Before and Afters of My Living Room

Before and Afters of My Living Room

This morning I posted a few living room pictures to instagram and realized I had never shared the before pictures with you of our living room!  The house had been freshly painted but was definitely not our style.  And as you can see, there used to be a window right over the fireplace.
IMG_9291We found that to be so strange and my poor decorating heart was just broken because the mantel is prime space!  In our previous home I had a huge mirror and rotated out a chalkboard and artwork that leaned up there.  Where would I put the big mirror?  A giant chalkboard?  Why on earth do we need another window in this room?  This is that moment when I wonder if builders ever consult designers before they build homes.

Then, the more we thought about the floorplan of the living room and the old sectional that we already had, the more we realized it would just work best if we could put our TV over the fireplace.  So one of the first updates we made after moving in was to call a contractor and have the window taken out.  It had to be bricked in from the outside and sheet rocked in from the inside.  Fortunately they were able to put in conduits to hold all the electrical wires for our TV at the same time.  Score! 

Here’s the living room today!  Before the window was filled in, we painted everything white and had the floors replaced.  Just recently though, we added the bamboo shades.  Those white blinds were original to the home, so they were about 15 years old and half of them are broken.  We are slowly replacing them throughout the house.   I love that the new shades add so much color and texture and we are able to hang them high enough to cover the arches in the windows!  I know that in some circles, it has been a decorating faux-pas to have the TV over the fireplace, but I really think that is changing, especially in casual living/family rooms like this one.  Its nice to really only have one focal point in a room and when you have a media wall separate from a fireplace wall, your fireplace/mantel ends up playing second fiddle.  I love that here we get to focus around both spots.

Having another chair or two that’s not directly facing the TV, like our gray one from Ikea, also helps it feel conversational and not like everything here is about watching the screen.  I love that little spot and having the empty table next to it is just an invitation to sit and sip some coffee, read a book, or have a conversation.

Here’s the room from another angle.  The coffee table is new as well.  In my previous post about our living room, you can see we had a round ottoman.  I loved that ottoman so much but we were able to sell it and I was so ready to have a real coffee  table.  My kids have grown past the point of needing soft rounded edges and now we are playing games on this one, doing puzzles, etc, and its been so much fun!  Also, since I really don’t have the space for end tables for the couch, we needed it to hold drinks, especially when we entertain.   

This old couch has seen some better days but its still so comfy and works well for our family.  We got it after we had been married for one year from Foley’s furniture, which doesn’t even exist anymore, ha!!  We’ve now been married for 11 years, so yep, its pretty old!  I’m so thankful that even in my youth and inexperience I chose something that was a neutral color and of pretty good quality.  It has served us well.  I may try to wait a few more years until my kids are a bit older to see about replacing it, though I dream about it every once in a while. 😉  Thanks so much for reading, hope you’re having a great week!


The Montgomery House Office

The Montgomery House Office

The Montgomery House - Office Small_0 WMLast week I shared the above picture as kind of a teaser to this home office in the Montgomery House.  Today I’m sharing the rest!  This may be one of my favorite rooms in the house.  It is not just for show either, it is a hard working office, as the couple own a landscaping business and several days a week she is running it from home.  In fact while we were there taking these photos it was during the spring, their busy season, and she took a million phone calls and since she couldn’t be in her office, she was moving around the house with her laptop as we moved in and out of her way.  Sorry, Kay! 😉

The Montgomery House - Office Small_1 WMOn the left wall when you walk in is this big beautiful galvanized wall calendar- quite the event hanging this thing, but it sure turned out beautiful!  And useful!

The Montgomery House - Office Small_3 WMThere’s also a little seating area with a laptop table from Ballard Designs to the right of the desk.  Perfect spot for morning coffee.  We styled it like this for the photo shoot, but I love having little accent tables like this just empty and waiting for a drink to be set down, a book to be read, etc.  Blank space can be such a breath of fresh air and an open invitation to rest, read, relax.

The Montgomery House - Office Small_2 WM

Bookshelf styling is one of my favorite things to do.  It is a little bit of a science and a little bit of an art.  We used some of their own family photos, some fun HomeGoods finds, plants, and a few baskets and boxes for storage.

The Montgomery House - Office Small_4 WMHow about that bicycle and the sweet little pig below?  I love to have a few decorative elements like that, but not too many!  Like I said, its a hardworking office, and these builtins needed to work for them, not just hold pretty things.  But the purposeful things can be beautiful as well, like the wooden storage box next to the pig, just waiting to hold post-it notes, stamps, push pins, or whatever need may arise.  You know when you just need a place to put some stuff?  Why not a pretty box? Useful yet nice to look at, too. Beauty and purpose.

The Montgomery House - Office Small_5 WM

Thanks so much for reading!  I’m winding up the Montgomery House series, with just a couple more rooms to share with you.

