Monday, July 23, 2012

Redecorating the Living Room

Well, we finally did it.  After years of nagging discussion, Mike and I finally got around to redecorating the living room.  We've been in this house 19 years with the same white walls, the same bland window treatments, the same entertainment center and the same furniture (albeit with a slip cover re-do a number of years ago).

I'm going to let you in on a secret, my husband hates change.  The running joke is that what makes our marriage so successful is getting a new wife would require A LOT of change.  When he looks at something that is horribly outdated he really just doesn't see how bad it looks, until he sees how wonderful it can look!  I love how every time I twist his arm convince him to redecorate he admits how great it looks.  Of course he then adds (tongue in cheek) "I don't know why you didn't ask me to do this sooner?"

Here is what we had to work with.

The view of the living room from the dining area

Sorry - I forgot to take the "before" picture before Mike started.  This at least gives you the general idea of what our entertainment center wall looked like.

Don't you love the white on white? I did intend to put up a valance when I bought them.  19 years ago.

As you can see we had a lot to do.  I also wanted to keep our budget down.  The good news - we spent $415 to accomplish this transformation!

Here is where we spent our money:
  • Window treatments - $175
  • Paint - $65
  • Art work - $145
  • Cushions - $30 for zippers (the material was purchased four years ago with Christmas & birthday money)
Here's the after pictures.

View from the dining area

New TV & stand replacing the rather large pine entertainment center 

New window treatments

Window Treatments
     If you look closely you may notice that the window treatments are the same as in our kitchen.  Since our living room and kitchen/dining room open up into each other I carried the same color palette through both rooms.  I fell in love with these curtains a number of years ago but put off buying them for the living room because of cost.  

     Murphy's law - when I went to Lowe's to pick them up they were gone.  Discontinued.  No longer available.  Have you ever seen a grown woman throw herself on the floor and howl?  Fortunately the patrons at Lowe's didn't get to witness that either although I was pretty close.  Do you know what stopped me?  I spied the bargain bin with them marked down to........$5 a piece.  While it took me trips to two different Lowe's I was able to find all the pieces I needed for $25.  

     For the blinds I used Levelor Wooden Blinds that are custom cut in the store.  MUCH cheaper than special order and they'll cut them while you wait.

     When it came to picking out the paint color, the experts recommend using using varying shades of the same color for rooms that flow together.  The wall that the TV sits on is connected to the red wall in the kitchen so we decided to carry the red all the way through.  I also took the other kitchen paint to the store and asked for the same thing only half color.  Guess what, you can't tell the difference!  We should have just used our existing paint and saved ourselves some money!  That's ok, it's painted and that's all that matters.

     While there was no financial cost for the actual painting,  the physical and psychological costs were astronomical.  At least once an hour I heard "Have I told you how much I despise painting?"  to which I would answer "Why didn't you tell me before?  I would have NEVER asked you to paint if I would have realized how much you disliked it."  There is also a little matter of a sore wrist (requiring the appropriate amount of sympathy), however since he broke his bench pressing record today he no longer gets to complain about the sore wrist.

     When we first moved into our house we bought This End Up furniture.  It's served us well and we still like it.  The downside is even though I've requested multiple samples I haven't been able to find cushions they make that I like.  Plus it would cost about $1,000 for us to buy the new cushions through them.

     A few years ago I decided that I would make slip covers for our cushions instead.  For about $300 I bought enough material for 10 cushions.  You'll notice that the floral cushions are the same in the before and after picture but I did actually re-make them.  The before cushions were made 2-3 years ago and were faded so I made the  new ones.

     Since the material was bought a long time ago with Christmas money I didn't include it in our cost.  I did however break down and buy new zippers.  My original thought was to reuse the old zippers and write about frugal ways to decorate.  My tip - buy new zippers.  You'll save yourself a lot of headaches!

     Gordman's is where we buy most of our prints.  Did you notice the two floral prints?  They both had minor scratches on them.  When we got to the checkout I pointed them out and received an extra 20% off.  Mike took a red Sharpie to them when we got home, you would never know they were damaged!  The picture above the TV is my absolute favorite!  I'm going to keep my eye out for matching smaller prints and potentially swap them out for the poppies down the road.

TV and Stand
     I did not include the TV in the cost of the redecorating because that was something we would have bought whether we redecorated or not.  Last year our TV broke, we didn't have the money to buy the TV we wanted.  Our solution was to buy a new TV that would work in our bedroom (we needed a new TV there as well) and use it in the living room until we could afford the TV we wanted.  

     We didn't have quite enough money saved up to get the exact set-up that we wanted so we compromised a little bit.  We bought the TV and stand that we wanted but didn't buy the Blu-Ray player or a new receiver for the surround sound.  We'll continue to save the money and pick those up at a later date.

General redecorating tips

  • Focus on what's important to you - The blinds were a "must" in my decorating plan.  The cushions were pretty worn and would have had to be replaced sooner or later, the paint was something I wanted but not required and the TV wasn't a necessity at all.  When working with a limited budget I would recommend prioritizing your wants/needs and then working down the list.
  • Reuse what you can - you'll notice that I didn't change my lamps, shelves, vases, etc.  I still like them and they still fit in with my decor.  By not replacing the knickknacks I saved myself quite a bit of money
  • Re-purpose items from different rooms - see the candle on the coffee table?  That was actually in a different room but wasn't working that great.  I've moved it to the living room and like it MUCH better.

Since we finished the room I've decided that the front door sticks out like a sore thumb.  Guess what's next on the list?


  1. I love this! I really like the picture above the TV, too, and the red wall. Great deal on the curtains, too--I love it when that happens. I got my living room curtains on clearance, too. It's like it was meant to be, ;).

    1. Thanks. It does feel like it was meant to be. I'm going to be in St. Louis sometime in August. Do you want to try and meet up again?

  2. $415 for all that!? That's a very good investment if I say so myself.I just found your blog through the simply link party!

    Love and Whimsy

    1. I was pretty pleased with myself. I had originally estimated that the window treatments were going to cost about $500 which is one of the reasons I put it off so long. Doing the whole room for less than that was quite the bonus :)

      Thanks for stopping by.

  3. i can tell how excited you are to finally have some change there! i love the color in the window treatments and the tv wall. good for you! i have to tell you, your blog name cracks me up and your comment about a new wife requiring work/change made me lol.

    1. I'm glad I could provide you with a chuckle today :) Thanks for the feedback on the blog name. I felt like it pretty much summed it up. No matter how hard I try, Wonder Woman I'm Not!

      Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Wow you did a great job love how much room you have too :)thanks for linking up to Creative Mondays...

  5. As I started looking at your pictures, I realized that we have the same furniture. I am looking to recover our cushions, too. Did you use a pattern or is there a tutorial? Yours look great!

    Thanks for sharing the results!

    1. Thanks! I've been debating doing a tutorial but lost the card that the pictures I took was on!

      For my pattern I ripped apart one of the original cushions and used that. It's not really that hard but I'm going to admit it was a little intimidating!

      If you aren't in a terrible hurry I wouldn't mind doing a tutorial but it's probably going to take me a while. Otherwise if you want to drop me an e-mail I'll try and walk you through it.

      Good luck!