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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  • Hi Grace, thanks for sharing these photos. I was hoping to enter the giveaway but as usual Canadian readers are excluded. It is a bummer. Maybe you could consider more inclusive contests in the future…

    • Angela

      I’m sorry that the contest is only open to readers in the US, I understand that it’s frustrating when not everyone can be eligible for every giveaway. I wish I could include everyone, but the generous prize is donated by West Elm and they control the rules. I wish this could be open to everyone reading, but the sweepstakes rules in every country are different, so I know it’s tricky to do something this big that covers everywhere. The vast majority contests we host here- all of the 10-year anniversary giveaways last year, books, scholarships, etc. are always open to everyone), but over 60% of our audience is based in the US, so I didn’t want those readers to miss out on this single opportunity. But I hear you and will always make sure I ask about that and include everyone everywhere as often as possible.



  • It looks beautiful! I wouldn’t expect anything less because Grace your the best! haha! I had to it rhymed. But in all honesty it is fantastic. I’m crossing my fingers and toes for that West Elm giveaway! TY!

  • Thanks for the tour, Grace… And for the contest! (Fingers crossed.) What fabric did you choose for the sofas, keeping in mind that Hope will be lounging (as she is in the photos.) Totally copying you using the sheepskin for dogs on the sofa… Love it!

  • Congrats! You have done an amazing job. I love the idea of spending time with friends and family by the fire – sounds so cozy. You have a great vignette going on that long table by the windows. I’ll be pinning this for when we get to remodel our little abode one day.

  • I love every inch of your home. Crazy about the fusion of mid-century sofas and more traditional antiques….and holy cow, does Julia’s family own a home decor shop bc her family pieces are stunning!! That long bench and passover table….drool. Great salvage door. Totally obsessing over black painted doors. Well, now I need to Pin each and every shot! :)

    • SEM

      Thanks! Julia’s family has great taste. Both of her parents work in design/art/books/publishing and have pretty amazing eyes for all things home. We’ve been fortunate to inherit and borrow some great pieces from them.

      Grace :)

  • Jeez. Louise. That is gorgeous. I’ve been feeling bad about buying white paint for all our rooms, but this made me feel so much better! There’s a lot of pressure to paint rooms insane colors like eggplant or persimmon. Which is what the previous owners did in our laundry/half-bath. It’s like a scene out of Amityville Horror.

    Keep the pictures and inspiration coming!

    • Ashley

      I love eggplant and permission, but these days I’m feeling way more into white. I think it’s something about spring and wanting everything to feel fresh and airy. I’m sure when it gets cold again I’ll want to bring on richer colors ;)


  • Really beautiful! Can you tell me where you got the bench cushion or where you go the black and white fabric?

    • Hi Erin

      I sadly don’t have the fabric name, but it came from a lone role of this fabric at Joe’s fabric on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I tried to get it from them when I posted this table a while back on DS but no one at Joe’s seems to know the maker :(


  • It looks fantastic! Love the long table with books and plants by the window; the corner with the chair, table and fern; and the great family portrait. Such nice results from all your hard work.

  • Love the headboard up on the mantle! Once you’ve had a chance to work in the yard, you should do an indoor/outdoor plant tour of your home!

  • Grace, this room is absolutely beautiful! I love all the natural light and plants! It seems like the perfect room to curl up in during a cold winter night and read a book with the fire roaring. Thanks for sharing!!!

  • Love it! Did you use the same paint as the walls for the white fireplace or go with a high heat version? Getting ready to do the same and would love to know brand/color/tips. Thx!

    • Hi Christina!

      We used the regular Benjamin Moore ‘White Dove’ for the fireplace exterior because it won’t be exposed to the same high heat. I consulted with our fireplace installer and they said that only the firebox (the inside square that’s black) will be exposed to anything too hot and that it should be fine. I’m prepared to probably repaint that foot section every year because I have a feeling it will get dirty.


  • Gorgeous, Gorgeous, Gorgeous. All of it. All of this is comes with such great taste and style, but also so clearly comfortable for people and pets. And, I have been stalking West Elm for a new coffee table for months — and I had seen that one a hundred times and never took notice until now that I can see it here in your space with the unfinished top. Tempting…very tempting…

  • Thanks for the giveaway. I absolutely adore West Elm, in fact we are “updating” our living room and master bedroom as I type this, and we purchased a few items from West Elm for both rooms. (In fact, I’m waiting patiently for our desk to arrive…hurry up West Elm, I can’t wait to style it!! ) Great pics, and what a lovely area!

  • Hi Grace,
    I love the makeover! The piece above your mantle is beautiful, it looks a lot like Ariel Alasko’s work. I also recently added a Persian rug to my living room and love how it adds to the room. I hope there are future contests us Canadians can enter too ;) thanks for sharing.

    • Patty

      It’s an Ariele Alasko piece- there’s a link to her in the picture of that piece :)

      Re: International entries, I’m sorry this couldn’t be open to everyone. There are very different rules for every country when it comes to sweepstakes and some competitions aren’t eligible in every county and sadly this is one of them. I double checked with West Elm and this was the case with this one, too.



