Here’s What the Living Room Looks Like Nowadays.

linus2

Oh hi, Linus! What a little muppet. Can you believe that guy has been camping out with me for almost three years now? He’s the best thing in the world. FYI.

When I first posted about the renovated living room, I kind of mentioned that I didn’t feel like the room was looking all that great, as the extent of my decorating had been spending an hour or so the day before throwing a bunch of stuff into the room that I already owned. When you live in a perpetual renovation zone, just the novelty of being able to use a room is excitement enough…caring too much about what it looks like is kind of beside the point. And because my house still needs so much work, and the budget for it is always slimmer than it needs to be, it’s not like I have a bunch of cash lying around to buy beautiful things and make even the “finished” spaces look…well, finished.

Anyway. I’ve been doing some heavy-duty nesting and reorganizing and changing things around lately, as I’m now often alone in the house and allowed to do whatever the hell I want. Moment of awkward silence. Point is, I was looking around my living room the other day and realized it looks way more like a real room than last time I posted about it, so maybe it’s high time for a little update!

womb2

First thing’s first…CHAIR. Newsflash: I have a womb chair now and it is officially the nicest thing in my house. And by thing, I mean glorified dog bed. Here, Mekko demonstrates how to use it. Thanks, Mekko!

So the story of this chair is one of bratty persuasion. At some point when I was in high school, my mother became fixated on buying a set of lounge chairs for her bedroom, and somehow I convinced her that a set of grey womb chairs were everything that she wanted. It probably goes without saying that in fact they were everything wanted, but she bought them all the same and then…DIDN’T LIKE THEM. I don’t get it either. She doesn’t find them comfortable.

I’ll say two things about that. The first is that I personally find this chair incredibly comfortable, and the second is that I have lots and lots of chairs in my life and admittedly very few of them are all that comfortable. What can I say? I love me a good-looking chair and like any good blogger, I will sacrifice comfort for beauty every time.

So the chairs sat in my parents’ bedroom until they moved, and then one went to the condo where it continues to be hated and the other one went to fester in a storage facility. This is what my family does as a way to avoid dealing with getting rid of stuff, which is one of their finer qualities IMO. In any case, it seemed like an awful shame to let this chair sit piled atop other stuff and wrapped in cellophane, so when I was home for Passover recently I did the selfless thing and brought it home with me.

Sorry, Mom! This is what you get for having a gay son. Endless decorating advice about expensive items that said son will later convince you to bequeath to him. I’m not proud.

OK, I’m kind of proud.

brasa

Working our way around in no particular order: LAMP. I love this lamp. It’s the IKEA 365 BRASA floor lamp, which I hate to tell you is discontinued! Ugh. I think it retailed for $120 which was always too spendy for me, but the whole thing is super nice powder-coated steel and just so, so well made. I’ve loved it for years! This was a floor model and I found it in the as-is section, and it took me about 0.0 seconds to snatch it up before the opportunity would never present again. I think it was marked down something like 40%.

So sad. It’s such a great lamp.

rugcoffeetable

You might have noticed in the first shot that I moved my stupid little DIY bench into here and called it a coffee table! It functions well as both and I like it a surprising amount, especially because it saves me from feeling like I have to buy a coffee table. Coffee tables are maybe the hardest thing to find, am I right? It’s like they’re all ugly or the wrong height or the wrong length or the wrong everything. Or a billion dollars.

rug

Underneath the coffee table is a rug! A rug that I bought! I got a little overly excited at an auction recently and snagged this rug for $150! TOTALLY worth it in my book. Antique rugs like this are so hard to find at an affordable price. The pictures don’t really show how damaged this rug is in spots, which I’m sure is why the price didn’t go higher, but I don’t really care about that. The majority of the damage is in the middle region and that’s mainly under the coffee table, so I just ignore it. I do have to invest in a pad for underneath but that’s more of a “note to self” than something you need to be concerned about.

I love it a whole lot. It’s still kind of under-sized for this room, but not as under-sized as the one in the old pictures, so at least I’m moving in the right direction. This room can handle an 8×10 so I’ll probably be on the prowl for one for the rest of my life.

bench

Also found at the same auction: PIANO BENCH. I’m still feeling pretty smug about this one. The piano came with the house and is from the 1920s or so, but whatever bench it had was gone, unfortunately, and the piano looks kind of strange sitting without a bench. I think this bench cost me 30 bucks and I feel like you’d NEVER think I just bought it! That’s all I really wanted…I didn’t want to make some kind of feature out of the piano bench—just find something that fit with the piano. The piano is Kroeger and the bench is Steinway so I know they aren’t really a match, but the mahogany finish is almost an exact match and even the shape of the legs is similar, so I feel like I did pretty good.

fern

On top of the piano I plopped a Stag Head Fern, which I love and am trying not to kill. This room needed some plant life so I’m glad it has some now.

Please don’t die, fern. I can’t take that level of emotional turmoil right now.

