Tuesday, June 9, 2009

House in Progress: Fourth Time's the Charm?

My poor husband must be so sick of my endless redecorating. As longtime readers may remember, the rich camel color of our living room had been seriously bugging me. (See the room's last incarnation here, and previous ones here and here.)

It was a nice shade, but it clashed with our newly bright and happy dining room, and it dictated too strictly the other colors I could put in the space.

I wanted something crisper and more serene, lighter and brighter, and above all more flexible -- that is, a hue that would work with my frequent changes of heart when it comes to decor and my ever-changing color infatuations.

I finally settled, over Nick's protests -- he likes everything to stay like it is, at least until he gets used to the new thing -- on Benjamin Moore's Gray Cloud, a very pale, silvery gray.

Right now, we have a lot of teal, turquoise, and lime-green accents in the room, and I think it works well with those. But the next time I'm itching for a change, I can simply swap out a few vases and textiles and the wallpaper backing on the bookshelves and hutch, and quickly substitute an entirely different color scheme -- lemon yellow, red, or whatever else strikes my fancy.

Since the upholstery on our couch and chairs was chosen to compliment the old paint color (and since I was equally sick of it), and since we still can't seem to find the perfect replacement couch at anything approaching a price we can afford right now, we settled on the interim solution of slipcovers.

These are from IKEA, and made to fit its Karlstad line, but they work well enough with our Crate & Barrel pieces -- just don't look too closely at the spots where they ride up awkwardly in the back.

Don't look too closely at the wallpaper on the bookshelves, either. Let's just say that I will never, ever be a professional wallpaper installer ... Oh, and I love my gorgeous new pillow (center) from InLeaf.

Except for those changes, and for some small accessories and new pillows and other textiles here and there, the room is pretty much the same as it was during its last iteration. I wouldn't mind trying a different furniture arrangement, but so far this is the only one we've found that works.

(Sometimes I daydream about hiring a designer to come over for one day and rearrange my house, just to have the nice surprise of seeing things in places I never would have thought to put them. Do you ever think about doing that? Do you suppose any design pros hire themselves out by the day to tweak people's homes? But I digress ... )

Anyway, I'm pretty happy with the way the room looks now. It gets a lot of light even in winter, and can get pretty warm in the summer, and the soft gray is like mental air conditioning for me. I feel serenely calm and cool in the space.

Nick was worried the gray would be bland and dreary, but he seems OK with it now. Or perhaps he's just decided that it's pointless to protest now that it's done.

As for the kids, I think our daughter likes it. But when our son came home from school and saw the newly painted room for the first time, he took it all in for a moment before declaring, "It looks like an old person lives here." Thanks a lot, kid. (Umm, maybe that's just 14-year-old speak for "chic and sophisticated"?)

A couple of questions for you guys: Do you think we should change out the light fixtures? I adore the vintage lights -- but again, they were chosen to go with the old scheme, and I'm not sure they work so well with this one.

And I'm really tempted to paint out the red brick fireplace surround and hearth, but also kind of hate the idea of imposing my will on a 70-year-old, largely original house just to make it better match my decor-of-the-moment. Thoughts?

Mmmm ... peonies.

P.S. You can see more of mi casa here.

48 comments:

Joanna Goddard said...

i LOVE it!!! so bright and airy and beautiful!

marquel said...

i love the color...and the light fixtures!

Porcelain said...

It looks great! Love the gray!

My vote is to change up the light fixtures. Maybe something cool and simple from Schoolhouse Electric!

Leah said...

I just wanted to tack on a quick addendum in reference to some comments I'm getting from friends over on Facebook, who are basically expressing disbelief that I a) even HAVE children and b) that I allow them in this room.

My oldest is 14, so he basically just throws himself onto the couch to lounge and check his text messages. My younger one is 11, and she does constantly touch everything. But truly, there's nothing terribly precious in here. The rug has dog and cat pee stains all over it, the furniture has washable slipcovers, and everything else is from the flea market or eBay -- almost all of it super-cheap. I swear it's not an adults-only room!

I may not be thrilled when the kids eat cherry popsicles in here, but I don't believe in having parts of the house off-limits to children. I do like things to look nice, but I also believe that a home is for *living* in. If the couch gets food stains or the occasional tchotchke gets broken, so be it!

Ana said...

Looks great!

maison21 said...

looks fab, leah! light n bright n airy- just how i like a functional living room.

i also love your attitude about the lumps and bumps of actually "living" in a living room, pee stains and all- i like to live the same way. if one of my friends spills a glass of red wine on my carpet, i don't want my evening ruined because it's a precious antique- i'd rather laugh and say "who cares? i bought it on craigslist for 50 bucks, and the dog already ruined it anyway!".

and yes, i think changing the light fixtures out to something a bit less fussy, with a bit more of an updated vintage-y look would look better- your "eye" ain't lying on that one. funny how a change in paint color can affect the look of something like a fixture, right?

gyrlapple said...

