower-print feature wallpaper on one wall. Other bright accessories such as a red wall clock, Roman blinds and rug helped complete the look we were going for. For a decent stretch of time, we were pleased with our finished room and enjoyed spending time in it. Here’s what it looked like:
Other updates since we moved in
Fast forward a few years, we have effected a few updates to our home. Most significantly, we had a small extension built to replace the low budget, DIY conservatory that the previous owners had installed, which happened to adjoin the living room. This extension was originally intended to be more of a playroom for the kids than anything else, as well as lending space for a concealed home office in a large cupboard.
However, with the passage of time, we seemed to spend less and less time in the dedicated living room. Our rebounder (mini trampoline) became inadvertently housed in there which looked scruffy which didn’t help. But I think the primary issue that deterred me from that space was that the bold red print wallpaper now bugged me as seeming too ‘busy’. It didn’t make for a particularly restful sight being a couple of metres directly opposite the sofas that it was.
Yearning for a tranquil, child-free oasis
Since moving in five years ago, the number of children we have has tripled, as has the swathe of toys and general mess, not to mention the noise! Of course, I wouldn’t trade my little people for anything, but I found myself hankering for a calm, more grown up and elegant oasis set away from the chaos. Even if I mostly only spent evenings in it. I suspect many other parents can identify with that desire?! Our underused living room was the ideal place, ripe as it was for a makeover.
Few things pique my excitement like the prospect of redecorating a room. So I joyfully launched into a flurry of planning and researching, armed with handfuls of home interiors magazines along with Pinterest and Instagram.
A dark-ish feature wall was a must, to highlight the beautiful limestone fireplace that we installed shortly after moving in. Yet the busily patterned wallpaper on the wall behind it had the unfortunate effect of concealing what should have been our feature fireplace. So we have now covered that wall in a clay-grey shade which should make the fireplace stand out way better and receive the appreciation it has been lacking over the last few years. In the end, the other three walls were also painted in grey, albeit a slightly lighter shade than the fireplace wall.
Our old navy blue leather sofa suite has served us well: they were second hand (although in immaculate condition) when we acquired them almost fifteen years ago. They have weathered the storms of three young children in the intervening decade and a bit and are a bit shabby for it. Luckily, we bagged a great deal in the Black Friday sale on a new sofa and two armchairs which arrived a few days before Christmas. With silver-hued fabric, they are heavenly to relax in and I don’t regret splashing out on them.
Picture ledge feature wall
I fell in love with the idea of a gallery wall created from picture ledges the instant I spotted the idea on Pinterest. It is pretty straightforward and quick to create yet conjures up a striking impression.
The ledges are from Ikea (though I purchased from an eBay supplier as we don’t live particularly close to an Ikea store). They are basically shallow floating shelves designed to display photo frames and similar items. They are available in white and black. As you can see from the pic, we bought six of them to arrange on quite a large expanse of wall. Two different lengths are available: 55cm and 115cm.
I struck gold in Asda when I spotted they had a sale on simple white photo frames. Even the largest ones cost no more than about £4 each. As I bought so many, the sale savings really mounted up.
The next job was to fiddle around with the arrangement of the frames on the ledges. I won’t lie: this took a lot of tweaking until I was happy with it.
The true beauty of this type of photo display is how easy it is to change the display- just replace the frames with different photos to freshen it up. We have put quite a few of our wedding photos up to start with as we haven’t displayed many at all since we got married ten years ago.
The little grey birds in front of some of the ledges are cheap laser cut shapes that I bought from eBay. My late father was hugely into birdwatching and scattering a few of these little wooden birds around, (which I painted grey with a tester pot) gives a comforting feeling, even if I can’t explain quite why.
Ah, I’m sure I’m not alone in finding home accessories the most fun part to shop for, am I?! After collating ideas on Pinterest boards and snipping out appealing living room images from interiors magazines, I was eager to track down the perfect accessories to complement our newly decorated room. At the same time, I wanted to keep a tight rein on the purse strings after shelling out a hefty chunk of cash for the new sofas.
The pom pom garland strung across the fireplace was an Etsy buy and I love it because it trims the fireplace perfectly. It lends a little Scandi chic to the room, too. The large wall-mounted letter ‘D’ is the first letter of our family’s surname and the two white stars either side of it are battery-powered LED lights that emit a beautiful soft glow.
Dunelm, Dunelm, Dunelm…
Dunelm came to the rescue, offering many gorgeous items at surprisingly low prices. And no, I promise this post isn’t sponsored by Dunelm (or anyone else, for that matter)! The cushion pads from our old scatter cushions were still in decent condition, so I snapped up four leaping hare print cushion covers for £5 each. The grey candlestick holders and glass heart-shaped tealight holders were also just a few pounds apiece from Dunelm. The grey hare-print roller blinds were £28 each and they blend with the scheme perfectly. How cute is the grey ceramic rabbit on the edge of the mantlepiece? At only £14 I couldn’t resist him. The grey teddy bear rug, also from Dunelm, is seriously the softest and most gorgeously luxurious rug I’ve ever had the joy of stepping on. The round, beaded silver mirrors were great value at £22 each.
And buys from other places…
Naturally, I did cast my net wider afield and purchase a few things elsewhere. The silver bevelled edge mirror was sourced preloved from a local selling site. The few scratches on the frame didn’t bother us; if anything I think they add to the patina of the mirror. It was a bargain at £30 as it is so huge. The white wooden hearts either side of the fireplace were actually Poundland buys, would you believe it? The white rows of houses on the mantlepiece are tea light holders and look ever so pretty on cosy evenings with flickering lights behind them.
Finished in the nick of time
It became a bit of a mission to finish the room before Christmas and my poor husband was spending most of his weekend time on the decorating in December. However, we are really pleased with the finished effect. Sitting in there of an evening feels blissfully peaceful. We explained clearly to the kids that the new room is a calm, quiet room and they can’t take toys into it or eat in there. So far, they have followed the rules and in fact seem to enjoy retreating to what we have named the ‘sitting room’ to sit quietly with a book or just to slip away by themselves for a little peace for a short while.
What do you think of it, reader? Perhaps you have been decorating your home recently? If so, I’d love it if you dropped me a comment to tell me about it and even better if you can add a pic, or link to your own blog with images?