Lessons Learned + Living Room Updates

Have you ever worked really hard on something only to have it fall short? You put in plenty of time and money. You're super excited to get to the finish line and see your vision come to a reality. And then as the end nears you start to notice something doesn't feel right... That's how I felt as I was decorating our living room.

When we first moved into our home a year and a half ago (see early photos of the living room here), I scrambled to find furniture and get the room put together so it wasn't bare. I thought I knew my decorating style and vision so I started picking out a couch, a rug, a coffee table โ€“ which was all good and exciting.

However, as things slowly came together, I didn't like how it was turning out. The style felt off  and like it wasn't me, and furniture felt a little mis-matched and crowded. I was buying to fill the space in our living room without thinking about our lifestyle and how we actually used the room. One piece I bought was a credenza on Craigslist for super cheap that I thought would make a great buffet with a bar. We rarely drink cocktails at home (we're more beer drinkers :)) so the bar was completely useless and we never used it.

I was frustrated and didn't understand how I missed the mark when decorating. I was disappointed in myself and that it meant I'd have to start over. That's when I really started to analyze my decorating style and be intentional with what we used and needed. I thought if I could just master my decorating style, I'll be much more happy with our home and how it looks.

modern rustic cottage living room

Living Room Updates

So here we are several months later, I now know exactly what my decorating style looks like and how to achieve it, and we're slowly making some updates to our living room!

We moved the other half of our sectional to the basement family room since it was just way too big for the room and that opened up a  lot of space (let that be a lesson to you to always measure your room 3 times and include room for walk ways before shopping). I sold the credenza and our old coffee table.

modern rustic cottage living room

We built our IKEA hack built-ins a couple months ago which I absolutely love. They create the focal point our living room needed and are still functional.

Once discovering my decorating style, I knew exactly what changes I needed to make so I was no longer guessing. Things are starting to feel much better.

1. Add Warmth to a White Room with Textured Wood Shades

Next, we installed new woven wood shades from Blinds.com. We have these in our kitchen as well and let me tell you, they are AMAZING. I wanted shades that warmed up the living room a bit (because we have lots of white) so I chose the color rustic jute with some texture and the style fits our beachy cottage style perfectly. My favorite thing about these woven wood shades is they still let light in even if they are down, but if you want to completely block out it out, there are liners you can put down as well. This is a great feature in the evenings for more privacy. They have several color options to choose from (and free samples!) but I'm so glad I went with rustic jute. I had such a hard time deciding on a color but they provided a designer you work directly with and she was so helpful and made the process super easy. Can't recommend them enough!

modern rustic cottage living room
modern rustic cottage living room
modern rustic cottage living room

2. Lighting Gives a Room Personality

Another favorite update in our living room is the new star pendant light from ATG Stores. We finally replaced the ugly outdated ceiling fan!

Lighting is like shoes to an outfit. It pulls the whole room together. We never used the ceiling fan and I'm not a big fan of them anyway (ha! no pun intended), so I knew I wanted a pendant light instead. The star pendant is fairly popular and some of my favorite room designs on Pinterest had one, so I thought it would be a good option for our living room. It's a little traditional yet whimsy so I think it adds some personality to the space.

I found a star pendant at ATG Stores and it received great reviews so I decided to go for it. I chose the medium size in clear seedy glass (textured instead of transparent glass) and I'm so glad I did. It looks so good and is just as I pictured! It seriously makes me so happy every time I walk in the room.

modern rustic cottage living room
modern rustic cottage living room
modern rustic cottage living room

A little tip when you're shopping for lighting...I like looking online because there are so many more options than in-stores and you can measure your space to see how each light would hang. Pendants are great because you can adjust how low it hangs which was important for me since our light is in a traffic area and we don't have tall ceilings.

3. Art With Meaning

We have a long white wall in our living room that I've really struggled with decorating. It's so long that it's hard to fill the space properly. I didn't want to do a gallery wall because I want to keep the look fairly minimal and gallery walls tend to look busy. However, buying a piece of art that's big enough is very spendy. I was on Instagram one day and NicholeLynneDesigns posted a photo of this horse photograph her sister had taken. Horses are special to me because my grandpa had them when I was a kid and I enjoy riding them. I asked if she was willing to share the photo and she was!

I had the photo printed at Shutterfly and decied to also have them custom frame it. I looked around at prices for large frames to buy and they were expensvive, so Shutterfly was the best option. They have sales often where you can get 40% off your order!

modern rustic cottage living room
modern rustic cottage living room
modern rustic cottage living room

I was a little nervous about the print quality on such a large photo, but when it arrived in the mail it was perfect and not a touch blurry or pixelated. I think it's the perfect piece for this wall. I'm really happy with how it looks.

Future Projects

We've made some serious progress and I'm already loving it so much more. On the list of future updates is a new couch with a lighter color (more inline with my decorating style) the end of August. We will move our current sofa to the basement family room which will be perfect down there. I'd like to get a couple chairs for some additional seating as well for the living room, a neutral rug, and eventually I'd like to remove the carpet and replace it with hardwood floors.

Have you had a similar experience as I have while decorating? Tell me about it in the comments!

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3 simple living room updates + mistakes I made