Before & After: My Living Room. My haven.

Liz's living room after

The living room has perhaps been the most involved of our renovations so far. Thankfully we chose this as our first project when we were still very much in the honeymoon period of home-ownership (a brief period in which you have a relentless amount of enthusiasm for decorating and you don’t mind rolling your sleeves up after work and getting stuck in to a bit of stripping, plastering or painting and everything seems to progress so quickly – it’s just like the happy-couple, first-home, trying-to-flog-you-paint adverts. Honest.)

I had definite ideas for this room, and it meant starting from scratch, which in turn meant parting with a lot of cash.  So perhaps the biggest requirement of the revamp, was that whatever we created had to be timeless, it had to be something we’d never get tired of – we only wanted to be spending that sort of money once so it had to be right.

Here’s the results. If it were a painting I’d title it ‘A Victorian, with a Sage-Coloured Bonnet, Lost in Mid-Century Copenhagen.’

And it would sell for millions obviously.

 

Before:

Liz's living room before and after

 

After:

Liz's living room before and after

 

Under the cut:
In detail how and what we managed to achieve, whilst still in the hazy throes of first home bliss…

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Our Favourite: Floor Lamps

Now that the nights are long and dark, I’ve been looking out for a standing lamp to live behind my little easy chair in our office in anticipation of chilly nights spent huddled up with a book.

These are on my shortlist:

Our-favourite-floor-lamps

1. Arche Floor Lamp in black £99, 2. Harvey Fabric & Metal Foot Switch Floor Lamp £62, 3. Copper Angled Floor Lamp £170, 4. Cross wooden floor lamp £140, 5. Caged Bird Floorlight £85, 6. Floor Lamp Black £20, 7. Marta floor lamp £140

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Our Favourite: Armchairs

In my opinion it’s best to play it safe when it comes to sofas – after all they don’t come cheap, so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to afford to change your mind too often. But I think you can justify being that little more adventurous when it comes to your choice of armchair. Take a glance at some of our current favourites.  (And yes, I may have been watching Mad Men whilst making the shortlist…can you tell?)

More can be found over on our dedicated pinterest board

Our-favourite-armchairs

1. Armchair in Putty Linara Mad Men £399, 2. Mid Century Rocking Chair in Orange £395, 3. Brown leather Chesterfield £699, 4. Charcoal Velvet Occasional Chair £395, 5. G Plan Vintage The Fifty Five Armchair £799, 6. 1950s Mid Century Modern Style Leather Armchair £595 , 7. Bespoke Parker Knoll Patchwork Armchair in Designers Guild fabric £395

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Our Favourite: (Subtly Patterned) Rugs

The nights are drawing in, autumn is stepping up a notch, and it’s time to think about getting the house into a cosier state in preparation for nippier weather to come.

If you’re thinking of covering up draughty floorboards with a rug or two, then have a gander below.  If like me you’re a bit of a wuss when it comes to strong patterns,  then these rugs can help you venture beyond the plain beige camp, into slightly more interesting territory, with a mixture of textures, patterns and a splash or two of colour (braver souls should take a look back at Liz’s Geometric rugs).

For our full selection visit our Pinterest board of picks.

Our-favourite-PatternNeutral-rugs

1. Urban Outfitters | Confetti Fields 3×5 Rug £39 (£3.99 p&p)  2. Nordic House | Natural & White Striped Rug £37.95 (£4.95 p&p)  3. Etsy | Anatolian Hand Woven Turkish Kilim Rug £124 (free p&p) 4. 5. Zara Home | Coloured Rug £169.99 (£9.99 p&p/collect in store) 6. Maisons Du Monde | Afra rug 140×200 £129.90 (£29 p&p) 7. Loaf | Forever Rug £245 (£15 p&p)

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Our Favourite: Occassional Tables

There’s always an occassion for an occassional table. Whether it’s a cup of tea, a bottle of wine or a bowl full of crisps. Give your snacks some stature and invest in one of these splendid side tables…

You can see more of our favourites here

 

Our-favourite-occassional-tables

1. LÖVBACKEN Side table, medium brown £40, 2. Accordian Plant Stand £55.00  3. Gallery side table £175, 4. Metal Nesting Tables £100, 5. Kare Gorilla Side Table £120.00, 6. Wooden Tray Table £49.50, 7. Antique Copper Side Table  £130, 8. BLYTH PINKS Lacquered Yellow storage side table £95, 9. Teak coffee/side tables by G Plan £75

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Carpet Copycat – The Wonders of Natural Flooring

Liz's Coir CarpetLiz’s living room with ‘tiger’s eye’ sisal carpet

Admittedly carpets aren’t the sexiest thing to blog about.  Even interiors magazines give them pretty short shrift.  You never have to consider such things as a renting dweller, but when you buy your first home suddernly have to start thinking about things like flooring choices.

