I gotta pick up the damn pace on these posts! Let’s talk about my living room, which has undergone some recent changes to celebrate 7 years in this kooky house! It’s #2 on the plan above so you can stay oriented. We covered the hallway (#1) and half-bath (#9) a few weeks ago!
Here she is when I first bought the house! Acoustic tile drop ceiling, crazy pattern on all the walls, exposed radiator lines that ran in front of the original molding—take it all in. Ah, memories.
Here we are today! I probably futz with this room more than any other in the house (you can see past versions here, here and here). It’s had a couple different sofas, rugs, side tables, art, and it’s probably held every chair in the house at one point or another. It’s feeling pretty good these days, but I’m sure it’ll continue to evolve!
You know I’m a terrible blogger because there’s very little in this room I can link to for you to go buy. I found that rug at auction several years ago, the ceiling fixture is long-discontinued West Elm (who do still make great lighting, fyi), and the art between those two windows I pulled out of the trash. The Patrick Townsend String 10 light is one of my favorites—I got it forever ago on a flash sale website for like $30. It’s the coziest thing at night!
One of the biggest parts of renovating this room was demo-ing out the ceiling. It was originally plaster, over which furring strips had been installed to put in acoustic tiles, probably in the 60s or 70s. I’ve you’ve ever demo’d plaster, you know how insanely dusty and heavy and miserable it is. The plaster itself was half missing and totally unsalvageable, unfortunately. I removed the lath as well, but if I were doing it again I might have opted to leave it in place. Woulda, coulda, possibly shoulda? Ah well. I used the opportunity to have some electrical work done, as well as re-route the radiator lines so they could be tucked into the walls/ceilings before the new drywall went up.
When you walk into the house, this is the first glimpse you see into one of the rooms. For years I had tons of books hanging on track shelving on this wall, but after my KonMari purge I didn’t need nearly that much shelving anymore. And in any case, this massive painting came into my life, and how perfect is that wall for it??!
So down came the shelves and up went the painting, and I’m very happy with it. I inherited the painting from my grandparents, who collected lots of art throughout their lives. Their collection is now scattered around the country with various family members, and I was lucky to get to choose a few pieces to come live here! This piece is by Wesley Kimler, a Chicago-based artist they loved. Thinking about it now, this room has a LOT of pieces from my grandparents in it—the sofa, side table, and Eames lounge are all from their house as well. I love that my family heirlooms are pretty much all stuff like this—they had great taste!
It was pretty obvious from the get-go that, at one time, this wall had a mantel. It was never an open wood-burning firebox, but would have had some kind of wood or coal-burning stove in front of it, with a flue that hooked into the chimney up by the ceiling. The house was fitted with radiators probably around the turn of the century, so these older heating methods became obsolete, and it wasn’t uncommon for fireplaces of all varieties to be bricked over and/or removed. I think the previous owners used this room as a bedroom (2-family house at the time, remember?), so they probably wanted to put the bed there.
ANYWAY! I recently found out that this fireplace was originally marble (SIGH), but whatcha gonna do. This mantel came out of my friend John’s house (it wasn’t original, so he took it out and had a period-appropriate one installed), and I kind of like that it has some personal history and I think it works well with my moldings. I wrote all about the process of installing it here! Anyway, the whole set-up is totally fake and useless, but it provides a nice focal point and something to kind of organize the room around. It felt like something was missing without it!
The art above the fireplace (sorry about the reflection on the glass) is a pastel by Michael Mazur, also inherited. I found the little robin’s egg Eames rocker out in Portland, Oregon years ago—long-time readers may recall a totally gross episode of fixing it up in my Manhattan apartment. I remember some seriously sore fingers after that endeavor.
And my worst.
That’s the door to the hallway! This wall has seen a lot of iterations, but here’s how it looks right now!
That hulking beast of an armoire is a recent-ish acquisition—a gift from my friend John (of mantel fame—see above) who got it at auction and gave it to me for my 30th birthday. Ha! That’s a big thing to just arrive at your already-crowded house, so it sat in the hoard room for a while before finally finding a home on this wall. It’s a traditional Dutch Kast (which means cabinet—it’s also called a Kas, but I guess that also means greenhouse? I DO NOT SPEAK DUTCH I APOLOGIZE), a carryover design brought by the Dutch from their motherland when they settled this area. It’s clearly had some work done to it over the years (the drawer has been rebuilt, and the enormous crown around the top is newer but a faithful reproduction of how it would have been), but the original piece probably dates from the late 1700s. If you live in the Hudson Valley, keep an eye out for these—super cool and pretty specific to this region! Currently it’s holding books and photographs.
The little ceramic planter is from Lail Designs, a local ceramics studio that does beautiful work! I have a few of their pieces here and there and love them.
I mean, that molding. How could I not fall in love with this house? I was powerless.
Because of the way the doorways are aligned, you can stand at the far end of the kitchen and see this view! I’m digging it.
ANYWAY! Like every other room in my house, this one still has plenty of things on the old to-do list. They include things like:
- Restore all three of the windows.
- Add a doorstop behind the hallway door so the knob stops hitting the wall.
- Swap out the outlets and light switch for brown receptacles with unlacquared brass plates.
- Refinish the floors.
- Repaint! Yes, of course I painted this room already, but it could really use a freshening up. This house has been through the WRINGER over these past 7 years with non-stop renovations, so rooms I did at the beginning are feeling kind of shabby. I also feel ready to switch up the paint scheme—kind of over the white on white!
- A little molding repair or replacement where Bungee helped himself as a puppy. Little jerk.
We’ll get to all that at some point. Projects forever.