Freaky House Photo Friday – the evolution of my living room

1 Apr

This post has been edited to take part in Thrifty Decor Chick’s Before and After and My Frugal Family.  Go visit HERE and HERE.

When I learned that Julia from Hooked on Houses was hosting a Freaky House Photo Friday, I knew I found my destiny.  Finally an opportunity for the un-styled and ugly to shine!  We all have our place in this world and frankly, I get worn out looking at all of your perfect homes and rooms.  Blogland is filled with some of the best decorators and housekeepers on earth, but we can’t all be Martha.  I’ve tried.

As most of you know, the FringeFamily moved into a ‘new’ house last August.  We’ve been slacking working feverishly to beautify our world, but our house is just not ripped from the pages of Architectural Digest or Country Living.  I’m slowly coming to terms with that.  I’m also going to ask for your help…your ideas…your know-how, because I know you know how.

Let’s begin with the evolution of my living room.

Living Room As Purchased

This is our living room on closing day.  Paneling, drop ceiling, nasty foul-smelling carpet that maybe someone died on, and a crack smoking mirror – love at first sight.

The Other Side On Closing Day

For some unknown reason, God did not wire me with common sense.  Any woman in her right mind would have shuddered in horror, fired her realtor, and taken a therapuetic shopping trip.  I began stripping the walls .

Ugly Nasty Ceiling

Underneath the paneling, I found layers of wallpaper dating back to Paul Revere.  Well, maybe not that far, but there were a lot of layers.

Yes, that's me on the ladder.

The neighbor’s kids thought I was wrecking the house and for a brief moment, I thought they might be right.

The Mess

In an effort to spare future generations great agony, I vowed never to use wallpaper.

A Clean Room

Eventually my labor paid off and I birthed a clean, if somewhat sterile room.

The Other Side of Sterile

Unfortunately the hardwood floors could not be salvaged, so I painted them.  WHITE.  Only paint your floors white if you intend to cut off your feet.  Magazines lie.  A white floor could even cause Martha to yell uncle.

The Current Living Room

This is where I need your help.  I took this photo today, so it’s as current as it gets.  I even scrubbed that floor on my hands and knees before snapping this picture, but of course you can’t tell.  There are some things that I love about this living room and some things that I hate.

Where do I start?

Friends just reconfigured their living space and gave us their extra futon.  We are overjoyed considering we’ve been without a couch for nine months because I sold our couch prior to moving.  Notice all the furniture is mismatched?  That happens when you shop in other people’s garbage heaps, but I am open to painting anything and everything.

The dog's chair near the fireplace.

First I think the frames on the Norman Rockwell prints need to be painted black.  Do you agree?

Ever Changing Mantle

We intend to build bookcases into the wall flanking either side of this mantle.  I think it will give it more presence.  It will also house a flat screen TV.  Eventually even we will need to move out of the 80′s.

another view

I desperately want to add some aqua blue and red into this room.  I know it’s ridiculous and I’m trying to resist, but it is very difficult.  I think a solid light color futon cover would brighten up the room, and a few aqua and red flowered brightly colored pillows would perk things up.  Should I paint all the tables to match each other?

living room

The other issue is that I centered all the furniture on the fireplace and not on the windows.  Is that right or wrong?  When it’s centered on the windows, you feel completely off-balance when sitting on the furniture, because you are then looking at a cock-eyed fireplace.  Does that make any sense?

And yes, the curtains pull back.  I’m not sure why I didn’t open them for the pictures.

If anything in this room really represents my personal style, it would be the hodge-podge in this photo and the vintage travel poster that hangs above the fireplace.

So how do I make the space a little more cohesive without spending much money?

AND, how do I add a little aqua blue and red without looking ridiculous?

I don’t ask much of you, do I?  Please help my freaky room this Friday!  Any and all comments and suggestions are welcome.

For an update on the room, click HERE! Go see my new & improved look. :-)

Go visit Hooked on Houses for more nightmares.  AND Go visit Thrifty Decor Chick for some great before & afters.  My Frugal Family is also hosting a blog carnival with great make-overs.