LR1

I keep futzing with the mantel (why is mantel styling so impossible for me?), but I LOVE this ridiculous/scary/amazing lady portrait. She’s HUGE and I found her in the trash a while ago in Brooklyn! The TRASH! Max always hated her so she was never allowed outside of my hoarding room, but one of the upsides to this whole break-up thingy is that now I can display all of my creepy art without consequences. Nothing says “single and sane” like this display, am I right?

SOMEBODY LOVE ME

I think she was a student art piece and the back of the canvas indicates that a boy named Brett painted her. Are you out there, Brett? Thank you for throwing your art away so that it could come live in my home. She brings me so much pleasure and joy on a daily/hourly/minutely basis.

chimneywallbefore

Controversial art aside, it’s come a long way from this, right? I love hanging out in this room.

womb

linus

mekko1

Oh, Mekko. You gorgeous pink moody thing. Keep living the life of endless lounging and leisure. I’ll try to finish more rooms for you.


145 Comments

  1. Holy God, your post-4-year-breakup jokes would have been best friends with my post-4-year-breakup jokes. Get ready for everyone to look at you with pity and fear as you mock-sob “Will I ever be loved” at parties. You do you, boy. Total freedom means hanging that weird art, sleeping on both sides of the bed, and ruling your own home with an iron fist– enjoy that shit.

  2. Sorry, Daniel’s mom, I’m with your son. Who needs comfort when that chair LOOKS like that.

    Parents are the best, aren’t they? Mine bought a ton of teak furniture in the 70s, treated it shoddily but kept most of it around, then let me take almost anything I wanted when they retired and moved to a tiny cottage on a tiny island off the coast of BC. \o/

  3. Nice rug.
    Do the little lamps above the mantel plug into something?

    • Oh those little lamps? Those used to sit on my piano. They were found when Daniel and I were antiquing/thrifting in Michigan. I think he must have had an evil plan all along. I’ve been had. You’d think I’d learn.

      • Mom, you are so cute!

      • From one Mom to another:

        I hope you are very proud of your son, from what I have seen here he is a truly wonderful person. I don’t comment often but I have read every entry in this blog, and it is crystal clear to me that you and your husband have raised a fantastic man. He is kind and loving, cares for others (people and animals alike), has an amazing amount of love for his family and community. Daniel has the beautiful and unique gift of being able to not only relate to total strangers but to make them feel like they are part of a community. It is rare anywhere to see anyone be able to put something in place that brings people together but to be able to do it, over the internet with a bunch of strangers and have such an amazing amount of positive energy is something that you all should be very proud of.

        Wishing you a very happy upcoming Mother’s Day!

        Kelly

      • Aw, Kelly, you’re too kind! Thank you. :)

    • Yep! I wired in an outlet on the top of the mantel behind the lamp on the right.

  4. Why is it that coffee tables are so impossible???
    We’ve gone through 4 coffee tables in the 5 years we’ve been in our Brooklyn railroad. About 2 years ago we finally found one that seems to be the right size/height/look but it came from Joss and Main and the quality leaves a lot to be desired. It gets pretty wobbly and needs to be tightened up with an allen wrench every 6 months or so, and the wood top scratches really easily and is starting to look pretty rough.

    Maybe I just need to build something like you did. Maybe you should come build it for me?
    I usually have bourbon and cake in the house and always have two pups who are a little too free with their kisses…

    • Coffee tables and bedside tables are the worst.

    • Bourbon AND cake AND dogs? I’m there!

    • I hate coffeetables as well. I hate it when the area in front of the couch gets restricted to a pathway, I like to move. We now have three treestumps (about 30 cm high) that function as a coffeetable. When they are grouped they have enough body and when we need something to “hang in the air” near where we are sitting the group can be broken up and moved. It works for us. But they are assisted by a Contemporary stool by Sori Yanagi (by Habitat, discontinued) and a wooden Ikea Aalto rip-off stool.

      • Agreed. I hate when you can’t walk around the living room, and big coffee tables just fill up with coffee mugs and random stuff. We have two little round tables that can move around the room to where they’re needed.

      • We have one of those big storage ottomans. I used to have 2- 18in cubes that worked well but they fell apart after a few years abuse from my now 5 year old.

        I preferred the two smaller cubes because they were easy to move and could be used as toy storage in a pinch or as extra seating. My current living room is about 6 inches too narrow for the ottoman (we have a love hate relationship) but we have the same coffee table issue.

        Daniel- you need to finish up your house so you can start the MLD Table Co. and start a line of perfect coffee, end and bed side tables.

