Four Things In the Living Room (and a Look Back)

As we wait for the final steps in our kitchen (ahem, the whole back door thing), we poured a little effort into the living room this past weekend! FOUR small changes, but kind of big, too.

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ONE. I mentioned that when we chose the wall color for our kitchen, our goal was to eventually paint the adjacent main dining and living space the same, Intense White by Ben Moore. It’s not that we didn’t like the current color – Pensive Sky, Behr – but, well… okay, no, I simply despised it.

At first, we did like it! We loved it! It was a far leap from the orange walls and patchy drywall, and it felt so refreshing to have at least one room in the house that was one, clean color. But as months went by and we slowly began layering in our furniture, it felt too cold, too modern. Our home’s first floor receives very cool light to begin with, and it only highlighted the blue undertones in our paint choice. It was to the point that the blue-ish gray on the walls was making me angry (hi, I’m crazy), and when I finally admitted to Scott that I can’t take these blue walls any longer!, he agreed that if we could find a color that worked for both the kitchen and living areas, we could just knock it out.

And so, we did what any sane couple would do, and we repainted the living room a shade so similar on paper, yet so different once complete! Below, you can see how blue the Pensive Sky was in comparison to Intense White – a super (super) soft warm gray that still contrasts against our trim work but feels so bright and welcoming at the same time. We had it color matched to Valspar Optimus in a dog-friendly eggshell finish.

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Yes, it was absolutely a pain to admit our mistake and disassemble the entire room to get it right, but it just feels so. Much. Better. The warmth in the paint feels right for this house, and although it took a couple of tries, it was 100% worth the effort.

TWO. Since we knew we were going to be stirring up that big room, we finally hunkered down on another tough decision and purchased a dining room rug! To balance the intense color of our couch, we were in search of something that had a natural look (think: jute or sisal), but preferably less taupe and more gray. Could it also be square? And, if possible, cat friendly?

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We found the winner at a place called Sisal Rugs Direct, and after ordering a handful of samples, we landed on this style in Belize Pewter. It’s a four-season rug that can be hosed down should we ever need to go to that extreme, but the best part is that it’s polypropylene (with a real sisal look), meaning, the cats don’t care.

Upon ordering, I realized that we had the power to make the size completely custom, and so we opted for a very specific 6.5′ x 7′. (A little blue tape around the dining table nudged us in the right direction.) This would allow us to pull the dining chairs out fully without tripping over the carpet edge and still allow a proper walkway through the main areas of our home. Now, the dining area is no longer a sea of wood! A subtle addition, but room-changing.

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THREE. In other (riveting!) room-changing news, we finally replaced our placeholder end table with one that we love! After our kitchen counters were installed, we had a slab remnant from the same quartzite cut to a 2′ circle; the plan was to use it as a tabletop for an end table in the living room. What started as a Craigslist ( slash Krrb, slash Ebay, slash Chairish) search for a pedestal base turned into finding this adorable guy (below). It was a steal on Craigslist, and the photo online gave us the impression that the marble top was in terrible shape, hence the low price. But upon pick up, we found it to be so sweet and perfectly aged; a spritz of mild cleaner and a microfiber cloth buffed it up nicely. I did, however, scrub off a bit of rust to the base with steel wool, and I finished it with a coat of Clark+Kensington’s Nein! Nein! Nein! OK Fine – our favorite blue-black.

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It’s tall enough to meet up with those high couch arms, similar to the table on the opposite side. It’s slightly smaller with a different, more petite base than our other table, and it’s a nice balance that doesn’t feel overly matched. The leftover quartzite will find a home eventually – maybe the bedroom? Or studio? Time will tell.

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FOUR. Finally, for kicks (and since all our art had to come down to paint), we flip-flopped the placement of our dinos. Big stuff, you guys!

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Since it’s been a while since we’ve tweaked anything in this room, I can’t help but to take a look back; it’s the most gratifying part of this house journey! Here we are, two paint colors, a rotating crew of dining room tables and two big, bold purchases (you know, plus months of tearing down to build back up) from where we started:

There are still a handful of things we want to do in here – we’re looking at roman shades for the dining room windows to add contrast to that wall, a large plant, and we’re on the hunt for a pair of sconces that don’t take themselves too seriously. With all the bones in place, we’re happy to allow those items to fall into place slowly; probably.

