My Living Room Looks in 2001, 2009, 2015 and 2019.

Style isn’t innate. It’s cultivated over a lifetime.  Like a bonsai or a bunion.

The reason rooms designed by professional interior designers or decorators look so good is what they do is really, REALLY hard. And it takes years of practice.

I seriously feel the need to hail the  professional designers and decorators of the world.  They are not given the credit they deserve, especially nowadays. With the invention of Pinterest and Instagram people think that decorating is easy because EVERYONE is doing it, but it isn’t. I repeat. Great design isn’t easy, it’s HARD. Decorating a room that’s so perfect you want to just stare at it?  That’s as difficult as painting a picture you want to do the same thing with.

And in terms of skill level, most of us (yep, even lifestyle bloggers) are at the paint-by-number level compared to professional designers who are whipping out masterpieces.


Decorator: def: a person who decorates home interiors by choosing colours, carpets, materials, and furnishings. Schooling required to call yourself a decorator?  No.

Designer: def: a person who designs home interiors (including structural elements) by choosing colours, carpets, materials and furnishings. Schooling required to call yourself a designer? Yes.


It’s only in the past year that I’ve got my dining room and foyer to the point that I really like them.  I’m sure I’ll change things at some point. Maybe new chairs in the dining room or redoing all the bookshelves in a different way but for now I smile every time I walk through it as opposed to having a 5 second long anxiety attack when I make my way through it from the hall to the kitchen.

The foyer?  Same thing.  I like it. It works. It could use some more layering (a trick that actual designers and decorators are particularly skilled in).  It took a long time, a lot of trial and error, but other than  having to recover the two chairs in it, I’m really happy with it and love looking out into it from my living room every night. One place you’ll never find me is in the foyer looking fondly into the living room.  For the 20 years or so I’ve lived in this house I’ve never been happy with the living room.

I kind of hate it.

Let’s take a moment now to take a look at what I’ve done with my living room in the past.  From the beginning shall we?

2001: I think the word we’re all looking for is YIKES.  K. I didn’t really have my style down at this point in time, lol. Nor did I have any money. Every cent I had went into the custom tight back red velvet couch with a single down cushion. Everything else in the room was flea market, garbage or family cast offs.  I actually really like the lamps and wish I’d kept them.  The vibe I was apparently going for was “My house is old, I like old stuff, I don’t like shopping at Sears.”

I wish I could say I was channelling my inner Bunny Mellon but I didn’t know who she was at the time.  Plus I don’t think this room would be Bunny Mellon approved.

Special shout out to the Fred Flintstone television to the right of the fireplace which I kept for a lot longer than I probably should have.

This is actually a shot from a newspaper feature.  Once a week the Toronto Star (I think it was the Star) would feature the home of a celebrity and this week I was the celebrity. This was pre-blogging, during my television career.

What I like about this room?  Well it certainly had personality.

What I don’t like about this room?  It had a personality disorder.

 

2009 I finally stopped trying to make all of my old crap work and bought actual furniture from furniture stores. In fact if you haven’t read about it, in 2009, I got rid of pretty much EVERYTHING I owned and started from scratch. The redo of my house started with buying the couch which was a floor sample.  Looking back at the room now it isn’t bad but it’s a long way off from the look I’ve evolved to now. It’s pretty bland and I was SO excited about having new, contemporary stuff instead of found in the garbage old stuff that I went a bit overboard with it.  The coffee table, the sofa table, the lamps on the sofa table, the Ikea gooseneck light … all sleek and modern.  It’s not a terrible room – it just isn’t there yet.

What I like about this room? Having a rug in it.

What I don’t like about this room?  The rug could use  more personality and should either be bigger or smaller.

2015:  Enter the gallery wall.  Looking back on it, I’m realizing this is my favourite incarnation of this room. From this angle anyway.  Gallery walls were having a real moment 5 years ago or so.  Because there was so much going on with the walls,  I pared back the tops of tables so it didn’t quite make your head spin when you walked into the room.

Looking at it now I can also see that I like the low contrast of the whites and taupes but with some really impactful colour on the walls. And black because every room needs some black.  And a rug. I desperately need a rug in my living room again.  I had to get rid of this Costco shag rug that I bet about half of you owned at one point.  It was just a smashed disaster after being down for a few years.

