living room update

We’ve lived here for almost four years now, and I’ve never been completely happy with the living room. When we bought the house, the living room (and everything else) was painted a sickly shade of mint green.

If you look to the left in the photo above, you’ll see a very green fireplace. I had a devil of a time scraping all that paint off the bricks! Ugh. My mom and I used so many terrible chemicals that I lost count. When the chemicals splattered on my arm, I got burns on my skin. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

After I scraped most of the green paint off, I painted it with a 50/50 solution of water and Alabaster by Sherwin Williams. I painted the inside of the fireplace with high heat paint from Home Depot (if you use this, be careful — drips are hard to clean up). My mom sanded and stained the mantel.

I love the mantel now! We painted the rest of the room Popular Gray by Sherwin Williams, hung some pictures, and lived with it while we completed other projects (like toilets that didn’t work!).

awkward layout (and huge plant blocking the doors!)

But we never really loved this room. We never hung out here, mostly because the seating arrangement was awkward and because I could never sit still in here. There was always something that needed to be tweaked, something that just didn’t feel right, so I’d bounce off the sofa and move furniture around while John was trying to have a conversation with me. Anyone else do that??

After spending a lot of time thinking about this room and saving some money, we’re ready to focus on refreshing this space. Although we’re trying to limit expenses, we need to get a new couch (the old one is in terrible shape) and two new chairs. We’re also planning to reorient the furniture in the room, add a picture rail, and make built-in bookcases (more on those topics later).

The first task is to choose the furniture, light fixtures, and paint. I was struggling with the paint colors and the sconces for the window seat, so I pasted the options into a design board and added the furniture we plan to keep, the furniture we’re eyeing, and elements in the room that I intend to keep.

  1. Couch from Article.
  2. Coffee table from Article.
  3. Cozy chairs from Target. (We plan to get two.)
  4. Rug from Overstock.

The black sconce is from Rejuvenation, and the green sconce is from Beautiful Halo.

Once again, the design board rescued us! After seeing the paint colors against photos of the room, it became clear that Popular Gray is too griege for the furniture. Instead, we’re going with Alabaster for the walls, partly because we want to lighten the room while also using warm colors, and partly because the fireplace and the adjoining sun porch are already painted Alabaster. For the sconces, we decided to go with the interesting green ones. It’s a throwback to where this room began!

Keep an eye out for more posts about this room:

  • DIY chandelier restoration
  • Designing for traffic flow and conversation
  • Building built-in bookcases
  • Adding picture rail
  • Installing sconces without electricity

Enjoy your week!


  1. Maureen | 8th Aug 21

    I enjoyed your pictures and the tips for design. The dining room is lovely. I think that the photos of some of our important leaders give our children inspiration. Ruby Bridges was my favorite!

  2. living room: designing for traffic flow and conversation - Charming Cozy Home | 20th Aug 22

    […] we moved in, we painted the walls and re-did the fireplace, but we kept the same layout. We set our blue sofa against the wall, facing two chairs that flanked […]

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