    • my coffee table is an almost accidental result of an old wine rack and a huge piece of MDF neither of which had anywhere to go at the new flat – wine rack laid flat, MDF atop it, and a throw over all – we thought this was just a temporary measure until the unpacking was finished – but 9 months after it’s still there and works perfectly! – perfect size, shape, height

    • I’ve never found coffee tables hard because I’ve never actually looked for one. For awhile, I had a bench that I had bought for a different spot in another apartment in front of my couch in a few small places that handled coffee table functions well without taking up much space – it was a long, narrow, rectangular bench, which happened to be the color of the much of my other wood furniture then, which was that Ikea solid yellow pine color, though I bought the bench at the old Conran’s store in the ’80s (back when they had stores that sold regular apartment stuff, before the fancy expensive Conran’s opened later), before there was an Ikea in the NYC area. So, yeah, I know about have a spare bench, use it as a coffee table for now time. (Still have the bench, but since I don’t have Ikea pine much, I think I will someday paint it in a nice shaker color, along with a little old Ikea pine dresser I still have – both have seen better days and could use a sanding.) When I bought a nice couch, I bought a wood trunk to use as a coffee table. It isn’t very large, so it doesn’t impede traffic flow much. But it works. And I cover the top with a few of those hard placemats when I have a whole bunch of people over, so it serves as a great table and the wood is protected. But still, when I move it away completely, I wish I had a more clear path in front of the couch. The trunk has handles for easier moving, but it is heavy wood, even when it isn’t full of stuff. So I think a few lighter tiny tables that can come together to make a larger surface table may be in my future, with the trunk off the to side somewhere.

      Nightstands, yeah, always hard. I finally had some wood ones custom made to go with a bed frame I had bought over ten years earlier, having not found anything I liked in those years – and I think I spent 2.5 – 3 times as much for the two nightstands as I did for the bed frame, but they look great and hold a lot of stuff – one with 3 drawers, one with 1 drawer and a door below that.

  5. I didn’t even recognize the “before” photo near the end of the post as being the same room. Truly an amazing transformation! It looks comfortable and design-y at the same time (and obviously the dogs think so too).

  6. i am also enjoying creepy art freedom! I wish i could also enjoy gloomy wall colors freedom but my new landlady is not very into that stuff. ah, someday!

  7. Been following your blog for a few years now and as I’m still reeling from my own 4 year breakup I am in love with your outlook and attitude right now! Your little quips made me smile this morning when I really needed it. You are, as usual, fabulous my dear.

  8. Definitely did a double take on that second to last photo: “What a cute tiny sheepskin! Wait, no…dog. I think it’s a dog? Ok, yea, collar is peeking out–definitely Linus”

    That rug is gorg, BTW. I have a similar steal of a rug in my living room. Moth-holes and stains be damned–that’s the only way I can afford such a luxury at this point. In fact, stalking such damaged treasures periodically has at this point reached a hobby-level time commitment.

    • Sometimes I mistake Linus for a sheepskin, too. :)

    • I did the same thing except I went “Sheepskin? No, Linus. I mean, sheepskin. No, definitely Linus.” Then I scrolled down to the next picture and was like “Is that Mekko lying ON TOP of Linus? No, wait, god, that actually is a sheepskin.”

  9. I see Harry Potter books!!!

    • Two sets! I also perused the bookshelf. First thing I looked at in that picture!

    • It’s the first thing my eye went to as well. So familiar and comforting.

      • Ha! Yeah, I’m down a shelf because Max had tons of books, so everything went up on the shelves! I can probably lose a set as I buy more books…I think I’ll survive. :)

      • Closer pictures of the bookcase! One of my favorite design blog hobbies is poring over people’s bookcases. Envying. Delighting. Judging. Feeling solidarity. You know…

        Snooping.

      • Hi from an Australian reader of nearly five years (soon after “A whole mess of staples”), first time commenting. Just wanted to say I regard the Harry Potter series as “comfort books” too. I sometimes turn to them if it’s a cold, wintery day (literal or metaphorical) or if I can’t get to sleep. My twin sister nagged me into reading them – she swore I’d love them, but they were so damn popular I kept resisting. I finally relented and of course she knew me well and I loved them just as much as her. I remember when I once told her that I imagined butterbeer to be like molten Wethers Original Caramels. Her eyes went SO wide. Neither of us could believe our imaginations worked identically! Anyway, we love your blog. Thank you for your voice, your original contributions to the internet, and the DIY inspiration. I’m sure I speak for my twin too. Bronwyn :)

      • Thank you, Bronwyn! :)

  10. A womb chair is something I desperately want before I die. Probably the only piece of ‘modern’ furniture I’ve ever truly coveted. Soooo jealz. Room is looking nice but creepy lady is….creepy.

  11. I have a round glass topped coffee table with a chrome base from the sixties that my mother bought. She had two lambskins underneath. That was a long time ago, and yet it’s perfect under a new “Oriental” rug. I wish she had a couple of those chairs. It’s in perfect condition.

    Sorry to hear about the break up. I tell my kids that sometimes you really love each other, but are not right for a lifetime together. Peace out, Bro.

  12. This room looks great. Like, weirdly fantastic. I question all of the life choices that have led me to a world of comfortable but unattractive furniture. Sigh.

    • Hahaha, it is not too hard to turn around. Just have the intention to change create a mental picture of where you are heading and from now on -with everything that enters your house- check if it suits that mental picture (I also attach a feeling and sensory input to that picture). In my experience what you already have will shift in the way you perceive it.