Also it was my only option at the time in terms of size, but I can’t say I’m in love with the wicker laundry basket with a piece of glass on top acting as an end table but I like the texture it brings to the room.

From the other end of the room looking towards the fireplace it was a bit hectic with the gallery wall and the bookshelves, but that could be solved by minimalizing (is that a word?) the bookshelves. Or even getting rid of them entirely and putting chests, tables or just large pieces of art there.

What I like about this room? How the gallery wall makes the room feel bigger and the ceiling higher. I also like that it feels cozy.  It’s sophisticated and kind of worldly without feeling stuffy or formal.  A good mix of casual and comfortable without resorting to a pair of puffy La-Z-Boy chairs with a built in cooler in the arm.  Which we can all admit we’d secretly love to have.  It’s O.K. You can admit it. This is a safe space.

What I don’t like about this room? The curtains but I dealt with that issue when I built my interior wood shutters last year.

 

2019:  This is my living room as of last week.  There’s no rug. I need a rug.  Also getting rid of curtains, no matter how awful they were took some much needed texture and softness out of the room.  I need to remedy that.  The couch is pushed back much further than it was in the “gallery wall” picture because I got rid of the sofa table behind it.  It’s not bad and still feels much better than how it started out 10 years ago.   There’s art but it’s not a gallery wall which feels calmer.  Also I hate that coffee table.  I LOVE it as an end table but hate it as a coffee table for some reason.  The room is nice but it’s missing texture and layering. It doesn’t feel like it’s wrapping you in its arms and that’s the feeling I want.

What I like about this room?  The floors are beautiful.  Yay to ripping out and refinishing my orange floors! I like that there are a lot of things that I love in the room like my old riding boots, my barn beam bench and a huge vintage antler.

What I don’t like about this room? It only feels halfway done and the whole thing just doesn’t feel right.  Not like my dining room and foyer and kitchen.  I don’t have it figured out yet. I’m not sure when I’ll have it figured out but I do know the “inspiration” folder on my laptop is soon going to explode.

Seriously. I’m cultivating my taste like a madwoman over here.  And my bunion.
 

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95 Comments

  1. Jackie Dooley says:

    Yes, get rid of the coffee table, add a rug. Maybe a hump top trunk for storage, where the coffee table is. Or maybe a long footstool with storage, and a wicker tray for magazines…

  2. Maggie VanSickle says:

    Loved the chair by fireplace 2001

  3. sheryl powell says:

    You’re right. No arm wrapping. It feels a bit cold. But let me tell you. That cabinet in the kitchen and the accessories on/under it is the most fabulous thing I think I’ve ever seen. Keep at it and you’ll get there with the living room.

  4. Sabrina Campbell says:

    I’m useless when it comes to this kind of thing. But my fave look for your living room is the 2009 version. Love the sofa and the natural trunk side table/stool. I saved a hunk of wood like that to make a table like yours, but that hasn’t happened!

  5. Laura says:

    omg you should see the images of my living room over the years. I really liked it each time which is crazy!! I can’t wait to see what you finally figure out. You are great at figuring out spaces- in addition to the foyer, dining room & kitchen there is the coop and the backyard!

  6. Jaimee says:

    WHAT, I missed gallery walls? I aspire to gallery walls, that some day I will have them throughout my house (or at least one room). I guess that’s why I still like 2015 best. Oh, and the red couch, I liked that too. I guess it’s just as well I can’t afford a designer. Agree you need curtains. And that pom pom throw? FABULOUS.

    • Karen says:

      I don’t think I’ll do curtains, but I’ll figure something out for warmth. Maybe I’ll hang the pom pom throw on the wall, lol. ~ karen!

      • Anakit says:

        I think you know this, but you won’t be happy till you have a new sofa. And an oriental rug. I miss the gallery wall, but the pom-pom throw is the shit!

  7. Jo says:

    What is the big white thing above the antlers on the wall? Please and thanks

    • BUnguin says:

      Rabbit in a snowstorm?

      • Noreen McKechnie says:

        I was wondering the same thing. It’s cold, hard and massive (telling what I really think) you can laugh at me but I just did a gallery wall of a sort in my newly refurnished dining room.

    • Jan in Waterdown says:

      I’ve asked that question in the past and received no response, so without any evidence whatsoever, I’ve lept to the only reasonable conclusion available that there’s something awful or illegal hidden there. A secret Elvis on black velvet? Or maybe dogs playing poker?