Also, I’m letting you in on a little secret- I’ve got some BIG updates to the blog happening behind the scenes!!!  I am so excited about it and have been working hard, learning about stuff like coding, widgets, and plug-ins!  Wow, its been crazy because that is SO not my thing, but hoping to unveil the new site sometime this summer.  My husband does all the photography for this site (well except for when I use my iPhone) but he is first of all extremely talented videographer/cinematographer.  We are planning some exclusive videos for email subscribers and I am super excited about offering that to all of you.

Thanks for all the support and comments and sharing- it is a scary thing to put myself out there- my designs and my words.  The encouragement and support I’ve received have given me a soft place to land and I’m so grateful to each one of you.  Looking forward to sharing my new site with you soon and continuing this journey together.



The Montgomery House Foyer

The Montgomery House Foyer

The Montgomery House - Front Foyer Small_0 WMThis foyer has so many architectural details; from the transom and moldings, to the huge double doors and paneling behind them.  With that much beauty already in the house, we didn’t need to do much to enhance it.  Just a few simple pieces, like this shelf from Ballard Designs to hold a few things right when you walk in, as well as some giant sconces to flank the office entry on the other side.  There are two pendant lights hanging in here from Ikea.  I love the modern simplicity contrasted with the craftsman character of it all.  Contrast is my favorite!

The Montgomery House - Front Foyer Small_1 WM

A simple jute rug is great for texture and for dirty shoes.  Its casual and inviting and since no one’s going to be sitting on it, its okay that its kind of scratchy.  I love the look of them but they just don’t work great for living rooms, especially when you have little ones.  An entryway is the perfect spot.

Below is a peek from from the hallway through the foyer and into the office.  On the left is the living area and kitchen.  This is probably one of my favorite pictures from the entire photo shoot we did.  Those transoms have my heart fluttering!  Its details like that in this new home that give it the character and charm of an older home.

The Montgomery House - Office Small_0 WM

Next week I’ll share more of that office with you.  Thanks so much for stopping by!


A Big Kid’s Space {My Oldest Son’s Room}

A Big Kid’s Space {My Oldest Son’s Room}

Today I’m talking about my oldest son’s room.  
He’s seven and reading real chapter books now, which kind of blows my mind.  He’s making signs and cards and hanging them up all over the place.  You can barely see the one above, but it says “Save the Rainforest.” Oh and that’s a Minecraft torch hanging on his wall.  Don’t know what Minecraft is?  I don’t really either… ask a 7 year old. 😉

A lot of the things hanging on this little gallery wall I’ve had in his room since he was born.  You can see his nursery in our old house here.  I noticed the other day that the silhouette looks a lot more like his little brother now though than it looks like him!  Speaking of that little brother, here he is now, adding to the chalk wall… and maybe stealing from the sticker collection. I didn’t really decorate this room with a “color scheme” in mind.  For kids rooms especially, I love for their toys and pictures and stuffed animals to dictate the color and the feeling of the room, so I stick to mostly neutral furniture and bedding.  I’ve let my son take the lead on a lot of the “decor” in this room- the legos, the stickers, the trophies, the Skylanders poster you see above.  (Similarly, if you’re not sure what Skylanders are, find a 7 year old to ask.)  I love that this room is all him.  There are a few elements though that I always make sure to include, even in a kids room.

 It might seem obvious, but storage is key.  My favorite Ikea Kallax is up there, holding lots of treasures, rock collections, random papers, superheroes, and books.

 Another essential is a grown up sized lamp.  He does have a small reading light on his bedside table, but on the Kallax is a big lamp I found at HomeGoods.  I covered the shade with fabric to brighten it up, but its still a large scale lamp.  Kids need good lighting too!  I love coming up there and finding him all cozy playing or reading without the overhead light on, only using his lamps.  I love being in a room like that! He enjoys it too.

Another element I chose for this room: real curtains and window treatments.  Not a tiny valanace- but long drapes, and a bamboo shade for texture.  It gives it the same feeling as the rest of our house.

And lastly, I think its important to buy real furniture. He does have a twin bed but it is real wood and we found it at a consignment shop years ago.  Even if it gets passed down to little brother eventually, its still a real piece of furniture that I can always use, repaint, etc- not a plasticky kid’s theme bed that will eventually end up in yard sale pile.  He also has a big dresser in his closet.  Obviously if the budget doesn’t allow, it just doesn’t allow and I’m not suggesting you go into debt over this. But maybe if you can save up for the real piece of furniture, or find something to refinish at a yard sale, consignment store, etc, I would say that’s the way to go.

So I treat it like I would any other room- real furniture, big lamps, great window treatments, good storage.  And then I let him have at it with the details.

Now here’s one of the best parts of this room… it has this huge closet that we’ve turned into a little play room/hideaway. Little brother likes to sneak in there and play, too. 🙂  IMG_1778

Thanks so much for reading! Have you found any ways to let your kid’s decorate their own rooms?  In a way that you still can enjoy as well?