    • Hahaha, it is not too hard to turn around. Just have the intention to change create a mental picture of where you are heading and from now on -with everything that enters your house- check if it suits that mental picture (I also attach a feeling and sensory input to that picture). In my experience what you already have will shift in the way you perceive it.

  13. Just a note to keep you sane:
    Sometimes a leaf (branch, stag, whatever) of the staghorn fern turns yellow and falls off. You’re not killing it. It’s just like an old leaf on a tree.

    • Oh THANK GOODNESS. I’ve been eyeing that yellowed leaf with anguish and confusion and too afraid to google. Thank you!

  14. I have a creepy painting of a man that I bought online years ago and my fiancé hated so much that I had to send back, but at times when I get really pissed off I wish I would have just stuck it in the closet so I could suddenly hang it up in our house. Anyway, I’m glad you have your crazy lady painting. And I wish your mom would give me furniture too, everything looks great!

  15. Just lovely! And hilarious. :D It all works wonderfully, and I know how you feel about scoring the perfect rug even if it does have “antique charm” (something an old boss of mine used to say instead of “worn out”).

    In the mantel/scary lady photo, I’d like to know about the gorgeous lamp mounted to the ceiling medallion. We have two such medallions; one is wired with a lamp in, and the one in the living room is not, but I plan on having that done. That lamp would be similar to what I’d like in our house.

    Again, it’s all just gorgeous, and such a dog-friendly room, too — a must. :)

    • Oops, I looked back and found the story on the West Elm lamp. Of course they don’t make it anymore, because I want it! :D

      • Ain’t that the way! Maybe you can find one on eBay or something if you want. It’s pretty nice!

  16. It’s kind of perfect. Right down to the black radiator. That said, I couldn’t take the Scary Lady but to each their own when it comes to paintings.

  17. Looks fantastic! The sleeping pups are the perfect finishing touches!

  18. Oh Daniel, you funny, smart, handsome thing, you. Enjoy your singlehood, it won’t last. As for the mantel thing…WHAT is the deal? Someone needs to write a book about how to decorate mantels because I am completely lost with this, too. Suzen

    • Thanks, Suzen :). And I know! I’m convinced mantels are a trap to make you feel lousy and insufficient, haha.

  19. I don’t think it’s fair that you have such impeccable taste and you get to be so fucking funny. It’s more than I can take.

  20. Love the new look of your living room…the painting is great, you have the best taste in chairs, (I love me a good looking chair as well, and most of mine hardly ever feel a tush), and you are so very lucky when it comes to great finds…like the piano bench.
    Your comment about designing rooms for Mekko to lounge in is so right on…I also find myself thinking ahead when I arrange a fur throw or some cushions, that my two: Benji and Midnight, might approve of the new placement.

  21. I wish I still had all the teak furniture I have owned :-( Your place is looking good. I really like the simplicity of the bookshelves. How are you keeping the books up at the ends?

  22. I’ve wheedled my mother into buying things (I wanted) (for her), but I know it would be impossible to talk her into Womb chairs. Kudos to your mother for A. not chintzing on chairs, and B. not throwing them away because she didn’t like them. Next time I sit on my parents’ matching floral sofa/loveseat, I will silently envy you.

    Honestly, I think the room looks more fleshed out than previously. I don’t know if that was an aggressive goal in a quest to make the house yours, yours and only yours, but it has a more relaxed, comfortable vibe now. Reminds me of my decorating feelings post-divorce. There was a strange feeling akin to tearing down acoustic tiles to reveal these gorgeous ten-foot ceilings. It was kind of unexpected, but a delightful discovery? Peeling away layers? I’m having trouble putting it into a cohesive sentence, but it pretty much amounts to: sigh of relief to do whatever I want, wonder at new freedom and fright at not having any boundaries, optimism that I was going to be okay. You’re going to be okay, dude. Decorock on!

    • Ha! It wasn’t an aggressive goal…more just settling into the space, you know? It’s hard for me to think that far ahead while I’m in the throes of renovation so things tend to look better a few months out from completion of all the dirty work, if that makes sense.

      • True, true. Then again, I’m a chronic rearranger. So even if it looks nice several months settled in, I will destroy that cohesion in the name of curiosity and “because life’s too short to have the couch sit in the same spot forever.”

  23. Love the rug, what a find! And that chair and ottoman are great. So glad you are putting them to good use. But scary lady picture…………………………….. she looks like she’s getting ready to knock somebodies block off :)

  24. Looks fabulous Daniel…

    I always dreamed of a Womb Chair, but it turns out it isn’t very comfy to me (too hard).

    There is a lot to be said for being able to do what you want. I got lucky, my hubby gives me free reign to do nearly anything I want. Although he does have veto power, I can usually persuade him to give in anyway (hence my black living room ceiling).

    • In all fairness, Max was kind of like that too. :) Our basic deal was if I’m doing most of the renovation work, I get a little more say in how things get finished!