  8. Dana Studer says:

    IKEA has fabulous shag rugs. I got one a couple weeks ago for $50 in the as-is dept.
    I know how living rooms can change. We got rid of the dark brown chenille sofa and loveseat & and got the white slipcovered sectional and chair from IKEA about a year ago.

    • Karen says:

      Nope. No more shag rugs for me. They’re cozy but they get squished and ucky looking plus there’s too many spots for centipedes to hide, lol!! ~ karen

      • Jacquie Gariano says:

        We did wood floors a couple of years ago in the LR, DR, & FR and are really happy with them. We did put back the oriental rug in the DR that has been there for years and are very happy with the look. Warm, colorful and finishes off the look. There is also a med size area rug in the FR that helps define the area.

  9. jo foster says:

    Karen. Fòr some reason I can’t see the comment posts? And I should by now I would thi k?

  10. Elaine says:

    I really like the 2015 photo, Karen, but with your 2019 shutters. I love shutters! The only thing I would have changed would be: remove a few pieces of art from the area closest to the bookshelves (on the left of the fireplace) so a bit of bare wall gives the eye a chance to “rest” before enjoying the interesting displays on the bookshelves. You have a good eye and do such a fabulous job; I know I’ll love your finished living room. I don’t think decorating is ever done, however, and that’s what I love about it!

  11. Meg says:

    Trends and taste change over time and designs are mutable. Basically means everything is changing all the time. Coming up with something you really will love for a while? Very hard.

    As a professional artist, the ‘good design is hard’ was nice to read. Usually I’m hearing quite the contrary. Things that work really well usually only *look* effortless. Being able to identify and articulate what’s going on currently with something – and how to fix it – is difficult and takes practice. What you’re paying for when you buy those services is the experience. You want to know how to fix something fast? It didn’t take that designer a week to do it. It took years and years of school and practice to get to that point. (The same thing with engineering etc too, but “art” is one of those things that gets shuffled into the “well anyone can do THAT” category more often.)

    Seeing how your rooms have changed over time is really neat and the lists of what’s working – and what’s not – is awesome. Your posts over the years (and photos of the same spaces with different treatments) have helped hone my sense of design, too, as my experience is mostly in film and I never get to do interior decorating!

    I love that you keep sharing what you’re thinking, what you’re attempting, and even what you *can’t* do and *haven’t* figured out yet. Keep being amazing!

  12. Mary says:

    I agree with the other posts, you will get it worked out, Karen, and it will be beautiful. An idea to replace the coffee table: They’re probably out of date, but I’ve always liked those big round ottomans for adding softness to a room. When you finish decorating/designing your house, I’d love your help with mine.

    • Karen says:

      I also like ottomans as coffee tables! But in this room I think I’m already going to have a lot of fabric so I think I’ll probaby need that element of wood or marble or whatever in the room to offset all the fabric. If I keep the Eames chair (which is leather and wood) I would be able to consider an ottoman. 🙂 ~ karen!

  13. Kim says:

    Yes. I see what you mean about the room not “loving you”. Maybe try this:

    Every time you go into the room say:

    “I love you living room.”

    And the same thing every time you leave. And then eventually you will.

    This is my professional opinion. People pay me to boss them. 😏
    Actually I did have a townhouse once that I hated entirely and ended up being sad to leave after simply deciding to love it.

    Or you could try the two cups method and try switching timelines. 💁‍♀️ So many esoteric choices.

    ❤️

  14. Marna says:

    “Like a bonsai or a bunion.” LOL! I always enjoy whatever you do! Loving the looks over the years! I just bought a new coffee table, hope it works, waiting for it to be delivered. It’s nice to change things, even little things now and then. Thanks as always for sharing! 🙂

  15. Kristi says:

    Ok chickadee-time to Do or Die! It’s been 20 years of anxiety looking into this room. You have spent twenty years of your life fighting this room. TWENTY YEARS. 20. That’s one more than the year we are in. That’s an entire generation!

    Decide what purpose your room will have.
    HIRE a damn designer or decorator or whatever it is, tell him/her what feel you’re going for, and let them do it!!! Turn a few tricks to afford it, if you must. If you decide you still hate it, it’s time to board up the room and plaster over it. Then your new obsession will be decorating over the new wall space where the doorways used to be…
    Or add a dog?

