Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The House Tour Continues... Living Room

My house is kind of like the heroine in that one sort of romantic comedy.  You can tell that she's pretty from the start--great bone structure and all that.  She just kind of needs a fashion makeover.  Right now, she's still gorgeous.  Just a bit underwhelming.  Like, honey, if you'd just do something with your hair...  Anyway.  When you walk in the front door, this is your view:

Because nothing says "Welcome to our home" like the possibility of a baby gate falling on your shins.

If you turn immediately to the left, standing at the bottom of the stairs, you have this view of the living room:

The arch-shaped doors are one of my favorite things about the house, and they are pretty standard throughout our neighborhood.  The ceilings don't have crown moulding but are coved ceilings, so they curve from the wall to the ceiling instead of meeting at a 90 degree angle.  The ceilings are tall anyway, but I think this adds extra visual height, which is nice.

Here is the view of the fireplace looking straight on:

It's a working gas fireplace.  I'm not crazy about the surround.  The mantle is fine (lovely, really) but the brass-and-brick surround and the brick hearth don't do much for me.  Perhaps there is a DIY fireplace makeover in my future?  I'd have to get awfully brave to make that happen.

You can't tell in this photo (since the lighting is terrible) but the windows on either side of the fireplace are stained glass in this pattern:

I'm mildly obsessed with the stained glass windows.  I think they kind of make the house.

Here's a backlit photo of the sofa.  I still love the curtains and the sofa.  I even like the rug better in this space than I did in our other living room, which was much smaller and seemed overpowered by all the pattern.  This room can kind of handle it better, I think.

Do you like the way my coffee table is styled?  That's called "Zuzu minimalism."

I make up for the naked coffee table by overloading the mantle:

Looking back toward the front door:

Eventually, I'd like to lose the random dining chair sitting in that corner and put a small parsons desk and chair there... possibly relocating the barrister bookcase that sits there now, unless the two pieces can fit there without looking too crowded.  I have my big desk downstairs in the basement, but we need something upstairs to corral mail and stowe things like scotch tape and some pens and pencils and other things I don't want to be running down to the basement to grab every time we need them.

Also, we are definitely repainting.  We repainted all the bedrooms upstairs but haven't touched the downstairs yet.  The kitchen and family room are fine as they are but the living room and dining room are in desperate need of painting. The color doesn't photograph well here--it looks more gold than it really is due to the lamp lighting.  In real life, it's really the most boring and unattractive color of fleshy beige that you could imagine.  It does nothing to highlight the wood trim or brighten room.  The only reason we haven't painted yet is because I can't settle on a color.  Pale gray?  Gray-blue?  A crisp-yet-creamy white?  A nice light griege?  Feel free to make suggestions in the comments because I don't know!  Whatever color I choose, it may get carried into the entry way and possibly into the dining room as well since the archways open to connect all those spaces, so choosing a color feels high-stakes to me.

The other corner:

This corner is where I want to do built-in bookcases.  After pricing bookcases all over the place, I have made up my mind that it would be cheaper to build what I want.  So I think I'll have to cajole my dad into helping with this project.  I think it would be so great to have them wrap around that corner.  Not sure what will happen to the chairs--it would be nice if they could just sort of be pulled forward to sit in front of the bookcases, but I'm not sure that would work.  So we'll have to see.

The other challenge with building bookcases is determining what color they should be.  Do I stain them and try to match the fireplace?  That's what I've sort of imagined, but obviously I haven't settled on anything.  I loved the white shelves at our old house, but I'm not sure how that would look with the stained trim.  (Maybe it would be fine?  But I want them to feel like built-ins, not like random white shelves.)

AND I keep going back and forth on whether to paint the trim or not.  (I've written about this before, but I keep replaying the same arguments in my head, so now I will replay them for you again here.)  I've been gawking in windows around the neighborhood when we walk in the evenings and several houses have painted the trim white.  I love white trim, but I'm not completely sold on it for a few reasons.  One is that the trim has been relatively untouched since the house was built in 1943 and I'm not sure I want to mess with that history/character of the house.  Another is that it would be a lot of work.  I did realize my previous assumption was wrong--although the floors are oak, the trim is pine.  So much less expensive and not a perfect match to the floors anyway.  Most of it is in good condition, but upstairs there are places that have been damaged (which is why I didn't feel bad about painting the trim white in Zuzu's nursery).  I think it would look bright and clean, but I'm still not sure.  I have decided we need to live here for a while before I make a big decision like that.

So that's where we are with the front room.  Still very undecided.  My next move in here will be to get another color up on those walls and then get some bookshelves up.  But, again, what color for the walls and bookcases?  Decisions, decisions.


  1. I think a pale gray or very light gray-blue would look beautiful. And then I think it would make you want to paint the trim white. AND then I would suggest painting the brick on the fireplace white as well. Which I know is ballsy and scary, but look how well it turned out for John and Sherry. Also, you know how they use that ORB stuff on all their brass knobs and locks? Maybe put that all over the brass section of the fireplace. It would even make me tempted to paint the mantle white too - but with all your white frames it might pull together nicely without doing something so drastic.

    What fun decisions. I think you need another "summer break" to figure this all out.

    But the house is so lovely - I do love the stain glass and just the charm it has. How many square feet? Feels big in the pictures.

  2. Oh it is beautiful! That's like my dream living room, honestly. The Oriental rug, the fireplace, the big cozy couch! So inviting! I want to come over.

    We had the same weird fleshy beige in our kitchen and just painted it after five years and every time i walk in there I think "Why did we wait so long?!"

    Also, we have three rooms on the first floor that are all open to one another and each one is a different color and it works really well, if that's something your considering. It looks much less like a preschool than you would think. Just have to match the tone of all the colors.

  3. I also love that room. And I really adore those chairs in the corner that will eventually hold (probably) gorgeous built-ins that I also love. But I really love it right now, too. But LORD. Where are all your books? I mean, they need to live among you.

    Love a pale gray as well. Gray is widely used lately in design but also a fab color to use for any room, IMO. It matches everything.

    I love the rug in this house more as well. Was actually going to comment about that.

    And the fireplace. Eek. I like it, but yeah... brass. How to tackle that would scare me, too!

    I've said my piece about trim before, but I'll repeat here. Our house has dark wood trim and while I love a clean, white trim (in one of the bedrooms), I just can't imagine changing the charm of the house. It would look good, but I feel like it's sacrilege in a way. Also, if I do some, I'd want to go all-in and that would take fo-eva.

    Your house is super charming. I wouldn't want to be the one to use painter's tape on those curved ceilings, but I do love that!

  4. Our house was built in 1930 and all our trim was painted white by previous owners. I wish I could go back in time and talk them out of it! I feel like the white trim just adds nothing to the room. Just say no!

    And I'll echo Becca - our dining room and living room open into each other and we chose two colors in the same family, one darker and one lighter. I think it works well.

  5. I love love love archways! I think your mantle is very handsome and I love the photo groupings, but I agree on the brass surround!

  6. Your living room has great bones - love the arches and the ceiling detail. I vote for a nice pale gray too -- something a little lighter than the sofa so it will stand off the wall. Also be sure it doesn't have too much of a blue undertone so it won't get too cool and clash with your wonderful wood floors. Cheers - CT