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  • susan - March 26, 2015 - 6:57 AM

    Love the Intense White in the living/dining areas. It is so much warmer. And that dining room rug! You had me at ‘completely custom’!ReplyCancel

  • Kevin - March 26, 2015 - 8:17 AM

    Just wanted to take a moment to compliment your editorial style. Always such a pleasure to read.ReplyCancel

  • Julia@Cukoo4Design - March 26, 2015 - 8:17 AM

    Love the new color. Everything looks amazing. And that rug is perfect too. I tend to buy outdoor rugs because of the cats too. Maddie on the couch is the best photo ever by the way. Sitting pretty ;)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - March 26, 2015 - 9:23 AM

      She’s a prissy lady, that’s for sure. Wanting to be the center of attention – but don’t touch… (Love that girl.)ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ RatherSquare.com - March 26, 2015 - 8:56 AM

    That is the cutest table! Perfect for the space. And I hear you about living with a wall color and just not loving it over time – we’re planning to repaint the nursery (a little more drastic color change than yours) because even though the current color is okay, I feel like there are better options out there that will balance the room and its furnishings better. A pain to do it all over again, but I’m encouraged by your successful second try!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - March 26, 2015 - 9:23 AM

      It will be so worth it. I’m so much more calm now, ha!ReplyCancel

  • Amy B. - March 26, 2015 - 9:06 AM

    I’m chiming in with a suggestion for the extra quartzite… Turn it into a lazy susan! We used one in the corner of our kitchen to spin the flour/sugar jars. You just need one of these: http://www.amazon.com/Shepherd-Lazy-Susan-1000-Capacity/dp/B00004YOKA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1427378775&sr=8-1&keywords=lazy+susan+baseReplyCancel

    • Kim - March 26, 2015 - 9:22 AM

      Oh man, that’s a great idea! Actually, a friend of ours has a lazy susan-esque round coffee table, and it’s too fun. The slab we had cut would be too big for the kitchen, but I’ll have to remember this when we ultimately turn it into a table. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Cait - March 26, 2015 - 9:20 AM

    While I’m a sucker for blue paint colors (my art room is blue, and we painted the bathrooms, kitchen, dining room & library with Valspar’s Glass Tile), I can see why you repainted! Your navy sofa stands out even more now! (As it should!)

    We’ve actually repainted our living room twice, the kitchen three times, and the dining room three times (above and below the chair rail, so I guess six colors in total?).

    Love the new end table, and thanks for sharing the rug source! Something similar might be perfect for our backporch/sunroom.ReplyCancel

  • Meg - March 26, 2015 - 9:30 AM

    This looks incredible! We were almost convinced to paint our living room Pensive Sky, but now that we see this contrast – I think we’re sold on Intense White. :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - March 26, 2015 - 9:36 AM

      Yeah!! Definitely paint some swatches on the wall to be sure. Even though we did that with Pensive Sky, I think it was still tough to tell with all that orange and patchy drywall. The Intense White is our new favorite gray, absolutely.ReplyCancel

  • Micah - March 26, 2015 - 9:37 AM

    Please…I must know! Where did you get those awesome armchairs in your living room? They are amazing and just what I’ve been hoping existed!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - March 26, 2015 - 10:39 AM

    The names of paint colors crack me up! I feel like we should write a haiku or a poem incorporating all of these silly names.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - March 26, 2015 - 12:48 PM

      Our walls made us blue
      The pensive sky was too sad
      Ah, yes, intense whiteReplyCancel

  • Nicole - March 26, 2015 - 11:13 AM

    Am I right in assuming that the sconces will flank the couch? I have been looking (for what feels like) forever for some sconces to anchor my couch. I’d love to see a round-up. I need some inspiration! That, plus I can’t get the Cedar & Moss sconces out of my head. They’re beautiful, but I don’t know if the style (and, ahem, price) are right.

    I’m loving your living room. The evolution makes it so much better. What a cozy place — you can practically feel it through the screen.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - March 26, 2015 - 1:07 PM

      Yeah, we’re thinking they’d flank the couch, although at one point, we toyed with the idea of illuminating the dino art! We don’t want them to be a show piece, necessarily, but something super understated… we THINK.ReplyCancel

  • The Kentucky Gent - March 26, 2015 - 11:39 AM

    It’s definitely a small change, but a HUGE difference. And I’m exactly the same way, if one thing is off with something I’ll never be happy with it and it’s the first thing I’ll notice every time I walk into a room.

    I helped my dad replace the trim on their glass panel in their back door, and I press one of the screw covers in a little too far. So of course I had to figure out how to pop it out so that I could place it at the same depth as the others.

