the living room

Subtitle: having the patience and nerves of steel to wait for what you want.

Sub-subtitle: the longest post ever in the history of The Handmade Home and all of the blogging web-o-verse.

So, one of our most tedious rooms ever, in-process, is this little gem of our main living area. It was a bit of a challenge from the very beginning when we moved in five years ago. But once we finished our kitchen, I knew it was time to move on to the rest of the heart of the home.

Our main living area was okay. {Some of you guys may think I’ve lost my mind.} I hate to be negative about something that’s perfectly fine. But I honestly didn’t love it. The space didn’t flow, and I didn’t want ‘fine.’ Like every other room in our home, I wanted ‘us.’ As I confessed in this post, when we first moved into our home, we bought sofas on a whim {paid waaaaaay too much for them} and as a result, the entire space felt swallowed by two dark monstrosities.ย ย I made a bad decision before I really knew what I wanted and because of that, I was paralyzed by indecision, guilt, and the bachelor club monsters.

Side note: I love how you can gain a peek of our kitchen’s “before” in this shot. Be gone, nasty overhead fluorescent light!

But I kind of grew up and changed a lot over the past few years. I have a whole new philosophy of not letting the small things stop you, no matter what the obstacle is. So once I accomplished my first goal of convincing Jamin of the unthinkable: to let me sell those {perfectly good, mind you-let’s just say he loves me very much} leather fiends, I used those funds to complete the rest of the space.

This room was a work in progress, because we didn’t go back to the mass produced store and grab up two of the same thing. We were on a budget, and I wanted two “leftovers” with just the right shape. Potential was the name of the game. This space is a testimony to the power of sticking to your guns and having the patience to work it out.ย 

And here it is…our new living room.

This room, now that we’ve added the veranda, has no windows connecting directly to the ‘outside world.’ Lighting and layout could be a challenge, as it’s literally the centermost room of our home. So I decided to go lighter and brighter with Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace. It added an instant coolness to the walls…perfect for the feel we were going for.

The new addition to this room is this slipcovered sofa. I purchased yet another brown monster {eek!} but it had those coveted rolled arms I so wanted. I wasn’t willing to pay the prices of said rolled arm availability in the big wig mags. But I did want the slipcovered look to balance out the feel of the rest of the room, and keep it from becoming too legg-y {if that makes any sense.} I’ll be touching more on this tomorrow, and my favorite person in the whole entire world, Tiffany herself, will be giving a great post with her take on it all.



I replaced a brown table in our room with a piece that I’d painted to sell, and then loved it so much I held on to it. It has a stamped grasscloth wallpaper finish under the glass. ย I think I paid about ten dollars for that little side table at one of my fave junk spots. I think it adds character in it’s little spot. Those lamps? Gross {old 80’s-not the good kind} brass nastiness that desperately needed some spray paint, and some shades from Tarjay.

If you’ve been stopping by for a while, you know I always go for my statements on the walls. ๐Ÿ˜‰ This frame is one of my absolute favorites. It was constructed from pieces of trim, and plexiglass I had cut at the local glass store. At a whopping 4 x 6, it holds our super silly family photos {all of them taken via Instagram on my iphone.} I’ll be including a tutorial on this one, soon!

Here, you can see a peek of the newly finished coffee table.ย My favorite part about this piece, is that I can easily switch out this top for something new when I tire of it. I gave it a new look with a fresh coat of paint. It has more of a plankedย ย look now, and really helped brighten the space.

This fabric was a bit of a splurge for me, from Calico Corners. I was originally going to design my own, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Sometimes its good to NOT reinvent the wheel, right? I saw these patterns in different areas of the store, brought them together and fell in love with the combination.

Lots of you may remember the chair makeover.ย See ya, Masterpiece Theater wannabees. I topped them off with more of that fabric using this approach to piece those pillows together. ย Yep. I officially have a patchwork addiction.ย ๐Ÿ˜‰

Just a glance: I refinished some old black frames for a fresh look, and placed them on top of my grandmother’s record player. My mom played her records on this growing up, and when they were going through all of my grandmother’s things after she passed away, I immediately requested this piece. I remember being fascinated with it as a child. I love mixing the dark with the light for a pop of contrast, and adore the look of vintage with a meaning behind it all.