  16. Madiline Bauer says:

    Great floors, worth the work. I think maybe taking out the shelving on either side of the fireplace and adding windows with window seats. It will open up the room and make it feel bigger, add seating and light.

    • Karen says:

      Windows? That’ll make going to be bathroom in the room on the other side of the fireplace quite an event for everyone in the living room. 😉 ~ karen!

  17. Lynn says:

    You may want to play with a strong wall color to get that “wrapped in its arms” feeling.

    I wanted my living room to feel like a warm hug, so I went for a shade of teal with bright white trim and curtains. With the avocado green accent wall in the dining room there’s a deliberate peacock effect, which actually looks nice. The proper shade of teal ended up being bluer than I had wanted due to needing to complement the green, but it’s still a cozy, warm effect.

    A tapestry of some sort may help with the softness lost with the curtains. A vintage quilt, old blanket, store-bought throw with a chicken on it – the possibilities are endless!

    Thank you for inspiring me! I can’t wait to get to work this morning, which is rehabbing my first little condo for sale.

    Enjoy your day!

  18. Barbara Simmons says:

    I Love the barn beam bench… any DIYs for that? I have lots of barn beams, but I am in dire need of a bench by the front door!

    • Karen says:

      Well it’s literally just a barn beam cut to length and screwed together (pocket holes) with bolts. 🙂 That’s it. Nothing fancy. ~ karen!

  19. terri says:

    The floors are so lovely I would hate to see them covered with a big rug. The room needs more black to balance the warmth of your room. Maybe an industrial style wooden coffee table with black iron hardware to replace the glass/chrome coffee table?

  20. Stephanie says:

    A while ago you were toying with painting your fireplace black – what about painting not only it black, but the back walls of your built-ins and the shutters – that would add some life to the walls without adding curtains back in. Your walls also need more of that art brought back in, and a rug, definitely the mentioned rug. For the rug, I am about to say the name Ikea, but they brought in a couple years ago the redone and re-dyed deep teal-ish coloured Indian rugs – I saw them featured on a show and still think about them – that would add a gorgeous pop of colour to the room, and if you brought back one or two of the rugs you picked up for the front hall room, they’d tie into that as well. Speaking of the back wall of the built-ins, what about keeping the bottom storage portions and removing the shelves and adding sconces or art in there (with the black paint of course).

  21. Wendy Hyman says:

    Knowing the rest of your aesthetic, I think the navy and especially the light blue accents are throwing the room off. You could add more texture with black/white sheepskin throws and pillows. Save the color, if any, for your rug-to-come (antique kilim too cliched?). Can you stand the antlers vertically instead of lying them horizontally? Again, texture. Also wondering if you could add a third equally-sized framed piece of art above the couch? The two alone feels too spare and even sterile, I think partly because they line up with the couch cushions. And I confess I’m not loving that white ceramic conical thing in the corner, whatever it is. Would be so cool in one of your other rooms but the cold marble feeling is working against the warmth you’re hoping for here, I think.

    I love your blog! This is my first time posting.

  22. Tracey in GA says:

    I would place the furniture back how it was. I would put a green plant behind the sofa. Maybe a fiddle leaf fig? I would add some black with a new coffee table base with a wood top. Add some lighter tones with a sea grass rug or light neutral taupe. The walls need some personal touches of favorite objects, perhaps some shelves, but keep them simple. Whenever you place something rough in texture (aka antler), pair it with something smooth. The firewood holder needs to be swapped for something with cleaner, modern lines otherwise you end up with mountain lodge atmosphere. Don’t be hurt, but I prefer the window without the shutter. I’m sorry!

  23. Jane Hill says:

    Too much square ! There are no soft curves. You need a statement coffee table , dark, to anchor the room. Get rid of the white canvas. Add interest on your walls. I will send you my bill.

  24. linda in illinois says:

    hate the coffee table steel look with the outdoorsy wood items. Remember the tree house you stayed at for a bit… go there in your mind and make it your own with the things you love about this current living room. Warm and cosy to me – rustic, wood and iron, wool throw rug, fleece blankets, tree house feel, etc.

  25. Rebecca Holt says:

    Hmm, the 2019 iteration feels a little monochromatic. I’ve only been following you for a short while but the room doesn’t seem to fit your warmth, openness, and delightful sarcasm. Maybe pull it in and add some red? And please get rid of the chrome and glass coffee table, so 80’s. Love the other photos of your home and the floors…beautiful! This advice is brought to you by a paint by numbers gal.

