Day Fifteen: Living Room Secrets

This is day 15 and I think it's high time to discuss our living room.  And by discuss, I mean I'll ramble on and you'll read it.  Or look at the pictures.  Or leave me a comment.  Or skip this entirely??  Whatever works for you!  Ha! 

I thought it would be kind of fun to tell you some of the stories and the secrets of what makes our living room work for us.  It's certainly not a standard in living room design, but it is full of pieces and treasures that reflect our little family's preferences.  I view this season as in our lives as a season that requires our home to serve us well.  With growing kids and an active lifestyle, I don't want our home to dictate how we live but instead I want it to meet our needs and create a safe place for us to land.  In other words, this is not our season for amazing furniture or expensive artwork on display.  There will be a season when we can choose things more carefully or spend a little more money to get what we love, but in this season I really want  this place to feel cozy, warm and lived-in.  When friends come over I want them to feel comfortable about putting their feet on the coffee table and curling up with blanket.  When my kids are playing, I want them to have free reign of our stuff, not having to dance around fragile things or worry that Mom will lose it if ____ breaks.  When Trav gets home from work, I want him to check his burdens at the door and know that he can let down here.  And when I wake in the morning, I want to enjoy the peace that a quiet house brings before my kids are up and the grind of the day begins.  That is the heartbeat of our space and it's why I'm constantly changing things up, looking for better solutions or arrangements to meet our ever fluxing needs.  

We only have one main living space so it needs to serve several purposes.  It's our "come on in" spot for everyone who comes over, a place to relax, a place to play, a place to share with friends, a place to have family movie nights, a place to connect after a long day, a place to gather our thoughts in peace and a place to feel like you are home, like you belong here.  
As the years have gone by, the arrangements have changed.  We used to need lots of floorspace for crawling babes and learn-to-walk toys.  We still need floor space, but now pockets of space will do.  I came up with this layout last winter when I was feeling something cozier and we've kept it ever since.  I like that it defines a smaller space for us, ironically.  
This part of our room used to hold a chandelier and our dining table.  Now it serves as an area for storage (our number one need) and a workspace for me.  It's kind of awkward because you have to pass through it after you walk through the door, so it's never been a great space for much furniture.  Sometimes I'd love to get rid of all of this and go back to just a table.  Or clean it all out and just have a few things on each shelf.  But storage wins out and I just don't have a home for everything that makes more sense than this, so this is what I'm working with for now.

  I found those bookshelves on Craig's List a couple of years ago and sent Trav after them.  They aren't IKEA cheap, but they aren't Ethan Allen solid either.  They are kind of a nice in between and most of all, they are a nice splash of black to fill up that long wall.  I'm always messing with the tops of the bookshelves, changing up the accessories and searching for a better blend. In person they need something to draw your eye up, because the ceilings are high, but the scale is tricky.  I know the candles on the right are too small, but don't hold your breath because they'll probably come down next week! I usually have seasonal things up there to balance it all, but right now it's kind of bare.  I love decorating for Fall but this year has slowed me down, I'm still putting everything back after the carpet install.
That desk is another one of those pieces that I wouldn't have chosen but it's sentimental to me.  It was my Grandpa's desk, whom I never had the chance to meet and it was in my parents house for all of my growing up years.  I would love to paint it one day, but for now it's ok in here.
Plus it was free, so there's that.
I've been more and more intentional about adding scripture wherever I can in our house.  I love these doses of perspective and truth all around us.  "The fullness of His grace..." is an unbelievable benefit that comes with salvation.  Truly He gives us one blessing after another in Christ!
I'm a big fan of pictures.  Some people aren't and that's ok but I love them around the house.  I love to see the kids when they were little and even to remember how different Travis and I are today from those days, just a few years prior.  I'm so bad about changing pictures out and updating them.  My blog seems to get the updated attention instead these days! 
For the last few years, this is how our living room looked.  I had a blend of browns and tans with a little blue as an accent.  It's been a good neutral palate but for at least a year I've been wanting to change things up and add some color in here.  I almost pulled the trigger on some different accessories multiple times but I always hesitated to do it because I wasn't totally sure what I wanted.  
This is not a great pic, I was already beginning to strip things away and the lighting in this pic is horrible, but I want you to see it for comparison's sake.  When the epic paint spill of 2013 happened, I was able to replace the area rug that got paint on it with a new one, paid for by our insurance.  I took that opportunity to get rid of this rug too and see if I could find something I really loved for the immediate future.  I looked several places and just could not find something I loved in the price range I wanted to be in, but again the Lord prompted me to wait and I'm so glad I did.  