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32 Responses to “Freaky House Photo Friday – the evolution of my living room”

  1. Julia April 1, 2010 at 11:02 pm #

    WOW. I am so impressed that you tackled a project that daunting. I know I wouldn’t have had the courage! The room looks a hundred times better already. Bravo.

    I love the look of white-painted floors. I didn’t realize they were that difficult to maintain! Yikes. Good to know.

    I think some built-in bookshelves are going to really give the room some character and play up the height of the ceilings. And I like the idea of painting those frames, too. Maybe you could paint the fireplace mantel another color to make it stand out a little more, too!

    Thanks so much for joining my blog party. Great post! :)

  2. sharron April 1, 2010 at 11:04 pm #

    Gosh you have done all of the hard work already…now you have that clean palate to play with! I love the white floors.. had them in our last house and yes mine stayed scuffed all of the time too.
    I would paint the coffee table red, group the two gold chairs together in a little seating area with that small black table… in between, maybe paint the small table the blue color or just leave it black and use some small accent pieces on it that are the blue or red(( photo frames with a few of those books stacked would look great))…make throw pillows for the futon and the chairs…slipcover the futon. or….a twin or full duvet cover usually fits…maybe use an area rug to pull it all together…if you wait until the end of summer.. Target marks their very durable indoor/outdoor seasonal rugs down and they are a great deal and so kid and dog friendly too. Yea I’d paint the NR frames and maybe find a mirror or empty frame to lean on the mantle. The bottles placed on the mantle would look really great too and make them pop against the white. Little groupings of beloved items can make such a huge impact. You could leave the vintage travel poster and use the bottles and the shells on the mantle and maybe use some Family photos framed of past vacations. Photos are such an inexpensive way to decorate too. Those photos of your little fringes by the vintage truck would look great on the mantle or wall too. Okay now my house is a decorating mess right now but playing in yours has been fun!!:))

  3. Debra April 1, 2010 at 11:11 pm #

    I don’t won’t to be the first comment! okay, I would paint all the tables the same colour, I like black. I have the same problem with the windows, I think we balanced the sofa with the windows and put two chairs opposite to face the couch. Covering the futon is a good idea too and I think red and aqua hits would be great. What happened to your rug?? Cushions in those colours would be easy to make and some accessories on the mantel in red and aqua would tie in nicely. Hope this helps! Did you put clear verathane over your floor after you painted it? It really helps keep the paint in good shape.

  4. T. April 1, 2010 at 11:34 pm #

    You’ve put a lot of work into this room, but it does seem like it’s missing something. I would like to see some color on the floor or the walls. To me the furniture looks like it’s floating because it’s surrounded by white. If it’s in your budget, get a colorful area rug. Maybe you could paint the walls aqua, since you want that color in the room. A solid cover for the futon would be a great blank slate for some colorful patterned pillows. Are you familiar with the Young House Love blog? They have oodles of ideas for DIY decorating, and where to buy things when you don’t want to spend lots of money. Have fun with it!

  5. Josanne April 2, 2010 at 12:54 am #

    Nice job! And wow! I’m sure it was a lot of work! We bought a house last year-so far I’ve painted 4 rooms and a foyer and hallway. My husband was seriously injured during this time(fell from a tree a month after our previous home burned to the ground), so I had to do it all by my lonesome! My daughters painted their own bedrooms, and helped a little with the hallway.
    Anyway, there are lots of lovely area rugs in so many designs and colors-have you considered looking for one with aqua and red?
    Right now, I am SOoooo into red!!! My livingroom has a deep red wall, my bedroom has a bright red wall, my kitchen has a deep plum wall(almost red!), and my family room has bright red furniture!
    Your fireplace looks really nice! You did a nice job!

  6. Karen April 2, 2010 at 3:21 am #

    Maybe I’m just very strange, but I prefer the look of unpainted wood, even if the tables don’t match! In my opinion, a throw rug, a few covers for the olive colored chairs, some bright colored pillows, and some accent pieces and scarves on your tables and shelves will really change the look of your room!

    I’ll be looking forward to seeing your finished product! :-)

  7. rosie April 2, 2010 at 7:03 am #

    I think you’ve done an amazing job tackling a more than daunting project! First, you should give yourself a big (really big) pat on the back. I actually have a robin’s egg blue living room with a lot of red accents-I think I have some photos on my blog if you want to check it out. If I don’t have them, I would be more than happy to share them with you.

