The same week we got the news that the sale would close on our house purchase and the same week we found out we were pregnant with our first baby. So, by the time we moved into our first house in August 2010, I was in the middle of first trimester exhaustion. That made the move a huge challenge. You see: we knew we would only be able to afford to buy a house if we found a fixer, and our house was a definitely cosmetic fixer (i.e. it was a safe, healthy house, but it was outdated, dirty and ugly). We had 1 week off work in which to fix ‘er up before we were out of our old apartment for good.
We decided to start with the living room, so we could have one good room in the house in which we could feel at home. Our living room was challenging (here’s what it used to look like). Mr. Wetzel tore out the old mantel and removed the popcorn ceilings. We painted and cleaned up the place. And, once we had our furniture in place, the room felt truly transformed.
Let me take you on the tour!
We chose a grey paint color on the walls for a couple reasons. Since the living, dining and kitchen areas all flowed together, we wanted to choose one color that would work in all three areas. The medium grey was a perfect candidate. Also, we own so many colorful things, we didn’t want the paint color on the wall to compete with the unique decor and furniture that we own. The grey adds a degree of depth to the room, and it also lays down a mature backdrop to our playful and vibrant decorations. (The paint we used was a non-toxic line: Acro Pure by Miller Paint. Our color is called “Praise Giving.”)
With the dirty (and ugly) popcorn ceilings gone, we re-textured the ceiling and painted it a fresh white. It’s amazing how much this brightened the room and made it feel bigger. The light pours in every morning through the main, East-facing window in the living room.
- The yellow painting above the fireplace was the first (and only) piece of artwork I’ve ever purchased, from a sidewalk vendor named “O” on Venice Beach (in LA). I love how Andy-Warhol-esque it is. And how colorful.
- Our huge sectional sofa is a hand-me-down from Mr. Wetzel’s grandma.
- (Below) The tan chair is a swivel/rocking chair, and it was a find from the craigslist “free” section.
- The large bookshelf, coffee table and sofa table are all part of the IKEA Stockholm series.
- We recently added the second bookshelf for magazines, cookbooks and spill-over books. (We love books).
The fact that Scooter constantly gets into the window is the reason why the curtains never lay quite right. Ah, the sacrifices of having a window cat: ever-pulled-aside curtains!
Our entryway is big, and leads directly into the dining/kitchen area, so we wanted to make it a practical yet fun space. The closet keeps basic essentials: coats, a stroller, a cooler (and the like). I like it that not much obstructs your view of the living room, no matter where you stand; yet, having the couch act as a barrier helps to off-set the entryway…and hide unsightly storage.
I love having a bench by the front door so I have a place to sit when putting on my shoes: this “bench” is actually my grandmother’s hope chest, and it is also where I store the quilts that my mother has sewn for Mr. Wetzel and me over the years.
- The pillows are from World Market and Pier 1.
- The wall shelf is from IKEA.
- It’s kind of sad how my lamp shade tilts, isn’t it? I’ve been trying to fix it, but it’s unruly. The lamp was a craigslist find (it’s carved alabaster and I love it); the purple shade is from World Market.
- I love collecting gold frames from garage sales and thrift stores; these have family photos in them. (Read about the installation here).
- The white table was another find from the craigslist “free” section. We use it often for food and drinks when groups are over to visit or play games. The table has 2 additional leaves that will allow it to extend out longer.
Another view of our spacious entryway. It’s nice having a “landing area” set off from the rest of the room, especially in our rainy Washington weather. There’s plenty of room for stashing impromptu packages and gear, as well. Scooter’s scratching post lines up perfectly with the height of the sofa table.
These mirrors are helpful for last minute “checks” on our way out the door. These were an excellent deal: $15 from Home Depot for the Martha Stewart line. That’s cheaper than the ones they currently have at Target (and I prefer the black frames on these).
The sofa table is an exceedingly helpful storage area. Shoes and slippers underneath. Paraphernalia stacked on the shelf. On top, we often toss our mail, receipts, shopping bags and purses.
This little bowl is a nice quick place to toss our keys (so we don’t lose them). The carved wooden mail sorter (an antique store find) is used mostly to hold punch cards, stamps and other wallet-type items that we don;t want to lug around every time we go out.
The orange swivel chair, on the right, was a free craigslist find. The blue star pillow is from an IKEA in Europe; my sister gave it to me ages ago, and I’ve just always found it to be quirky and cool.
The orange chair on the left was a thrift store find ($25), and we have it’s matching companion in the nursery. I know this chair is not from a well-known line, but I like the vintage-modern feel of its design.
I’m also a big fan of floor cushions; this vibrant one is from World Market (can you tell I love this store).
Mr. Wetzel features some of his favorite figurines on the bookshelf.
I have a weakness for photo-booths. This perfect little picture frame often gets its photos switched out, each time I’m able to sucker others into my addiction. The dolls are ones I had as a little girl; I’ve always liked their “folk art” nature. The tile is from Turkey; we use it as a coaster.
Yes, we have a cd player. No, I do not own a docking station. (Want one though).
That’s just about it! I like putting little details around the room, like this green sequined star that hangs off our floor lamp. Or the rainbow colored throw blanket. I’m not really the type that likes to match or coordinate. I like for our decorations to have history and meaning, to tell stories, and to be fun and vibrant.
And the light. I love the light! Especially the way it greets me when I walk out each morning to make breakfast. Sometime I feel like I could drink up the early morning light and be full of peace for the rest of the day.
PS: Did you notice the light saber on top of the bookcase? It actually lights up. And makes light saber noises. Mr. Wetzel and his best friend have coordinating ones. ;o) I love my geeky husband.