Charming, Vintage-Style Living Room

This is the ridiculous saga of our frustrated attempts to turn an oddly shaped space into a functional living room. The silly thing about this project is that we were actually quite happy with our original living room design. The feature wall in this room was the first major project we did together when we moved into our house, and we thought it turned out so cute! The photo below, taken when we had decorations up for Day of the Dead, shows our old design, complete with book shelves and a DIY wood beam mantel above our faux wood stove.

The first problem with the room arose when the teal green armchair in the corner became a gigantic, tattered scratching post for our cat (thanks, Chester). The chair was a loose weave tweed fabric that didn’t hold up well to a cat’s claws, and I had to keep giving it “hair cuts” to trim off all the loose threads and make it look semi-presentable. Besides that, the chair was very large and not particularly comfortable, and we never used it unless we had company. It was definitely time for it to go.

We were excited to replace the old green chair with a pair of beautiful gliding recliners. My idea was to have a pair of comfy arm chairs that could swivel in towards a small dining table. The table, which I painted and stained to match our stenciled cabinets and book shelves, will be a cozy place to have a snack or a cup of tea and play a board game. Plus, replacing the green, scratched-up monstrosity with two matching chairs will increase the seating capacity when our families come to visit.

The second problem arose when we put the new chairs and table in the space. Technically, all the furniture fit (I’m a big fan of measuring twice and purchasing once). But visually, the room looked cluttered and overstuffed– there was no empty floor space and no room to breathe. We spent an entire evening rearranging the furniture in every possible configuration. Eventually we came to a sad conclusion–the couch had to go against the wall where the faux wood stove had been. Which meant taking down two of the shelves and the mantel we had been so proud of.

To fill the empty wall space where the mantel had been, we hung a pair of these interesting ledge shelves with lacy cutout backs. I think their pattern and light color adds a lot of visual interest to the room. And they are only three inches deep, so no one will bump their heads while sitting on the couch. It’s definitely a different feel from our rustic wood beam mantel… but I think it looks beautiful and nicely compliments the cozy, vintage vibe of the room.

We also ended up pushing our coffee table against the wall below the window to create a little window seat. We don’t sit there much, but our little dog has been getting up there to see out the window (he likes to keep an eye on the chicken coop in case of intruders). And it will provide even more seating when we have guests. Our two funky rattan footstools from IKEA are now being used as ottomans in front of the couch.

I wanted to put coasters and a few decorative items on the table, but didn’t want the table to look cluttered. I ended up arranging the coasters with a faux lavender plant, a candle, and a reed diffuser on a small metal tray. I think that confining decor items to a tray or container keeps things looking neat and organized. Plus, it’s much easier to move things when we want to use the table.

I love having a reed diffuser in this room because you get a pleasant whiff of it when you walk in the front door instead of thinking “Oh, I can tell some dogs live here.” I bought this diffuser on sale at Target, but I think one of my next projects will be DIYing more diffusers to put in other rooms of our house. We can never have enough help battling those pet odors.

We love our little space heater that looks like a wood stove, and we didn’t want to get rid of it completely. We were able to relocate it into the reading nook in one corner of the living room. The cat’s end table/ litter box unit was there before, but we were able to move that into the family room.

The wood stove fits here perfectly and adds a certain coziness to the reading nook.

Astro is glad we kept our faux wood stove–napping in front of it is his favorite winter activity.

Look how much floor space we now have in the center of the room! The furniture fits so much more naturally in the new configuration. I even have enough space to do yoga in front of our beautiful peaked windows. We’ve been using our comfy new rocker recliners every day to work on the computer, do crossword puzzles, and kick back and watch the chickens and wildlife outside. For a project we didn’t want to tackle in the first place, I think the redesign of this space turned out pretty perfect. Just goes to show that even unwanted change can make room for better things. And luckily, Chester has a fancy new cat scratcher that he thinks quite highly of… and we haven’t seen him touch the furniture since.

More floor space=happier dogs. Mars definitely approves of the new living room layout.

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