  25. HI Daniel…the ceiling medallion is still so so nice…and everything else is fabulous. Love old rugs…flaws and all…and love the hudson bay blanket….I found one once at a “antique” sale…FOR SEVEN BUCKS…of course it was filthy and had a few holes but I bought it..took it home..washed in with Woolite about 10 times and it’s fantastic…so so warm…and when it’s folded on the end of the bed…who sees the holes…
    Also so glad you found a piano bench…now it looks complete. The scary painting lady though…she’s pretty scary…just saying.

    • I’d love to see what a wooden or black shadow box frame, and wall-mounting the scary lady (ignore the double entendre) would look like. “Resolved” sounds cliched, but it’s sort of what I’m thinking! Love the room and am super jealous.

  26. Love how you decorated around the dog. Also the portrait is fantastic. If I ever live alone again I’m buying a Marci Washington painting… Anyways the whole room looks fab, timeless and not overly put together.

  27. Somehow I got your latest post in my email. That was lovely!

    The room looks great; as others have mentioned, more cohesive and comfortable. The rug is awesome and you do a great job making it look like the right size for the job. I bought a rug for our dining room and it was hideously small. I still don’t know how I did such a bad job guesstimating the needed size, but no amount of clever furniture placement could disguise the fact that the rug looked approximately the size of a bath mat. I’m a little convinced that time and space are weirdly distorted within one’s home sometimes.

    • I’ve been there! I’m constantly throwing rugs down that looked big elsewhere and too small in rooms. Sometimes you just need to see it!

  28. The room is perfect. Great job but the mantel needs a little work, I agree. The two little lamps are not the right scale and too symmetrical with the painting. Maybe offset a larger candlestick or other sculptural item? Love you Daniel, and everything you do.

  29. Mekko has such a soulful gaze. I really love that womb chair, the perfect doggy chair.
    That picture is… disturbing.

  30. PLEASE! Where is the piano placed in this gorgeous room? Must see!

    • Take a look at the big reveal post! I should have taken wider shots for this one, whoops! (it’s the second link in this post)

  31. The right accessories in the right place really change the space. I like the picture lady, she has a fierce, don’t mess with me attitude.

  32. My goodness, I love your writing! You are a fantastic writer, I’m always anxious for the next post. Oh, and your design and renovation skillz rock too… :)

  33. You’re so fun and made me lol 3 x at work. Thank you. Okay bye!

  34. Yes, I also design my house around the dogs. However, I do not do it nearly so stylishly. The problem with mantels and coffee tables, I think, is that the usual rules are kind of tepid. There are a gazillion blog entries on styling a mantel and buying a coffee table, and the results all look, well, conventional. The chairs are more daring. Maybe it would help to see what Ray Eames used to do with her mantels and coffee tables? From a quick look online, it looks like she used to either drape the coffee tables or have tables with extremely light legs. The mantel-like pieces seem to have a series of items (not quite clutter–there is a pattern to the layering, but one has to look for it) or to be rather bare with something really sculptural that is off center (that is, in both cases, something slightly off-kilter so that one looks at the mantle to try and understand it rather than ignoring it).

    Well, I don’t care for womb chairs myself–I think it has to do with proportions. I have several chairs that DD fits beautifully which are uncomfortable to me, and several more that are comfortable to me that she feels she is swimming in. Does the piano actually work? If it doesn’t, I’ve seen some people gut them and use them for hiding the television or for a computer desk or Murphy bed. But, then, I’m one of those people who likes function before form–so, probably not a workable idea at the cottage ☺ Nice to see the babies looking so comfortable!

    • Ah, if only I had the eye of Ray Eames! She was pretty much perfect in my book.

      The piano does work! It’s kind of out of tune but weirdly not as bad as you’d think. I’m inclined to just leave it as-is and maybe invest in tuning and a little restoration work down the road. :)

  35. Any tips for hanging track shelving? I’ve had long sessions with the kind people at Home Depot and I still am terrified they’ll come tumbling down on me (and my walls with them!). Any tips or tricks for installation? How wide are yours?

    • Mine are about 5.5 feet long! If I were going to do it again, I’d add another support between the existing ones…books are heavy and 1″ thick lumber (which is really 3/4″ thick) does bow a little but with so much weight on them. I’ll probably end up taking the whole thing down when I have some more energy and adding brackets. :)

      The best thing you can do is screw them directly into studs! With plaster walls, you usually have to do some test-drilling with a small bit to find them and then patch the holes. I used 3″ drywalls screws to hang mine with each vertical going into a stud. If your studs are not in the right spots, you can probably get away with a good anchor—I like toggle bolts for really heavy things. There are several different sizes rated for different weights, just make sure the bolt itself fits through the hole in the verticals! I think that’s all I’ve got. :)

  36. We ALL love you, Daniel. Also love the way the living room has come together. (I have a found-in-the-trash painting over my fireplace, too–aren’t they the best?) My only reservation about this room is how you may feel next Winter, when you sit in your womb chair in front of a beautiful fireplace that produces no light or warmth. I do worry about that.

