Might Be In Over My Head…Maybe?

Formal Living Room Redesign..Not that long ago I started sharing about my plans for our living room as well as my technique and tips for designing a room. I also shared how we are phasing the living room. And if you have been following the blog, then you are also aware of my on going adventures in upholstery for a couple of chairs that will be finding their way into the final design and realization of the living room. So I thought it was time for an update on where the living room stands. Plus, you can see my sample board, which I find to be one of the most valuable tools in any designer’s kit of tricks.

Before I start any room there are a few things that I always do first.

  1. Establish a budget.
  2. Figure out the feel of the room.
  3. Create a design and layout.
  4. Then create a to do list of what needs to be done.
  5. Create a sample board.
  6. Research and source items to be purchased.

Here is what I am tackling, and besides the budget constraints, the length of the list demands that I phase this living room redo. Here’s what I am taking on to get this living room designer approved status. I have gotten a few things started and done but my list is still quiet daunting. Hence the phasing.

  • Buy furniture and other room items – daybed, large rug, couch, glass coffee, shelving and cabinetry, curtain rods, accessories, sideboard for stairs, fireplace and fireplace tile
  • Reupholster hubby’s old wingback
  • Reupholster yard sale channel back and wingback chairs – in progress
  • Reupholster two ottomans
  • Refinish hubby’s two side tables
  • Make and purchase accent pillows
  • Make curtains (I need massively tall curtains)
  • Paint walls, ceiling, trim, door, and interior of shelving
  • Build semi-custom wall cabinet and shelving unit
  • Build fireplace surround, tile surround and install fireplace
  • Build double sided mirror and frame for TV
  • Install wall mount TV
  • Install entry, stairwell and hall lights
  • Expand and redo family photo wall
  • Replace trim around front door
  • Make floral centerpiece
  • Refinish stair railing
  • Replace light switches
  • Reupholster pillow covers on entry bench
  • Recover lamp shade on white lattice lamp
  • Figure out artwork for massive entry wall

Sample BoardOne thing that I find a must when I start a new design project is my sample board. It keeps me on track when I get distracted by all the pretty fabrics and accessories I see. Its kind of like a kid in a candy store. I want it all. The sample board helps me to focus. It also helps me maintain my vision in the midst of the chaos that inevitably comes from redoing anything. It first has to be destroyed before it can be rebuilt.

A sample board, at least for me, needs to have the major elements that are going in to the room: Paint colors, fabrics, furniture, floor coverings, hard elements (tile, woods, finishes, metals, etc.) and any schematics/sketches of design elements. Here is the breakdown of my living room redo sample board.

Green Plaid Yard Sale Find Wingback:

Yard Sale ChairsBasic features will remain the same. The back, sides and front edge will be an HGTV green and cream loop fabric, the reverse for the welts and the cream color herringbone tone on tone HGTV for the interior, arms and seat. This is one of my masculine elements and is the “King’s Chair”. The legs are going to be the chalk paint grey from my Adventures in Upholstery post.

Pink-ish Yard Sale Channel Back Chair:

This is the “Queen’s Chair”.  Fun cream colored print that looks like someone drew a fantastic color pencil graphic sketch for the back, side and front edge. This fun print actually features some crazy birds and flowers. Modern and feminine at the same time. A fabulous find at Fabric.com after my ideal fabric went away never to return at JoAnn’s. (Small secret…I actually like this one better.) The only two welts will be the cream color with hints of gold leopard tone on tone print that I  found on clearance at JoAnn’s. The velvet like beige with gold tone fabric will be the arms, channels and seat. This was a find for sure. It was a donation from the upholster for some major Las Vegas hotels. He gives our upholstery class the remnants to use in our projects. I saw it and fell in love and am praying there is enough for my little project.

The legs and upper wood feature will be the same grey as the “King’s Chair”. This chair is also going to get some bling. I really like nail head details and since this one originally had nail heads, I’m keeping them. Only difference – these will be real nail heads and they are going to be polished chrome.

Marble and Scroll Wood Side Table and White Lattice Lamp:

Pretty much leaving these two alone. Only some small little updates. I’m going to restore the wood finish on the table. The lamp will be in front of white shutters, so in order to make it visible and pull the striped fabric across the room, I will be covering the square lamp shade in fabric. Still working on winning over hubby on the stripes but we will see what happens with the final reveal.

Two Brown Leather Ottomans:

Okay…I know I am going to reupholster these in fabric versus leaving them alone. But a small confession. I’m not sure in what fabric yet. I bought extras of all my fabrics for accent pillows and my two ottomans. As the room comes together, I will see what color there needs to be more of and where and make the decision then. So I guess I’ll just have to wait to the reveal.

Hubby’s 1980s Country Floral Wingback:

Hubby's Wing BackI, with much elation, donated my husband’s two couches from his previous marriage to a very worthy charity. It was the last of the items to go from his previous marriage. However, there are a few pieces that could be upcycled and reborn for our home. (My personal philosophy when it comes to stuff from previous marriages/relationships, they either need to be replaced or completely reborn into a new version. Its symbolic to letting go of the past and starting fresh with your new life.) His wingback is one of them.

