Tales of a Tract Home: Living Room Refresh

For six years we've lived in this little tract home of ours, and I've felt pretty content about the way we've placed our hand-me-down furniture within it. I've always known full well that at some point we would improve upon each space as we had the money and time. And always in the back of my mind I'm rearranging rooms and redecorating my home mentally any way, and often that is enough to tide me over until we can afford to work on a project. I think I enjoy dreaming about a project just as much as I enjoy seeing a project come to fruition.

But towards the beginning of this year, I started to get an itch that started in the part of my brain that craves creativity and fresh ideas. I noticed that as I passed our front room (our living room) that I wasn't spending much time in there. I realized that when our Home Teachers (visitors with a spiritual message who visit from our church each month) came to visit, that I felt a small sense of dread at inviting them into the room. And when those little thoughts grew into a full blown, "If I have to look at one more BROWN thing, I'm going to SCREAM," meltdown then I knew it was time for a change. And I realized that this humble little room would have to be updated and updated soon.

Here's a peek at our super sleek and sophisticated couch with the BROWN slipcover that matched every other brown item in the room. Yeah, try not to be jealous of its awesomeness:

It looks like this when uncovered. Seriously it was pristine condition because my amazing mother-in-law takes such good care of all of her furniture, and we have loved having a free couch all this time to fill the space in our front room.

But you can see why I felt so eager to change things up.

Sweetly my loving and very supportive husband agreed that we could and should make some changes. First we began by picking paint. Paint is the easiest and sometimes cheapest way to make a change in a room. I started by looking through the paint colors I had collected in my Pinterest board HERE. I was particularly drawn to Jen Allyson Nugent's room HERE on her "The Project Girl" blog, as well as, the use of grey and greige appearing in so many homes since I was trying to get away from "brown." These are some of the colors we considered:

Our paint journey was both frustrating and a bit of a disappointment, but more on that subject later as I'd rather share the rest of our living room journey in this post. Let's just say we didn't quite love what we ended up with initially and it took some work to get to the point where we appreciated the color we selected (hint: Abalone).

But I think the real turning point in this room took place when our new couch was delivered. Having decided that our hand-me-down slipcovered, floral couch wasn't going to cut it any more, we purchased a lovely new couch, which would serve as the foundation piece for the entire room. Here is the couch we purchased:

 Source: RC Willey

While I would NEVER put a light couch in a high-traffic area, after living in this house for six years we realized that the front room had turned into a kind of a "company only" room and it doesn't require darker, washable material because the kids rarely spend time in there. And so this glorious couch made the cut for the living room. I liked the sleek look of the tightly upholstered cushions and rolled arms.

Initially I was thinking of a color scheme for the front room that looked more like this and figured I would simply remove the decorative pillows from the couch that came with it and exchange them for some happy navy bedding pillows and bold yellow, outdoor pillows from Kmart. I really liked the energy in this room:

Source: Olio Board

But I quickly realized that I preferred the softer tones of the slate blue couch pillows than the louder navy/yellow color scheme I was going for. I spent so many hours going from home decor place to home decor place. And even after all that high-end browsing, I ended up at Target. I knew I could stretch my budget so much more if I could find what I was looking for there.

I returned everything I had previously purchased at Target for my initial navy and yellow room to customer service and then went in search of everything slate blue in the store. Starting with a clean slate helped a great deal. I realized that what I wanted was a "beach cottage/coastal living" style in the front room to enhance our little tract home's cottage feel. I also wanted a slightly upscale or "luxe" feel to the room so I looked for items that were a little more sophisticated like these curtains:

Source: Target

I was lucky in that Target was clearing out several items that were "beach" in nature. As I shopped I would pull down items from the shelves like an accent table and place lamps on top of it and accessories. I'd squat down and squint to see how items would likely look in my space. Then I'd change it out until I liked the combination I was seeing. I must have looked so strange in the store, but I really wanted to make sure I was bringing home items I really loved. I didn't simply shop the home decor section either. I found two beautiful rectangular pillows in their outdoor section in the exact slate blue I was looking for. I walked the entire store several times looking for unique pieces to bring into the space.

I brought everything home and started to put it together in the room. I brought together all my ideas in one place and started to move things about in the room to get a feel for how items worked together:

Living with items for a few days helped me think more about what I was trying to accomplish. One of the items I wanted to include in the new room was my piano, but I was nervous that a large, shiny black piano would look out of place in the cottage room. We moved it into the front room on a furniture dolly and let it sit for a few days. I decided to dress it down with burlap covered lamps and brought in several old Pier 1 mirrors I have been storing (you can see them in the lower part of the photo). I'd have my daughter hold them up so I could see what they looked like. I was surprised that by using the wooden mirror, it looked far more casual than it did initially.