    • Ha! Fear not! I’d rather have a fake fireplace with some candles on the hearth than no fireplace at all, I guess. It’s also possible that I could retrofit it to have a wood stove on the hearth (which is what would have been there originally) down the road—just too much money the first time around. Can’t have it all! :)

      • I’ve a regular fireplace but don’t use it due to allergies. However I can get by with a few candles in there and you’d be surprised at how nice that effect is especially next to a heated throw or radiator. I really feel an open flame of any sort just “takes the chill off”.

  37. Controversial statement: I hated your couch the first go ’round you showcased this room.
    I’m not sure why, but it looks so much better now. I think the whole room looks so much more pulled together. Great job, per usual!

    • Controversial statement: I did too!! Admittedly I kind of like the sofa on its own but it’s hard to rock 1970s/80s black leather and chrome, especially in an old house…I think it looks better now because there’s more in the room to kind of soften it and take the “Wall Street” kind of edge off. I’m not opposed to finding something different down the line but I’m much happier with it now, too. :)

      • “Wall Street” is the perfect descriptor. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but that’s it. :)

  38. I’m in a deep and perpetual state of envy over your mirror collection. I get the email updates, and I’m so excited to see the photos I never actually make it out of my inbox, I just read them immediately. Thank you for being awesome.

    • Aw, thank YOU! The mirror collection is kind of out of hand at this point but if I like it and the price is right…what’s ONE more?? I shouldn’t be allowed to thrift.

  39. If it was my mantel, I would leave only the green pot and the tan small pot and move them both to the other side of the picture to help balance out the busy-ness of the book shelves.

  40. That rug is so fabulous. Somewhere out there is a giant (and likely scary) painting of my mom that I did in art class in high school and then left in the attic of a house I lived in in college. I was moving to Ohio, and it was really big. Maybe someday I’ll see it again on someone’s blog! I think this means I need to spend MORE time reading blogs.

    • Yes, I was thinking this painting was maybe made by a female Brett of her mom …. but then I’m a girl with scary mom issues still (even though my mom is now elderly and frail and usually not scary anymore.)

  41. You’re back! I mean I know you didn’t stop posting through the breakup, but fans could tell you weren’t feeling 100%. Now I am back to having to read your posts aloud to my husband because you are so funny. Keep up the amazing work!

  42. i love that you appreciated womb chairs in high school! My mom was an antique dealer and I can’t believe how I didn’t realize just how cool she was. She drug home primative furniture before it was cool. I remember her bribing strangers to haul home stuff they thought should go to the dump. I see her vision now. Oh how I miss her.

  43. Gorgeous room! Can you tell me something about the ceiling light? I love it.

  44. This living room is looking great there Daniel, even better than the first go ’round, of which I liked then.

    I do agree, it looked less finished, and the addition of the Womb Chair (which I so want, but in red Boucle fabric) with ottoman as this gives you a nice, comfortable loungy chair to enjoy reading a good book and now looks more finished and settled in.

    However, you might want to invest in a small, discreet lamp of some sort (floor lamp I’m thinking) and a small side table for your drink and a place to put your book if there is room for them by it.

    Overall, the room has an inviting vibe to it that I like and that West Elm ceiling light works great in the space too.

    Glad things are moving along post break up. Like the new project you got going (gotta pay the bills!) and am looking forward to new progress on the cottage across the street as well!

  45. This room is really getting nice and cozy. Love the womb chair! (can you get your hands on the other one if it is so despised?) But I have to admit I was so mad at those little lamps on your mantel that I didn’t even notice crazy lady. I would totes banish them to another room (or even better – to one of your cottage renos).

  46. Great room for a GREAT man! I’ve been reading your blog for a few years and have enjoyed every single post. You remind me so much of myself when I was your age. One room by one room, chapter by chapter… live life to the fullest! Thank you Daniel.

  47. Dude. Do you know what my favourite part of the new room is? Your bookshelves. Compare them in that recent picture to your initial “after” shots, and it looks so… unburdened? Like, considerably lighter now. Lookin’ good, man.

  48. I almost feel like I would love the mantle more with just Scary Lady. Let that queen pop! I feel like she doesn’t want to be surrounded by these tame little objects trying to mellow her vibe.

  49. Yay! A good old fashioned Manhattan Nest posting.
    Your place looks great! Little Linus is just so cute and matches the sheepskin rugs very well :)I da

    Thanks for blogging …so looking forward to seeing pics of the new project house !

    Hugs from Canada

  50. Oh, I love that lady! I wouldn’t be able to stand on that side of the room, under her gaze, though. I’ll just enjoy her from a safe distance.

    I’m always happy to see the red dot show up in my blog feed. Glad you’re back!

