evolution of my house | part 1 | the living room

Marian ParsonsLiving Room

First of all, thank you so much for all of the sweet comments in response to the home tour I posted earlier this week.  It was fun for me to share the entire house (except one bathroom and Jeff’s office) all in the same post.  Looking over it, I realized how much work we’ve done in the (almost) nine years we’ve lived here.  I know we’ve done a lot, but it hit me afresh.

For those who haven’t been reading my blog since the early days, I thought I would share the evolution of each space.  I hope it will be fun to see my “phases”, but also encouraging to see that my rooms didn’t come together overnight.  It took me a lot of trial and error to pinpoint my style.  I also had to make do with what I had until I could “trade up” for something I liked better.  In many cases, I knew a room wasn’t done, but it was the best I could do with that I had.

Here is what the room looks like now…


And this is how it looked the week we moved in…


There was carpet covering the original wood floors when we first bought the house, but we removed them first thing.  That isn’t an exaggeration.  We closed on the house and that afternoon, I drove to pick my mom up from the airport and Jeff ripped up the carpet.  It was all up when I first set foot in the house under our ownership.


This is how I set things up when we first got settled.  I painted the walls in Bluestone by Sherwin Williams.  We had it in the family room of our townhouse and I was still so in love with that color!  The furniture was a mix of family pieces (the desk, curio, ottoman, painting and rocker) and yard sale finds (the $5.00 mantle, $3.00 chair.)  The lamps and cane bench were side-of-the-road and dumpster finds.  Seriously.  One thing that’s funny is that I have no recollection of that rug!  I can’t tell you where it came from or what happened to it.

Marian House and Marian 6 mo 015

I started to pull the room together within the first couple of years we lived there.  I found the blue and white botanical fabric for $5.00/yard and made valances out of it.  Jeff picked up the piano for free after it didn’t sell at a church yard sale.  Both chairs were also free leftovers from yard sales.  The French caned rocker was $5.00 at Lucketts and the French settee was $50 at a yard sale.  The rug was a remnant that we found in the basement of our home.


I also painted the trim white in the entire house.  It was a huge project…primer and two coats of paint on every window frame and baseboard, but I was so happy to get rid of that shiny orange pine trim.  And I refinished the floors, which was another big project, but it needed to be done.

My aunt brought me a sofa (that I slipcovered), I found a pair of bergere chairs for $50, made curtain panels out of indoor/outdoor Waverly fabric (tucker resist chambray) and I painted the room in Aria Ivory (by candlelight, because there was a power outage!)  The room at this stage drove me crazy!  I loved some of the elements, but it felt so busy to me.  I kept shuffling furniture and redoing the accessories, trying to get it “right.”

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For my book, I built an ottoman from scratch and added some touches of green to the space.  I also painted the trumeau mirror I bought at a yard sale for $35.  The space was starting to get a little brighter…

I moved things around again, swapped out rugs, and traded-up some of the furniture pieces.


Then, about a year and a half ago, I realized that the room was feeling much darker and heavier than I wanted.  While I loved the piano, it was the largest piece in the room with no practical function.  Me sitting down and plunking out my best recollections of Jesu Joy of a Man’s Desiring does not make it functional.  I had already passed the curio along to a cousin and gave the empire sofa back to my aunt and was moving in a new direction.  It was time to let the piano go.  It was also time to rethink the curtains and address the floor that was shedding the finish I had applied only a few years earlier.


Here’s the “piano wall” when I shot for my book…


…and now, with the primitive hutch I found on Craig’s List.


I sold this beautiful antique cabinet, that I still totally love, but it was way to big and dark for the space…


…and have replaced it with a small, marble-topped dresser from the 1800’s.  It’s much better suited for the space.


This is how the small “foyer wall” looked a few years ago…

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…and now…


Once I gave away the piano, I felt a lot more freedom in the space and this is the arrangement I came up with.  I have since moved the wing chairs to the family room and replaced the bench with a factory cart, but it’s otherwise the same furniture.  I loved the direction I was heading and decided to take a big step to make it even cleaner visually…I took down the curtains and the chandeliers.


At first, I hated the room with bare windows.  Hated might be too strong…I just didn’t like it.  It felt cold and stark.  But, I waited and lived with it for a while and now I love it.  I can’t say I’ll never put up curtains again, but I really am enjoying the simplicity of the exposed window frames and the light that pours in.

Jeff and I refinished the floors, so they went from dark-stained, poly finished to raw oak.  I painted the walls in a cooler off white, Pearly White by Sherwin Williams.  An antique screen door, turned upside-down, was used as a backdrop for the painted rocking horse and to balance the height of the hutch.  I purchased a woven jute rug from Joss & Main, mostly because it’s neutral and about the least expensive 8 x 10 rug I could find.  The texture is beautiful, but I’ll be honest, it is not the most comfortable underfoot.

Miss Mustard Seed-3417

And now, today…


I swapped out all of the chairs and finished a few details, like removing the old blind brackets and giving the window frames a fresh coat of paint.  I also added some live greenery and made some new pillows for the space.



And, there you go!  The evolution of the living room.  To check out part two in this series, the evolution of my dining room, click HERE

If you missed the other room tours, here they are…

Part 2 | Dining Room

Part 3 | Home Office

Part 4 | Kitchen

Part 5 | Family Room

Part 6 | Master Bedroom

Part 7 | Bathrooms

evolution of my house | part 1 | the living room

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