Online earlier this week I came across a copy of the photo I posted of my recently 'refreshed' living room; someone commenting on it deplored how 'bare' the room was. That stung a little at first but after some reflection I realized that she was probably not considering the very personal nature of the decorating in my home. Her style is obviously quite different than mine and perhaps she can't relate to how I like to live. But there is very real story and history behind the development of my personal aesthetic and I am going to tell you one part of that story now.
So, getting personal...I went to boarding school in eighth grade at age thirteen. And once a year, for the next 12 years, I would pack up all my belongings and shortly thereafter unpack them into a new dorm room or sub-let or rental apartment until I met Mr. H and he made me want to put down roots.
Nevertheless, the impulse to remain unburdened of 'stuff' in the interest of mobility is as deeply ingrained in me as is the primal instinct of 'fight or flight.' So when you see photos of my personal spaces and perhaps find them a little spare, you will know it is because I am ready to fold up the tents at a moment's notice and move this caravan to greener pastures. But it doesn't mean I don't like to feather the nest like it is the very last one.
The previous photos are a few oldies but goodies from my Instagram feed - it's my current obsession - and they feature a few of my favorite things.
Now let's move on to the 'new' living room...
If you have been following along for a while now you know that my living room has long been a source of frustration. The shape of the room (skinny rectangle) and its position in the house (location of the front door and a staircase) made furnishing it a puzzle and it took a few rearrangements before it worked. In its first incarnation the room was somewhat formal as I was trying to use some inherited antiques. It never felt right, wasn't really comfortable and we hardly ever used it. I've since stored the antique sofa and worked in more comfortable seating, but I still wasn't loving it. What I needed to do was make the room more inviting so late last fall I embarked a mini-overhaul that I am thrilled with. What did it take? Simplifying and going with what felt right and nothing else. It is now my favorite room in the house.
And while I am cataloging my favorites, this is my current welt style of choice.
I also repainted the living room. It wasn't a dramatic change; I used the original color, Benjamin Moore's Muslin (OC-12,) but had it mixed at 50% of the tint. The room seems much lighter now. I also repainted the curtain hardware in the same color as the wall but in a semi-gloss finish and swapped out the large knob finials for smaller endcaps which feel more modern.
Lastly - and here is the thing that had bothered me most for the last 5 years - the original light fixtures I bought for the room and really did love (the Arrow Wall Sconces from Circa Lighting shown below) were positioned too high for the proportions of the room. Although Mr. H would argue to the death that they were fine, they never looked right to me. Conventional wisdom says sconces should be mounted 60" to 66" from the floor in a room with eight-foot ceilings but my mistake was having the electrician position the back plates of the fixtures 66" from the floor. I should have specified that the light bulbs be positioned at that point. Here is a photo to illustrate...
I tried to have the sconces lowered but there was not enough wire in the wall to do it without extensive work so I needed a fixture on which the light source was at the same level as the backplate. Going back to Circa, which I think has one of the very best selections of lighting in the market, I chose the Reed Double Sconce in oil rubbed bronze. I like having something dark as an anchor in a pale color scheme and the position of these is much better proportionally. (Just nod in agreement.)
I also took down the collection of etchings that I had hanging throughout the room and hung this painting by Vermont artist Glenn Suokko. Less is definitely more here. The room has a great feeling - casual but chic, inviting and conducive to relaxation (I have had more than a few naps on that sectional) - and that is exactly what I was going for.
Coming up...the dining room also gets a 'refresh.' And, big news, my One Room Challenge is finally ready for it's close up. Yes, at long last we will have 'the reveal.' Until then...xo