  51. It looks AMAZING Daniel. Well done!!! xxx

  52. ALSO :) I’ve always meant to ask, but where did you find your black leather couch, it looks so comfy! Makes me want to have a nap. Does it adjust or is it set as it’s shown in the image? Thanks! xx

  53. I’d also been following your blog years ago and this post is like a well done work reward!!! I identify muself with you strongly, like we were soulmates and you gave me power to start writing my own blog after years being in my task list. I only want to give you some strength about your personal situation and appeal for continue sharing your work with us.
    “May the force be with you “;)

  54. I love that painting.

    Great deal on the rug! I once placed a winning bid on a rug that I saw at an auction — I missed it during the walkaround and just bid on it when I saw it. When I went to put it in my car, I knew why I got it for a song — it was the smelliest thing in the world. I drove home with it hanging out of my hatchback, then kept it outside for several days, soaked it in febreeze, and eventually brought it inside — where my dogs then peed all over it. But that’s neither here nor there.

    Your dogs, on the other hand, look very well-behaved and enhance the atmosphere. :)

    You’re making such fast progress on your house!!! Love the updates.

  55. i have been looking for a coffee table for about an hour a day for the past month. i hate what i’ve become and pretty sure my husband is about there, too. But this is quite possibly one of the funniest posts you’ve written.

  56. this room looks fantastic. and that rug sings!

    i just read your response to Alex about wall shelves/brackets/finding studs and repairing holes and in a single paragraph you managed to be more clear than so many posts and sites i’ve read. this is not surprising, but i wanted you to know that it is soooo appreciated. thank you! and thank you for all your beautiful work and words. have a gorgeous day and keep up all that you are doing.

  57. Love the painting and the placement. She’s condemning your books.

  58. I’ve been reading your blog for… 2 years now? And I am sending you a virtual hug. Because I am on the opposite coast and also you don’t know me, so a non-virtual hug would be mildly inapropes. But you are amazing. And I love you in the fan-to-writer kind of way. And that room is gorgeous. Love the rug, the plant, and the doggies. Also the coffee table. Really the whole room works. Anyway, hugs to you.

  59. Sending you tea and scones and hugs and good vibes :)

  60. Love the womb chair, don’t know if it is comfy or not but it sure LOOKS comfy. Love the rug, very nize colors and crazy lady painting is just wonderful! I’d take either thing off your hands if you ever got tired of them.

    Also, I love you! Me and my two American Hairless Terrier bitches can move in anytime you want. Separate bedrooms work for me if you are unable to overlook my shortcomings in the gender department :D

    I’m great with plants so there is that.

  61. Thank you for the lovely break in my endlessly annoying day. Really…I just had to tattle on a grown professional, which makes one feel both vindicated and creepy at the same time. Room looks great, glad you got a plant (the trick to life for indoor plants is to water until the water runs out of the bottom, let em get dry at the surface, rinse, repeat…except with a fern – same method, but wait until the surface is just a little dry), and your fur kids are fabulous. I concur on coffee tables and I nominate side tables for the same issues – ugly, wrong size, etc. Unless they are $1500 or more, then they are all perfect.

    • My couch side tables are things not meant to be side tables at all (one is a desk, and one a small cabinet with a drawer and door below) – both happened to be about the same height as the couch arms, so they function well. And the desk (turned sideways) makes for a large space for a lamp and other stuff. So I guess I managed to avoid looking for side tables by using what I had (as I have managed to avoid looking for coffee tables as well, using a wood trunk.)

  62. When my ex moved in one of the only pieces of furniture he brought was a horribly beat up and way too large for the space black IKEA coffee table. While we were together I hesitated to do anything about it because I wanted him to feel like he had contributed to “our” home and also it was free and, well, already there. I cannot tell you the joy I felt two weeks ago when I finally got to replace it with a much smaller bench, hand made from 100 year old reclaimed wood! Good riddance to the ex and his dumb coffee table.

  63. Awesome room, awesome post. The scary lady brings out my irreverent streak, I guess, because I dearly want to hang Christmas lights on her.

  64. What a great space! Each piece is interesting on its own, and the room has a really nice balance. I’m a huge fan of old rugs.
    Watching your room evolve as you find and build different elements is so much more engaging than a “look, west elm gave me $5000 to spend!” type blog makeover.

  65. My mother has just moved from the home she raised us in to a new build with underfloor heating and fewer stairs (both needed for a retireree in England) and my brother and I got very excited as she told us we’d be getting some furniture and probably some of the art that didn’t fit. Fast forward 6 months and the new place has ample wall space and furniture space so my brother and I continue to dibs the pieces we want when she eventually moves on from this life (hopefully in 40 years in her early 100s). I did get an amazing old wooden chest, some library card drawers and an entire collection of antique bottle so I really shouldn’t complain. Nothing like a bloody womb chair though!

    I might have to email you for some advice about which of my Grandfather’s beautiful midcentury armchairs I should keep, he has 3 different sets and all are so comfortable but I can only have the one (the cost to reupholster is going to be huge, brown was a very popular colour then).

  66. Maybe I’m going blind, or maybe I’m way too accustomed to staring at a particularly bad mural in my neighborhood, but I swear that crazy lady painting is of Michael Jackson circa Thriller.

    The last time I got out of a long term relationship, I showed up at the local Benjamin Moore at 8am. sobbing that I needed to repaint my bedroom (a very dark color). The kind soul at the desk gave me the decorator’s discount and said, “Don’t worry honey, it gets better.” It does. Eventually.

