The past several months I've been busy working on a living room makeover.
It all started last year when I had a mindset shift regarding decorating.
We were about a year in our new home and I was tired of a lot of things. I was tired of spending hours decorating, trying to make it perfect and failing miserably. I was tired of spending lots of money of decor, only to have it shoved in a closet a few months later because I didn't like it. I was tired of not feeling happy or proud of our home and the way it looked.
So I decided to do something about it and I came up with my own take on capsule wardrobes after experimenting with them, except for the home. If you aren't familiar with capsules, the main principles are buying only select items you love that work well with your lifestyle and combine to create a cohesive wardrobe, or in this case, home. As a result, you spend less time and money and have a home you love.
It was just what I needed.
With my new outlook on decorating, I set out to redecorate our living room following this new capsule system that I created. The system consisted of finding your signature style first, and then putting together an entire plan decorating BEFORE buying anything.
The focused plan I put together was the winning difference between just another failed attempt at decorating our living room and actually creating a space I love that fits us.
Today, I'm sharing all the nitty gritty details of our living room evolution the past couple years and how we got to the beautiful living room you see today!
4 Tips to Decorate a Living Room You Love
1. Find My Decorating Style
Before, my style was all over. I liked many different styles and couldn't decide on one, so it ended up being a random mix that didn't work well together. So, first thing I did was get clear on my signature decorating style (here is a super handy worksheet planner that will help you identify your own style). I settled on modern rustic cottage for my style. Here is what my Pinterest inspiration board looks like.
My style elements included:
- light walls
- blue and grey colors
- warm wood tones
- rustic wood accents
- cognac leather
- clean modern lines
- black accents in small doses
- nautical/rope decor
You guys, this was KEY in setting myself up for success later as I was selecting new furniture and decor. Finding your style is seriously the secret sauce behind a home you love and a step you can't skip.
I even created a whole course called Find Your Signature Decorating Style that makes it super simple and breaks it down step-by-step for you.
Now that I knew my style and what items aligned with it, it was time to get rid of the extra stuff I no longer needed or used. I sold a few pieces of furniture on Craigslist and was able to repurpose a few things for different areas of the house. Our sectional moved to the basement family room which worked out perfectly since we did not have seating down there yet.
Our living room before was overcrowded with furniture we didn't use and with my new mindset, I only wanted the necessary pieces we actually used. The credenza/bar was simply taking up space, and the straw chair was an accent chair no one sat in.
3. New Living Room Plan
I went back to the drawing board and wrote a list of everything new I'd need. First, I settled on a layout that flowed much better (no more 2 sofas/sectional) and then decided on new furniture. Then, I decided on textiles and lighting, and finally decor. We had been wanting to replace the old carpet with hardwood flooring, so I added that to the list as well.
Here's everything I wrote down that I needed to get or make:
- chair (borrowed from the office)
- throw pillows
- pendant light
- leather pouf (borrowed from basement family room)
- plant stand
- coffee table decor
- wall art
- hardwood flooring
This was just a list at this point. I didn't have exact sources yet as I still had to do research and find them. Which leads me to the next tip...
4. Research Products
This is where decorating can get complicated. How do you know what kind of sofa or rug to buy? Luckily, because I found my signature decorating style and set a clear plan for color palette, fabrics, patterns, textures, and styles, I knew exactly what I was looking for so shopping for furniture and decor was super simple.
In my Find Your Signature Decorating Style course, I teach you how to research furniture and decor and exactly what to look for based on your style, so you are never clueless what kind of couch to get or what rug would look best.
The Living Room Updates
We started our makeover with the built-ins and actually made them ourselves as an IKEA hack. I LOVE them.
Next, I swapped out the cheap sheer curtain panels with something a little more natural and warm and with more privacy in the evening. I have Blinds.com wood blinds in our kitchen and love them for many reasons, so I knew they'd be great for our living room and they fit great with my style and overall plan. I love how the wood instantly warms up the room. You can read more about the wood blinds I chose and why I love them here.
