Interiorssneak peeks

Our Living Room Update + West Elm $2,000 Giveaway!

by Grace Bonney

Over the past few months I’ve shared some peeks inside our home in upstate New York and it’s been so fun to hear everyone’s feedback, suggestions and ideas for what we should do (or consider) next. I shared a pretty detailed look at our upstairs the other week and then a partial peek inside the downstairs. I was waiting to share a full update on our main living room because we got to work with West Elm to furnish this room and really bring it to life. Julia and I both dreamed of having a real “grown up” living room without a television and two sofas where we could sit with friends and family in front of the fire and talk for hours. Now, thanks to some help from the West Elm team, we can finally settle into this room and welcome our loved ones comfortably. The room is still a work in progress, but I’m excited to share a peek at what it looks like now… and to announce that West Elm is going to be giving away $2,000 to one lucky D*S reader in the US! In my 10 years of blogging, this is the first time I’ve ever had help from any brand to makeover a part of my home, so I felt it was only right to extend that gift to everyone else. I can’t wait to see what one of you does with this prize! xo, grace

CLICK HERE to enter the giveaway and click through for a peek inside the process of decorating our living room!

West Elm Pieces We Used For Our Makeover:

Pillar Table Lamps

Modernist Table Lamp

Montgomery Sofas

Lamon Luther Jones Coffee Table

Overarching Floor Lamp in Brass


Paint colors:

Trim: Benjamin Moore ‘White Dove’ (I still haven’t painted the windows themselves yet…)

Door: Benjamin Moore ‘Onyx’

Walls and Ceiling: Benjamin Moore ‘Decorator’s White’ (I want to change this to ‘White Dove’ eventually.)



Our living room today! Click through to see where we started and how we ended up here...
This was the first day we saw our house upstate. This room was a butter yellow with pale yellow window trim and a non-functioning fireplace.
The house was billed as having a working fireplace, but upon inspection we found that both the fireplace insert and the chimney lining were damaged and unsafe to use. Because someone had literally cemented the fireplace insert into the fireplace, we had to hire someone to jackhammer it out so we could get to the chimney to repair it. The professional opinion of our chimney experts was that it needed to be taken down and rebuilt for safety. So we were fortunate enough to get the house price dropped enough to cover the renovation.
When we moved in, this exterior door was actually a hollow interior door that had mold on the inside and outside from water damage. The piano left with the previous owner.
The first thing we did in our living room makeover was to open up the doorway between the living room and this front dining area. That was the tiny opening before...
And this is the opening after. We hired a contractor to do this for us and this was as far as he could expand it without running into a support beam. It immediately brought so much more light to both rooms.
The next thing we did was paint the walls and ceiling a standard flat white.
This was the new fireplace we had built and the woodburning stove we had installed inside of it. The fireplace is pretty much decorative, as it's not required for the stove to function. We both liked the look and feel of a traditional fireplace. These sand-colored bricks and mortar took a month to cure, so we couldn't paint until it was dry and ready. (This has to be one of the worst pictures of me in my hodge-podge pajamas, but it's the best and only photo we have of how this room looked for the first month or two we lived here. We borrowed the green couch from Julia's Mom's office.)
When the brick and mortar dried, we painted the inside and bottom of the fireplace with a high-heat (up to 1700 degrees) black paint meant for stoves. It's pretty toxic, so if you choose to paint your fireplace, be sure to ventilate the area well and wear a mask.
The inside was too tricky to paint, so we switched to a spray paint version of the high-heat black paint.
Next we decided to swap out the hollow interior door for a great old antique back porch door. We picked it up for $100 at Zaborki's Emporium in Kingston, NY.
A few weeks ago we had the most exciting day: furniture delivery day! West Elm let us pick out some pieces for this room and we decided on two sofas, a coffee table and lamps. These sofas, The Montgomery, look beautiful and are filled with a comfy down blend that makes them perfect for weekend naps by the fire. The coffee table, the Lamon Luther Jones Coffee Table, is by a Georgia-based company that provides homeless people with work and career opportunities. The table came with a shiny grey finish and I actually preferred the unfinished wood on the bottom, so I flipped it to use the bottom as the top!
After West Elm delivery day, we brought our furniture from Brooklyn up to fill the rest of the space. This used to be our dining room table (it's Julia's family's old Passover table) and now it fills the back section of the room perfectly.
Now that we had our sofas, we needed a rug for the room. I fell in love with this vintage rug (Iranian, I believe) from our local antiques hero, Ron Sharkey. It's too small for this space, but I love it too much right now to move it. It adds some warmth to the room and I'm happy to have it there for now.
And this is the room now! I snapped these pictures this morning and they show the room in its current state. I finally got around to painting the new/old door black (Benjamin Moore "Onyx") and I added one of Julia's family chairs, an antique table from Ron Sharkey's antique shop, a Modernist Table Lamp from West Elm and two of my favorite plants. The fern sits on top of an antique twig table I bought at Erie Basin in Brooklyn a few years ago.
On the wall are two antique etchings that I grew up with at home in Virginia and have always loved. They were on the floor of my old room's closet the last time I was home, so I brought them back with me.
A closeup of the nautical etchings and the new/old door.
I wanted to bounce some more light into the center of the room so we hung a mirror here on the center of the front wall. There's a weird little jut out on the wall here, so it's not perfectly centered, but it will do. I'm hoping to keep my eye on vintage shops and thrift stores to find a little drop leaf table to replace this bench eventually. (The mirror was a vintage piece I bought online from a shop in Virginia a few years back.) The bench/table is a salvage piece I bought from Jersey Ice Cream Co at Brimfield in 2012.
The full room, viewed from the front room (where the doorway was widened). I love how bright and airy it feels now. It suits our style and feels like a great place to be in the summer when we can open the windows up and also feels cozy enough for winters by the fire. The arc lamp in the corner provides great light for the sofas and also came from West Elm.
Julia and I (well, mostly Julia) have a huge collection of books. Our collection is about 3/4 cookbooks and 1/4 home and garden. I decided to put out all of my favorite home and garden books here so I can grab them when I need them for ideas. And on either side are my FAVORITE lamps from West Elm, the Pillar Table Lamps in Marble. Julia made the little wooden sculpture using leftover driftwood we collected on an open day at the Ashokan Resevoir (where people were allowed to come take what the parks dept dredged up!)
Julia picked up this antique tray at Ron Sharkey's antique shop and the Trojan helmet piece was an old lamp Julia disassembled and painted white. My copy of Dirr's Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs is all marked up and ready to go for gardening inspiration down the road.
Above our mantel is a family portrait I had done for Julia for Christmas this year. It was drawn by Katie Turner and shows our whole family (pets included) in front of the house. The artwork is actually the first headboard Ariele Alasko ever made that I splurged on when she first started to work online. It is too small for our bed now (I bought it for myself when I lived alone and had a smaller bed) but it felt like the perfect art for the mantle. I like the way it echoes the Catskill mountains you can see from these windows and the triangular wood holder we have on the floor, too.
People always ask what happens to the stuff you move when you get ready to take photos, so I thought I'd share this shot in the interest of transparency. About 1/3 of this is mess from the living room I moved out of the way to take photos and the other 2/3 are things we haven't unpacked from our Brooklyn move (just five days ago). I like to watch Hulu while I'm working, so that's an old episode of Frasier on my laptop. I sort of love the contrast between this mess and the clean room opposite it. Better tackle this next I guess...
CLICK HERE to enter the giveaway and a chance to win $2,000 to makeover your home! (Please note that the contest is open to US residents only at this time)