  26. Megan Geiger says:

    I think you need a modular rug that can change when you want it to change! I love Flor just for this reason and they have tons of styles and lengths that are all easily cleaned or swapped out when the need arises! Also I love the openness of the room but with the shutters closed it does look odd, and the art needs AT LEAST to have matching frames (that would drive me crazy). But over all just remember, you do you! You’ll get there…and maybe I will some day too.

  27. p says:

    I wanna send you to a movie or something and let me have at that room 😀
    Fun little game, you game?
    You’ll come home all WHAAA? WOW and you can put me on a plane.

    I love the bench under the white rabbit in a snow storm best in this room.

  28. Emily Orth says:

    My 2 cents: I think there’s too much brown in the room given that the 2 biggest things in there ( floor and couch) are close in color, which gives it an overall blandness. There needs to be more contrast to punch it up.
    -Remove the brown artwork from the wall behind the couch and leave the black and white (Matisse?) where it is. Replace throw pillows with kilim-like solid black, & black and white geometric patterened ones to add texture and warmth. Remove round patterned footstool. Add sculptural potted green plant to surface where antlers are. (There are many good faux ones). And there ya go!

    (love the big white canvas)

  29. Ella says:

    It’s very …..beige. I’d love to see the sectional pulled forward out of the corner. I don’t think you need that little round ottoman/end table or that round thing in the corner. I don’t care for the mismatched frames or the cluttered shelves (no black!) or the boots kind of just being there appropo of nothing in this room. I just don’t think they work now. But I am a minimalist. To soften the shutters, some soft creamy almost sheer muslin drapery panels on either side will do it with a really pretty rod (I found a gorgeous one at Pottery Barn). Change out your throw cushions for something with some colour and look for a large square coffee table that isn’t too heavy. I love it without carpet because the floors are so gorgeous but if you really want one I would find a rug and throw pillows with some colour commonality to tie it together. The floors – nice one Karen. They are gorgeous!

  30. Emily Orth says:

    … plus, I love the large white canvas and I think the coffee table is just fine. 😊

  31. Mondo Fowler says:

    I remember those dual lamps! absolutely lovely.

  32. Christine says:

    Firstly,thank you for acknowledging designers.lt is not just a flair! I have not read the other comments so l hope l am not repeating ideas.l love the idea of a sectional but l would like to see it pulled out a little.A square coffee table would repeat the created space and be more restful on the eyes.As a pro l cant suggest a colour for YOU not knowing your taste but l would like to see the sofa in a darker velvet,maybe smokey navy? With an antique rug.
    Just a heads up about shag.l love shag and have had a couple.My most recent purchase is a very,very deep one with a mix of textures.lt is stunning but holy crap dont get one while you have a cat that gets hairballs.

    • Karen says:

      Yeah, no the shag was a phase. I will not be getting another shag rub. I can’t have a square coffee table. I would love one and of course that’s what would be best for the shape of the sectional. Agreed. But there isn’t enough space for it especially with the couch pulled up. (it’s already squishy between the Eames ottoman and the small table) ~ karen!

      • judy says:

        shag rubs always end up with the squishy effect and the yikes room is pretty much my living room . I delude myself that I am the second coming of Ralph Lauren. 4 6″ tall bookcases-just books-antique couch-nobody sits on-completely uncomfortable-2 burgundy nailhead leather chairs-shhh,they recline. 30 year old oriental 9×12- 3 sliding glass doors
        3 antique chests- small bigger big-Hospital bed housing husband of 59 years and lots of other stuff. And you think u need help? HA! Stare at your foyer for perfection and attack the living room with that inspiration

  33. Monica says:

    what if you build shutters to cover the bookshelves? then you can visually minimize them (and repeat a thing already in the room, which will also make it feel less hectic to you) but not have to actually minimize the contents.

    • Karen says:

      Not a bad idea! ~ karen

    • Beth says:

      Karen, I agree with Monica. Shutters over the bookshelves.

      And I agree with Tracey in GA, a sea grass rug would be perfect. And some plants would make both you and your room feel happy.

      But I can’t agree with everyone who said you needed a heavy black coffee table.

      Also, I really liked your gallery wall, but I thought it needed more color and a different organization.