The legs will get a dark stain to match other wooden elements. The back, side, and front edge will get the vertical colorful stripe while the cushion and interior will become a tufted floral green, gray and teal print, both fabrics from Home Fabrics and Rugs. The buttons for the tufts will each be one of the 5 main colors from the stripe fabric. The welts will be a grey tone on tone herringbone, which is the reverse side of the HGTV cream herringbone on the “King’s Chair”.

Oak Side Tables:

These are going the same grey as the “King and Queen’s Chairs” in this living room redo. Well at least their legs and skirts are. The top will be stained dark in the same stain as hubby’s wingback. However, the little cutout detail on the top is going to be filled with a light, non-stainable wood filler so it has a faux inset detail. These were another of my hubby’s that needed new life. Keeping the lamps as is. I fell in love with them at Target and the love affair is still strong.

Painted Walls and Ceiling:

Paint SamplesOne of the things that both my husband and I fully agreed on was that the living room needed to be bright and full of life. He also requested that the wall and ceiling colors be colors that were not so saturated. Since many of the furniture, curtains and other decorative elements were going to be pretty vibrate, this was not difficult to give in on. I actually agreed from a design perspective. That said, they did need color. The tricky part was what color. Curiously enough what normally is a no brainer decision for me when it comes to design actually was my most difficult this time around. I had a whole lot of adjacencies that I needed to keep in mind and the colors within the room. I’m embarrassed at how long it actually took me to make a decision.

The answer came from my love affair…with my lamps, silly. Two of the glass balls are a pale yellow and a pale green. And once I decided on these shades, it was easy to pull the colors. I stole the ceiling color form our dining room for the ceilings – Its called Lime Blossom by Dunn Edwards. The walls will become a pale yellow that I stole from our bedroom ceiling. Its a custom color that I named Flaxen.

Staircase Side Board:

The photo I have on my sample board is more of an idea than a reality. I love the teal color and the detailed work on the doors. Its a nod to the metal work in our coffee table. The size is right as is the storage but the price sure wasn’t. So I’m on the hunt for something similar that I can transform.

Feature Built-in Wall:

Bookcase SketchSo it is a really rough sketch but it serves its purpose, which is to basically give me a visual representation of what that wall will look like. When I get ready to tackle that project, then I will do a much better rendering with accurate dimensions, materials list, and layout. Ultimately it will be one unit made up of two distinct features – storage and fireplace wall.


My plan is a semi-custom shelving unit using Billy bookcases, kitchen cabinetry, molding and a butcher block like top. The cabinets below will be stock kitchen cabinets in white with a simple door face and brush nickel handles. The top will be a dark stained butcher block top. Resting on top will be a recessed Billy bookcases in white with the back panel painted an accent color. Still working on exactly what color. Like the ottomans, it kind of depends on what accents are around it. I know I have these two cool aqua-tealish modern fish vases so that shade of blue is out. To make the book shelves and cabinetry look built in, it will be connected and finished with molding.

Fireplace Wall:

Its my favorite piece and I can’t wait to work on it. It will look very much like a traditional fireplace in that it will have a stone tile surround, wood frame, dark stained big mantle with a firebox. But it will be more like art. I am putting up the artic white chiseled stone tiles shown in the photo by the sketch as the tile surround. Its a traditional pattern in an untraditional material. Besides being chiseled stone, it also has little flecks that reflect light and sparkle for a lack of a better word. In front of these stone tiles, dead center and floating will be a contemporary rectangular electric/ethanol fireplace with glass pieces in the “hearth” part and a brush nickel surround. I am truly super excited!

Above the mantle, our flat screen will get mounted to the wall. But since I’m not a fan of TVs in the formal living room, I will be disguising it with what will look like a large framed mirror but I’ll be using two way mirror glass, the kind they use in police interrogation rooms. Should be a fun project to put together. Behind the TV, there will be horizontal paneling framed out to finish off the built in and semi-custom look.

Furniture Pieces and Elements to Buy:

I had a wonderful early Christmas present this year and had to figure out how to decorate when you are in the in-between of Before and After. What a problem to have, right? So behind the redesign layout, I have photos of those elements to remind me of color and style. Important as I figure out accessories, curtains, etc.

So far crossed off my need to purchase list are a teal daybed and metal and glass hexagon coffee table from Living Spaces, a masculine cream tufted couch from Cost Plus World Market, a blueish, grayish, tealish tufted ceramic stool from TJMaxx, and the perfect rug for my space and various accent pillows from Home Goods. They are in the space now and I already love them. I can’t wait to see them in the finished space.

Left to Still Decide:

Living Room Redesign LayoutThere are a few things that are not on my sample board yet. And there is a simple explanation for that. I haven’t completely decided on what I want to do for them yet. I’m still working out curtains even though I have a general idea of where I’m going with them. I know exactly what they are going on but not the fabric. Same for the bench and art in the entry. I have a general idea but haven’t found the right fit yet.

Sometimes, as you can tell, making those decisions comes from seeing what you still need in a space. Start with your bigger elements – floor, ceiling, walls, big ticket furniture items – and then move to the smaller based on what colors or finishes need to go where.

Now you see why I say that phasing was an absolute must. I have projects galore for this room and I am excited about each and everyone. And yes you will get to see them as I take on each one. In the end, I know the room will be awesome and I am beyond anxious to have it done!

Until next post!

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