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!


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?


A Few of My Favorite Neutral Paint Colors

A Few of My Favorite Neutral Paint Colors

The number one question I get asked by blog readers, Instagram followers, Facebook friends, and In Real Life friends is “What is that paint color?” I love getting asked any question about decorating, but especially that question because it is one I have personally researched with blood, sweat, and tears.  Okay, maybe just lots of sweat and a few tears. 😉 I have painted and repainted too many rooms to count so I can speak from experience on this topic.

This is an updated and edited version of a post I did several months ago but I have reorganized it and added new pictures and links.  Hope it helps if you’re looking for some paint recommendations or just some inspiration to get out those brushes and rollers!


If you’re looking for a perfect light gray paint color, my hands-down, absolute favorite is Olympic’s Silver Dollar. Olympic is sold at Lowe’s so I know its not your designer Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams brand.  Is it okay that I just said that on a blog about interior design? Haha!  Its a bit cheaper, which is nice! And if you buy Olympic One, which has primer and paint mixed together, it goes on quite smooth and lovely.

Its not a cool gray, it is a taupe-y kind of gray, so it doesn’t come across blue or purpley.  But its not super warm or golden either.  I feel like its perfectly in between.  We used it all over the interior of our old house, which you can see here.

In our new house its on our kitchen cabinets, bannister, and mantle.  We had the cabinets professionally sprayed with oil based paint before we even moved in.  I mixed my own chalk paint for the bannister and mantle.  I’ll blog about that process one day (no sanding, super easy, hooray!)

Cabinets painted Olympic's Silver Dollar

Mantle painted Olympic's Silver DollarBannister painted Olympic's Silver Dollar

We also decided to use it on the walls in our master bedroom and bathroom.

Paint Color- Olympic Silver Dollar

Its amazing how different it looks in the new house compared to the old. I’ve already mentioned that this house has much more natural light.

Even though it is my all time favorite color, I still HIGHLY recommend that you purchase and paint a sample of it first before committing to it! Or purchase 10 different samples and paint them all over your house if you’re crazy like me and just want to be SURE.

If you’re looking for a darker, more saturated gray, one I’ve used several times and love is Olympic’s Dover Gray.  Right now we have that color in our dining room. (See where I blogged about that room here).

Here’s the view from the dining room looking into the kitchen. You can see the Silver Dollar on those lower cabinets.

Wall Color- Dover Gray

And one of my favorite views in the house, from the kitchen, looking into the dining room:

Wall Color- Dover Gray

We also used Dover Gray in the baby’s room.  You can see the full post with more pictures here.

The House of Figs Nursery, Dover Gray


In this new house I knew I wanted Silver Dollar on the cabinets, so I didn’t want it on the walls too.  We went with the top color on the same card as Silver Dollar, called Willow Springs, for the walls.  You can see glimpses of it in a few of the above pictures, as well as in my living room.

Olympic Willow Springs Paint color

The kitchen cabinet & trim color we are using on The Montgomery House is Benjamin Moore’s White Dove.  I researched that one a lot and found that a lot of designers prefer it because it is a “true” white.  Neutral colors are so much trickier to choose than saturated ones because the slightest little tint of green or blue or red or whatever can change the feeling so much.

I’ve also found that the colors outside your home can affect how it looks inside.  Several years ago I painted a nursery in a client’s home this steely gray-blue and it looked lovely.  I used the same color in my daughter’s room when we first moved here and didn’t sample it because we were painting so much at the time and in a hurry.  Her window is very close to our neighbor’s red brick house.  Something about the sunlight hitting that red brick and bouncing into her bluish gray room made it look completely purple.  I wasn’t too happy about that and she was only two, so I repainted it.

My biggest piece of advice when painting a room is to buy samples.  Lots of them.  It is so worth it. Paint them in lots of different spots and look at them during lots of different times of day.  Something you love in someone else’s house may not work the same way in yours.  But there’s a next step too…

There does come a time when you just have to take a risk.  Can I tell you something, as your friend here?  Please don’t let those sample swatches sit on your wall for more than a week.  You eventually have to decide and just go for it.  Its just paint, you’re not making any life or death decisions here.  It can always be repainted for the cost of some money and time.  And chances are it will be better than that wall color that you didn’t like to begin with!  It will definitely be better than that wall color with all those paint samples on it that has maybe been that way for a month… or two?  All grace for you here, I know life gets busy. 😉 Just maybe this is the inspiration you need to get painting.


I found this on The Nester’s pinterest board.  She’s big on taking risks & not worrying about being perfect or making mistakes.

Do you have any go to favorite paint colors? What have you painted recently?

Thanks so much for reading!!


A Room for an Artist {My Daughter’s Room}

A Room for an Artist {My Daughter’s Room}

Hi, if you’re here from Honey We’re Home, welcome! Thanks so much for stopping by! If you’d like to see the post about my kitchen for more details, click here!

The title of this post kind of says it all.  Norah is an artist. She spends every free moment coloring (and takes breaks for dancing).  She colors so much she has a permanent blister on one of her fingers.  Her room could be a chaotic mess of paper after unfinished paper.  Some are from coloring books, sometimes its just a piece of construction paper or white printer paper.  Inspiration strikes her anywhere, anytime.  She gets this talent from her Daddy and for a while I did not know how to handle her chaotic creativity.  I want to teacher her to clean up her room of course but I also don’t want her to have to throw away every piece of art that she hasn’t finished yet. But we (sort of) have a system and we made room for this little desk and lamp in her room so there’s an order to it now.  That’s enough to satisfy me.

IMG_0725These three prints are actually pieces of wrapping paper from The Paper Source.  That store is one of my favorite resources for large and inexpensive wall art.  At $4-$7 a sheet, it may be pricey for wrapping paper, but for a large print to hang on the wall I think that’s pretty good!!  I have several of their map papers framed as well throughout my home.  The frames are inexpensive ones from Ikea that are perfect for a kids’ room.


She is a girly girl to the max and when we first moved here, she was just barely two so I painted this room blue before she even had a say in it.  I think I just had this fear that the whole thing would be pink and purple overload. 😉  I think I was right.The curtains are again my favorite Ikea Ritvas that I stenciled with fabric paint back when I was about 8 months pregnant with her.  You can see them hanging in her nursery here.  Though I am not usually a DIYer, I tend to take on big projects like that when I am gigantic and pregnant and nesting like crazy, haha! 

These are just iPhone snaps I took on a beautiful sunny day. I usually like to have Paul shoot our home with his camera for the blog but its a lot of work and the light was just right so I went for it. I love capturing her in her “natural state” like that. Hope you enjoyed seeing another little peek into our home. Thanks for reading and happy weekend! ❤