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

living room renovation update

It’s been 5 weeks since we started tearing up the living room and we’re finally in the home stretch.  Well, I say that with optimism because the hardest part is still ahead of us – building the mantel.

Let’s revisit the oh-so-glamorous BEFORE.


What I imagine a fireplace in Trump’s lair looks like.


And here’s where we stand this morning.


Please ignore the mediocre pics in this post.  It’s been cloudy for like a week and I just finished painting the subfloor last night so I didn’t want to walk on it.  It’s hard to photograph a room you can’t actually go into… 730am on a cloudy morning.

The Walls
It took a while to patch the many problems on the walls, including the former pointless cubbies.


After lots of mudding and sanding and clean up, we were finally ready to add our batten wall treatments.  This room is too big for my taste (and furniture stash) so I wanted to bring the walls “in” somehow.  Adding texture would make the room seem smaller and cozier, more like a library than a bowling alley.

Initially I was thinking shiplap but then I worried it would be too busy.  Plus even faux shiplap like we did the mudroom would get costly in a room this size.  Floor to ceiling battens were the way to go.  Subtle texture that wouldn’t break the bank.


You can see in this pic I’d started roller-ing on the wall color – BM China White in eggshell finish.


For the battens, we bought two 4’x8′ sheets of 1/4” hardwood plywood ($13 each) and ripped them down to 2” wide strips with a band saw.  A lot of math later, we were air nailing the battens every 22”.


The Fireplace
I swear we stared at the green marble colossus for a week, trying to figure out what to do.  Somebody cemented those slabs on real good and we worried that demo-ing it would open an expensive can of worms, possibly compromise the fireplace and get us in over our heads.  Not to mention that slate slabs for the fireplace surround turned out to be super spenny.  Then I found these black slate 12″x 24″ tiles at Home Depot.


The color and texture was perfect and with the straight edge on the tile, I thought we could lay them over the marble without grout lines and they’d look like slabs of slate. ???  It couldn’t get uglier so we decided to give it a go.

To rough up the surround and make sure the thinset and tile would stick, we took a diamond blade grinder to the marble.  Hideous green marble.  Hideous.  Nobody panic, everybody breath.


Then we laid the tile, using as few cuts as possible in the most visually logical layout possible.


I love it.  You can still see the lines where the tiles meet but that makes a bit rustic and gives the eye a break, instead of just a cube o’tile.

The Floor
Last night, I finally painted the floor which was so satisfying after all the prep work.  I used Sherwin Williams Porch and Floor paint in Urbane Bronze.





Now….to build the mantel.  Here’s the direction we’re heading.  Simple dentil molding mantel.  The mantel will be painted the same color as all the trim – BM China semi-gloss finish.


We’re almost there!!!  And then the kids want to mantel to look like this for Halloween.

CLX100116_106country living

What do you guys think?  Do you miss the green marble and seafoam carpet?  😉



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  1. Looks great, cant wait to see the finished project!!

    • says:

      Thanks, Michelle! Me too. 😉 I can’t wait for this to be done and kicking it in front of the fireplace.

  2. I love it all, especially your eye for stretching a penny while not compromising on style. The wall treatment is smart. This is going to be a great room.

    • says:

      I can’t wait to get furniture back in here! Make it feel like an actual lived in space.

  3. WOW!!!! It looks great! You have such a great eye, Erin, and creativity. The new wall treatment made quite a difference. Nice choice. Looking forward to the finished product and all the holiday decorations.

  4. karen e dutton says:

    Hi Erin! This really is an extraordinary transformation already… I hear This Old House calling your name.
    Can’t wait to see the end result! 🙂

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