My Living Room Plans & How I'm Bringing Back The Neutral
Since we moved into our house back in 2015, the living room has been redecorated three times. It’s been flipped back and forth between a seating area and dining room more times than I can mention - I’m pretty sure it has serious identity issues. It’s been eclectic boho, with hanging macrame and cast iron bulls head for decoration. It’s been pale pink, with a vintage plate collection sprawled across the wall. It’s been a plant filled, botanical wallpapered dining room. And most of all, it’s had more parties in it than the Hugh Hefner Playboy Mansion. But with slightly less scantily clad guests. Well, most of them anyway.
It has to be said that we’ve had a few parties in the three years that we’ve lived in this house. Inviting people en masse to your home to socialise has many benefits. One, the only food that needs to be provided is canapés. I have a set of six which I make that I can pre prepare for 40 people within a lightening two hours. True fact. No three course dinner required. Two, it cuts out that age old issue of who to invite for a dinner party by killing all birds/friends with one stone. Can we invite those people to dinner and not invite those people? Will they be offended? But they’ve invited us before, we need to invite them back! But they don’t get on! Argh. The eternal political friend group issues solved in one invite. And finally, three, upon arrival (after taking their alcohol and floral/candle gift) you can direct people immediately towards the drinks, instructing them to help themselves and then spend the rest of the night making yourself Aperol Spritz. Winning all round.
Parties aside, the living room has struggled for identity and style and I’ve never spent enough time working out the best way it could be utilised. It’s always been the middle room, a bit of a thoroughfare, a door at either end of the space - one leading to the dining room and one coming in from the hall. Despite this, it’s my favourite room in the house. It’s almost perfectly square, with a high ceiling and an original fireplace surround (although the fireplace itself has been replaced). There’s a huge Georgian sash window which has original shutters and the floor is laid with engineered walnut. It gets loads and loads of light and never feels gloomy or cold. It’s definitely time to give it a little TLC.
From a family friendly point of view, Joe’s main issue is with the sofa. I’ve said before that if Joe were to go to a sofa showroom and choose one for our home, he would return with a highbacked, bouffant padded leather number with electric foot ledges and back recliner. And I’m not even joking. Not even a vaguely cool retro one like Joey has in Friends. A proper, net curtains, three piece with a pouffe type of sofa. The sofa which is currently in the room is my absolute best ever eBay buy. It’s a vintage 1990’s Natuzzi corner sofa (slightly traumatised by describing 1990’s as vintage) and I won it on eBay eight years ago for £400. It always make me laugh talking about ‘winning’ things on eBay, as if it’s a prize and you don’t actually have to pay for it. Anyway, Joe’s never really liked it much as the back is so low that the only way he can sit on it is by lying prostrate with seven cushions under his head. He’s not a man that sits on sofas. In his opinion, if you can’t lie on it, it’s dead to him.
So when West Elm asked me if I wanted to work with them to revamp my living room, I knew that this would have to be a consideration. Well, a small consideration anyway. Let’s be honest, there’s more chance of Nigel Farage becoming Prime Minister than Joe having input into any sort of interior based choice in our house.
So what am I going to do? I’m thinking mid century, American Navajo with a seventies edge. Yes, this is a thing. I’ve just made it up. Here’s my cunning plan.
Whitewash The Walls
The walls will be painted in Valspar Blanc De Blanc. To be honest, three of them already were but I removed the wallpaper from the main wall and went for a home run.
I’ve got this colour all over my house and I like the way it brings all the spaces together. It’s a white with a slight grey tone and it’s perfect for my walls. Job done.
Sofa So Good
I can’t bring myself to sell the Natuzzi. Mostly because I love it, but also because it’s sun faded, been victim to countless spillages and McDonalds wrappers and had more child vomit thrown on to it than I’d care to mention. It wouldn't be fair to any potential buyer. So it’s going up the garage stairs into the children’s hang out/party room where it can live out the rest of its life being covered in cans of cider and who knows what else. Let’s not think about that too closely.
It’s being replaced by a sectional sofa of such beauty that I can barely believe it will be entering my house. It’s cream tweed and I can tell you now, any child who goes near it with either a food or drink substance will be sold immediately. I’m not even going to barter.
Repurpose & Add Some New Stuff
I’m never happy with a room unless it’s clearly showing me the juxtaposition of old and new. As a vintage addict, a room doesn’t make me smile unless there is contrast. There’s already a vintage sideboard in the room and a 1960’s leather Pieff tubular chair, both of which will work well in the new space.
I’m adding in a mid century style bookshelf and a gold and glass coffee table of dreams. Together with a small side table, that’s all the furniture I will need.
Bring In The Light
The most exciting thing about redoing this room is removing - finally - the two wall lights either side of the TV. They’ve been totally pointless since the day we moved in (subtle lighting is the only lighting, in my opinion) and Martin the Handyman has already whisked them away. I’m going to add four table lamps, one of which will be new and repurpose three others that I already have.
But what about the ceiling? I always love a chandelier that makes an impact, and the one that I’m going to be including in this room is no exception. Going with the whole desert theme (bear with me), I’m adding an Antler chandelier in a pale cream. Heaven.
Make A Statement
Much as I am renowned for going overboard on gallery walls, this room will be an exception. Someone once told me that big is best, so I’m going for a serious statement piece - a two metre wide desert scene. It’s going to hang above the sofa in full glory.
On the other two walls, I’ll rehang two favourite pieces of art that I already own.
Add The Layers
I’m replacing the cowhide which is currently in this room with a large, neutral coloured rug. It’s big enough to go under the sofa and I’ll add neutral cushions and throws in varying textures - woven, velvet and wool - to bring the room together.
I’ll accessorise with coloured glass and natural materials. Perfect.
Up My Rad Game
Once again, the wonderful people at soak.com have saved me from the absolute shocker of a radiator that the developer put in the room by providing me with a traditional colosseum beauty for the rear wall.
It’s amazing how just this simple change can transform a whole room.
Sentence Some Plants To Certain Death
Finally, I’m going to bring the large palm into the room and hope that the cat stays away from it. I’ll use trailing plants and cacti on the shelving unit and add the monstera to the fireplace for an authentic seventies feel. Then I’ll sit back and pray for their survival.
So that’s the plan. Unlike the dining room which involves hardcore labour by myself (never a bonus), this room (aside from a couple of technical jobs for the electrician and plumber) is pretty much a restyling job and I cannot wait to pull it all together and see how it works. Hopefully, I’ll be feeling pretty happy with my mid century, American Navajo with a seventies edge room. Bring out the cheese and pineapple sticks and let’s have a Campari.