  67. The fun of a mantel is that you can change it whenever you want to whatever you want. As for the rest, Suzen said it.

  68. It’s a beautiful room! And I’m so happy to see Linus and Mekko!

  69. #1 Your bench is NOT STUPID. It is awesome.
    #2 $150 for that rug??? Are you fucking kidding me?!? I hate you.

  70. Daniel, so glad you haven’t lost your sense of humour, or your ability to write so brilliantly.

    I love the rug, the lamp, and most of all – that portrait on the mantlepiece.

    MORE PLANTS, PLEASE!

  71. mantel styling: Just get rid of the two lamps, and it the look is just great! Everythign else fits perfectly to the portrait!

  72. I just love how this room is developing. All colourful books are beautiful and dogs are soo cute :)

    Veronika
    http://www.livingbypanicca.blogspot.com

  73. Looking good! Can you do a post about how your dogs lounge on your furniture and you still manage to have pretty light furniture that isn’t covered in mud? I have a big rescue mutt and I am decorating our first home (after/during a major reno and with a small budget like you). I need tips and tricks for decorating with dogs (making them happy and making the space pretty). Thanks!

  74. I really like your mantel, actually. I generally hate styled mantels because they look so…like someone thought “I am going to create A Moment. Right here. On this mantel. And it will look so stylish. And it will say ‘look at me, I am a styled mantel’.” Yours looks like “here are a couple of wonderful and useful things [lamps] and some other things that look great and that are Me.” (I wish I could have explained myself with fewer words.)

    I admit the painting-woman’s eyes kind of freak me out, but what great colors! Picks up the blacks and dark greens and blues elsewhere in the room and is a surprise next to the bright colors on the bookshelves.

  75. Oohhhhhh Linus.

    That’s pretty much it.

    Well, no—also, glad to see you back. As another poster commented, it does indeed get better.

  76. More puppies, it’s been so long since they last showed up! The space looks incredible!

  77. And I can not wait to see what you can now freely do whatever the hell you want to do with that fabulous Corpse Tub! :D

  78. Your scary lady is not scary… she is simply saying WTF. Imagine…. you’re in your living room, you make a comment about something/anything, or you think something/anything to yourself. Just look to your lady portrait and she’ll give you the answer. WTF! Or, if you don’t like swearing, “really”. (Must use sarcastic tone when using this word). I love her and would like a portrait like her in my home.

  79. the room looks great.
    and i so agree on the womb chair: it’s one of the most comfortable chairs i’ve ever sit in.
    the design is nice, but it’s not a real beauty, though. often, wegner’s designs are not really beautiful but a very little bit ‘clumsy’, but his chairs are almost always so comfortable. arne jacobsen’s chairs, on the other hand, are pretty and elegant (swan, egg) – but they’re not comfortable. (the mayor sofa is an exception: that sofa is the only really comfortable designs among jacobsen’s seating furniture.)

  80. Hi – A few things:
    1. I love your blog!
    2. You are hilarious and adorable!
    3. I’ve never really been interested in small dogs or pittys but Linus and Mekko are two of the cutest things I’ve ever seen. I have a picture of Linus hanging at my desk, the one where you say he looks like a tiny little old man in a lamb costume. It’s gotten me through some bad days. And probably kept the letter opener out of several people’s eyes.
    4. The living room looks great!
    5. Especially that rug!

  81. As someone whose home is almost half full of hand-me-down furniture I applaud your mom for listening to your design aesthetic about those chairs! I wish my grandmother/great-grandmother/mother/inlaws had more eclectic taste. We’re stuck with a lot of French Provincial furniture that my mother is threatening legal action against me if I paint them. I love the vibe you’ve got going on with your antiques, modern, and admittedly SCARY art.

    And I am officially jealous that you snagged that rug for $150…$150!!!!!! Crazy.

  82. The living room looks fantastic. It’s amazing how you’ve been able to breathe new life into this tired old house. I’ve loved being able to tag along on your DIY journey.

  83. I just found your blog and enjoy it so much. You’re talented with houses and a very talented writer. I love your sense of humor and look forward to more of your posts.

  84. This room is awesome. And so are you! I just love your writing.

  85. I want to hang out in your womb chair and read books. This room is beautiful and looks comfortable at the same time. I also wish I had a Mom I could have conned into buying two womb chairs. I love them.

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog over the years and am excited to see where you go from here.

    PS that painting is way to cool to be hidden. I’m glad you saved it from destruction. I too have a painting in my house my husband doesn’t like but I keep it because it’s been in my family since the 60’s and I’ve always loved it.

  86. Just found your blog this morning (via sfbybay) and I’m in heaven! I love your new house – the kitchen is fantastic! The womb chair here is great but I’m looking for info on your little leather safari sling chair! I’m thinking of buying one at auction for $2400 and I’m freaking out – where did you get yours and do you love it/find it comfortable? Am I crazy to spend so much? I’m old enough to be your mother but love you and your work – keep going you’re fantastic!

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