    It took us a little over a year to get some furniture for our living room-in that time we had just about everyone’s cast off stuff so I know how you feel.

    Centering on the fireplace is very traditional and can work really well, but your fireplace is small and because it’s white, it is blending in and not working as a focal point. If you want to make it more focused, I would put the futon on the right, perpendicular to the futon and then put the two matching chairs opposite that. Grouping the chairs will give them more visual weight. I would find a fabric for a futon cover that you love and maybe paint the frame black.

    If you want to do something to the floor, I would distress it, cover it with a glaze/paint combo that would give it a richer color and then like 3 coats of floor strength polyurethane.

    thanks for sharing your room-I’d be happy to show you some photos of my living room if you are interested. We also have a great rug from pier one that pulls the colors together.

  8. caprik April 2, 2010 at 7:19 am #

    I am going to be absolutely useless in this department. Capri Patt is my decorator. We have a nifty bartering system, I do her hair, she helps me decorate.
    I see lots of things that I like, but I don’t know how to put it all together!

  9. Rebekah @ It Only Gets Better April 2, 2010 at 7:53 am #

    If the white floor is making you crazy couldn’t you paint it a pale shade of blue? Then definitely find some cheap fabric or even sheets to slipcover the chairs and futon cushion. Add a bit of red to the curtains at the bottom with more fabric (if you don’t sew just use the iron tape stuff) or add some red fringe or something to the sides of the curtains. If you add the fabric at the bottom then raise the curtains up. Paint the tables and possibly chairs and futon frame black. And the frames.

    That shouldn’t be too much money. Maybe less than 200? Good luck! You’ve brought it back to life already; now it just needs a little kick in the pants.

  10. April 2, 2010 at 10:03 am #

    I love what you have done to the room already WOW!!!… I would get a bluish cover on the fouton.. Just get Dark Blue velvet fabric in a store and throw over it sometimes you can get interesting cheaper stuff in places like TJMAX or Marshalls… Then I would add some Pillows.. maybe white with red/blue embroydery like the ones you would find in anthropology or find a bluish/red flour print and make little pillow covers… WOW.. this room will look so great in No time.

  11. mrs mediocrity April 2, 2010 at 10:17 am #

    Lots of good suggestions already, and you have a great start. I would use an area rug to tie all the furniture together. That would really warm up the room, too. And you could find a fun funky old fireplace screen to put in front of the fireplace to give it more visual weight….and distressing the floor would really help, that way the nicks, etc. won’t show as much and neither will dirt…It’s easy, just whip out the sandpaper!

  12. 40daysof April 2, 2010 at 10:25 am #

    Wow! You are very brave and have done an amazing job! What kind of paint did you use on the floor? If it wasn’t specifically for the floor, how about redoing it in a pattern with white and a darker color like gray or tan? Maybe even using porch paint? Research that first, please! Or just covering most of it with an affordable sisal rug (think IKEA,, West Elm, CB2). I would probably paint all of the tables either black or white (white, only if the floor changes). But the red suggestion above is interesting (I love red!). What about hanging curtains higher and wider on the windows than you have done and in such a way to balance and provide the symmetry that is missing? (I really have no idea if this will work, but it’s worth thinking about.) Also, I think pops of red and aqua would be awesome, but look better with white, not beige, so I would get white curtains(maybe IKEA again)if possible and black rods to go with the black picture frames. About the pictures – I’ve been reading a lot about the proper hanging height of pictures and the so-called rule seems to be that the middle of the picture should be around 5’7″ from the floor. Unless it is above a piece of furniture, then the bottom of the frame should be no more than 5 or 6 inches above the piece of furniture. If it is too high it looks disconnected from the room. I think maybe the Rockwells are too high and also that shelf with the pictures below. There are of course lots of circumstances which these rules won’t work. And it is your home and you should have it how you want. So, ignore this stuff if it annoys you. :) Good luck and can’t wait to see the results!
    Here is a post about windows at YHL that might be helpful (the bay window is mine)