On a random weeknight I ran to Homegoods after the kids went to bed, telling Trav I was just going to look at their rugs and see if anything grabbed me.  I had 30 minutes until they closed so my hopes weren't high.  I booked it right back to the rug section and within 5 minutes I spotted a rug I loved!  It was colorful and different than everything I had looked at and I just had a feeling it would work.  The only problem was it didn't have a price tag on it.  So I went to find an employee, who went to find a manager, and told her to meet me in the throw pillow aisle when she knew something.  Wouldn't you know in 5 more minutes I had 6 pillows in my arms that also seemed absolutely perfect! I loaded up a cart, drove them over to where the rug was hanging and decided that yes, they were perfect.  Exactly what I had been looking for and several of them were on sale.  Meanwhile the employee came over to say that she "thought" the price might be $XXX but she couldn't find the original tag either so she was just price matching it to a similar rug.  It's wasn't outrageous so I told her I'd take it but I was going to run back to the pillow aisle one more time.  While there I made my final choices and the original employee came back to tell me that she was wrong, someone else had the tag and actually it was $50 cheaper!  Score!!  So in case you are doing the math, in 25 minutes I bought a rug and six coordinating throw pillows that essentially I'd been pondering for over a year.  
And when I got everything home and Travis and I got it all swapped out, we loved it too.  It was just the bright pop of color I wanted without having to change everything we had on the walls or in the rest of the room. 
I loved the navy base in the rug and even remembered I had some old navy linen slipcovers I could add to the mix too!  They used to be on our bed when we were first married and I've hung on to them all these years in case they would work somewhere else.  I pulled them out and they were perfect! The scale of all the new pillows on our couch is much better now, these are all bigger in size and better in quality too.  All of them are down filled, which means they'll hold their shape much longer, and they all have removable covers so I can wash them.  Seriously, I hit the jackpot that night!  And I know it was the right purchase because not once have I second guessed it or regretted it and I still love the way it looks when I come in here every day!  So thankful for that Homegoods stop! 
A few of you have asked how I keep the clutter to a minimum or somewhat organized and this end table is a great answer to that question.  First of all, it was a $10 Craig's List purchase and it's a great addition to our room.  I chose it because it had room for a basket and two doors at the bottom with room for storage.  To make the cut at my house, almost every piece of furniture has to serve multiple purposes.  This end table holds all of the kids puzzles.  The bottom doors open to a stack of puzzles and the basket holds some odd shaped ones as well.  I like having them accessible to the kids so they can pull them out anytime, but I also love having a home for them that keeps them out of sight.  That's exactly why I chose this style end table over any other.  
The same could be said of this sofa table.  It was a donation from my cousin and it happens to match our hand-me down coffee table and matching end table.  It's nothing fancy and in fact it has hearts all around it that I would love to get rid of!  BUT I love that I can keep a few things handy here while remaining tucked away still, and if anything happens to this or the coffee/end table??  I won't be sad forever. And that is a great thing with little kids for this season in our home.  They are very kid friendly and functional.  Do I love them?  No.  Does they work?  Yes!  
My knitting basket found a home here and the white canvas boxes on the bottom hold some my crafting stuff too.  
We didn't have the coffee table out when our kids were crawling and walking but we recently added it back to the mix and I'm glad we did.  It's a great coloring spot or place for your feet or my coffee.  Before we got new carpet I used to let the kids eat breakfast out here sometimes, but that little perk has gone away now :)   Those black cubes were our "coffee table" for awhile too.  They have been in all of our homes and they often come in handy.  Right now we've got one permanently in front of that corner chair and although it's bulky, it makes a great reading spot!  I think we got those at Target about 9 years ago? 
I believe that our couch and this chair are the only furniture in this room that we have purchased new.  We got them on sale at Costco years ago, it was our anniversary and we had never owned new furniture! They were the floor model pieces so we got them marked down even.  They have help up pretty well and have doubled as a couch and bed for guests since we had the kids! I hope they keep going for years to come,  I would love to put them in a basement some day for kids to watch movies on or curl up with a book! 
This end table holds another basket of toys and a few years ago my sister and I swapped lamps when we were both getting tired of what we had! Ha!  I'm still happy with that swap.  
This chaise lounge was another Craig's List score.  I found it for our bedroom a few years back and when we lost our big room to make space for the kids, we moved it out here.  It's a pretty piece and I really love it.  It was new in someone's basement and lucky for me, it's fit into our home perfectly.  This is Travis' favorite reading perch in the morning! 
When we got a new to us TV a few years ago (not this one) we knew we needed to upgrade from the small table we were using as a TV stand.  I wasn't sure what to look for, but Ava was a baby and just starting to get into everything while pulling up on everything.  I decided we needed something that keep the TV out of her reach but still give us a little storage.  I scoured stores and of course my fave, Craig's List, but could not find what I liked for a price I liked.  Out of nowhere a Bible Study friend of mine sent a mass email to friends, showing their old entertainment center that was free to the first taker. As soon as I saw it I knew it would be perfect so I jumped on that email and we brought this big guy home!
It was a total answer to prayer, and free, so how could we pass it up??  It holds lots of electronic stuff but it also has a great shelf where I like to keep some of the kids' books for them to pull out.  
They use it all the time and even though it's not the latest and greatest TV console, not to mention it ways a million pounds, it has been perfect in here.  We have been so grateful for the way it's blended in and I love how much I can hide inside! 
We do have a few pieces of art in here, but they are Target pieces, nothing to write home about!  However I do love them and again they have enough neutral colors that they seem to go with my changing tastes.
 My favorite art is from my favorite people, however.  My brother in law took this picture of us in Charleston last Fall and I love it.  Someday they won't want to hold our hands in public and for sure Carter will probably tower over both of us.  But for now I love to have them "captured" in the little years.  