Then, I finally got rid of the outdated ceiling fan and replaced it with a pretty star pendant light from ATG Stores. The pendant repeats the black lines in the coffee table. Remember the "black accents in small doses" from tip 1. finding my style above? It's all coming together...
For flooring, I chose warm matte oak engineered hardwood from BuildDirect.com. We have original hardwood in the bedroom and office, but there wasn't any under the carpet in the living room. The original hardwood is a very warm, almost orange-y color, much like the wood trim throughout the house. This orange-y color isn't my favorite (that's an understatement), and I contemplated painting the trim white for a while, so I ultimately decided not to try and match the wood trim or original hardwood with our new flooring. I'm not even sure if this is against some kind of interior design "rule", but I didn't want to be forced into choosing a hardwood color I didn't even like, just to try and match the original flooring and trim (that we might paint). So I chose a flooring that I really liked that still complimented the original floors and trim. Jordon did an awesome job installing it, and we even decided to paint the trim on the spur of the moment since we had to remove it anyway during installation, so I got my white trim! What a difference flooring makes. As I look back on old pictures, the new hardwoods instantly update the room. I'm so happy with our flooring choice and how beautiful it looks.
Our new Sitka sofa from Article is one of my favorite things in the makeover. Its modern clean lines align with my style and it fits the space a thousand times better than the big bulky sectional. Plus it's soooo comfy. I wrote an entire post on how to buy a couch you can read here.
I loved our blue rug, but I wanted something a little more neutral to better fit my style. It also needed to hide dirty paw marks. I found this new Nourison Lunette rug from RugsDirect and love how cozy it is. The subtle pattern and texture is just enough to feel warm and inviting without being boring, and it has a slight mid-century modern vibe I like. Rugs Direct was kind enough to offer you 15% off your purchase so be sure to take advantage of that :)
Pillows are such an easy way to add pops of color and pattern without a big commitment. To bring in more blues, I chose a couple blue printed pillows (blue stripe pillow, blue patterned pillow) from Tonic Living, one of my favorite sources for quality pillows. I already had the tie-dye pillow and black pillows that helped tie in the black in the pendant and coffee table legs perfectly.
I'm keeping decor minimal except for the built-ins. I did pick up my favorite plant stand from West Elm and got myself a fiddle leaf fig plant. Wish me luck keeping it alive! :/ Any tips are appreciated as I hear they are finicky plants.
The full length mirror was actually a DIY we did. The mirror magically makes the room feel bigger, plus it adds the perfect amount of rustic wood, another one of my style elements.
We don't have a ton of wall space for art, but I did want a large scale print above the couch. I like horses and saw someone on Instagram share a photo of this horse picture they had taken. She graciously gave me a copy of the picture and I had it printed and framed at Shutterfly. So easy!
I'm keeping the coffee table for now because I like it and it works perfectly. However, it's on my list to get a new one eventually that is round and solid wood, since our current one is not solid wood and is starting to peel.
I borrowed the leather pouf from the basement family room and the blue tufted chair is also borrowed from our office. I'm keeping the chair in the living room util we can get 2 cognac leather tufted chairs, but that may be in a year or so.
It seriously looks like a different room! It just goes to show that a few small changes make a world of a difference. Every time I walk in our living room it makes me happy. That's the power of decorating and how our homes should make us feel. Our living room turned out how I had imagined it would look and it was super streamlined to execute because I had my set plan that I followed. I knew exactly what was on my shopping list and what to look for, all because I found my signature style FIRST.
In my course, Find Your Signature Decorating Style, I will teach you the exact plan that I used to decorate my living room from start to finish. This system that I teach applies to any room on any budget.
If you have any questions at all about the room itself or the process, please ask away in the comments! I know this was a ton of information.
Do you have a room in your home you're struggling with like I was?