I love Gray Cloud - I think I may need to paint another room now :). We just painted our bedroom in BM's "Eternity"...in the family of your color. They're all so gorgeous.

Jane Flanagan said...

Wow. Looks absolutely amazing. Serene and homey, full of your wonderful personality. I love the accent blues and greens. And the grey shade is perfection.

Diana said...

Don't paint the brick. It would be like the commentary from the director or somebody from Room with a View--that they shouldn't have made Helena Bonham-Carter's hat white with her white outfit when they kiss in the meadow. It should have been straw for the texture and contrast.

And also this month's issue of House Beautiful has a makeover with a decorator who comes in just for one day and that is his specialty. I think he is in New York though. They have a step-by-step of his process, so you can just copy him and do it yourself!

Jackie Kersh said...

if that is old lady, sign me up! looks fantastic.
i don't think you should change the fireplace, it's charming as is.

casacaudill said...

i love that gray color - so crisp and bright. and please, please, please do not paint the fireplace.

Yansy said...

I've always loved your house. Everything looks amazing. Congrats!!

Chelsea Strong said...

I LOVE the wallpaper on the bookcase, I've been considering the exact same pattern, for the same installation as well.

I love your grey, I might paint the living room that color without boyfriend noticing. Ours is currently a light butter yellow, with a dark teal accent wall, and it's just not vibing.

thebubbreport said...

Leah, it's beautiful! So airy and light with the perfect amount of color punches. What's the story on that green blanket with the onion-like print on it? I love it!

The Orla Kiely wallpaper looks fantastic!

becky

qisaacs said...

Well I was going to say paint the fireplace but I seem to be alone in this opinion. I know some think there is a place in hell for people who paint brick but it doesn't match your aesthetic. At all. Think how much fun you could have with it -- a darker grey or turquoise or that lime green... Maybe I should just go to that place in hell now.

Anonymous said...

I like the new color! Also, to answer your questions, I would find a more modern light fixture and I suggest tile over the brick on the fireplace (unless the fireplace doesn't work, then you could go crazy with all sorts of options--mirrors, wall paper, fabric, etc.)

jennifer in sf said...

I love the paint color. It really does make the room seem brighter and airier.

I also think the light fixture doesn't quite go, but I'm awful at finding lighting that I like (well really that I like and can afford) so good luck!

I would *love* to have a real designer to come over and move things around. I feel like I have a pretty good eye for stuff, but space planning? Not so much.

Anonymous said...

things look good but i don't like the bookcases they are just not right. i think you either need a real antique or something more industrial.

maja said...

i love the new paint color and color scheme. well done!

greavesdesign said...

your space looks great.

if you want a temporary change on your fireplace I'm sure you could make a template and do a removable panel in front of the brick. I would do that and spare the 'old lady'!

I love re-working people's spaces with what they already have... just editing and seeing with fresh eyes can have a dramatic effect...

Ivan Chan Studio said...

Wow.

I saw your place on Apartment Therapy so I just had to come over to your blog (besides, the name is irresistible!).

:)

Take care,

I.

lucitebox said...

I absolutely love it!

Sometimes I daydream about hiring a designer to come over for one day and rearrange my house, just to have the nice surprise of seeing things in places I never would have thought to put them. Do you ever think about doing that?
Yes. Daily.

Oh, and I think I'd be more inclined to change the light fixtures than do anything drastic to change the brick. Ultimately, that may be the sort of thing a future buyer (should you ever need one) might love about the house.

This is lovely! It is really fun to look at your house. I visit often, but have never commented before today. I think the room just inspired it. I'm going with that gray in my hallway, I think.

art4friends said...

just a quick note to say that I absolutely love your blog, I think it is stunning and you have some great posts.

Adding you to my reader but thought it would be rude to do so before I said a quick hello!

Your house looks amazing and is in all my favourite colours!

Renee x

Kwil said...

I just stopped to smell a bunch of peonies yesterday after work. They are by far my favorite flower.

Love the lighter colour you chose. Which is funny, because I just went REALLY dark in my new livingroom...

Robbie said...

Like the room. If you want a one day decorator, trying looking for one who specializes in home staging. I found one in Houston who hires out by the day that way.

bluloo said...

I saw your post on AT and loved it. I was wondering where you bought the side table with the wooden legs and white top, the one that has the peonies on it? I love it!

Leah said...

Hi Bluloo -- I got the tray table at Canoe in Portland. I just checked their website (https://www.canoeonline.net), though, and it looks like they no longer carry it. I don't remember who makes it. Sorry!

