This week is a doozy. Although we did not move any walls or do any major structural changes, the Living Room underwent a pretty substantial cosmetic transformation. The big issue with this space is that it is a relatively small footprint compared to the soaring 32’ ceilings. The challenge was to introduce some visual proportion by creating architectural elements that utilize and the height of the room.
Here are some details that we ended up with after it was all said and done- everything in this vignette—curtains, coffee table, brass sculpture, throw pillows, artwork—are all from our previous house. The walls are painted Farrow and Ball “Pointing” as are the rest of the main areas on the first floor.
Keep scrolling to see how we got here.
The room has a ton of windows and faces due East so it gets really nice light. The view to the golf course is beautiful so we didn’t want to mess with any of the windows or French doors. I really hated the weird coved eyebrow window above, but it would have opened a big can of worms to remove it. Not to mention it does bring in more of that natural light.
If you have read my previous #mondaymakeover posts, you know that the subfloor was riddled with mold, so the floors had to come up. This was not a terrible disaster because I really didn’t like the knotty pine with the orange stain, so this was a good reason to pull up the hard wood and replace them with white oak, which we stained with Bona White Nordic Stain resulting in a massive improvement.
Here is how this side of the room turned out. We added a sectional sofa from Verellen covered in Solafina fabric, and a my favorite Finnegan swivel chair from Highland House covered in Lewis and Wood “Batik”.. The midcentury arm chair and ottoman are from our previous house as are the curtains and coffee table. The room was so white and light it needed a bold statement on the floor to balance things out. I completely lucked out and found the perfect solution in this antique Turkish Oushak rug at the Zinn Rug Gallery.
Next we turn to the fireplace wall…
This side of the room had these strange little alcoves, one of which was complete with Home Depot cabinets that we think served as a bar. But due to the fact that the ceilings are so high everything about this wall felt off balance even though it was one of the only symmetrical walls in the whole house.
The solution here was to highlight the fireplace wall with vertical shiplap to draw you eye up and help create a sense of proportion. This relatively easy cosmetic fix did wonders to balance out the space.
And here is the end result. We painted the shiplap Farrow and Ball “Old White” to create a little variation from the walls. Then we ripped out the “ bar” which left a perfect nook for one of my favorite pieces - an Italian Regency secretary that Matt and I bought in Florence right after we got married. The fantastic shell art piece is by San Francisco artist Trudy Lynn Elliott. The Wassily Chair by Marcel Breuer was picked up at a Connecticut antique shop last summer, and somehow mixes seamlessly with the Italian secretary. Remember, buy what you love and I promise it almost always will find a home wherever you are.
Ok, moving on….I saved the best for last. This wall was in most need of help so it provided an opportunity to do something bold.
First we had to deal with some unfortunate “embellishments” that came with the house like this random eyebrow opening (that matches the one I showed you earlier across the room!) There was also this strange double stair case in which one side goes down into the front hall, the other into the kitchen. Again, recall when this was designed and built: the late 80s-go figure. There was no question that this had to go.
First we demo…nothing more satisfying than taking a sledgehammer to something that hurts your eyes.
Then we filled in the little eyebrow detail…..and began to plot our most ambitious idea yet: a massive double height bookcase with a catwalk balcony across the top.
After filling in the landing and eyebrow, we cut out what the opening to what will eventually become a “secret” door.
Next up the skeleton framing for the enormous bookcase designed with the help of our amazing contractor who built the whole thing in his shop and installed it section by section.
This is the view of the “secret” door from the upstairs hall. I know y’all might be thinking I have lost it, but stay with me….
This secret door seemed to require a PhD in Geometry but somehow these two guys who are masters of their craft, made it work.
Next up we built a scoffold to paint the bookcases and install the custom Juliet balcony- which took FOREVER, but it was well worth the wait. And if you have followed me on IG for a while you know the drama behind getting my Moon fixture installed…but here it is!
Getting there….The balcony took some serious structural engineering and some design tweaking to handle the load, but again, these guys made it happen and only asked me once why I didn’t just get a big ladder. It took the better part of two months to organize and arrange the books, but it finally came together and is (somewhat) organized.
Here is the end result! Can you spy the secret door top left? It actually works beautifully and we really do use the bookcase. The boys’ books—comics, young adult novels, reference books, yearbooks, photo albums, favorite baby books, board games etc all reside up top and are readily accessible whenever they tell me they are “bored” #noexcuses The L-Sconces are from Urban Electric Co.
There you have it! The Living Room complete….
Next week we tackle the boys rooms and upstairs common areas.