The Many Faces Of My Living Room

Do you have that one room on your house that has given you nothing but headaches? No matter what you’ve tried, nothing seems to work. You add something, take something away, tweak here, rearrange there, add new curtains, take those curtains away, add lamps, move the lamps. All of that and more, and it just doesn’t seem to come together?

If you’ve been around here long, you know that for me, my living room is that thorn-in-my-side room that I just haven’t managed to get right. I shared my most recent plans for that room in yesterday’s post. If you missed that, you can see it here…

Never in the history of ever has a room given me so much trouble. That’s not to say that I haven’t redone things in other rooms, because obviously I have. But I have other areas of my house that I got right on the first try.

My pantry is one room that I got right on my first try…

Butler's pantry remodel with dark teal lower cabinets, floating corner shelves, and whitewashed wood countertop

You can see more of that room here…

I also got my breakfast room finished the first go ’round. Although I did remove the rug. I also plan to get a new dining table at some point, and I also want to replace those white curtains with the purple draperies from my last living room attempt. But aside from a few minor tweaks here and there, the room will stay the same.

You can see more of the breakfast room here…

And I also got my hallway right the first time…

You can see more of the hallway here…

Although the hallway is about to undergo some pretty major changes once the bedroom and hallway remodel starts. But in the end, it’ll look pretty much the same, just with one less door and the console table/chapel picture arrangement placed where it will be better seen from the music room. (After the remodel, that center wall in the photo above will be moved in about four feet, making the hallway smaller. The bedroom door on the left on that wall will stay, but the door on the right will be removed and that will be solid wall. The console table/chapel picture arrangement will go on that wall, and I’ll no longer have room for the geode prints on the left wall.)

My kitchen was a room that took me two tries, but only because I was convinced that I needed to do something different in this house and needed to steer away from my favorite color. Lesson learned: Never force yourself to steer clear of your favorite color just because you feel like you need to try something different and move away from your comfort zone. Your home should be the epitome of your comfort zone. So after the green kitchen detour, I landed back at my favorite color — the same one I had used in my condo kitchen.

kitchen remodel with teal cabinets and white subway tile on walls

You can see more of the kitchen here…

Of course, I do have some minor changes planned for the kitchen, but nothing drastic that will change the overall look. I still want a new stove, and I still plan to remove my dishwasher and replace it with basket drawers. But those are minor changes.

And it took me two tries to get my hallway bathroom right. I liked the first version of the hallway bathroom, but as I finished the hallway (and decided on teal for the doors), that necessitated some changes in the bathroom, and one thing led to another. The second version just required a new wall color, vanity color, artwork, and shower curtain.

You can see more of the hallway bathroom here…

The music room has never been finished, but it’s well on its way. And it did take me a couple of tries to get the walls right (they started off black), but after landing on the stencil with the Sharpie accents, it started to feel right, and I have no plans to redo them. I just need to continue on and finish the room.

Once my studio bathroom is finished (just some caulking, painting, and accessorizing to go!), it’ll be finished for good. I have zero plans to redo anything in there.


And the studio will also be a one-and-done room.

black metal pendant lights in studio

So what the heck happened in the living room?

Honestly, I can’t pinpoint it. I think the thing that sent me in the wrong direction at first was my thinking that this house needed to be more “adult” than the condo. And for some reason, in my mind, that meant less color, more tame, more neutrals. I have no idea why I had convinced myself of this, but I did. And that led me to the first iteration of the living room…

It was an awful lot of brown and darkness for my color-loving self. Those were also the “lipstick on a pig” days because we still had the old windows with the window unit A/C, the old drywall, the polystyrene ceiling tiles, and no doorway between the living room and the kitchen.

But as much as I love color, what the heck was I thinking with all of those neutrals?

Then at some point, after the room was opened up to the kitchen and the fireplace was extended to the ceiling, I decided that this room would be better as a dining room. And I also decided to put picture frame molding everywhere. That was a very bad idea in room with a fireplace and so many windows and doorways, with very little solid walls space.

