Know-Nothing Design On a Beer Budget: Living Room

I have absolutely NO talent in design. I tend to go stark. Because I am too afraid to clutter a room with mis-matched oddities. (Unless said oddities include legos, in which case, I make that happen!) Making it worse is that both my SILs are style geniuses in different ways. Kelly is a talented artist and she lives in a hundred-year-old farmhouse that she’s reinvented as chic and modern. She lives in Austin and her style is Southern Modern Chic.

My other SIL is also from the South, but she is more urban and modern. She just designed a black and white marble basketweave tile floor for her bathroom. It looks amazing.

Since we moved into our new home, we have transformed each and every room! Into a play area station for the twins. We have one grown-up area/living room which is a receptacle for chairs and more toys. Nothing goes together. We have art, but it doesn’t look right.

In other words, HELP! In other, other words: we have no money. So, clearly, great things are going to happen! I can feel it.

Let’s start with the enormous wall of light brick that takes up half the living room! It looks yellow in this picture, but it’s actually really, really white. Knocking it down would cost a fortune so I’m trying to figure out how to make do. I’m thinking if I got an ready-made white or grey mantle and put it over that fire hole thingy that might look better.

Mantle #1

Or Mantle #2

Which mantle do you prefer? And where the heck do I get a mantle for way, way cheap? Like $100 bucks? Are you laughing?

In terms of the rest of the room, I’d love for it to be seating, a built-in area for our TV and maybe a sectional. I don’t know what else. Here’s the glamour, the intrigue of our bizarre living room:

It’s a hodgepodge of uselessness.

Here’s Yellow/green inspiration! Love the sectional and colors. Don’t love the metal things on the wall. And where’s the TV?

I am quite partial to the whole Belgian grey/lavender thing since staying in a lovely hermitage there during my weird and unexpected business trip.

So I’m inspired by this photo. Where at least there is a TV!

What do you guys think? Mantle #1 or Mantle #2? Yellow and green or Grey color palette?

Thanks mucho in advance!!


Filed under Design, Discovering joy, redesign

10 responses to “Know-Nothing Design On a Beer Budget: Living Room

  1. Wordgirl

    I am loving the lavender & grey… I also love the idea of built-in bookshelves/cabinetry on either side of the brick wall (do you have much room on either side of the brick or is it the whole wall?)– we too have a brick wall/fireplace that had nothing — we bought a very understated brushed nickel fireplace insert — so you’re not looking at all at the fireplace but more at the brick wall –(our place was build in mid-century — and I’m so much more a farmhouse type of girl — whatever…) But you have such lovely high celings it seems — could you go to a salvage place — they have a ton of them here — where they sell salvaged pieces from old homes — you might be able to find a mantle? ALSO — I just now looked at that rough-hewn log shelving idea — and that’d be very urban/eco cool — if its possible to affix a large rough-hewn timber as a mantle there? I like the idea of the clean line of the timber cutting horizontally along that brick wall.

    Have you checked out Pinterest yet? It’s like a social media/virtual vision board that allows you to see other people’s design inspirations and links. It may be a great source.

    I’m always stuck because all I want out of life is a wall filled with a floor-to-ceiling California Closet shelf/drawers/cubbies/t.v. hiding device for our den — the chaos has driven me to just want storage and organization — design be damned!

    Good luck! It looks like a wonderful space to work with — but i know how it is — everything has wonderful potential if you have the $$$.



  2. Mo

    Definitely mantle #1!
    Re: the colors, my mom is an interior designer and she always says it’s best not to go with colors that are too bold in a living space, because you get sick of them easily, and a couple of years down the line, they feel dated.
    So grey. definitely go for grey.

  3. This is from my rad SIL in Austin:

    So Google is going to be your best friend on finding good deals. I looked around for just a minute and found “fireplace mantel shelves” for about $80 and up. The cheaper ones are usually just primer or unfinished and a quart of paint is cheap. As far as drilling into that brick wall…you will have to do a little research on that. Maybe hire someone to come out to install it. Personally I would just go with the shelf and not the whole hearth. I think it would be easier to work around and install. Frame the sides of the fireplace with something if you want it to be the focal point- tall slender vases or two slender bookshelves, something like that. Do you use the fire place? Ive seen some decorated on the inside. Painted, housing books or nic nacs or sculptures…Hanging the TV over the mantel is pretty popular and then you don’t have to try and arrange your furniture around two focal points (your parent’s). But you have the space to put it elsewhere. Look at your electricity availability. Maybe on the wall above your table with the pictures on it, outside if the kids play room. Or catty corner in the nook to the right of the brick wall. Two focal points on one wall would be easy. Also I think you should hang something soft (an ambient painting pulling from your color scheme, or maybe a fabric you like roped like a painting) on that looong brick wall. I believe the room is yellow? That is the hardest color for the eyes to process. I’m a sucker for greens but the calming lavender and grays would also be a good choice for relaxing. Paint your brick a lighter color then the walls. As far as furniture, I’m a fan of sectionals as well. They will give you more freedom to rearrange, but they are expensive. Keep an eye out on sites like overstock and ebay. And with you living next door to one of the coolest cities you should have no problem furnishing with lamps, curtains, area rug, art. If you soften that room it will feel more comfortable. Hope some of that helps.

  4. Oh how I wish I was independently wealthy and unemployed, I would so beg you to let me design that room for you! I saw so much inspiration when I was there. So if you ever want someone to help scour antique shops or flea markets, I’m your girl. 😉

  5. I like Mantle#1 more. And the green and yellow match. I must say I’m just the same with these things. I want to be able to make it chic and pretty but have no clue how to get there. It’s just not my thing either.
    Oh, and hope you feel better soon and not needing to be on bed rest.

  6. I like the first mantle and I am all about grey these days!

  7. Oooh, fun! I think mantle #1 might work better to break up and define the space around the fireplace. Personally I would go with a grey palette, but I’m also way way way partial to cool colors rather than warm. Color is pretty subjective.

  8. I have never had the space or the cash to explore my inner designer (assuming she exists, at all) but I completely agree with Mo. I LOVE color but, you do risk getting sick of it. I say, stick to timeless neutrals for the major elements (walls, furniture, etc.) and then give the vibe you are looking for using pillows, throws, etc. I know money is an issue so think of the fun you can have scouring flea markets and the like.

  9. Pingback: Welcome, ICLWers! | Too Many Fish to Fry

  10. I agree, neutral is usually best. And yes, why is it that in every living room featured in a magazine, there is never a TV set??

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