  • That black door/white knob is a really lovely touch.
    Too bad Canadian readers can’t enter the giveaway though :(

  • What a beautiful space! The sofas look so inviting and that gorgeous long table looks like a shot from Martha Stewart. I am a huge fan of Martha and her decorating, so please take that as a compliment! :)

    Awesome giveaway, to boot!

  • Grace, are you planning to add curtains or blinds down the line, or do you prefer to leave windows undressed wherever possible?

    I’m struggling to work out with our new home whether I actually need curtains/blinds. I definitely want window coverings for the bedroom for functionality, but I’m wondering if it’s more ingrained habit that’s making me assume living spaces need them, too.

    • Hi Kate

      Ideally I’d like to have plain linen or white roman shades on all these windows but frankly, I can’t afford them. I bought some for our den and our bedroom because those areas face our neighbor and the street, but this room is pretty shielded by trees. Our house sits on a little less than 4 acres and this part of the house faces the most wooded area, so we don’t have any worries about privacy. That said, I’d still love to put in fabric shades at some point, it’s just not in the budget right now :)


  • Thanks for the BIG TIP about high heat paint being very toxic and advising both good ventilation and wearing a mask. And please, dear– since you both are still young– get a PROPER respirator mask for the toxic jobs!! The dust mask in image #9/24 is good for, well, dust…but it will NOT protect against toxic fumes.
    Working artist/builder talking here, as my (much older) lungs have been exposed to many toxic fumes over the years, and I don’t want you or other readers to have the kinds of respiratory ailments I now experience. (…and no, I’ve never been a smoker…)

    Thanks for all the great work & sharing it with us, & enjoy yourselves as you evolve your home. xxoo

    • Miz Fox

      The respirator I bought was labeled as a paint respirator and graded as proper for this type of paint. Perhaps it looks similar to another type? Either way, yes, the proper mask is always important.


  • Looks fantastic! Love the way you’re displaying your book collection, and reading that you’re looking forward to see what blooms in your garden this year brought a smile to my face – the little surprises that pop up through the growing season are some of the very best parts of moving to a new home. So fun!

  • Looks great! A question about lighting–do you just have the standing lamp and small lamps in the windows? Maybe it is because I am getting older, but I can’t seem to bring enough lamps into our living room to see at night. And we have an overhead light as well. Is that an issue for you too?

    • Hi Amanda!

      The ceilings are pretty low in this room, so an overhead light isn’t really an option unless it’s super flush. I prefer table lamps for most everything. That said, we are eventually going to add a console behind the first couch (the one closest to the black door) and two more lamps on top of that, I think with those we’ll be set. The room gets enough natural light that we don’t need the lights until 7 or so most days.


  • Beautiful! It’s been so fun seeing how y’all are transforming this home. It seems your taste is leaning more toward traditional and timeless, which made me wonder what plans you have for your pink couch. I’m guessing since you brought it with you, you’re keeping it, but wondered how you’ll be using it. Any ideas for it yet?

    • hi tiffany

      it really is. i think that’s the common ground julia and i share, stylistically. she leans a bit more minimal and modern and i can lean a little floral/antiquey. so between the two of us in something clean and traditional ;)

      the pink couch is in slide 23 i believe, buried under the junk. we’re going to use it in that room once it’s cleared out, but i think eventually we’ll need to reupholster it. turk has shredded it. it was totally my fault- i stupidly picked a pink fabric that was WAY too thin to be upholstery. they warned me and i should have listened. :(


  • I love it! You all have done a fantastic makeover. I didn’t see it mentioned, but I am crushing on the fabric used on the bench at the Passover table. I would love to know the source of the fabric. Thanks for sharing your home.

    • thanks nancy!

      i mentioned it above- sadly i don’t know the name. i bought it from a lone roll at Joe’s fabrics on the LES of nyc. when i called back to get the name she said she didn’t know and didn’t have it on record :(

      i posted it on my facebook a while back to see if anyone recognized it, but no dice so far.


  • I absolutely love your home and the black and white fireplace turned out so gorgeous! I like the comfy gray couches facing each other… well i really love all of it actually. :) yay house!

  • Absolutely lovely – and how perfect that you get some fabulous sofas for free !! very relieved to see your pink sofa is also waiting to be installed somewhere !! It’s all gonna be lovely . Xx Bea

    • MCL

      thanks! yes, we are indeed very very lucky. it felt like christmas day and the lottery wall rolled into one when those couches were unloaded off the truck. we’re both so thankful for the generous gift.


  • Well done on the transformation – it looks incredible! I also love the door and door furniture choice. I’ve been looking for some similar to restore to our original 1930’s but they’re incredibly hard to track down in the UK for some reason.

