Apt. Makeover: My Living Room

living-room-decorating ideasPretty without the pretense, our goal was to make our living room the most inviting space in the house. It’s the first room guests see when they walk through the door so it had to look polished but, once first impressions are out of the way, the idea is to get comfy.

living-room-decorating-befoLiving Room Before
Maroon damask and gold accents set the tone for a formal and “mature” space. And I wanted nothing to do with that. The architecture of the room with its cove molding, 19th-century fireplace, and plaster ceiling medallion already said that. What it needed was some soft, contemporary touches to counter it.

Living-Room-decorating around the fireplaceLiving Room After
These 1940s French chairs are the sassiest and most sophisticated thing I’ve ever purchased. Asymmetrical and curvaceous, I love that they command attention but I wasn’t going to let them take over the room. To balance the space, I paired them with their polar opposite design: the nitty-gritty bricklayer’s table. The steel box formation and reclaimed-wood top bring a touch of boy to the semi-girly decor.

living-room-decorating-framesWindow Frames
Since this is technically a railroad apartment, I liked the idea of adding more windows in the center of the space. These 12-glass compartments provide no extra light but the subtle reference and the photo storage is unbeatable. (See how we turned old windows into picture frames here.)

living-room-decorating-tvMedia Center
For optimal television viewing, the most logical place to put the TV would be over the fireplace—but I couldn’t bear to do it. I didn’t want a black hole of a plasma and the back of a sofa to be the first thing you saw when you walked in the room. To remedy this, we placed the TV on the same wall as the front door so guests could take in the full space before arriving at the inevitable electronics–and my fabulous Matisse cabinet. The delicate leaf-cutouts  lighten the large piece of furniture and its compartments are perfect for favorite tchotchkes. The prints, above, are the latest addition to the house and were a year in the making, so I’ll save that explanation for a later post.

Living-Room-DecoratingStress-Free Chic
Though the frilly chairs may fool you, this is one tough living room design.  The chocolate brown upholstery on the Grayson sofa, the indoor-outdoor Le Poeme rug, and a distressed coffee tabletop can all handle a party without a scuff.

Going Forward
Still in need of window treatments, mantel art, and a bookshelf, this living room–and apartment–is a work in progress. From the projects that make the house run a little smoother to the accessories that make us smile, decorating has become a lifestyle that we won’t be done with anytime soon.


  1. If you're ever robbed and only the rug goes missing, I should be your number one suspect.

    The room looks amazing, but the rug is TO DIE FOR!

    April 7, 2010
  2. Tara said:

    What paint color did you use? It's will soon be my new bedroom color!

    April 8, 2010
  3. Restoration hardware's silver sage. It would be so pretty in a bedroom. Enjoy!

    April 9, 2010
  4. Tara said:

    Thanks so much! BTW, have you tried the Behr Premium Plus Ultra yet? I've used it on three projects now -all only needing one coat. I used it to paint white gloss walls a matte chocolate brown. Still, only one coat. No longer am I a Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore girl!

    April 11, 2010
  5. themarionhousebook said:

    Your fireplace is beautiful (along with the rest of the room!) What is it made of?

    April 13, 2010
  6. themarionhousebook said:

    Your fireplace is beautiful (along with the rest of the room!) What is it made of?

    April 14, 2010
  7. clementck said:

    This looks AMAZING! i just can't believe MIKE lives here too – do you keep him in the basement? :)

    May 6, 2010
  8. Anne! I'm in love with your home! I write the before + after design blog raenovate and I would love to feature its transformation. Please email me at rachel@raenovate.com if that sounds appealing!

    June 29, 2010
  9. Hey,nice post.good article .Pics are also good.Thanks for sharing this article with us.I like this article.Keep sharing with us.

    July 16, 2011
  10. VictoriaIngram said:

    No matter how well-designed your home, rooms start feeling stale once you’ve lived in them for a while. That’s especially true in the living room, which typically gets lots of use — relaxing, watching television, spending time with family and entertaining.


    Victoria Ingram
    tie blinds

    September 6, 2011
  11. Anonymous said:

    The living room before the makeover was too dark and heavy on the eyes. Good thing you decided to use lighter colored furniture. Love that carpet and the mirror. Quite chic.

    living room furniture sale

    September 8, 2011
  12. Opbergkast said:


    […]Apt. Makeover: My Living Room | Seeing Design[…]…

    November 12, 2011
  13. pain said:

    Been reading this blog for awhile but i have been lazy to drop a comment and say thanks. That ends nowadays: Thanks mate!

    February 13, 2012
  14. Daniela said:

    It looks amazing. I’m cracking up as I’m online looking for ideas to transform a very similar “before” -the same damask colored couch and curtains…it is just too formal for me. Although I really liked your before shot…it is very well put together.

    August 19, 2013

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