I’ve been wanting to do a living room tour-ish type post for a while now, but I haven’t been able to find the time to clean it up, style it pretty, and take photos of it because I have 800 billion things going on in my life (I’m fucking busy LIKE WHOA). So I gave up on that idea and took some “real life” photos of our fave space in the house. I figured y’all would want to see a living room that’s actually lived in anyway, so it works. I mean, check out that sippy cup on the middle of floor, near the kitchen. Pretty classy, right? Nope. But it’s real shit. Bitches love real shit.
Also: almost everything in here came from Ikea or Home Goods, or is DIY. There’s nothing fancy or designer about this room. Quite the opposite, actually. But it holds a place near and dear to my heart, and I’m really proud of it. I’ve tried my best to mention where everything is from and link when possible, but if I’ve left anything out please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments. I’ll do my best to link you back to the original source.
Let’s start, shall we?
Welcome to our living room. It’s a busy space, I know. But we’re a busy family. So it kinda sorta really fits us.
If you follow along with my Project Life 2014 album you know that I have a thing for lots of white space infused with pops of color. If you don’t follow along, now you know. And knowing’s half the battle.
White space and bright + bold color is a must for me, as is having green in every room. To me, green = life and there’s just something about having life in a room that makes it worth being in. We have 8 plants/flowers/trees in the living room, including ↓ this ↓ money find of a monstera at my local Ikea a few weeks back. You have NO IDEA how excited I was to spot this guy. Ask Shannon. It’s quite possible my reaction embarrassed her. Oops. #sorryimnotsorry
Our living room is basically a really awkwardly designed 16×20 rectangle. Doesn’t sound awkward, but it is. The only full wall has giant windows on it (not that I’m complaining), which means not much can be hung on it or placed along it, and because of the placement of the cable outlet, half of the room basically goes unused. I know that we could have a new outlet installed in a different area of the living room, but because of the way it’s constructed there’s not really any other place to put the TV.
The TV fits perfectly where it is and looks great there, but it leaves literally half of the room empty and difficult to fill. We kind of just let the kids have that area as a play space that can be dirtied up each day and cleaned up each night.
It may’ve looked to you like Madden was enjoying playing in that awkward area, but I’m pretty sure he’s #notimpressed. That, or he’s shitting. Either way, WOMP.
That little corner (where the lone curtain panel is ↑) is the awkward space I’m talking about, in case that wasn’t clear. We used the kids’ SUNDVIK table from Ikea as a side table, stuffed the majority of their books in a big basket from Home Goods and put it under the table, and turned that little space it into “the library”, as the kids call it.
Also, it’s where Shannon and I keep the kettlebell. It’s 50# (baby weight for us, not so baby weight for the kids) so I’m not really worried about the kids moving it or hurting themselves with it. We keep it there because it’s close-ish to the door, out of the way, and also doubles as a weight on the corner of the rug from time to time. That other basket behind the couch came from Michaels and holds a few extra throw pillows. And by “extra” I mean “the ugly ones”.
We keep our shoes in a HEMNES show cabinet, also from Ikea, and it’s pretty much a piece of shit. It took a few minutes into putting it together to start breaking and has deteriorated ever since. The fact that I have incredibly unruly toddlers who forcefully open and close the drawers probably doesn’t help. Just a guess. Also, SEE ALL THAT AWKWARD EXTRA ROOM?! ↓
THERE IT IS AGAIN! From a different angle. Like, seriously, guys. WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO IN THAT AREA?
That stool (between the door and staircase) and those kids’ chairs (in front of the show cabinet) are from Ikea, too. That other basket, behind-ish Madden, holds extra blankets and my yoga mat, and it came from Home Goods. That little pillow on the floor is only $1.49 from Ikea, and we have two of them. They serve as cushions on the kids’ chairs since they fit the seat perfectly and are super cheap.
Anyway. Broken or not, the HEMNES cabinet helps create a bit of an entryway since this house didn’t come with one. Just another awkward thing about this awkward boxy room. I legit didn’t know that a boxy room could even be awkward until we moved into this house. Whatevs.
In the spirit of keeping shit real, there’s the top of our shoe cabinet. Look at all that crap up there. Some old flower petals from two #freshflowerfriday bouquets ago. Our DIY dino succulent planter. Some “flowers” Emma picked me from the front yard (weeds). Some baby toothpaste. A pre-workout bottle. And a whole bunch of dust and cup/bottle rings. That’s real, y’all.
Also real? That random-as-fuck unicorn print. It was an image I found on Pinterest and knew immediately that I wanted in my house. It’s so hideous and gross yet hilarious for some unknown reason. When I showed Shannon the pin and she started cracking up and asked, “Can we hang that up in the house, please?” I knew it was a winner. A real gem. That “my house is usually cleaner than this” print is from Daily Dishonesty.