I decided that I also wanted a big piece of "art" behind the couch, but I couldn't afford anything really nice that large so I decided on a photo wall. I went to Michael's and bought several large frames in white which hold 8X10" photos. Thankfully they were on sale for $5 each. I taped several pieces of white paper on the wall so I could get a feel for how they would look:

Then I had my husband and daughter hold up the actual frames so I could visually see how they would work. I realized that three frames tall was too much for the room:

I hung the frames on the wall and let them sit for a bit before I decided how to dress them up:

Once I got all the elements in the room, I spent a few days sitting in the room watching the light change, seeing what still needed to be updated. Frankly, it was a snooze fest. Everything was so perfect that I was bored just being in there. I knew that I needed to liven it up a bit. The first way to do that was to find a unique piece. I hadn't yet settled on a coffee table. Initially I was thinking something like this, but realized that it was also "too perfect."

 Source: Overstock.com

So instead I went to my local antique mall to find the perfect piece. After returning all the decorative pillows to K-mart, I had $50 in cash to spend. As I entered the antique mall, I knew I only wanted to spend $50 on something that would work for a coffee table. I walked up and down several aisles and found several trunks, tables, and suitcases that would have worked; but they were all more pricey than my budget and not quite what I was looking for. Then I saw it in the corner of a little both, tucked away, with several items stuck on top: a painted trunk. I stepped closer for a peek at the price tag: $45.95. I couldn't believe it. I asked the two older women running the store to help me move it. It was pristine inside and was already spray painted in a lovely blue that would match my room. HEAVEN!

Even then I felt the room needed more, so I added some plants to both the coffee table and near the piano, and a nubby brown blanket from Walmart to the couch to bring down the "luxe" just a bit and give it a "lived in" feeling. And finally we switched out the stock room lighting for a low-profile pendant light. Instant contentment, and that's how I knew the room was complete. Here is a peek at how the room ended up:

This room ended up in such a different place than what I initially planned for, but now I love it. Here's where I purchased the items you see in the photos:

* Couch: RC Willey
* Curtains: Target
* All Lamps and shades: Target
* Beach items: Target
* Frames: Michael's
* Wood Framed Mirror: Pier 1 (older)
* Small White Frame: Target
* Plants: Home Depot
* Trunk: Antique
* Chairs: Robert's Crafts
* Rectangle Pillows: Target
* Brown Blanket: Walmart
* Grey Accent Table: Target
* Blue Accent Table: won at an event
* Dictionary: Vintage
* Decorative Accent on coffee table: Vintage
* Large Sisal Rug: Pier 1 (older)
* Small, decorative sisal rug: Target
* Pendant Light Fixture: Lowe's
* Framed Art on the Wall: Art created by my father
* Mercury Glass Curtain Rods: Target


  1. It looks great - it was worth searching round for the perfect items.

  2. GORGEOUS!!!! You did an amazing job!!!

  3. I love the beachy feel without being hit over the head with a "theme". I am trying to do that in my bedroom and have decided to do a light aqua on the walls with crisp white curtains and duvet cover. I am going for a watery beach glass look and love that you found all that stuff at target.....I'm going to look there.TFS!

  4. It is beautiful, Jen!!! I love the color scheme.

  5. This really works! Wonderful look and feel, I enjoyed reading through your process, thanks!

  6. I loved reading about your decorating journey!! I was smiling and nodding the whole time because it sounds so familiar! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Thanks for sharing your process. The room is beautiful!

  8. It looks lovely. well done

  9. You have created a beautiful room. Thank you for sharing your process too, lots of great tips :).

  10. That was a fun post! The pillows and curtains really pull it all together. My fav piece is the trunk you found, and how awesome that it was just the right color.

  11. I love how your room turned out! The colors are very soothing, and I love me some Target finds. (And the trunk - score!)

  12. Such a beautiful transformation. Love the trunk!

  13. I really, really love that couch! You did such a great job- the room is beautiful!

  14. JLBOhio12:27 PM

    It's beautiful!! I think you will enjoy it for years! Thanks you for sharing the room and the process. We have a room that we also need to redo and this gives me some ideas on how to go about it.

  15. Love how your finished room came together. That trunk is the perfect finishing touch! :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...