When replacing our living room fireplace, we found ourselves with a nice new hole in the carpet as the replacement was smaller than the previous hearth.   Being thrify types we repurposed the carpet by shifting it to the upstairs offce, which saved money but we now had a bare living room floor.

My first port of call for inspiration was Design*Sponge (the US design blog), but every single living room I wanted to emulate had a wooden floor.  Every single one.  I was beginning to think it was a situation akin to the great hidden TV conspiracy – there wasn’t a carpet in sight.  Much as  I love the original floorboards look, it just wasn’t going to work here – not only are the original floorboards a bit of a mess and missing in places, but the room is north-facing  and a touch on the nippy side in the middle of a Yorkshire winter, so it really needed full-floor covering.

I happened upon an interesting alternative – a sort of half-way house between the natural, rustic look I wanted with floorboards, with the warmth and coverage of capet: natural flooring.  Often it’s looked to as an option for hardwearing spaces like hallways (especially the jute and coir types), but some of the finer materias like sisal and seagrass are less rough and can make for an interesting and unusual carpet covering for living rooms.

living room wth sisal carpet2Kath’s living room with copycat carpet (spot the difference!)

Unbenownst to me, Liz was also looking for the same stuff for her newly redecorated living room.  She’d seen pictures of it but didn’t know what it was called.  I think she was typing things like ‘hairy brown carpet’ into Google which was bringing back some interesting results…

I realised what she was talking about, and pointed her in the direction of Kersaint Cobb and Alternative Flooring (UK manufacturers of natural flooring).  She found a local stockist and swifly narrowed the vast array of choices down to the Kersaint Cobb ‘Tiger’s Eye’ sisal carpet in amber.  As usual I dithered for ages, before sheepishly choosing exactly the same one as I loved the look of it when it was out on display at our local stockist in Baildon.

You’ll need someone who knows their stuff to lay it, as it’s trickier to work with than normal carpet and it needs ‘resting’ in situ for 24 hours before they pinning it down as it can shrink slightly after it acclimatises to your house.  It hides the dirt really well, but it’s not a fan of spills as it can’t be washed as easily as woolen carpet, so you need to think about the usage before you go for it, but we’d definitely recommend as an alternative option to floorboards.

 

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Our Favourite: Sofas

When I moved into our house, a new sofa was one of the priorities on my list of furniture purchases, but it was also a purchase which filled me with some dread. Other than a bed, a sofa tends to be the most expensive items in your home and it’s so important to make sure you’ve made a worthwhile investment that you’re going to be happy with (and comfortable on) for some time to come.

I wanted something fairly neutral for our living room, so as not to clash with the upholstered 2-seater, but not of the beige lest it invite some kind of curry/red wine disaster. We narrowed it down to plain, dark grey linen.

Eventually we found what we were after in Sofas & Stuff, which had a showroom just north of us in Harrogate, so we could visit to actually see the sofas and fabrics (and bounce around on them). We opted for the Coniston 3 seater sofa in a dark grey linen-esque fabric called ‘Atlantic linen Grey Seal’ – you can see it here. If we’d have been flush with cash I’d have plumped for the real linen option, but it was nearly double the price, so difficult to justify on a budget.

Here are some other stylish but budget-conscious choices, and you can find many more on our Pinterest board.

Round up of favourite sofas

1.  Urban Outfitters | Night & Day Sofa in Mustard | £750 (free p&p)  2. BHS | Charlotte 3 seater sofa £1099 sale price (£35 p&p) 3. Etsy | Designers Guild Vintage Sofa £195 (contact for shipping estimate) 4. Etsy | 1970’s German suede sofa converts to day bed £750 (contact for shipping estimate) 5. Asda | Gatsby Large Sofa in Teal £695 (£8.95p&p) 6. Loaf | Berlin sofa in blue velvet from £995 (free delivery) 7. French Connection | Flint 2 Seater Sofa in dusty blue £948 (£49 delivery)

 

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Our Favourite: TV Stands

I’ll let you in on a closely guarded secret: there’s a huge conspiracy in the world of home décor.

I discovered this secret when I purchased a new TV and was in search of a stand that wouldn’t look out of place in my living room. As a flicked through the pages of stylish home magazines and scoured various design blogs I discovered that no-one ever shows their TVs. Not ever.  And it’s not that they’ve got a mirror masquerading as a screen, or have a clever cupboard system to keep it out of view; they just appear to ship them out when the photographers come (unless it’s a necessary sacrifice of a stylish home, but I’m not buying it).

