Cottage-Style Living Room Digital Makeover


So. Last we left my living room I had rearranged the furniture and come up with something that mostly, kind-of-sort-of working.

Don’t remember? It looked like this:

Not bad, sure, buuuuuut… not quite there, right? Many of you noticed it. The armoire. It’s great and all, but it’s not working. The whole room is oriented toward that armoire. And the only reason the armoire is there is to provide a space for us to get a TV. But we don’t watch TV on a TV anymore, we watch on laptops.

Take out the armoire, and then what? It’s just blank? We can’t focus the room entirely on the fireplace because of it’s position (it’s half in the entry hall).

So then what?

And hey, wait a minute, what exactly is this room for anyway?

Is it…

…a TV room? No, we prefer to watch TV in the family room.

…a place for the piano? No, I prefer having the piano in the family room so the kids have easy access.

…a dining room? This one I put some long and hard thought into, because it’s a good idea as I don’t have a formal dining room. But in the end I said no because (a) I prefer having closer access to the kitchen for the dining room and (b) I wanted a softer space as the first entry into our home. (As in, literally softer, like, with squashy furniture).

SO confusing. I kept thinking and thinking and weighing pros and cons and just thinking myself into circles. Thinking sometimes isn’t the best tool.

In the end I finally had to come face to face with the truth:

My living room has no purpose.

Which I thought was depressing. But, no, it’s brilliant, and here’s why:

If that’s true, then I can make the room be ANY WAY I WANT IT TO BE.

Oooooh, now that’s an interesting thought. A whole room that can be designed purely for me, my comfort, my joy.

Now we’re talking!

I like it. I pulled the armoire out, played with some different ideas, got the chairs situated and put the armoire back.

I got this:

Much better. The room feels much more inviting and cozy, and you can still see the fireplace from the couch.

Here’s another view. Now, to take this picture I had to stand in the hall, which might give you an idea of just how wonky that fireplace is. Oh yes, and the ottoman is just a placeholder.

Not bad. But I’m still not sure about the armoire. It’s nice that it balances the fireplace. BUT. It’s kind of just floating on that big wall. The fireplace should be the star, for sure, but that wall is the balance to the fireplace. I think it needs something bigger or wider. (I could be wrong, speak up if so!) Turning once again to the computer, let’s paint out the armoire.


Now. The fireplace. I have been wanting to do a project since I bought the house to put up a chunky wood mantel and cover most of the faux 50’s stone with millwork. Many, many bloggers have done this and it always looks fab. I think the most famous one is from The Lettered Cottage. So if I were to do something similar to my fireplace, it would look something like this:

Aaaaah, that’s better! The whole room is better!

But, like we said, that wall needs something.

I have always wanted to do a salon wall with mostly mirrors and some vintage platters and frames mixed in. I could do that over a great console. I have everything I need to build a console and put up the wall. It might looks something like this:

Not bad, huh?

Although, then what do I do with the wall next to the fireplace! Leave it blank? DO something simple, maybe a few botanical prints or something?

I was digging around the InterWebz looking for ideas and found this great wall shelf. Really cool. But it was too big for the fireplace wall. I could move the mirrors to the side and put it over the console maybe?

Not bad either. But maybe too cluttered? Hard to say.

The other thing I could do is put my bookcases back in here. I have a set of three pine bookcases I could put along that wall. I had always intended to paint them white and then style them nicely. It might look something like this:

I do like that. It’s nicely balanced. Maybe still too cluttery with the mirrors. Maybe the mirrors need to wait for another room, I don’t know.

I do love the direction things are going. Much better. And I already know I want to slipcover all the furniture (using fabric I have on hand or can scrounge up on the cheap) and fix up the end tables and such. So I have some projects to work on. I will probably not get a lot done over the next couple of weeks, but I can share some Christmas crafty stuff and ponder all these options. I’m definitely considering moving the chandelier. I could use it in the dining room area, and some great lamps would be great in here (as many of you suggested). I really appreciate all of your thoughts and ideas! It’s like having a personal design team!

So, what do you think? Does any one option look WAY better than the others? Are they all pretty much the same? Or are they all a mess? What would youput on that wall? And what do you use your living room for?

And since we’re asking lots of questions — do you like this big blog posts with lots of pictures? Or would you like it better if I posted more often but it was broken up into two or three bite-sized posts, more “as I go” type of thing?

Love, Angela



26 responses to “Cottage-Style Living Room Digital Makeover”

  1. Linden Townhouse Avatar
    Linden Townhouse

    Wow! What wonderful ideas! I like the bookcases, and since you already have them, it could save a bundle. You can paint them white and add moldings to the top too. I think I would put something simpler on the wall besides the mirror collection. You want the eye to move freely in the space without too many distractions. Slipcovers, a fireplace rework etc. will really make it a lovely space!

