So, the living room. The magnolia paradise. The mellow yellow room of gloom. That room. It’s done. Mostly done. Done enough that I can sit back on the sofa and put my feet up without casting an analytical eye around the room and immediately wanting to get up and change something. Done enough for now then, let’s say. And it only took a mere six months … five months to faff about with paint samples only to opt for my usual pure brilliant white, three weeks to transform the walls at a pace of one coat per one small section every two days or so, and the remaining time to shuffle furniture one inch to the left and then back again. Speedy at making over rooms, I am not.
To get the living room to a state that we’re truly happy with, we actually haven’t done a great deal to it. There’s been no knocking down of walls, no elaborate decorating and no grand purchases - in fact, very few purchase at all. You’ll recognise most of the furniture and accessories from our old house, and the eagle eyed amongst you who may have been following me on social media since back in 2011 (I think that’s when I joined twitter), might even recognise a few things from our apartment in Zurich. Buy well, buy once, right? The coffee table and grey armchair are coming up for ten years old and still look like new … and, more importantly, are loved just as much as when they were initially bought.
So what exactly has changed?
As I mentioned earlier, the biggest thing has been the colour of the walls. From magnolia-ish to pure brilliant white. I know that some people find white stark. Personally, I think it’s like a breath of fresh air. I’ve tried other colours only to find that once the novelty has worn off (in approximately 37 minutes and 23 seconds), I wish I’d opted for white after all. I’m a creature of ‘can’t be persuaded by the navy walls of Instagram’ habit.
I’ll share a few other changes beyond the two to three coats of paint with you in a minute. In the meantime, here are some of the before and after photos so you can see the difference for yourself. What do you think?
It’s like a different room, isn’t it? Switching the curtains for blinds (my husband is massively curtain-averse so we’re slowly but surely doing this in every room) and adding oversized ceiling lights (Hektar pendants from good ol’ Ikea) has resulted in the space going from an in-need-of-love living room to cool-in-the-countryside sitting room … well, I think so anyway. I remain unconvinced of the cushions - they’re probably my only issue in the room - but other than that? I. Am. Done.
If you’re interested in a bit of a shopping list, I thought I’d share some old favourites and the handful of new purchases. If there’s anything else that you spot in the pictures and want to know more about, just let me know.
The grey armchair is years old (I nursed both babies in it and my eldest has just turned eight) and was bought from an interiors store in Zurich. Much like most things in Switzerland, it was eye-wateringly expensive, but was worth every penny as it still looks barely used. My one upset was not being able to ship the matching sofa back to the UK with us - it was of proportions too extravagant for an average (affordable) British home, unfortunately.
The teal DFS sofa is two years old and wearing really well. We all gravitate towards it and the boys don’t treat it particularly kindly so the fact that it’s still standing, still mark free and still in good condition is testament to its quality. I’ve seen so many grey versions of this sofa on Instagram but the teal is a real winner in my eyes and looks bloody brilliant against the white walls.
Our best guess is that the rocking chair belonged to my great-great-grandmother, although it could have been passed down to her. That makes it older than, well, old. The kiddos love it - I make them pull it away from the wall though as their rocking is rather erratic and I’ve no wish to see my recent paintwork ruined already. For a piece of furniture so aged, it sits so nicely next to the thoroughly modern stool from byAlex - another favourite of mine.
We bought most of our wooden furniture (the lift coffee table, side tables, sideboard, dining table, console unit - some are in other rooms) from Team7 in Austria nearly ten years ago. They design and make the most amazing furniture. We’ve lived in three very different homes - a city apartment, a village new build, a countryside ‘old build’ - since buying them and they’ve slotted in to every one without looking out of place. Most of the products are POA (price on application) so be prepared for a sharp intake of breath and some saving if you like any of the pieces. As we have no intention of changing of them any time soon, it’s been worth it for us, though.
Tucked behind the door is my new writing desk/shelving system from Houseology. It’s beautiful. It fills an otherwise dead space with joy and faffing potential. It’s probably the corner of our home where I spend the most non-sleeping time. The need to arrange and rearrange those shelves is strong. Seriously, take a look at my Instagram account and see how frequently they appear. The plates on the wall are melamine picnic ones from Marks & Spencer stuck on with command strips. Summer’s too long gone for them to still be in stock but Portmeirion has a couple of sweet alternatives.
The KRAFT metal bar from Maisons du Monde was one of the first things that we bought when we moved in to this house and it continues to be well stocked. I dedicated a whole blog post to it back in March and still think it’s amazing. It’s yet another piece of furniture that we’ll hang on to for years as it will work in different rooms and different homes. A clever buy!
And finally, I picked up a few new prints in one of my favourite colour combinations, red and pink. The larger blah blah blah print is by Gayle Mansfield and the smaller ones are actually greetings cards designed by Jade Fisher. They add a much needed pop of colour to the far side of the room (but are difficult to photograph because of the reflection from the glass).
NO MORE MAGNOLIA PARADISE
So, tad dah! No more magnolia paradise. What do you think? Do you miss the yellow? Was white a mistake? Are you crazy? We’re super happy with the changes. Now to get wielding my paintbrush in the rest of the house.