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  • slide 23, the cream window framing/trim against white walls and those gorgeous caladiums…well that is a perfect troika you don’t see everyday. Thanks for the eye candy! youse gals did yourselves proud.

  • Wonderful home Grace! It looks so comfortable! I was so glad that you had a few vintage pieces as well as West Elm. I love going to antique stores, thrift stores and garage sales! Thank you for sharing your home with us and I loved your interview on Marie TV.

  • Beautiful home! I love seeing the “clutter room” too… makes me feel better about having an attic that I am perpetually cleaning out and cluttering back up again whenever guests come over and I need somewhere to hide the mess!
    Do you mind sharing where the triangular fireplace wood holder is from?

  • This room is beautiful and calming! Way to go!

    We’re in the market for a new sofa and I’m stuck on fabric choices because of our cats. I know all cats are different, but have you had any issues with yours clawing furniture, and do you feel pretty comfortable with the linen weave you picked for your new sofas?

    I’m leaning toward velvet because I’ve heard cats aren’t fans.

  • Having a spot that’s comfortable for conversation in a living room is key. I love that the sofas in the pic are complimentary but not so matched up. Grey tones are so sleek and make me want to sit down for a spell and catch up on the news.

  • It looks so cozy! Did you originally paint it Decorator’s White and now change your mind? I always see that paint color recommended for whites. Just wondering. Thanks for updating us!

  • Admiring all the pretty plants in your gorgeous home, I’d love more info/if you did a post on your favorite pet safe houseplants :)

  • Wonderfully done. Earthy and calm with terrific light now. That super loooong table is fantastic! I’m big on easily accessed stacks of inspirational books too — that’s an excellent idea.

  • really fantastic progress. and you picked two of my favorite west elm products…your sofa and those marble lamps! i love the contrast of the sleek lamps with that passover table…stunning. can’t wait to see more!

  • Hi Grace –
    I’ve never written before, but after today’s pics, I had to!
    LOVE all you two have done – been following the progress and feel privileged to see the creation of your home. It is very beautiful, with beautiful things – but you and Julia have infused it with such comfort, joy and love. It isn’t a “set piece”, it’s a warm, welcoming home! The painted Holiday card on your mantel is incredibly charming.
    So happy for you both…can’t wait to see more! Wishing you much peace and happiness!

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