These two pieces may be two of my favoritest things we’ve ever made. {I know that’s not a word. Go with it.} Of course, I have some tutorials coming up. I love the dark mix of wood and jute on the coffee table to keep books and magazines contained. As far as that gargantuan art piece: I often refer to us as the Mills fab five, so I guess the graphic designer in me reared her {sometimes scary} head once again, as I couldn’t resist a nice graphic touch for the space.


Our television is out in the open, so I decided to create a gallery wall around it by combining old and new frames with stripes for a fun, carefree feel on the wall.


That dresser was refinished,ย I stuck with that mirror, and decided to place a telephone painting I did that once resided in the dining room, in the bottom of the fireplace for an instant screen. {Only when we’re not using it, of course.}


Many of you may have already seenย Duncan’s before and after.ย He was a previously well loved soul, and with the help of my brilliant friendย Tiffany,ย ย we gave him new life. We used simple linen paired with a subtle contrast in the piping. Not only is he wonderfully comfy…he’s perfect for the space.

That rug is one of our few pottery barn purchases. Eventually I would love to add in some hardwoods when the budget allows, but it provides a wonderful texture in the room…to the point where you almost don’t notice said carpet. Bonus: it’s totally stain resistant.


I removed the {heavy brown} curtains, again, to keep the room open and light. I love the simplicity their absence provides.


Yes, I do have three children. And a 60 lb lab mix. Yes, I do live in reality. Yes, those chairs + Duncan will be promptly scotchgarded.ย And that slipcover can be thrown in the wash. More on that, later. No. Really. I’m kind of dying to discuss. ;}

And there you have it. A look at a space that took a really long time to bring together, required lots of patience and help, but was totally worth it in the end. Did you fall asleep? ๐Ÿ˜‰ I can’t thank Tiffany enough…she’ll be back tomorrow with a great look at that slipcovered monstrosity. I think you will find it really interesting, coming from a pro! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Again, I’ll be providing tutorials on a few of these items in the upcoming days, as it was a vast amount of information to cover in one post.ย Let me know if you have any questions, below!

Thanks again for stopping by. I love hearing from you!

This entry was posted in bungalow revamps and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
Be Sociable, Share!

Responses to the living room

  1. Debbie says:

    Can I come live with Y’all? Oh my goodness, I love everything about it!! It’s gorgeous!

  2. Pamela says:

    Absolutely BEAUTIFUL! I love taking time and making a room over time with so many aspects and personal touches. When you can look at different pieces and have your own story with them already.

    Great job! Looks so inviting!

    Pamela @

  3. Amanda French says:

    I love it! You have “resparked” my interest in finishing off our space! Right now we are living in a small apartment (that we moved to from a three bedroom house) and I am trying to donate adn minimalize (to a point) things we don’t need and/or cant use right now. At the same time I am trying to decorate an it has been an overwhelming, chaotic tast- but you have gotten that excitement back for me with your post! :)

  4. Wendy Till says:

    Gorgeous! I love the colors! I can’t wait for the tutorial on the big 4×6 frame with the pictures. I would love to do this for our living room!

  5. amelia says:

    oh my my! that MILLS FAB 5 is SO FREAKIN COOL! i want one! it’s funny ’cause people call me mills- your living room looks out-of-this-world inspiring!!! nice work as always girl!
    p.s. do you ever sleep? :)

  6. Love it! It’s light, fresh, and airy! I would toats curl up in Duncan with a good book. And I’m glad that you weren’t afraid to go with bright/whiteness even with kids!

  7. Shannon says:

    Found your link at Refresh Restyle. You had me with the aqua accents… my fav. What a light filled, airy, warm, inviting room. Looks fab but like you could still live in it. Great balance. (I too would have kept that darling little side table) Off to look at your site some more…

  8. Erin says:

    Looks great!! I just love your style!

  9. Kay Ellison says:

    I have been patiently waiting ALL morning for you to post! And it was worth the wait! I love love love the Mills Fab 5 sign! You always have incredulous ideas and they turn out even better. The frame above the couch turned out awesome! So glad I know you! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. I love Duncan. What a lovely room. I cannot wait to see the tutorials. I see a larger graphic House of Kells hanging on my wall in the future.

