photo Whaling-City-Cottage-8-2015_zpsoygeotsf.jpg

good bye, seafoam nightmare

As summer winds down, we’re plotting what house projects to knock off the list this fall.  Keeping in mind the cost, bang for our buck, longevity, cozy factor going into winter, etc.  Luckily we still have plenty of heinous rooms to choose from.  What rose to the top of the heap though is….our embarrassing living room.  The seafoam bowling alley.

Here it is the day we moved in.  Shudder.


We stripped the wallpaper off this past Christmas to reveal seriously funky walls.  Not sure what that smoke/dust is….


Call me crazy but this room is too big, right?  I don’t have the furniture for this action.  You can see the retro step-down to the living room on the right here.



It doesn’t help that our temporary living room in the office is cozy as hell.


My husband and kids keep asking if we can keep the TV and sofa in here.  But my suspicion is, if we have a den, we’ll never set foot in the living room again.



So we can’t abandon the living room.  We gotta make this work.

First up – add faux board and batten treatment to the walls from floor to ceiling.

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28172001d985cb1eac71580ee7ff6564lauren liess

As for color, I’m planning to paint the walls and trim the same off-white.  BM Sea Pearl is my top choice right now.

sea pearl

Or a tad lighter with BM Cloud Cover.

cloud cover

But I’m leaning towards the more saturated Sea Pearl.  ???

These pointless wall alcoves are getting the sledgehammer.  The designers kindly recessed them into the wall (Liz Lemon eye roll) so we’ll have two huge holes to seamlessly patch with drywall.  Good times.


I’m planning to put the TV on a dresser or sideboard in this spot and build a gallery wall around it.

8e669061aab86d3be33f8f890848a157alison piepmeyer

Next up is the fireplace – it’s the focal point of the room and desperately needs a face lift.  Also this fireplace wall is soooo long and totally without architecture.



No more green marble and chintzy mantle.  I’m picturing a classic mantle with dentil trim and charcoal slate surround.

a1a45e607569b9dfddb1459e1ed6c0e2kate marker

8b87b2f9824096cf1684e9fb8f235269my domaine

70dbc0326df47cc061ad12d36a1d67c5L. Kae Interiors

I’ve picked out this mirror for over the fireplace.



Now, to annihilate the seafoam carpet.


As many of you know, hardwood floors are unfortunately NOT hidden under the green carpet in the living room.  We had a similar situation in the dining room and decided to paint the subfloor while saving up for hardwood floors. We’ll do the same treatment in the living room and stick with the same color too (BM Aegean Olive).


For floor covering, I want something neutral and cozy and have been going cross-eyed researching jute rugs.  It has to be affordable, not filled with dust and shedding fibers, and have a cool weave that looks expensive.  A tall order.  But I think I found a winner with the Maui braided jute rug from Rugs USA.


Our coffee table situation is shaping up nicely too.  I scored a vintage Ming-style coffee table off Craigslist for $40 bucks.


The top was a wreck though, like a honey badger had been at it, but nothing wood putty and sanding couldn’t take care of.  I’m putting oil based primer on tonight and then it’ll get a few coats of BM Advance in semi-gloss White Dove.

There are sooooo many decisions to make in the living room!  Furniture, curtains, bamboo blinds, lighting, art.  This is a huge space and we basically have nothing to fill it with.

What do you think about plans so far?  How would you fill this room up?  Make it look cozy, collected, lived-in.  Demi lune tables flanking the fireplace with oversize art above them?  Console table behind the sofa?  I need your sage wisdom, guys.



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  1. I can save you the time of filling in the niches! You can have the set of porcelain clown figurines we received for our wedding and haven’t taken out of the box. Just a thought. 😉 A large room is overwhelming. Can you divide it into separate seating areas or even one large seating area plus a few chairs around the bay window? Long rectangular rooms are hard, but even harder when the fireplace is centered on a long wall. Good luck!

    • says:

      I will have to find a new place to tuck my jelly jar of wine. 🙂 Oh yeah, we’re definitely going to need a reading nook and tables off the main, fireplace-focused seating area. Sigh. That will be quite the undertaking. It takes a while, at least for me, to find the right piece, or even figure out what you want to go there. First things first though….we’ll get there. Thanks, Amy!

  2. This is exciting to be tackling the living room. I know it can be daunting but good for you for getting started. Big rooms are better made into sections for sure. Love the idea of a reading nook with bookshelves and maybe a pair of comfy chairs. What about another spot having a larger round table with four chairs that can be your “game table”?