  2. Wow, I really love your ideas. Wouldn’t it be so fun if it was as easy as waving a little wand in the air to get it all done now?:)

  3. Thirkellgirl Avatar

    I like the last option, with the fireplace spiffed up, your bookcases in there, and the wall of mirrors. The mirrors need something… but I’m not sure what. These things don’t come to me quickly at all. I definitely think the chandelier should go, but that’s just my personal taste. What about painting that round table white/cream and putting a pretty something there. (Aren’t I helpful?)I probably shouldn’t ask, but what will go where your bookcases are now in the other room…? 🙂

  4. i like it about adding a smaller ottoman for that corner chair, and you could throw an afghan or blanket over the arm, or an old stuffed toy to suggest a cosy reading retreat.have you thought about adding recessed spot lights to your room to focus soft light on the various areas? and a central area rug to anchor the couch and wing chair group as a conversation area?and yes, i would move the mirror group out of the living room and put in a group of old framed portraits, maybe ancestors,in their place. Anything you can do to show that this room is ment to be a cozy gathering spot for people.

  5. ALL of your ideas for the new room look great – any one of them would be lovely and beautiful. HOWEVER, if you don’t mind my saying, YOU ARE GETTING AHEAD OF YOURSELF! All you have to do is leave your armoire there and paint it white! I think that’s what’s bothering you about that armoire being in there: it’s just too dark and outdated. If you just give it a fast “white-wash” even, which would be quick, and scuff up the edges, it would look perfect. And why slipcover the couch and two chairs? They look fabulous now!!!! If you just do that one thing with the armoire and put in a lamp on each little table, or SOME decoration on each table (maybe one of your little lanterns), I TRULY think the room would look beautiful AND, more importantly, you wouldn’t be spending much money! (Except for the paint for the armoire.)So what do you think? Trust me, with just a couple of changes, NOT big ones, I really, really think you will be happy with that room for now. THEN when you win the Lottery, you can get slipcovers, wall unit, do your fireplace, etc. :)Best,Gloria

  6. I like the room but instead of the mirrors how about a beautiful quilt on the wall?

  7. Have you thought of angling your sofa so it’s looking towards the fireplace from the corner in the left of the room near the window? You’d still have a great view of your fireplace but it would open the room up and invite people in more. Now it looks too closed off.

  8. I love what you’ve come up with. The fireplace redo will make a world of difference – it did with ours. I do think the chandelier needs to go to the dining room and adding lamps would make a softer, cozier look to your room. I agree about adding something to the mirror wall like a quilt, a larger framed print or a simple arrangement of, maybe, four framed photos or pictures (matching frames) to keep that wall simple.I’d love to know how to do your virtual makeovers and rearrangements to help with my thoughts on my little rooms. Any thought of doing a tutorial. By the way, I’m trying out PhotoScape to see if it will do what I want before buying PhotoShop, as you suggested.Keep up the good work, my friend – you’ll get there!~Adrienne~

  9. I love your little virtual makeovers…I see I am not the only one to ask…but how do you put these together and what do you use? I would love to play with my low front porch as well!

  10. Suz in the Tules Avatar
    Suz in the Tules

    I like the fireplace makeover.And I like the bookcases. They balance the room.

  11. I’m with Gloria–I think what’s bothering you about the china cabinet is its dark finish. Paint it white or cream and add black or zinc hardware, and books for a library look. Hang 4 framed prints of a group–say botanical or bird prints, one pair on either side of the china cabinet, one over the other. Or lighted sconces would be nice.The mirror grouping is too busy. Love the idea of a quilt or just a large horizontal painting. Remove the chandelier and add lamps, and an area rug down the road.If the chairs aren’t going to be used as a “pair” (symmetrical) use different fabrics for them, or slipcover all the furniture in a neutral cream or white.Hiding some of that awkward fireplace with woodwork is a great idea. Repeat the gray of the stone in some zinc accessories (lamps, garden ornaments, planters, candlesticks).Love the long posts, myself!

  12. The last one is terrific. The armoire is too small in scale for that wall. Even painted white it would be lost. The three bookcases on the back wall looks wonderful. Fill it with some books and carefully chose pieces so that it doesn’t look too cluttered.I vote for moving that chandelier and getting some nice lamps. The chandelier is not hard wired and I’m not loving the chain draped across the room.Love the direction you are moving.

  13. This is looking really great.I really love what the fireplace re-do does for the room. I like how the console looks with mirrors and plates above it and love the idea of botanicals on the other wall. A few pics of family are always great. I also like the 3 bookcases together.I like to keep things simple but believe you should surround yourself with things you love. Do you have a fun hobby or something your family really enjoys that you would want to incorporate in the room?