And I also decided to go the opposite direction with the color and pattern.

I got so far as making the black and white striped draperies (and painting the walls green after realizing that all white walls were way too cold for me), but the “dining room” never got much further than that.

I still have those draperies, though, and I absolutely love them. I hope I can find a use for them elsewhere.

After my failed attempt to turn the room into a dining room and deciding to turn it back into a living room, I went a different direction with the draperies. And the fireplace.

And then I realized that all of that molding on the walls was doing the room no favors, so it came down…

It was soon after that, I believe, that I found this rug. This beautiful rug that seemed to be just the creative inspiration I needed to get this room back on track. So in came a new wall color, a new loveseat, a new chair, a new coffee table, and a new fireplace color.

I seemed to be back on track, and even made one drapery panel. Oh, and I also painted the fireplace teal.

And then the room sat like that for a long time. I ordered fabric for my chairs that I want to reupholster, and still just couldn’t make myself get excited about this room.

At some point in all this craziness, I actually managed to finish the wall that I call the “entryway.” And I absolutely loved it. Since it’s part of this same room, this “entryway” had gone through almost as many iterations as the living room. But somehow, I managed to find a design for it that I love.

But that living room…ARGH!! I felt like I was finally soooo close, but I just couldn’t get it to work. No matter what I did, I just couldn’t make myself love that room or get excited about finishing it.

But now that has changed. And it feels amazing, after six years of struggling with this room, to finally be excited about finishing it. It is, after all, the first thing people see when they walk into our home. So it’s been discouraging to feel so lost, so unmotivated, and so discouraged about this room. I’m incredibly excited to get things finished in here now that I have a plan that feels more “me” than anything I’ve tried before.

Living room chairs draped with new fabric - raspberry velvet and colorful floral

My mom is on board with helping me reuphoslter those chairs, so now I just need to find the time. And I’m going to start on those draperies just as soon as I finish the studio bathroom and build the second studio work table.

What I shared were just the main highlights. There were so many detours along the way — a dining table that I rebuilt and then refinished about four times because I couldn’t get it right either. Dining chairs that I built and upholstered. Other chairs that I reupholstered. The list goes on and on.

Have you ever had that one room that just seemed impossible to finish because no matter what you tried, it just wasn’t right?

Never in my life have I had one room give me so much trouble. I’m so glad to finally be seeing a light at the end of this tunnel.



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  1. Oh man, this living room has indeed been painful for you! I’m exhausted after reading this 🙂 Soooo glad to hear that you are actually excited about moving forward on the latest/final plans. I completely understand the difference between going ahead with creative work that doesn’t excite you, and then when you get that spark and are wildly joyful about that vision, it’s a totally different creature.

    1. I love the pinks and the sofa looks great. I am happy that you feel you have found your answer to your “problem child”. Sometimes our visions don’t turn out the way we thought they would; it is annoying, especially when we are used to success. You have done so much in a short time,and you get so much input from followers that I think, maybe, that caused your stumble. We are all looking over your shoulder and adding opinions, so that might cause you to make changes. Also the sheer number of of projects you have taken on could fog your vision. Those deadlines you set for yourself may make you hurry to finish, instead of just walking away and letting your ideas percolate. Since you don’t mind do overs, then it all works for you, but you are a hard taskmaster on yourself. So, yes, Kristi, we all have the same struggles only in triplicate. The difference is, you can admit when you faltered, and have the mad energy , skills , and gumption to try again. I, on the other hand, lived with purple shag carpeting in a bathroom for years, pretending it didn’t stink.

      1. Carole, you said this so well…exactly my thoughts! I so enjoy Kristi’s work, but I know my husband would kill me if I changed my mind this much – – he thinks I do too much already! (and in 10 years, I’ve only changed a few things!) Matt is so great to let Kristi keep at it until she is happy. I love what she does, and am amazed by her skill. I’m hoping for her sake that this will be the living room she always wanted! Her ideas look great!