Oh hey, look! It’s my Ikea wall frame-turned-catch-all dish ↑ BOOM! Also on our coffee table? Some books, a couple remotes, and dirty Emma socks, of course. There’s a dried pool of chocolate ice cream that dripped off the spoon I used to chow down on a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked the night before this photo was taken up there somewhere, too, because I’m a grown up and I’m allowed to eat in the living room. Also: a toothbrush. Because why not?
A day later, and this is what was on our coffee table. That Hitler book came through my office at work as a book to be reviewed for the magazine and newspaper I work for. We opted to pass on it, and I brought it home with me. It’s a unique take on WWII, as it was portrayed by Signal, the international Nazi propaganda magazine. It’s strictly a history book, guys. I promise I’m not racist or anti-semetic.
I guess I forgot to clarify that the adults’ shoes are kept in the HEMNES cabinet. Ever since the plastic separators inside the drawers began falling apart we moved the kids’ shoes to a rad-as-fuck planter. It’s blue (duh) but has tints of gold randomly brushed throughout. I scored it at Home Goods for like, $20 bucks.
I actually really love the way the planter-turned-kids’-show-storage looks with the royal-ish blue + white striped rug that we have at the front door. Not that you can tell from this photo since the kids moved their cutie chairs over to the shoe cabinet to try to swipe something from on top of it. See more of our front door makeover.
I can tend to overlook the importance of accessories sometimes, but I’ve really tried being more intentional about brining a few smaller pieces into the room.
For the photo on the left: everything except the dinosaur (Michaels) and the succulent (local nursery) and the flowers in the vase (Wegmans) is from Home Goods. So that means that vase, the tray, the studded frame, and yes, even the stationary inside the frame (yup, that’s a notecard in the frame), are from Home Goods.
For the photo on the right: The fiddle leaf fig is from Ikea, the frame and candle are from Home Goods, and the artwork was DIY, painted by my own little Emma. Learn how to make your own DIY dino planter, if that’s your sort of thing, here, and see more of the kids’ canvas painting process here.
When RJ and I moved into this house in November 2013 the basement was intended to be used as a play space. We put a TV and small couch down there, bought a large EXPEDIT shelving unit (which has apparently been renamed to KALLAX???) from Ikea to store all the toys and books and puzzles in, and called it a day. A few problems we ran into: at that point in time the kids were way too young to be left “unattended” downstairs to play by themselves, and Madden couldn’t even crawl yet. Not the best idea.
Also: our marriage kind of fizzled because, as it turns out, I’m not really into dudes, so RJ moved into the basement and has used that space as a kind-of apartment. It’s got everything except for a kitchen — a bedroom, a bathroom, a living room, extra storage, and the laundry room.
So after he moved down there, I took one of the horizontal shelves out of the Expedit and all of the vertical pieces that attached to it, moved it upstrrrs, and turned it into a TV stand. I hated our old black one (I’m not a fan of dark furniture), and I wanted something with a top shelf that I could put huge artwork on to cover the humongous alarm system panel, doorbell box, and thermostat on that back wall.
And I also wanted somewhere to keep the kids’ toys that made them easily accessible to play with but also easy to clean up. It’s not the most perfect solution, but it totally works for now. It fits that mini half wall perfectly, and the TV is juuuuust the right size to fit in there.
The top of the EXPEDIT (KALLAX??) bookshelf-turned-TV-stand was supposed to house just the plants, candles, and frames but the cable box and blu ray player didn’t fit underneath the TV like I’d hoped they would, so they hang out up top and collect dust. I would tell you that we’re really diligent about putting DVDs away, but then I would be lying and that would kind of be like betraying this space since I made a promise to keep it real here, so there it is: we suck at cleaning up and half our DVDs are scratched but they mostly still work so we haven’t changed our ways. #onlygodcanjudgeme #tupactoldmeso
In between the two sets of double windows on the long wall we hung a few long RIBBA picture ledges (from Ikea, obvi) and threw some favorite framed photos and prints up there. Also, a little baby green dinosaur lives up there.
Another dinosaur lives on top of our Ikea kids’ table-turned-end-table.
Here’s a better view of him. He’s cool. I originally bought him to be a DIY succulent planter, but it turns out he wasn’t made out the right material for it. So he became a staple fixture on the main level of our house, instead.
And I’m not sure if you missed Frank or not, but he’s the oversized dinosaur “fossil” that I scored at Home Goods earlier this year. SERIOUSLY THE BEST FIND EVER. And the best-spent $50 of MY LIFE. Here’s a photo of Emma and Frank. They’re BFFs. Also, Frank wears a fedora. Because alliteration rocks, and because he’s fancy as fuck (HA! See what I did there?!).