And that friends, concludes the tour of our living room!  I can't wait to move you into the kitchen soon because this room compliments our changes in there so well!!  At any given time this room is full of baskets of laundry, random toys, my laptop and coffee mug, kids running through and my husband watching sports!  It never looks this clean or pulled together, just so you know :) That's the magic of photography, it's easy to make it all look perfect!  I do try to pick it up before we go to bed, I love the feeling of a clean room to start the day, but as you've now seen what makes our living room special isn't the furniture or the accessories or the art.  It's special to us because it's where we live and gather and rest.  We've had hard conversations here, laughed a lot here, rocked sleeping babies here, snuggled up with our kids here, sat with family, friends and neighbors here and had many conversations with the Lord here.  That's why it's home to us and that's why we still love it! It's not at all the shape or the space that I would design if I could choose my dream space, but you know the Lord has made this room so dear to my heart and I know that's grace from Him.  He's helped me love living here and doing life in this space He's provided for us.  My peace here, and joy even, is all from Him and I'm thankful for the many gifts of grace He continues to show us here, year after year.

So thanks for walking through with me, I'd love to hear the stories of your living rooms too! What is your favorite thing about your living room?  Or what do you wish your living room communicated?
It's not too late to do something about that you know...Homegoods is open again tomorrow!  :) 

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