  13. Trish @TheOldPostRoad April 2, 2010 at 11:32 am #

    Beautiful floors (love the white paint!) and great fireplace. You have done a ton!! We have an old house – I know how hard it is! Here is what I would do -low budget – to start with. Raise the curtain rod and WIDEN the curtains, too. They are too narrow. Open up those curtains so the sunlight can shine through. Maybe hang some bamboo shades on the windows if you need privacy (open them during the day), but leave the panels. I would also sew some dark or colorful trim(like ribbon) down each side of the panels. Throw down an 8×10 rug – maybe a neutral seagrass from Lowe’s or somewhere. And then cover the futon fabric with a drop cloth – wash it a couple of times. Add the turquoise pillows you want for a punch of color (tjmaxx). Maybe move the coffee table to another room and use something less “leggy” since you already have plenty of wood in your other furniture – tjmaxx may be your answer, again with an ottoman, or something. Mad at me, yet? Please don’t be – you have done SO MUCH with that room and I am very impressed!

  14. misscaron April 2, 2010 at 11:38 am #

    Oh love … it’s come so far but still has so far to go! What a daunting task I’m sure! I think honestly the furniture needs re-arranging. The futon needs a good slipcover and to be placed on the wall opposite the entrance to the room under that one window most likely. The room is large enough for two conversation areas. you can move the matching chairs to either side of the fireplace with book shelves flanking the fireplace on both sides. I’d also like to see that one leather armchair on the side of the entry opposite and in the corner of the futon. Plus, this place desperately needs an area rug. But I know that you’re on the right track for sure! Good luck! HAPPY EASTER!!!

  15. The Handyguys April 2, 2010 at 11:39 am #

    I have some off white floors in my cottage. We didn’t do a pure white because of the issue with keeping them clean. We then have some rugs here and there. I would do throw rugs, an oriental or even wall to wall. Those “wood floors” are really the subfloor and were never intended to be seen when the house was built.

    I don’t have a sense of design either. My opinion is you need some color. On a recent show we brought in an expert on picking colors. Check it out here

    good luck
    The Handyguys

  16. PlantingOaks April 2, 2010 at 1:39 pm #

    hmmm… well, you said you want to add red or turquoise to the room, and you want to get rid of the white floor.

    Would you call me absolutely crazy if I suggested painting the floor turquoise?

    That said, are you 100% sure the floor isn’t salvageable? Miracles can be worked with a random orbital sander. (my blog has some before/after pics, but they really don’t do the before justice) We are currently living on our subflooring. We love it, though it definetly has ‘character’.

    I’m guessing since you decided to at least try painting the floor white, that you like white, so I would paint all the furniture that color. Or at least all the same color. If you have a bright color on the floor (paint or a rug) I think white furniture would look clean and modern. I don’t think the lines will clash too badly if you have a unifying color. In any case, I don’t think there’s a good way to work in red and turquoise with all those brown/green/natural colors.

    The futon looks like it could be re-covered fairly cheaply. I don’t know about the chairs. I would have to look at them again without the woodgrain next to it – it might work.

    Oh, and the fireplace is an obvious place to add color. It’s non-functional, so it’s only reason for living is decorative. Make it pop. It would look great in red or turquoise.

  17. Tammy April 2, 2010 at 1:39 pm #

    What a pampered dog you must have! I love his chair!

  18. Barbara April 2, 2010 at 3:08 pm #

    Great job on all the hard work you’ve already done! If you’re not going to open up your fireplace, you might want to paint that inside board a matte black or charcoal gray (no gloss), leave the fireplace itself and the mantel white, and paint the walls a light taupe or khaki. Then the fireplace will really pop.

    I would repaint the floor (sorry) a dark chestnut brown with black rubbed in areas or paint it ebony and then seal it with a few coats of polyurethane to protect it from scuffs. That will ground your room a little more. Add an area rug for the seating area.

    Keep the couch on the same wall where it is, but center it between the windows and pull it out from the wall about a foot. Then paint the couch frame the same color as the wall so it does a semi-disappearing act. Would definitely cover it, maybe with a cute print which has white, khaki, your aqua and red and add aqua and red accent pillows.