    Best,
    Josh – The Kentucky Gent
    http://thekentuckygent.comReplyCancel

    • Kim - March 26, 2015 - 1:07 PM

      We’re tea peas in a pod!ReplyCancel

  • Alexis - March 26, 2015 - 11:47 AM

    It looks so good! I’m amazed how fast you got it painted, such a subtle improvement!ReplyCancel

  • Sajida - March 26, 2015 - 12:39 PM

    Looks fantastic! I understand how you can dislike a shade of white. I had to get a new paint colour for my walls as well. I started painting and could not believe how pink the wall looked!
    What colour is your trim paint? Thanks.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - March 26, 2015 - 12:48 PM

      We’ve been using Behr’s Ultra Pure White (semi-gloss) straight from the shelves throughout the whole house!ReplyCancel

  • Clever Girl Reviews - March 26, 2015 - 2:30 PM

    Love the new color!ReplyCancel

  • Trude - March 26, 2015 - 4:37 PM

    Love it all! I want to go to there. That wall color really pulls both rooms together, and how awesome was that table find?ReplyCancel

  • Bridget - March 26, 2015 - 4:48 PM

    Nice touch to the walls.ReplyCancel

  • Amy - March 26, 2015 - 5:07 PM

    I’ve been looking everywhere for a custom rug/runner that will hold up well to a very muddy dog, cat, & boyfriend. How does the Four Seasons style feel to your feet? I’m only allowed to get a runner that is “unscratchy.” :)

    Love seeing these small updates! Crazy what a few little changes can do to make everything feel better.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - March 26, 2015 - 5:13 PM

    It’s NOT scratchy! I mean, it’s definitely not cushy, but it’s not scratchy at all – something Scott wouldn’t have liked either. The place we ordered from has free samples, so I would be sure to grab a few of your favorites and feel in person before purchasing.ReplyCancel

  • Nate - March 27, 2015 - 9:19 AM

    I like the color in the living room! It looks great! Question: do you have any thoughts on white curtains on white walls? Obviously, you have done it (well, an almost white, I suppose) and it looks fantastic! I ask because some West Elm folks have told us that it is a no no. Did you guys wrestle with that at all, or was it a nonissue? :)

    Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - March 27, 2015 - 9:45 AM

      Interesting! I wouldn’t call anything a no-no, as long as you love it. That’s the most important, right? In our case, the white curtains in a living room that’s heavily saturated with navy and red felt good for us. A bit of a “relief” in the room. We go through ups and downs where we want to embrace ALL THE COLOR, and there are times when we just want things to feel soft and serene. For now, this is it!

      In the dining area though, we’re going over navy swatches for some roman blinds to balance everything out!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - March 28, 2015 - 10:58 AM

    Hmm, I may have to consider this paint color for our next project! I wanted something light and airy with a gray tint, and this might be a good fit. It really made a big difference in your room. I had no idea how blue your old paint was lol. Have a great weekend!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - March 28, 2015 - 4:23 PM

      I don’t think we even realized how blue it was! It feels so soft and sophisticated now.ReplyCancel

  • Kaleigh - March 28, 2015 - 9:24 PM

    Wow!! I absolutely love reading your blog. It’s truly inspiring, and I love how REAL you are! You admit when you make a mistake. You try and try again! Love it! You have come a long way and I can’t wait to see what else you have in store for us!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - March 30, 2015 - 9:44 AM

      Well, sheesh, you sure know how to make these two happy. And my goodness, do we make mistakes! Without that, how would we find out what we really, really love?ReplyCancel

  • Josh - March 30, 2015 - 1:20 PM

    This is looking soooooo nice! I’m in LOVE with the new wall color.

    I think Intense White may be my new favorite!ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca G. - March 30, 2015 - 4:50 PM

    With the dino print switch it now looks like they aren’t totally ignoring each other and are sizing each other up for a battle royale!ReplyCancel

  • Tina Slocum - April 1, 2015 - 12:00 PM

    The difference in the paint is amazing! The room such a perfect feel. I can see now what you mean by how cool it read before. Photo 3 of the dining room wall, light and mirror is pure perfection. It is so great watching these steps and learning how subtle changes can make such a huge impact.ReplyCancel

  • Alex - April 16, 2015 - 2:50 PM

    I really love this post, because it demonstrates (in gorgeously-shot photos of one of my favorite blogger living rooms!)how what appears to be a really subtle change in paint-shade can make such a big difference. I have had similar struggles with my own living room and the way light affects the color, tho’ in my case it has more to do with what the room looks like at night. My walls went from yellow to what I thought was a white with just a hint of cream–and that’s how it read during the day–but in lamp-light those walls looked really yellow again, which with my brown couches made for a very dated and not especially attractive color combo. I even tried bright white light bulbs to no avail. My walls are now painted BM Gray Owl lightened 50%, and the cooler tones are making me much happier. Thanks for backing me up–my husband thinks I’m crazy for re-painting 3x in one year, but oh the difference a shade makes!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - April 16, 2015 - 4:26 PM

      Thank you, Alex! So glad you found your perfect color. We tested Gray Owl before Intense White, and it was waaaaay too cool for our space. Funny how every case is so unique.ReplyCancel

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