  11. Jennifer says:

    yep, knew i’d love it!! i’m collecting pics for my instagram collage as we speak (or as I type, or…you know what I mean). :) and so funny; your fab 5 sign…love it!! i’ve been doing some old flooring “art” lately (dad had some old pine flooring stored away) and I saw your sign and my jaw hit the floor! I’ve been working on something very similar. I love the scale of that piece though; mine have been smaller. that biggun is a great statement piece though, wow!!
    anyway, yep, i’m in love. let me know how that scotchguarding works; i’m wanting to go white too!

  12. jessica says:

    Great redo! You always seem to have cool wall arrangements with photo’s…photo arrangement intimidates me! I love how you put the rug over the rug…it’s looks good :) I love the slipcovered look 2. I’m looking forward to your post about that! Thanks for sharing

  13. paige says:

    i am giving you one glorious standing ovation!!!!!

  14. Leanne says:

    The gathered fronts of your chair cushions make me want to sing and twirl around like a little girl. I didn’t know chair cushions could do that. Love. Them. I also love the Mills fab 5 sign. Great pop of color and graphic element. I really like the windows without the brown drapes and the white walls look so fresh and airy! Great slip covered couch too! :)

  15. Jessica says:

    I think your makeover looks great! I have to ask you where you acquired the gray fabric with the graphic print. I saw an ottoman with the same fabric at Home Goods several months ago, but when I went back to purchase it, it was gone! Thank you!

  16. Naomi says:

    What a beautiful living room. I LOVE your style. You have such talent. And I am amazed at what you can do with 3 young kids in the home! ! You are an inspiration.

  17. Ashley,
    Your room is GORGEOUS! I love everything about it! Such a light and bright space for your family. That slipcover is amazing! My slipcover is all lumpy, bumpy and too big for our couch. I’ve pinned it, stretched it and yelled at it, but it still looks horrible. As of this morning, it has a red, gummy Nutrigrain bar stain on it from a certain toddler. Thank goodness I can throw it in the wash.
    I love the personal touches with all the photographs! We just moved our TV to a bigger wall, and I was thinking of doing a gallery wall around it. Now I know it will look great!
    Thanks for sharing all of your hard work with us!

  18. Laura says:

    Oh my goodness! I love it!! I am anxious to read Tiffany’s post about the slipcover. Our couch is the same shape as yours, and I’m dying for it to not be dark green anymore! Bleh! Anyway…great job – the room looks awesome!!

  19. Kara says:

    After 9 months of changing my mind over and over, I finally pulled the trigger and got a new sofa last night. Your living room has inspired me to keep on going with that room makeover. There’s so much to love about your new space.

  20. Teresa says:

    Wow! What a different room. I love the play of casual and fun versus formal and feminine. Very nicely done.

  21. I can’t believe how different the before and after are! It’s completely transformed. Those light colours and all the friendly little pops of artwork and creativity are making me want to come and sit there right now. I especially love how personalised and FRIENDLY it looks. Posts like this make me all excited about getting a house :) I am happy for you!

  22. Jenn says:

    I am SO HAPPY for you! The white really brightened the space. Very nice! I remember when I painted our living room white…it had been a khaki greenish tan color and the white made me feel like I could breathe! Same thing in our bedroom. White is good. :)

  23. jessica says:

    it’s so, so perfect!! amazing job!

  24. Christina says:

    LURVE it :) Seriously- amazing. SO many loves.. the picture frame above the couch. Totally want. Love the Duncan. The Fab 5…. love the wood showing through and how it carries through the wood on the chairs and the record player. I just love it all! SO jealous right now! :)

  25. I love, love, love the soft and light and homemade feel of this room. My favorite things are the Fab 5 sign and the pictures…it just screams “FAMILY!” to me. What a warm, personal, loving, special place.

  26. OK, I am actually leaving a second comment. :) I could look at this post all stinkin’ day. I love the furniture redos. I can’t wait to see some of these tutorials.

    One of these days, you’re going to come visit my home in Texas and feel right at home because I will have copied every single one of your ideas that I possible can.

  27. erin says:

    Ashley, it’s beautiful! You definitely accomplished your goal of making it “you!” Every bit is so personalized and fun! I am in the middle of a similar HUGE photo collage-I rescued a 5 ft x 6ft piece of “art” from my parent’s basement and am covering it in photos for our beach cottage.