        1. I’m incredibly blessed to have such a patient husband. 🙂 And the amazing thing is that he’s not just putting up with me while biting his tongue. He genuinely doesn’t mind my messes, my projects and my changing of plans. I’d say we’re perfectly matched. 😀

  2. I know how much you have struggled with that room. You made some really pretty pieces of furniture thru the try-outs though. But I love the color of pink for the draperies and they look so good with the new couch. Of course, you could have the whole house completed without some of those detours BUT hey it has been great blog material. We’ve all learned things along the way.

  3. I love the “new” living room!! And the pink drapes are perfect with everything. The only thing that looks out of place to me (in this picture) is the green mirror on the left behind the chairs, but maybe when it’s all finished it’ll tie in together. 😋It does go with the print on the chairs. But, overall, I love it 😀

    1. I was wondering about that rug you had in the living room. Will that go back in there? I love the bright colors and pinks

  4. Omg, yes. Except mine is sort of every room of my house. And my husband is getting rather annoyed at the changes I want to make to furniture/paint that have only been done since we purchased the house two years ago. He’s all for changing small decor pieces, but doesn’t see anything wrong with the bones (paint/furniture). It’a just…this is our first house, & I’m not great at this sort of thing, and also there are SO MANY fabulous pieces of furniture, styles, paint colors, etc. How does a person pick just one?! I joke that I need a warehouse so I can buy every piece of furniture that appeals to me and then just swap them out whenever what’s here seems boring, or my taste changes. 😉

  5. Love this design and I adore the couch! So glad you have found the plan that makes you happy and it is a wonderful plan.

  6. Hi Kristi!
    Big fan of yours! I especially admire your many self-taught skills & “will do” determination, in addition to your incredibly great taste. Now that you have solved your living room sofa & decor issues, what are your plans for the gorgeous window panels you made (Swavelle Mill Creek Stupendo Orion)?! If you decide to sell them, pretty please let me know!! I have wanted that fabric ever since seeing your panels, but I don’t sew (with a machine, anyway!). I have a bedroom with bare windows just begging for those panels!

  7. Just wondering….will you use the rug you loved so much in there or will you just use the beautiful hard wood floors? I love this so much…it is so peaceful!

    1. I’ll use the rug. It’s just rolled up and out of the way for now. If there are any big open spaces on the rug, Cooper makes a mess of it. 😀

  8. Yes. This happens to me also, which is one of the reasons I love your Blog. You share everything with us including the struggles and will redo a room until you are happy. Love the new sofa and plans.

  9. The new Living Room arrangement is going to be fabulous!!! I so enjoy reading your blog!
    I am thinking about your wanting to take out your dishwasher and put in baskets. It’s just the two of us in my home, but we load the dishwasher with coffee cups, lunch plates, dinner dishes, prep dishes etc and run it when filled, approx every other day, starting it just before we go to sleep. It is said the DW conserves more water and energy than washing dishes by hand. Also, unless you only use plastic throw away dishes and utensils, you really appreciate your dishwasher when entertaining. Just scrape and load. No need to prewash. I would reconsider getting rid of the DW.

    1. I often hear the “conserves water” argument for dishwashers. I guess I’m just a horrible cook, because none of the pots and pans I use can just be put right into the dishwasher. I have to prewash everything before it goes in. In which case, it takes five seconds more to scrub it and then wash it with dishsoap. At least for me, I can’t see that prewashing and scrubbing everything and then putting it in the dishwasher saves water. And I literally have only used the dishwasher four or five times since I did the original kitchen remodel. I know it’s unusual, but I just simply don’t use it, and I can put that space to better use. 🙂

      1. I agree on the dishwasher, though we don’t need to prewash at all. We have one because our grandkids and family come over regularly so it does get used often enough. It was broke for a few months and I honestly did not mind washing the few dishes my husband and I use at each meal. Putting them away. I would miss it when we have guests, but other than that I could do without it easily.