    • says:

      I definitely need to do something in that bay window bump out. And I don’t want to do a window seat, for whatever reason. Maybe bookshelves flanking it with a cozy chair and little table in the bump out nook? Or I dig the idea of a round game table too. Thanks, chica!

  3. what will you do to prevent the furnace residue from repeating?
    Love the color choice. I am ready to white again in this little abode.

    • says:

      I was totally worried about that. So far, the furnace residue hasn’t returned. We’re not sure if it was from when the heat was oil, then they switched to gas (with a ginormous furnace). We replaced that with a high efficiency, tiny suitcase sized one last year. So far, no problems with the black stuff in the rooms we’re repainted.

  4. I LOVE your plan. But, I would keep the TV in the office and make it den. Our last house had a separate living room and family room (TV) and I LOVED it. It was so nice to hang out in the living room without seeing the TV, and the family room was super cozy at night when we wanted to watch TV. Our new (1920) house just has an enormous living room, and I hate having an enormous TV in it. Keep it!

    • says:

      That is a compelling argument – thanks, Sally! Might be an especially good idea down the line, as the kids get older.

      • Yes – and it was great when my kids were younger – we kept some bins with toys in the living room, and so that’s where we typically played. A bonus is that you don’t have design around the TV in the living room!

  5. Erin, it all looks good!! I love your office/den nook – it is so cozy and I could see my kids hanging out there too! You are lucky because your LR is so large, you could probably do two sofas facing each other but if you do a TV in there, you are probably not wanting to that!! I love your FP ideas! You could do a long console/table in front of one of the windows with lamps and such. I think that is always a cozy look. Flank with taller back chairs. I’m kinda on the same page as Sally T where I’d keep the TV in the office and make it a den and use your LR as a space with no TV. We had a similar set-up in CT and our TV was in a small, paneled office and our LR was long and narrow with no TV. Believe it or not, we used our LR a lot. Just hung out in there quite a bit especially when friends were over….

    • says:

      Thanks, Fran! I’m so on the hunt for a long, rustic console table. The one I liked off OKL was $1,500 though. Gulp. It’s a tricky room, lots of space, odd layout. I definitely don’t want the TV over the FP so I think a sideboard with TV along the wall opposite the FP will do for now. But down the line, we’ll probably get another sofa for the den (Ikea ektorp in gray?) and put the TV in there. We use the living room a lot for making fires and having friends over. It’s funny, our use of the house will change so much as the kids get older. Thankfully, we have room to grow.

  6. Can’t wait to see this unfold! Love your ideas.
    We are on our second fairly large LR and I’ve loved having our vintage iron/glass table and chairs in both. We work at it, and sometimes have dinner in there, for a change of scenery.
    We have two Ecktorp love seats in our LR and LOVE them. Can’t get over the price.

    • says:

      We’re used to tiny living rooms, so this is quite the change. Slow decorating is in order. Figure out how we want to use the space, etc. Right now we’re stressing over pulling off those green marble slabs on the fireplace. Eeek.

  7. Debbie A. says:

    I love your vision!
    Did you check out rugs USA this week? They have a lot of rugs on sale now for 90% off. I saw yours for 70% off. Looking forward to the transformation!

  8. Liz Lemon eye roll. Yeeees. I love your ideas, and that you are painting the floors again!! I was totally going to say a bench by the window but then I read the comments ; ) This room is super tricky, and so many options, seating arrangement scenarios, ect…. I immediately thought of the double back to back sofa for this room but I’m not sure if that is even reasonable because then….two sofas $$$$$!!!! You could put two chaises on opposite sides of the window that is next to where you want to put the TV. You could build a built in book shelves around that window, so it’s like a reading/TV section of the room? Anyways, what ever you do I’m sure it’ll be beautiful! Agreed, slow and steady decorating esp. with this room! 🙂

    • says:

      Oh man, so many good ideas – thank you, Elisa! This room has me super stumped. There are so many configurations that could happen. And seating (good seating) is so expensive! I’d love to have two linen, skirted roll arm sofas facing each other in front of the fireplace. Pipe dream.

  9. I would keep everything in the den. It looks amazingly cozy. Having a smaller place with the tv will be THE gathering place for the family. Reminds me of the breezeway in Joliet. Rarely was any activity taken place in the living room…..except for the Christmas tree.

    For the living room, I like the idea of separate-themed areas eg. reading/library nook; comfy music corner; contemplative/ meditative peaceful place to chill; sitting around the fire with a glass of wine area.
    Your bedroom is large enough that you could easily section off a part for the office.

    I love having the couch in the den. Smart move.

    • says:

      But then I’d have to buy more seating for the living room. Eventually we’ll make the office a TV den but for now we can’t pull the trigger on another sofa. 🙂

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