Thursday, August 14, 2014

Living Room Makeover: Part I

I’m not sure if something qualifies as a “makeover” if it was never “made” to begin with. Nevertheless, I’ve been waiting procrastinating for a long time to get our living room in order. I won’t divulge exactly how long that’s been, but let’s just say it’s long enough to be embarrassing.

You see, when we moved into our new place, the old shelving units/entertainment system that worked perfectly in our old apartment no longer worked in the new space. It new wall is too big, the old unit now too small. The configuration also worked against the width of the space, a feature of the room that is actually quite fantastic. So I knew from the beginning that I wanted something new for our living room, which is why, as you can tell from the “Before” photo, we never even bothered unpacking.

My logic was that I would only have to pack everything away again in order to put in the new living room and then unpack for a second time. Why do all that unnecessary work? Let’s just wait until the new setup is put in, then we can unpack once and for all.

Well, the thing about waiting is that you could be waiting for a long time, longer than you’d expect or even prefer, because life happens. And while in the beginning you may be just waiting for enough free time to tackle the task, eventually you find yourself just procrastinating it because the longer you wait, the more daunting the task becomes. Before you know it, you’ve pushed it off for so long that trees have changed colors, flowers have bloomed and gone, and seasons have came to pass.

Thankfully, my cautionary tale changed course to a happy ending! This week I finally put aside all excuses and tackled the living room head on.

First, paint. The look I wanted for our living room is bright, simple, and clean. To do that I knew I wanted white furniture instead of our old dark wood look. I actually hadn’t intended on painting the living room, I thought the as-is white/ivory would be fine. I soon realized though that white furniture on white wall was too flat and kind of boring. It was, in a word, blah. I needed some contrast--just enough to make the white furniture pop but not too much that the contrast would be stark. I knew just the right paint color for the job: Martha Stewart “Sharkey Grey" (available at Home Depot).

If I had a favorite go-to paint color, Martha Stewart’s “Sharkey Grey” would be it. It’s an excellent shade of light grey, perfectly balanced between warm and cool. I had helped our friends choose it for their renovation, and loved it so much that I had already used it for our own dining room.

I debated whether I should paint all the walls or just that one wall where everything was going to be against. I decided to go with the latter for two reasons: 1) because our house has somewhat of an open floor plan, painting beyond this one wall would essentially mean I'd have to paint almost the entire first floor (too much work, no thank you) and 2) this one wall would be large enough to serve its purpose (providing contrast), neutral enough to compliment the rest of the as-is walls, and having the rest of the walls as white/ivory would help keep the room light and bright (going all-grey would likely make the room drab and dull).

Once the paint was up, it was time to put the furniture in place. 

Ikea's Besta series had just the look I wanted, for the winning Ikea price. I used three shelf units together, with chrome Besta legs and Besta Tofta high-gloss doors.

I love the new look! It's modern, clean, simple, and bright--everything I wanted. Most of all, it works so much better with the width of the wall.

In this last photo you can see the contrast in the paint color better against the other walls. I think it works great; I love how complimentary the two colors are.

Now that the labor-intensive part is finished, the remaining work is in the final touches (the fun part!) I have some ideas for the top of the unit as well as for the walls. We could also float the tv on the wall, but we'll see! Stayed tuned for Part II :)

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