        1. I hate dishwashers! I’ve never found one that works well for very long. My current 3-year-old dw has been repaired three times and still is not getting the dishes clean. And the previous one broke when we were gone and flooded not only the kitchen but my newly finished sewing room. Nightmare x 2. I’m such a slobby housekeeper that I’m afraid I won’t hand wash them until I run out. But I’m hesitant to buy yet another one, it’s such a waste of $$. There’s just the two of us. Maybe I’ll try your method for awhile.

  10. Yes. I had exactly the same issues with my living room. It took 3 years of trial and error with furniture, rugs, lamps, curtains, accessories, and paint. I am finally getting close this last week or so. Being back in love with your room is a great feeling, isnt it? And you know when it’s right. When it sings. When its balanced and comfortable.

  11. I love the direction that you are headed. It will be beautiful! It’s so exciting when it all seems to click and come together, even if it takes time. Man, I love those black and white drapes so much and think they would still look great in the room 🙂

  12. I also love the new direction for that room. THIS one looks like a keeper. PLEASE do a step-by-step on the reupholstery of the chairs, if at all possible!

  13. I love this new direction – both in terms of curtain colour and furniture layout.
    Will you also have to reupholster the stools in the entryway? I seem to remember you doing them to match the purple curtains (apologies if I’m wrong). I still love the entryway, particularly the frames and artwork.

  14. I too, have never been happy with my living room! It started with a way too big couch from another home, that we couldn’t afford to replace. We finally did, and built a beautiful coffee table and entertainment center that I love. But the curtains are still wrong and I’m not happy about the furniture placement. Eventually I’ll figure it all out, but I love your posts because they help me realize that no matter how hard you try sometimes you don’t get it right the first time (or second, and even sometimes the third!). I can’t wait to see you’re upholstered chairs and the next, fingers crossed for you, generation of your living room 🙂

  15. I can’t hate on that first living room too much, because it was a Google search for a tufted ottoman coffee table tutorial that brought me to your blog in the first place! I never did turn my thrifted heavy wood with turned leg coffee table into a tufted ottoman…because I am a coward…but I have oiled it with scratch cover a lot over the almost five years since I got it at Goodwill for 20 bucks. It’s sturdy enough for this 250 lb woman to tapdance on it, and that’s what attracted me to it to begin with…not that I tapdance…

  16. I am happy for you that you are now heading in a direction you are excited about. I think part of the beauty of your blog is that we are along for the whole ride., not just the perfect results.
    Seeing your thought process, and yes, your mistakes, helps others navigate similar paths with their own spaces. You seem to have a lot of traction right now, can’t wait to see the results!

  17. This current iteration is shaping up to look great.

    We all have our styles. Excluding the picture frame molding under the windows (there wasn’t enough space) I really liked the picture frame living room. Reminded me of what I imagine a vintage French apartment looks like. I put chair rails and picture frame molding all over my house after seeing your music room and it looks fantastic, so thank you.

  18. Kristi,
    You are right, always follow your heart. Love the flowers and the pink. What is life without colour. I love everything that you have done. I too change my mind a lot. My husband dreads it when I say “I have been thinking or I’ve had an idea or I’ve been measuring”. We moved house 4 years ago to a house that was rented and not loved in any way and we have redone every room, knocked down walls, extended others and finally the end is in sight. I am also having a shocking pink and a huge floral print in my lounge. I will send you the pictures when I have finished. Just need to stick fabric to one wall, finish two more cushions and finish the lampshades, then we are turning our patio into a sunroom so more decorating/sewing and then there is the garden which has been neglected whilst we have been working on the inside. Makes me tired just thinking about it so I know how you feel and I am 69. Well done Kristi you are a FABULOUS WOMAN & INSPIRATION