    Move the matching gold chairs together at a right angle to the couch on the wall with the single window and consider slipcovering them in a fabric (to the floor) which compliments the fabric on the couch/futon or in white. Slipcover the small footstool in the same fabric as the chairs and have the material go all the way to the floor to cover the legs. Put it in front of the two chairs as a footstool. Paint the white table which is next to the couch red and place it between the two chairs.

    Paint the coffee table black and move it to the single window wall and position it about the same space as where a second window would go (to balance the single window) then use it as your TV stand. Paint the small bookshelf black and hang it over it — but not as high as it is now. Keep it low.

    Move your black 2-tiered table in front of the couch to become your new coffee table and paint it red, too. High coffee tables are kinda classy looking.

    Move the leather “dog” chair opposite the two chairs and at a right angle to the couch, so its back is to the door when you enter the room. Paint the table next to it black and move it between the couch and chair.

    Hang the three black-framed prints vertically along with the two Rockwell prints in between the two windows. Top to bottom it would go black frame, NR, black frame, NR, black frame. Center them and hang them one above the other with about 1″ (??) in between. Make the lowest one slightly higher than the back of the couch, then work your way up.

    Position the lamps on either side of the couch.

    Can’t wait to see the final room.

  19. Patti Lacy April 2, 2010 at 3:45 pm #

    To do what you did with what you had I think you should have your own TV show.


  20. Love Where You Live April 2, 2010 at 6:44 pm #

    I can’t believe you did all of that work yourself! So impressed. I had my own freaky place, but I hired people “tear it up.” ha. I say go with your guts; I bet it turns out terrific. You’ve already turned it around!! thanks for sharing, -susan

  21. Gabriela April 2, 2010 at 9:21 pm #

    Tricia, my husband (knower of all things) thinks your living room could benefit from an area rug underneath the coffee table. I would paint all the tables to match each other in a medium brown. Can you move the sofa perpendicular from it’s current location so it faces directly in front of the fireplace? Put the chairs by the windows with a little table in between them. I’m not sure of the size of the room or where the doors are in relation to the fireplace, but that was my initial reaction. That or to center the sofa between the two windows. I adore your choice of aqua and red (I must remember to send you an aqua and red card) and am wondering if you can add aqua as curtain valences and pillows to match. The aqua pillows would be for the sofa but first you’d need to add a slip cover over the sofa in a solid color, like red. I’m thinking fire engine red, not orangey red. Do you have budget to repaint the floor a gunstock brown? If not, then get the area rug, and paint a brown border on the floor but around the rug. Can you paint the fireplace red? Definitely paint those two picture frames black. Check out Crate & Barrel and see all their yummy dark woods. So to recap all this gibberish:

    Darker floors
    red fireplace
    aqua candlesticks or antique flower vases for the mantle
    red sofa slipcover
    aqua window valances
    aqua pillows (2) for the sofa
    area rug (maybe something arts & crafts)
    black picture frames
    repaint tables to match each other in a medium brown

  22. Jenn Calling Home April 2, 2010 at 11:08 pm #

    First of all, it’s a huge improvement over when you first started with the demolition. So give yourself a pat on the back.

    You could keep the futon cover if you wanted and add accents of seafoam or almost turquoise like page green, in pillows on the couch. I would also find that same pretty greenish color (wish I knew what to call it) with a pattern with browns tied in and make some new curtains out of that. Get a big floor rug. Paint the mantle, maybe that matching pretty green or a taupe color, or even just paint that lower portion where the opening was. You could put something in front, like a fancy grate with small logs on it, kind of suggesting a fireplace but not really. Or some really tall candles in that spot. I have a picture of that somewhere from a magazine.

    Reupholster those leather chairs, with a pretty print. You can upholster, right? Visit the blogs: All Things Thrifty Home Accessories and Colour Me Happy for more inspiration.

    Best of luck and please share when you’re done.

  23. Jenn Calling Home April 2, 2010 at 11:09 pm #

    Oops, don’t know what “page” means in that 2nd paragraph. Typing too fast, I guess.

  24. LeAnn April 3, 2010 at 10:48 am #

    Wow, this is awesome because there is so much you can do in this room. If you want to bring aqua into your room, then start with a little paint. You could paint the fireplace and then go from there. Find some fabric that brings in your red and aqua for pillows. I would paint the coffee table red and then distress it and then keep playing from there. I love the floor painted white, you could put down a really fun rug with a lot of color to bring in some whimsy. Maybe get a slipcover for the futon in a creamy white and then just go to yard sales and find accessories in your favorite colors. You could also tie back your curtains with some funky fabric. Let me know if there is anything else I can help with.