  14. I really like the finished project. The bookcases provide a great counterpoint to the spruced-up fireplace. Which also looks really cool.I need to do some thinking along these same lines for my bedroom. It used to be my husband’s parent’s room and so I am reluctant to put our bed in the same place that theirs was (it … creeps me out in a way I’m not really sure I can articulate). But there are only so many configurations that will work in that room. And it’s been set up as it is now for nearly 6 years and I’m getting ready for a change.

  15. I love the white bookcase idea.

  16. I love the way the room is coming along and have a couple of suggestions. I really like the concept of the mirror wall, but what about using only the mirrors that have no frames. They wouldn’t look as busy but would brighten that corner of the room. Also, I think the round table between the sofa and chair is a little too big for the area.Keep up the good work. You inspire me.

  17. Victoria S. Avatar
    Victoria S.

    I love the way you are tossing out all these ideas for your room.I think you should angle the sofa next to the fireplace. I am assuming there is a window on the left side of where the sofa is now. I would put a writing desk behind the sofa, to use for writing and for a ‘sofa table’. I would take down the chandelier and warm the room up with lamps. Maybe repurpose a cozy chair from another room to go opposite where y I suggested the sofa to go. It would be further back than the sofa, in the corner that we can’t see in the pic. Put a floor lamp next to it and a cozy throw over the chair. Use your two wing chairs along with the sofa, one near the other corner of the fireplace and the other one maybe toward the left end of the sofa. If there isn’t room to do the ‘cozy’ chair and the wing chair just leave out the cozy chair. I’m not sure what the size of the room is. Wish I could draw out my idea for you! Hard to explain. I just think you should focus on the fireplace by moving the furniture foward and you aren’t losing the corner of the room, just repurposing it.

  18. Victoria S. Avatar
    Victoria S.

    ok, I went back and looked at the pics again. I missed the window the first time! I would still angle the sofa, do the writing desk, any desk painted white would work. Maybe try the wing chairs how I first suggested, if it’s too crowded, put them facing the fireplace with that white table in between. Leave space to walk behind them in front of the window.

  19. I prefer the 3 bookshelves – I agree that just the armoire, even if painted white, doesn’t have the scale that is needed, though it is a lovely piece. Yes to angling the couch! Not only does it open the room, it creates a connection with the outdoors. And yes, it does need to be slip covered. For me, the pattern doesn’t work with the pattern on the chairs, at least in this room. What about using the round table as a coffee table?Of course, actually putting things in place may call for more changes – the reality of furniture placement sometimes doesn’t work as well as the vision leads us to believe it will. Good luck – you are well on your way to a lovely room.

  20. I like the last option and here’s why: I really like how the big bookcases look in the room. You need something hefty and substantial with all that blank wall space in there. The white lightens it up, plus the fact that it is a bookshelf gives it a purpose- a reading room! Or just a sitting room, but a sitting room with absolutely nothing in there to do seems a little silly.The fireplace mantle makes a huge difference and I would definitely do that asap, it lightens it up, gives the fireplace weight instead of just being a random thing on the wall, plus gives you more decorating space, and you can never have enough of that right?Lastly, I like the mirrors on that other wall because they reflect the natural light of the windows across from them. I think you could also do a nice big framed print there. If it were me, I’d also get a coffee table in there to put your feet up on, play a game on, etc. Can’t wait to see what you decide. Oh, and I agree on the lamps, they make a big difference in a finishe look+ add coziness.Merry Christmas Angela!

  21. Hi Angela,I love that you are enjoying the process!How terrific.It is your blog you do what you want to in terms of posting…we’ll read it anyway you want us to.Merry Christmas and Happy 2011.Hugs to you.Debra

  22. I like the option in the first picture (it’s the same as the one in the last picture too, right?)

  23. Hey! Thanks for the shout out! :-)I dig the way the last photo looks, and I can’t wait to see the finished room!Layla

  24. I used to have that same yellow, floral printed sofa!I love the thinkings of the fireplace makeover.I would do the hutch thing on the main wall, and maybe a truck or something with some botanical print and mirror gallery above it on the wall next to the fireplace.

  25. And my above comment, I totally meant *trunk* not truck. Like an old antique traveling trunk or a stack of worn vintage suitcases, used as like a sideboard maybe?something like this:

  26. wow…..I love your blog…..and your living room…Iam glad someone else has similar problems with decorating…..I love cottage style…..but with the furniture out there now its a little hard to find atleast here anyway…its mostly found in antique stores….anyways why arent you showing your window in your pictures…..from what I can see and Iam no expert for sure but I love plants….maybe add some green plants and some table lamps and an area rug by the sofa…..a rug always pulls the room together not to mention making it look warm….the slip covers your talking about maybe just the two chairs in a brighter color….just some ideas for you.thx Trish

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