Christine said...

The answer is yes, designers do hire themselves out for the day to do redesign. Some call it One Day Design. I know, because I do it here in NYC. =>

SFDC said...

I think it looks great, Leah. Do not paint the fireplace, though! The bricks and stone give the room great character. And while not necessarily eloquent, I think "anonymous" is onto something in his/her suggestions about the bookcases. Something with a bit more heft might really anchor the room. Regardless, it looks very chic as is. Nicely done!

Anonymous said...

The room is beautiful. Definitely paint the brick. I don't think you'd be sorry.

Sian said...

I really really love this room. The light fixings probably could do with changing (they don't look terrible though-there's no hurry), but don't paint the fireplace-it's beautiful. So fireplaces do need painting when they are uglier/more brick darkening the room, but I actually think that this fireplace anchors the room.

pve design said...

nice space to come home to.
pretty - serene colors.

tarheel said...

I love it! Ir's so light and airy and fresh. And it's a FAMILY room, so why would people find it hard to believe that a 14 and 11 year old would hang out in here?!

Heather said...

It looks terrific...great job! I think everything ties together so well...but it's cool and not too matchy matchy!

Leah said...

Thanks, everyone!

Bubbreport: The green throw blanket is from Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=23675244

Nicole said...

where did you get the gorgeous pot/plant stand in the corner. loves it.

Anonymous said...

Love the colors but boy is it knick-knacky in a busy British old lady way. The objects are beautiful in themselves but you're reducing them to kitch by displaying everything that you own. Prune it back!

I'm Nordic so I like a way more bare look than Americans usually but you've really kicked it up a notch.

Leah said...

Hi Nicole, the bullet planter is from Hip Haven.

Anon. 11:23: Wow. It must be nice to feel so superior.

Bex said...

Anon, busy British old ladies are cool.

Leah, I like all the versions of this room, but this seems most "you"--I mean, in the way that I know you via your blog.

paula said...

your home is stunning! So happy I came across your blog.

Marie said...

Leah -

Don't paint the fireplace - if you'd like to make it brighter, replace the logs in it with logs from a silver birch tree. That way you brighten the fireplace, echo the soft silver-grey of the walls, and add texture instead of eliminating it.

tula said...

um...when can i move in?

Pencils said...

I really like it, and I'm not a fan of gray as a household color. But this works for you. I love the aqua metal lamp by the bullet planter--I'm assuming it's vintage, I'll have to try to find one like that. I can put it by my aqua bullet planter.

I agree with what you said about not changing things too much in your 70 year old house. I hate when people rip out original stuff on a whim. Such as in those TV shows where they stage a house to sell--great job, rip out the original elements to sell the thing (heavy snark.) And as far as the lights are concerned, I love them too, but in these photos, I don't think they look great in this room right now. But they may look better in person.

Katie E. said...

It is looking really fantastic! I think you made the right decision on color. I especially love how the gray looks in the photos with the letterpress blocks.

I love that light fixture but I can see how it doesn't quite work with the rest of the room. It doesn't totally stand out, but I know you will replace it at some point :)

I wouldn't paint the brick, but you could do something more temporary (like a template covering) as some have suggested. That way you can change it as you please, and bring back the brick if you miss it!

chia said...

i LOVE the colors. It's exactly how I envision my new studio to look like (the teal, turquoise and green combo) - your post is inspiring me to get it done more quickly :D

Elyssa said...

WOW...just coming across this and it is BEAUUUUUUUUTIFUL! Loving that planter and the wall color is so lovely. Very nice!

m said...

The change in wall color was a good thing (what do 14yo boys know about style, anyways?) It really makes the furniture pop; before the brownish walls and wood tones were too close together...and it doesn't sound like you plan on refinishing everything in the near future ^_^ I think the light steel blue also enhances the reflection of light, which completely supports a modern feel, regardless of the presence of vintage accessories.

uhm but it does look a bit cluttered; like in the wall of shelves, I can't see all your displays, because the pattern of wallpaper is too distracting [color scheme competes], and the little marble-topped table blends into the slipcover and rug. Now that I reflect a litte bit, it reall just seems like there are too many accent colors on a neutral pallet: baby blues, grey, grey, green, yellow, purple, turquoise + natural wood.... Using more whites in the shelving display will really make the wallpaper showy [it's great! don't hide it] and reiterate what's already going on with the side tables. The close-ups are fabulous; and sometimes it can be hard to reconcile whole-room vision with individual display vision. Good luck! and great job so far =)

Wheelos said...

Wondering if you can post where you found for those cute aqua/gold and white/gold accent pillows. Been looking everywhere for something just like these. Thanks

 

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