    Duncan is my favorite part of the room!

    P.S. if you get antsy on your floor/carpet, I could totally see you painting the subfloor with thick, bright stripes- maybe aqua and a soft yellow?? FAB!

    • haha you don’t even know half of the arguments we’ve had about removing said nasto carpet. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Jamin says no, I say DO it. something tells me this may just be in the horizon! Oh, and I can’t wait to see your art project! send me a link when you’re done!

  28. absolutely GORGEOUS room. love love LOVE it.
    so jealous – and now wanting to get rid of my dark leather lounges – or at the very least get onto some slipcovers……….
    thanks so much for the wonderful inspiration.
    cheryl xox.

  29. Dorothy says:

    Just beautiful! It was a very pleasant room before, but now it looks so special and has your personal stamp on it. Sometimes I’m put off by a lot of white, but you have enough color, texture, and other contrasts to make it really work. I adore your huge family photo display and the Mills Fab 5 sign. Even your chairs look different with the changed surroundings. I’m thinking a cool, calm, white living room would be very welcome when I recall the crazed time when my 3 kids were young! You did a terrific job, as always.

  30. Papa says:

    AJ – I am impressed…

  31. Amy says:

    It looks wonderful! Based on your other room makeovers, I would say that it now looks more like you :) I can’t wait to find out more info about that Instagram collage!

  32. Amy says:

    I love the “Mills Fab 5″ art piece you made! Such a cool statement in the room. Well done!

  33. Kim says:

    Enamored with this room, and your whole house. I was wondering about the lamp on your accent table between the chairs. I have a similar set-up with 2 chairs and an accent table between that I’m dying to put a lamp on, but I don’t have an outlet in the floor to plug it in and I have 2 lil babes that would be tripping over the wire if I plug it in the wall. Is there such a thing as a cordless lamp (I suppose I could just google this :o) ) how did you deal with the cord with the chairs and able floating in the middle of the room? Thanks! Kim

    • Hey Kim! Ahhh the magic of the rug! We ran it under the blue table it sits on, and consequentially under the side of the rug. it went all the way under, back to the side wall and right into the plug. Big rugs are a must have for that reason. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  34. Katharine says:

    This has been a wonderful Tada Moment. I probably shared this before, but I have that dresser in my bedroom. Now I know what it looks like white. Sweet! I like the dark wood for now though. :) I love your graphic art ..Mills Fab 5. That was a great! I’m always admiring other people’s cleverness. Thanks for sharing your home. Katharine

  35. Gale says:

    Love love LOVE it!!! :) Well worth the wait (at least on this end!) Now it looks like YOU live there :) Great job!

  36. ashlee says:

    i apologize in advance if this was already answered in the post, but what is the colour on the wall?! it’s beautiful.

    also, don’t you love weathering old second hand black frames? it’s one of my favorite things EVER. beautiful.

    • ashlee says:

      chantilly lace…right….written right before my very eyes, lol. i’m sorry. same colour as your kitchen cabinets, correct?

      i went to BJ the other day to see various shades of white, and the girl kept trying to tell me that chantilly lace gives off a blue-ish tone once painted. is that true, in your experience?

      ps. i absolutely love how you reuse the same colours throughout your house. it ties things together just wonderfully.

      • ashlee says:

        ooh ooh, i have one important question! and this is super important, so please share! lol.

        regarding your old second hand ‘egad moment’ brass lamps that you spray painted….

        i found the mother load of them at my favorite thrift store for a whopping $2 each. i was so tempted to buy them. i knew i could spray paint the base and the pole, but is it okay if the paint gets up inside on the part that the lightbulb screws into? the reason i ask is that some of the shades i found aren’t big enough to go all the way down over that contraption. and i’d hate to leave it brass and ooglay :)

        • Hey Ashlee!

          I guess it kind of does at times, depending on the light. I think it always mostly reads as a true white, but is there really a “true” white? Hmmm. You could say it has a cool cast to it, which of course, I like. ๐Ÿ˜‰

          As far as spray painting the lamps I would put some painters tape over the very top. that should minimize sprayage.

          • ashlee says:

            you are so right about the ‘true white’. i’ve been trying to find a colour suitable for our kitchen cabinets for quite some time now, without being too creamy, but without being stark and cold looking.

            now, teach me how to make those darn picture frames! lol. my husband used a jig saw to cut the square out of the center – bad idea. quite crooked in places.

