DESIGN: THE MAKEOVER OF OUR LIVING ROOM - BEFORE & AFTER
So this has been an ongoing project for quite some time. We bought our 1930's semi detached house a few years ago in which time the sitting room has undergone a few cosmetic alterations. It's been a labour of love and I'm now happy with the way things are looking. We've completed six major jobs, which have vastly changed the look and feel of the space, totalling £1,500, all of which I wanted to share with you today.
This is a shot of front living room when we bought the house (minus the furniture). Although it's a relatively small room measuring 12ft x 12.5ft, we had the major bonus of lots of natural light, nice high ceilings and all in all a good deal of proportion. Apart from the old original pine cupboard there were no original features exposed at this point.
My dream is to one day live in a Georgian house so I wanted to bring a bit of mini grandeur to the room with some panelling, without it looking like a twee doll's house. I also wanted a nice off-white colour for the walls and floors (which would mean ripping the up the carpet) to make the most of the natural light and make it feel spacious, together with a hint of a rich dusky pink as an accent colour and some modern pieces too in the form of furniture and lighting. It was also quite ambitious but I really wanted to print some fabric by hand for a quirky touch (see how I got on with that here) and paint some artwork - gulp!
The budget was circa £1,500 which we spent in dribs and drabs over some time, out of this I also spent some on new thrift and soft furnishings. We did all of the work ourselves (I mean Sam did most of it) with the exception of some carpentry.
So the 6 main elements that made the biggest difference to the look and the feel of the room are as follows - I think doing these 6 things to any sitting room like this will make it feel so much bigger and more spacious, it certainly has done here. I wanted to keep the bones of the room light neutral which means I can easily re-paint the alcoves a different colour and then buy a whole new set of soft furnishings for a radically different look when I feel the urge.
1. THE FLOORING - It's always a big deal to start ripping up carpet because you never quite know what you're going to find, but there was no chance I was keeping the existing carpet so it had to go. We were amazed to find the original parquet flooring underneath and got to work on sanding the hell out of it. This took a couple of days using our trusty rented sander and small sander for the corners and edges.
2. THE FIREPLACE - The naf gas fire which had obviously been put in to cover the original got ripped out on day 14. I'm a sucker for an open fire so we quickly dismissed putting in a big old log burner (even though they're so much more energy efficient) because I love to hear the fire crackle. We actually got given this amazing grate by some friends which I was super happy with, it was a bit low so we just propped it up with some bricks which gives it a rustic sort of charm. I found the fireplace in a second-hand shop on the Kings Road for a ridiculous price of £40, including the inset which we painted black. We also made the concrete hearth!
3. SHELVING AND PELMETS - This was probably the most expensive part of the room but it made a MASSIVE MASSIVE difference. We decided to put a nice pelmet running all the way over the top of the PVC french door and windows (not my favourite feature to say the least) on the wall opposite the fireplace. This joined up seamlessly with the existing cornicing and still to this day looks like it's always been there. With the addition of the alcove shelving either side of the windows this has made the room feel so much more more luxurious and really come together.
4. PAINT - I wanted an off-white with a warm tone and I love Farrow & Ball's selection of whites so we went for ALL WHITE. We used Paint and Paper Library's RHUBARB which is a gorgeous soft dusky pink for the shelving.
5. PANELLING - I can take no credit for installing the panelling, Sam and my dad both worked together to fit it, with the help of a mitre saw it probably took a few days to measure up the panels and glue on the wood.
6. LIME WASHED PINE - OK I dislike anything pine, no offence but I really don't like the orange tinge it has so we decided to use a lime wax which lightened up the wood and allowed it to totally work with the off white, it honestly has made the biggest difference and I'm so glad to see the back of that orange pine. We used this WAX on the cupboard and the fireplace. You can use it on any interior hardwoods, it's super simple to apply, you just need to sand the surface to get through to the grain and then pop the wax over the top.
Amazingly we pretty much stuck to the original plan and are super happy with the new look. The only difference is the original rug which the whole scheme was based around has been replaced by a neutral rug. I managed to add in my hand printed fabric for the chair above and painted a simple black & white artwork.
New items I bought for the room included the big black sweep lamp from Made, some scatter cushions from H&M (I love their homewares!), a neutral rug from John Lewis and some cute little gold knobs for the cupboards (see below) from Anthropologie - the rest was all recycled from our old house and I bought a few thrift pieces such as the perspex coffee table, mirrored cube side table and little pink fringe detailed chair from an amazing charity shop on the Kings Road (where the £40 fireplace came from too) - in the old HMV music store, next to GAP and well worth a visit.
There are still a few little details to work on such as adding in the LED lighting to the alcove shelving and potentially some new curtains, but there's no rush....
So there it is! It's been a long but relatively simple process and one that is totally achievable in any house! If you have any questions on any of the above just leave a comment!
I'd love to hear what you think of the new look.
Photography by Dan Barker