He used to live on top of the TV stand but now he lives on top of the little shelf above that weird fucking cutout window that looks into the kitchen (I seriously don’t understand that window…IT’S NOT EVEN CENTERED ON THE WALL!).
Frank the Fedora Wearing Fossil (that’s his full, official title) is my fave store-bought accessory in the room (my absolute fave accessories are the girls’ canvas art above the TV — yes, a 3 year old and an 8 year old painted those canvases), but another top contender is the dish sponge holder-turned-air-plant…vase?…container?…? Whatever you call it, it’s pretty fucking rad. I scored the skull about three years ago at Home Goods. It came with a little dish sponge in it’s mouth and I haven’t really done anything with it since I bought it. But a few weeks ago I bought a handful of mini air plants from Etsy, and because they don’t need water to survive (hence the name “air plant”), sticking them inside this guy’s mouth totally works. It’s weird, but also cool. Like me.
I recently finished our gallery wall, and I’m pretty in love with it. I plan on dedicating an entire post to it but I can’t fucking figure out how to shoot the wall without ending up with a horrible + blinding glare on every fucking frame. So this is the best you get.
I tried my hand at a DIY no sew curtain tutorial that was recently posted on A Beautiful Mess. It’s a great tutorial and the curtains came out looking pretty sharp. Again, I’d like to write a separate post about my experience with no sew curtains, so for now here’s all you get.
Did you notice that there’s only one panel? Yeah. About that. That’s because the fabric I decided to use is $40 per yard. I need 12 yards to “cover” all the windows (I use that term lightly because yeah fucking right if I’ll ever close curtain panels. I like the light too much. They’re literally just there for decoration.). I’m not very good at math but that’s a shit ton of money that I definitely don’t have. I bought the first 3 yards at 50% off. That’s the only way I was able to afford it.
Oh, and see that space underneath our photo ledges? That’s the only blank wall space we have in the
living room entire house with any width to it, so that’s where I shoot Emma’s weekly photos for her Show + Tell mini album (I post them each friday on Instagram using the #showandtellminialbum hashtag). It’s also where I shot (as in, photographed) all the kids for our Project Life 2014 album’s title page (and also the outtakes).
So then there’s my couch.
MY couch. It’s new and I love it.
I have a whole bunch of feelings that go along with this new couch of mine. Too many to fit into this post, that’s for sure. Good feelings, though. REALLY good feelings. For now, just know that this couch holds a special place near and dear to me.
The wooden plant stand that the monstera is on came from the bathroom section at Home Goods years ago, as did that white + pink flower pot on the bottom of it. Although, that was a recent purchase and it’s way too pretty to fill with dirt so it kind of just sits there looking pretty. Also, have you picked up on my extreme laziness in re-potting that monstera? It’s been in that black Ikea temporary planter thing since I bought it. Which was like, a month ago by now. Whateverrrr.
The coffee table is Ikea. It looks super fucking white trash on the showroom floor, but I think it works here. The black wire basket on the bottom shelf holds a bunch of random magazines. I got it at Goodwill for $1.96. That round basket with pink handles is Ikea, and it holds Madden’s diapers + wipes + extra small stuff like Emma undies and socks. The white planter that the snake plant is in, and the plant, are from Ikea, too. And so is that blue and white lampshade on the console table behind the couch. The rug was a $60 find at Home Goods. The yellow, floral patterned, and blue geometric (no longer available, which is why we only have 1. WOMP.) pillows are from Target.
The console table (a Home Goods find) sits behind the couch and serves as a shelf for the lamp, a couple framed photos, some of our books, a small hibiscus plant, and Madden’s leftover snacks. Yum.
Can you tell all of the books to the right of The Economic Naturalist are from my early 20s? It was a radical and revolutionary time, y’all. #thestruggleisreal
Well. There it is. Our busy, loud, bright, comfy, homey, little-big living room. Some of these photos make it look way bigger than it is. I promise that it’s actually really cozy, even with that weird, unused awkward space. It’s not as expansive and isolated as a few of the photos make it seem. I PINKY SWEAR.
It’s not fancy. It’s not designer. But it’s my favorite place in the whole house. And that couch is seriously my favorite ever. So much so that the only nights I don’t sleep on it are the nights that Shannon stays the night (which is once a week at most). But that’s really because my bed feels lonely without her and I have a hard time falling asleep when she’s not next to me. That’s a whole different story, though, and I’m sure you don’t want to hear (read?) because it’s super cheesy. So, I’ll spare you the details. Besides. I already gave you a whole bunch of details about my life with this post.
I’m tired. That took forever to put together. I HOPE YOU ENJOYED IT, because if not we both just wasted a whole shit ton of time. OOPS!