  25. Charming's Mama April 3, 2010 at 10:09 pm #

    I’m impressed with what you have already done. You’ve already gotten alot of great advice. I really like what Barbara is suggesting. Keep us updated.

  26. Ferree April 5, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    Dear Martha/Virtuous Woman/Perfectionist, You’ve already done so much and it looks great! (I’ve had to strip wallpaper off ceilings too and got the TMJ to prove it). But if you really aren’t yet satisfied, try a large area rug to anchor everything. Get it in your chosen color palette, and then you can go from there matching wall colors, furniture, flow to the rest of the house, etc. Here’s a book that saved my sanity when I was stuck: “Use What You Have Decorating.” It’s great for arranging furniture and giving new life to what you already have. There’s probably a website for it too. Oh, and this’ll sound really weird, but prayer works too! God instilled that thirst for beauty and order within you–you’re made in His image–so He’s delighted with how you’re coming along!

  27. Debbie York April 6, 2010 at 11:05 am #

    That you were able to go from the first photo to where you are now is impressive. I would have been in the floor bawling if I had tackled such a project.
    If aqua and red are what you want…then my dear you shall have them. It’s your home and a reflection of your own sense of style and personality. Both those colors scream fun and that’s just what you are…with a capital F.
    Here’s my two cents if you really want it. Since you have already painted the floor white, why not paint a area rug under your sitting area in your new “signature” colors. You can add painted fringe and whatever pattern strikes your fancy. It would ground the area and introduce your color. I’d also free the furniture from the walls. Move the sofa where it could float (maybe to the left of the fireplace) and you could add a sofa table behind it (or ironing board) where you could build some height with a lamp, etc. I’d take the curtains all the way to the ceiling. If they are not quite long enough…add scraps of fabric in your “colors” to the bottom and perhaps pompom fringe…I’ll send you some if you decide you want to do that. (I have tons of it in a red and white). I think you may be a gypsy soul at heart and using aqua and red will release you boho spirit. Go for it!

  28. Nikki@Cheaplikeabirdie April 6, 2010 at 3:50 pm #

    My oh my you are a MUCH braver person than I!! I think after the first layer of wallpaper I would have tossed my hands up. As for the white floors, have you tried coating them with polyurethane to protect them? I’m no Martha either but I have a few suggestions. Windows- I would take the curtains up and out. Hang the curtains higher than the window and extend the rod so they go past the window on either side. By doing that you could give the illusion of bigger windows and also center things out so you could place the furniture where you want to. Frames- I agree with painting them all the same color for cohesion. I LOVE the idea of built in bookcases, I think they would look fab. Fireplace-Have you considered one of those cute little electric fireplaces? Paint- I would paint the wall something a little warmer than the white and leave the molding and mantle white so they contrast nicely. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  29. Eileen April 7, 2010 at 1:10 am #

    FringeGirl! Am I too late?! What a fantastic start! Congratulations! Job well done on the prep! That wasn’t easy!

    Ahhh, I love the aqua/red combo, too!! Here’s my two cents ~ tell me what you think :)
    I agree with rosie on the sofa/chair layout. For now, the tv in FringePup’s area…i ♥ you pup ;)
    I’m actually planning on getting an aqua slipcover for my sofa! I think a solid color like aqua would look great on the futon. I swear I saw a quilt or granny square blanket on your blog…am I imagining this?..a quilt with a touch of aqua, red, gold, & black would look fabulous across the back of the sofa, or pillows. I want to get my hands on those two gold chairs! I would paint them red and reupholster them with a fabric that has the aqua/red in it, or not and get pillows..I saw this…

    If you’re making pillows and the price per yard is pricey, use pricey on the front and something else on the back.

    Yeah, a rug will anchor it all. Don’t paint everything yet. I like the eclectic look. It doesn’t have to all be painted a same color. Should I be quiet now?…

    Thank you for letting me be an armchair designer! :)
    I can’t wait to see what you do!


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