    You’re choice on the white walls also makes me feel better about painting 90% of our new home white. I think there’s something about making it feel clean and fresh that signifies new beginnings to me. Especially since our house was an ex-repossessed property still stuffed full of the previous owners things and in a terribly neglected state (he was a hoarder and I think probably felt relieved on some level to be away from it all since he didn’t take any of it when we asked).

    Also pleased to see an awesome company like West Elm spread the love.

  • Looks great (even slide 23!)!! The color palette in particular is spot on!

    I see from some of the photos in this slideshow, and others, that you have some baseboard heaters throughout our house. My small Philadelphia apartment has them too and I’ve struggled with furniture placement/layout as a result. Especially things like bookshelves–feels not smart to place books up against a heater and I despise that gap between the furniture and walls! Any thoughts on ways to deal with this? Thanks!

    • Hi Juliana!

      We built over them in our kitchen makeover (that’s on DS, too). You just need to provide ventilation for the heat to escape. But if you’re serious about book storage yes, they probably shouldn’t be over a heat source. But I tend to prefer to have things where they work best for easy access, so we’ll probably also build some storage over these with ventilation- it’s cheaper to build that in than to replace all the floor heaters with radiators, etc.


  • This post just made my day! I love how the images convey the huge difference you both made to the living room – you’ve made it so liveable, beautiful, and comfortable. And I love how clever Julia is with the driftwood sculpture and the Trojan helmet piece. I also really like what you did with the Passover table. Thanks so much for sharing with us – you’re an inspiration. :)

  • Gorgeous- I love the book table And your “upside down” coffee table top. Do you know the dimensions of thus room? We have a long living room that I’d live to break up like this but I’m just not sure because it’s kind of a narrow space.

  • I love the rug in front of the fireplace. It didn’t occur to me it’s too small until I read what you wrote. :o)

    The white walls are beautiful. Flat is my favorite finish, especially on older walls. I’m painting our ceilings and was totally overwhelmed by how many whites there are to choose from, so I finally bought the standard ultra white it comes in, not tinted, and love it.

    Your home is looking super comfortable and inviting!

  • I’m madly in love with the contrast of furniture, walls and floor, it’s just too perfect. I’ve been looking for furniture of the similarity like forever.

    Your sense of placing things to stand out and scintillate is so gorgeous that I’ve fallen in love with it, hehe (chuckles)

    Wish, I get lucky enough for some beautiful perks.

  • beautiful! simple and elegant really. and it makes me long for white paint in my home! renting here and not permitted to paint…it just really does make everything pop and look fresh doesn’t it? and GREAT choice on the couches! good memories to come for you both! (oh and your four legged little ones too!!)

  • I love Ariele Alasko’s work. Looks great up on the mantle–love how you found a new spot for it. I really like how you ended up using that passover table too. It looks great with all the different pieces/books. And your wood stove is beautiful! We have one too.. isn’t it the best? The room looks really wonderful– I love how bright it is now. Also, just want to say thanks for the chance to win the gift card. I’ve mentioned in past comments the super old house my husband + I are fixing up too, + it would be such a huge help to fill the space once we’re finished. Fingers crossed! :)

  • Lovely, and I envy your having separate living and t.v. rooms! Regarding the too small rug, if you really want to keep it in there, you could try layering it over a much larger sisal rug (unless sisal is not your thing, of course!)

  • Everything looks lovely, what a difference you have made! It looks very cozy, definitely a place I would love to hang out! Now you’ve got me dreaming about what I could buy from west elm!! Sigh…

  • What a beautiful room – a great balance of old and new. I love the long table and bench acting as somewhat of a library. Your house is looking great!

    p.s. Also – I don’t know if I should admit this! – but I often have videos on while I am working at home too. I have streamed all of the Frasier seasons on Netflix!! So, it was pretty funny to see your laptop with Frasier on it ; )

  • Thank you for being so transparent. Moving is tough and getting all of ones things out of boxes and finding a new place for them is quite a process!

    I love the headboard over the mantle idea and the small etchings are my favorite little detail. The lovely textures and simple colors result in the room looking both elegant and comfortable.

  • I love how you transformed the room, turned out super! It’s so nice to see how people in other parts of the world live (I’m from the Netherlands) and get a peek into their personal lives :)

  • Your place looks beautiful! It’s so refreshing to hear that, like me, you can’t afford fabric shades. May we both find them in our budgets soon. Also, I’m reading this as I prepare my house for Passover. Julia’s family had a special table for Passover?! That’s heavy duty. (I cover mine according to my local Rabbi’s rec.)

  • oh it looks lovely, especially the fireplace, with that crazy beautiful artwork! Love the oh-so-comfy-pj’s pic! And my heart swoons for the white table lamp!✨Many happy days to cone for you two in this beautiful home.

  • It’s all so beautiful! I’m sure your family will have many happy years there. Thanks for introducing me to Lamon Luther Jones. I love the table, your smarts to flip the top, and especially the manufacturer’s back story. West Elm earned my respect.

    • Lulu

      I haven’t had any problem with them so far, but we’re not a very “high traffic” family for walls because our pets are pretty chill and we don’t have kids.


  • 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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