  37. Fabulous makeover!!! I enjoyed your pictures so much! I adore your wood wall art with your family name . . . absolutely fab! You should be so proud of your work:) Love it all!

  38. Mimi says:

    LOVE EVERYTHING…but I’m dying to know more about the Instagram Collage over the couch…please please please make that your first of many “How To’s” from this room!

    Thanks ๐Ÿ˜‰

  39. Stacy says:

    Ashley, the room really looks fantastic! I love how much of YOU is in here and how you use your Instagrams to make that gorgeous family photo collage. Can’t wait to see how you did that. So proud of you :)

  40. Anna says:

    virtue: any admirable quality, feature or trait

    No wonder they say patience is a virtue. Great job sticking to your goals and gut. There is so much in this room to enjoy!

    Now go take a nap.

  41. Natalia, handmade nubie says:

    LOVE! I first started reading your blog bc I, too, have huge brown sofas that I can’t get rid of. So I decided to paint our black sidE tables white (I know, it sounds crazy, but I’m convinced it will look a-maz). HOWEVER the side tables now look ridiculous and are ready to e tossed out. I tried spray painting them with primer and then glossy paint. How do you paint your cute side tables?

  42. Catching up on my blog reading this morning with my pumpkin spice latte while the kids run amok. I figure I’m off duty since hubs had to work yesterday. I LOVE the Love, love, love. We moved about 6 weeks ago and it has really given me that freedom to give up old stuff that I wanted to but felt guilty about. Funny I couldn’t do it before but moving made it easy. We have a LONG way to go on everything but unpacking is down to a minimum and the decorating fun is beginning. Miss you and hope you and the fam are well! LOVE the room – my favorite part is actually the fab 5 sign. :)

  43. Yarnista says:

    Ashley, I love it! Amazing job with the sofa! ๐Ÿ˜€

  44. Alima says:

    ohemgee ashley!!! amazing transformation!! sorry i’m a little late commenting, but ive been so busy lately and haven’t been able to check my usual blogs.
    I think I’ve read through this post now about 4 times, clicked on every single link and pinned several things too!
    I have so many questions. I just need to take a trip to Montgomery and see/ask in person! ๐Ÿ˜‰ j/k
    Where did you get the linen for the chairs and duncan? I love the linen look and have been contemplating slipcovering a chair in it, but it’s so expensive. Did you justify it because you sold your couches or did you find a great price somewhere?
    I, too, would love more info on what type of sprayer to buy. My husband and I just built 2 adirondack chairs and I am going to spray them white, but I am dreading using a regular spray paint can and the amount of time and coats it will take.
    I have zillions more questions, but I will stop there for now :)
    Awesome job again! Oh and you have inspired me to buy a sea grass rug to put over my living room carpet. We also would love wood floors but just can’t do it right now. I have wanted to use a rug but always been worried that it wouldnt look right, but yours looks awesome!

  45. Robin says:

    Brilliant idea with artwork covering the fireplace! You just solved one of my major dilemmas, thanks!

  46. Kim says:

    I just found your blog thru another blog. Such great ideas here!
    I see you have a tv on the dresser and was wondering where do you put dvd player or vcr any other sound equipment? Do you put them in the dresser drawers? (but then you wouldn’t be able to use remote control very well)…
    Thank you.

  47. Where is the info on your giant FREAKING AWESOME collage above the couch?! Am I blind or is it not mentioned in the post? I am new so if it was mentioned before I am in the dark!! How on earth do you find a frame that large? You had to have made it… How do you make a frame that large?! Is there glass? I have so many questions?! Tell me about that frame!!! ๐Ÿ˜€ PLease? :)

  48. Christi says:

    Did you do the white enamel painting on all of the woodwork/cabinets yourself or did you hire it done? If you did it yourself, how horrible of a project was it???

  49. TidyMom says:

    I want to move in!!! I’m currently working on our family room and I LOVE everything you did here!

  50. Robyn says:

    Do you have a tutorial for the fab 5 sign? Thanks!

  51. Hi there mates, how is the whole thing, and what you would like to say about thbis post,
    in my view its really remarkable in ffavor of me.