This left me with zero inspiration on the TV camouflage front, and I nearly succumbed to just giving up and buying the standard number they sell in the electrical stores, until I visited some friends in London and had a second revelation; the best way to find a TV stand is not to look for a TV stand!

They were living in a part furnished Victorian terrace with lovely wooden floors and high ceilings, and they purchased a beautiful Victorian wooden trunk on which to perch their TV. Not only was it a handsome piece of furniture in its own right, but it also had the virtue of hiding the various ugly wires / electronic boxes etc. on the low shelf behind it, and within the trunk old VHS players / video tapes / rarely used DVDs could be stashed away from sight.

I of course immediately stole this idea, finding a perfect trunk on eBay, which now hides all our unsightly cable gubbins.    Here are some similar ideas to help blend your TV into the decor of your room without resorting to ditching it, and you can see even more trunks/stands on our Pinterest board

Collection of fidderent TV stands

1.  Maisons Du Monde | Industrial TV unit – Wayne £99.99 (£19 p&p)  2.  Graham & Green | Freud Media Cabinet  £495 (postage dependent on delivery location)  3.  Quirky Interiors | Small quirky zinc topped coffee table  £660 (contact for delivery quote) 4.  Vintage Reclaimed | Double Cube TV & Entertainment Stand from £265 (delivery charge on request) 5. Dunelm Mill – Skandi Oak Entertainment Unit £349.99 (Free p&p)  6. Etsy | Reclaimed Victorian Trunk Chest Coffee Table | £195 (+£16p&p)

 

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Art Purchase – Marco Crivello’s Wild Landscapes

Painting - Morning mist by Marco Criv

One of the frustrating things about rented flat living is having to limit what you hang on the walls for fear of upsetting your landlord by accidentally taking hunks out of the plasterwork. When we bought  our own place, I was thrilled to finally have free rein to ram nails into the wall to my heart’s content. Rent deposit? What rent deposit!

Well,  I didn’t actually drive nails into the wall at random (I don’t think it would be advisable unless you were going for the ‘unhinged artist’ look) but I did have visions of going out and finally being able to buy proper artwork to hang in our home.

Sadly, proper artwork comes with a ‘proper’ price tag, and it’s a cruel irony that when you finally reach the stage where you have your very own walls to do with what you will, you tend to realise that solicitors/surveyors have run away with any additional funds you might have had to support your artistic vision.

As the months ticked by there always seemed to be something more important on the list for us to spend money on – it turns out that a fridge, a working oven and seating are quite essential. So our walls were still bare a full two years after we’d moved in.

Living room with landscape picture by Marco Crivello

Finally this year, we were able to splurge on a couple of pieces, and I bought this limited edition print ‘Morning Mist’ by Marco Crivello   He paints with oils and gold leaf on wood panel which creates beautiful depth of colour. My dad reckons I’ve inherited my mum’s taste for ‘depressing landscapes’ but I love the dark, dramatic hills flecked with gold and mist clinging to the valleys.  His abstract style, with an absence of manmade structures, almost makes me think of earth in prehistoric  times.

His new series is called ‘Atlantic light’ and if I were to ever win the lottery I think I’d buy the whole set.  Here’s one of my favourites:

MarcoCrivello_Atmosphere_Atlantic_Light_6

Though we would have loved an original (a bit out of our price range at the moment), the prints come on beautiful quality paper and look amazing when float mounted (ie. framed so you can see the raw edges of the paper).   You can see more of his work on his website and make enquiries about purchasing through the Four Square Fine Arts gallery site.

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Our Favourite: Nesting Tables

As per sideboards, I never thought nesting tables would be something I would seek to own, at least not before the onset of middle age.

I have however been contemplating a set for the corner of our living room to replace the current coffee table. Much as I aspire to never eat dinner in front of the TV, it does inevitably happen and given my clumsy nature, it’s only a matter of time before our lovely sofa has a run in with a bowl of chilli.

The more stylish ones tend to be retro sets (that you can probably pick up for a bargain at your local charity shop). Here are a selection of some of the best on the high street and online:

Click here to see more nesting tables on our Pintrest board.

 

Our-favourite-nesting-tables

1. Maisons Du Monde | 3 round vintage nesting tables – Fjord £99.99 (£19 p&p), 2. Vincent and Barn | Industrial Wood and Iron Nest of Tables £85 (£5.95 p&p), 3. Etsy | Proper Stuff | Original 1970’s G Plan nest of table £180 (delivery quotes on request), 4. John Lewis |  Nest of 3 Table £299 (in store/ free delivery), 5. Zara | Gold Nest Table antiqued effect £129.99 (in store/ free delivery), 6. Rockett St George | Set of 2 Side Tables With a Glass Top £149 (£5.95 p&p), 6. Loaf | Nestor side table £295 ( £4.95 p&p)

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