      If you want to hang a blanket or a quilt or even a rug on your wall, that would be better than a tapestry.

  34. SHAUNA M RAUS says:

    Hi Karen, I am new to your blog but wanted to say how much I enjoy your writing. I could live happily ever after with just the pedestal table and that fantastic chandelier:)

  35. Trish says:

    The dining room is everything.

  36. SuzanneLH says:

    Reupholster the couch in red ultra-suede, lose the chrome coffee table. Done and done.
    Oh and what is the deal with the rabbit in the snowstorm canvas?

  37. Susan says:

    My living room is sort of similar and rather going with a sectional, I opted for two sofas and a huge coffee table (3’ x 3’). That way it doesn’t look cluttered up with chairs and end tables everywhere. A big round coffee table might look good. And if you don’t want to change the sofa colour, a couple of punches of colour would be nice. Just my two cents. I love your foyer too btw.
    I’ve been redesigning my garage layout the last two weeks and have also been going a little crazy about it.

  38. Leslie says:

    I think i’d try painting the insides of those shelves by fireplace. I liked the gallery wall, but at the same time think maybe there are too many small items around.
    BTW: I thought of you, Karen, when I was watching a 1995 British show on Prime the other day. It was a series called “Bramwell” and in one episode Idris has a guest role! He’s an immigrant and petty thief whose white partner is pregnant. This is at the end of the Victorian era so it’s very scandalous and he’s treated badly.
    He’s pretty young but I recognized him!

  39. Mitzi Crawford says:

    I heard somewhere every room needs some thing red and a large pretty seashell. I’m sorry but this room is cold uncomfortable and bland. I also agree the coffee table needs to go as a visual focal point yikes is right it throws the whole room off! Keep with wood leather and glass if you can find a lovely built table that way would bring warmth to the room.

  40. Idaho Girl says:

    How do you feel about a sisal rug (not too large, don’t want to cover up any more of those amazing floors than you have to) to add some texture? I agree that the shutters were a great replacement of the curtains, and I agree you need a different coffee table–the chrome/glass is just too cold. I’d love to see you either repurpose something old or build just the right piece, or maybe a long tufted ottoman with a tray.

    For me the best take away from this post is that if we’re lucky, we’re always evolving–ideas, beliefs and behaviors–and that’s often reflected in our decorating style. If we ever get too satisfied with what surrounds us, we might stunt that growth. And you can have that bunion removed – I did!

  41. Linda C Johnston says:

    Hi Karen. I love you to pieces right now! Thank you, thank you for defining Decorator and Designer. You would be shocked at the people who do not know the difference and who can expect them to? Truth is, if people like you who have a large audience don’t spread the word, most folks will never know because they don’t have exposure to professionals. I get it. I am a retired Interior Designer, Educated and Certified and membership in ASID. I only tell you this to validate my comments. (Not that anybody cares! lol)
    Now the point? The point is that most people don’t the “next step.” They get so far and don’t know how to proceed. In comes the professional. You can hire a well established designer in you area (get referrals) and pay for only one hour of consultation! Believe me, IT WILL HOPEFULLY BE THE BEST ONE HOUR FEE OF YOUR LIFE!!! No more guessing, no more wasted time and/or money. Honestly, I can’t tell you how many people have contacted me through the years and said I was the best investment they ever made. I’m NOT bragging. No one knows who I am. I am letting all of you know that a good designer is a prize investment.

  42. Grammy says:

    I have only one comment to offer, and I speak from experience. While a gallery wall, as an idea, is enchanting, I’ve never seen one that looked good outside of a gallery, or at least a room as big as a gallery. I had one in my own home until last year when I realized how downright awful I felt every time I glanced at it (which is all the time, it being the living room). Paring our artwork down to fewer nice pieces with enough “white space” surrounding them has made the whole room more appealing and shows off the art so much better.

    Other than that, I’ve got nuthin’. I am, however, amused at how all the comments here (including my own) prove your original statements in the opening of this post.

  43. AnotherSue says:

    Just found your blog and have very much enjoyed reading through the archives(and I’m not too far away from you, up here in Guelph, so it’s nice to recognize some local references from time to time.) I really like your house and your design aesthetic – I live in a small, older house as well, so I can relate to many of your design challenges and choices.

    When I look at your living room right now in comparison with the dining room, foyer, and kitchen, it seems both busier and yet colder, if that make sense. I’ll jump in with a few thoughts to remedy this, some of which have been mentioned already. Take out the shelves by the fireplace – you have those beautiful shelves in the dining room already – and perhaps paint that wall/the fireplace for some colour contrast. I like the large structural objects like the pillar, the white painting, and the barnboard bench, but the smaller pieces of furniture like the round stool and the coffee table clash with their style and simple clean lines. Tweak the art so it’s somewhere between full-on gallery wall and what you have now. If money is no object, replace the couch with one in a different colour – I’m a fan of the English roll-arm style you mentioned previously, but maybe another sectional would give you more seating in a small space. Rug, yes, but I’d keep it simple and add colour – doesn’t have to be a bright colour, but maybe a richer, warmer neutral – with the couch. You could keep the Eames chair in the room if you had the right couch, but I also like the swivel chairs option (I have a nice small Sam Moore swivel I got at Orangeville Furniture), or perhaps add a small vintage wicker chair if you want extra seating and more texture – something in the Lloyd Loom style, with a tight weave, not rattan. We have our TV kind of tucked into a corner, sitting on top of a pine blanket box – it’s easy to view from the couch, but it’s also not the first thing you see when you walk into the room. Thanks for opening up this discussion, Karen, it’s fun to ‘play house’!

  44. Pat says:

    I love how your style has evolved! But my question has to do with the name of the molding that’s in your living room. Is that cove? What’s the depth? I’m currently putting together images for my living room and kitchen. I would love to use that size.

    • Karen says:

      I’m not sure what the size is Pat, but it’s a plaster cove molding that’s part of the ceiling and walls. I’m not sure when it was done but my guess is it would have been around the 40’s? To get a similar look you’d have to have something custom made out of wood or even MDF. Honestly, I’m not in love with it, partly because it makes the ceilings seem lower in a room that already has very low ceilings. Like 7’4″!! ~ karen

  45. Mary W says:

    LOVE brown – it’s spread over your floor and lower level room. How about spreading it higher like ON THE CEILING. How can one design an interesting ceiling without using beams that will close you in? Spread the chocolate love with maybe a large wood medallion or gorgeous carved wooden trim (statement trim) BUT no mirrors LOL. I can’t wait to see how you finish this as I know you will make Karen appropriate decisions. I know, maybe statement trim turned upside down sort of dripping down with carving but only on one or two walls so it wouldn’t feel like looking up and out of a box. Yeah, crazy but I might try it on my ceiling as this is getting me to think about my own boring ‘top of my living box’.

  46. Mary W says:

    Maybe stenciling around the top with floor colored paint?

  47. Vikki says:

    Amen to changing out your dining chairs–how about those “ghost” chairs? Love!! the red couch and your old gallery wall. Not lovin’ the generic beige couch. But–great floors!! If you get rid of your bookshelves, you’ll forever regret it. Keep those little touches but minimalize them. They tell guests all about you–and it’s looking good. And your foyer is just beautiful. Keep being You–it’s good to see you evolve.

    • Karen says:

      Um, I’m not changing my dining room chairs. I love the classic Panton S chair. I just mean in 15 years or something I might be sick of them, lol. ~ karen

    • Jacquie Gariano says:

      I agree about the shelves. Don’t get rid of them…Put fewer books on them, some lying down and stacked. Small items that mean a lot to you on a shelf or two. Shutters will close in the room more, I think. Just saying, I know you will find the right, for you furniture for this room so it becomes “you”.

  48. Kim E Warner says:

    Hi, Karen, I haven’t commented before, although I’ve wanted to. I really like you and how you express yourself, your life and your home. You are so talented and inspiring! I would beg to be your best friend if I lived nearby, I might even become a stalker. But fear not, I’m in FL and old (ish) with crummy bones. And maybe because of my oldishness (not a word, I’m willing to bet), I am crazy about your first room. Okay, except for the cave man TV. That room feels like it could wrap me up warmly. Keep up the inspiring posts, bestie!

  49. Kat says:

    I’d like to see a large, leather ottoman-cum-coffee table replacing your glass table in the middle. I think one large, warm-colored piece of art on the wall would look nicer than the two smaller and neutral pictures that are there now.

  50. Robyn says:

    You just need to buy more antique Turkish rugs to layer if you want to add more cozy.

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