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Our House: Living Room Reno Reveal

Our Living Room | A Couple Cooks

Our Living Room | A Couple Cooks

Our Living Room | A Couple Cooks

Our Living Room | A Couple Cooks

Our Living Room | A Couple Cooks

Our Living Room | A Couple Cooks

Our Living Room | A Couple Cooks

Our Living Room | A Couple Cooks

Our Living Room | A Couple Cooks

The Living Room: Before (Previous Owner)

Living Room Before | A Couple Cooks

Living Room Before | A Couple Cooks

Our Living Room | A Couple Cooks

Nearly 2 years ago, we moved into a new-to-us historic home, built in 1926. What sold us was the potential of the kitchen, which we ended up gutting and redesigning from the ground up. Since we shared about that kitchen reno with you, we’ve been sharing a bit more about the other rooms in our home that we’ve finished, like our office.

Next up: the living room. It was one of the first rooms that was close to “done” in the house. Above are before and after shots, and below are a few design tips that we learned in the process:

  1. Match the furniture to the room size. As you can see in the “before” shot, the previous owner had a large sectional sofa that took up most of the room. We traded it out for a couch and two chairs, which lightened up the space immensely. The sitting area is rather small and awkward shaped, but we’ve made the best of the space with the smaller furniture. We’re still looking for a few very small side tables to set drinks on.
  2. Lighten up – literally. It depends on the look you’re going for, but lightening paint and furniture colors can do wonders for a room. Instead of the dark brown curtains and sofa and beige wall paint in the “before” photo, we went for a very light gray wall, white curtains, and a medium gray sofa. The effect was again, incredibly lightening and made us feel tangibly warmer toward our new space.
  3. Feng shui is real. If you can tell in the “before” shot, some shelving units were hung to the right of the fireplace, blocking the space between the fireplace and the edge of the room. Removing the shelves lightened up the space even more, allowing for free, uninhibited space and removal of clutter.
  4. Plants make it. Our room was incomplete until Alex’s mom gifted us with a rubber tree plant. We absolutely love its funky vibe and the way it brings life to the room.
  5. Texturize. That may not be a word, but bringing in various textures is key to making a room visually appealing and seemingly “cozy”. We love our fuzzy throw over the chair, and the lambskin on the ottoman (named Lambie, a gift from my sister).
  6. Mix old and new. Decorating rooms can cost an arm and a leg, and we’re very sensitive to price. We love shopping for antiques, so we’ve mixed in antique with new items for an eclectic vibe. Plus, antiques can be much cheaper! The yellow chair was $10 at an antique store, the wooden chest of drawers by the front door was free (an antique gift from Alex’s uncle), and the globe was $15.
  7. Consider trading coffee table for ottoman. We spent ages looking for the perfect coffee table, to no avail. Since we mainly used our previous coffee table as a combination foot rest / junk accumulator, we decided to go for an ottoman instead. It’s much cozier, perfect for our main purpose (foot rest), and we also have a little tray for drinks.
  8. Contrast shapes. Our sofa and ottoman are fairly boxy, so we worked to find contrasting shapes to offset them, like the round mirror, globe light, and diamond-shaped chair (a surprise gift from Alex’s mom, who found it by secretly lurking on our Pinterest board).
  9. Personalize. We added a few photographs on canvas to personalize the space; the large canvas is a photo Alex took while we were vacationing in Paris, and the smaller canvas has a photo from our wedding.
  10. Be patient. It takes a long time to acquire pieces that you feel are personally meaningful and right for a space. While it’s easy to want to just buy “something” to fit the space, we’re glad we took the extra time to make sure we truly liked the elements in our room.

In terms of renovations, the living room was one of the easiest rooms in the house; we simply painted the walls and fireplace and had the floors refinished. We hired a professional at the last minute for the floors, as we were nervous Alex would ruin them trying on his own, and we’re so glad we did!

We hope these design tips are helpful if you’re in the midst of a home reno; and if not, we know most everyone loves good before and after shots (we do, at least)!

More On Our House Reno
Kitchen Reno
Office Reno

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36 Comments

  • Reply
    Jill @ Champagne for Everyday
    February 24, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    This looks incredible, especially as compared to the previous owner’s decor. It’s amazing what clean, angular furniture can do to open up a space! I love the little cabinet by the front door especially.

    Jill

    • Reply
      Sonja
      February 25, 2015 at 10:50 am

      Thank you so much! Yes, we love that cabinet too – it’s an antique that Alex’s uncle gave us for our wedding. Such a lovely gift that we’ve had in apartments and houses throughout our marriage :)

  • Reply
    Stardancer
    February 24, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    It’s beautiful! What makes it perfect, for me, is the piano. It says music, and home, and beauty. It’s perfect there.

    • Reply
      Sonja
      February 25, 2015 at 10:51 am

      Yes! I’m a pianist so when we bought a house, I bought a piano :) (We actually got it on Craig’s List!)

  • Reply
    Robyn @realfoodhwolelife
    February 24, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    I love the light space you were able to create. Hard to believe it’s the same place. Beautiful!

    • Reply
      Sonja
      February 25, 2015 at 10:55 am

      Thank you so much! Yes, when I look at the before photos, I feel the same way! It was a hard road to get there, but worth it :)

  • Reply
    Emily | Gather & Dine
    February 25, 2015 at 9:34 am

    What a transformation! Simple, classy, and welcoming. Love that plant too!

    • Reply
      Sonja
      February 25, 2015 at 11:05 am

      Thank you! Yes, the plant is my favorite too. I was admiring it at my mother in law’s place and she gave it to me — so sweet!

  • Reply
    Lisa Cohen // Life is in the Details
    February 25, 2015 at 9:42 am

    Your new living room looks amazing. It’s very calming… great color choices with the greys and whites with yellow and gold accents. Relaxing with a touch of elegance! I adore the circles that you brought in to balance the shapes and I’m a huge fan of texture for added interest and to support an uncomplicated color theme. That set of wooden drawers near your front door is beautiful too! Is Uncle Alex looking to adopt? ;)

    We, too, have an odd shaped living room. As a compromise, we chose a darker-than-I’d-like sofa but the next time around we will be going lighter!! I’m a big fan of ottomans as coffee tables. This way, there’s extra seating if needed or you can put a tray on top and it’s an instant place to put drinks or appetizers. I’m still looking for good side coffee tables for our room too and I’d rather have our old stuff than buy new stuff that I don’t love. Creating a great room takes time… we’ve lived in our home for 10 years and we still have our living room left. It’s the only room really left to go. It’s been the hardest because I also teach yoga in that room so having anything like a big area rug or furniture that has to move when I have my class is a pain in the butt. So I continue to have patience and know that it will all come together. Eventually. Ha!

    • Reply
      Sonja
      February 25, 2015 at 11:13 am

      Thank you so much, Lisa! Yes, it does take so long to come up with a design that seems personal and inviting. I’m sure it will all come together for your living room too! And I’m not sure if Alex’s uncle is looking to adopt – haha! He is an auctioneer and is always finding interesting pieces :)

  • Reply
    Elaina
    February 25, 2015 at 10:39 am

    Where could I find that bookshelf? It is so unique! I love it.

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    February 25, 2015 at 10:55 am

    You guys did a great job to this room!! So full of light and gorgeous! :)

    • Reply
      Sonja
      February 25, 2015 at 4:26 pm

      Thank you so much, Amy!

  • Reply
    molly yeh
    February 25, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    IT’S SO CUTE! i love the furriness and the brightness and THREE SONJAS! wow, that’s so cool.

    • Reply
      Sonja
      February 25, 2015 at 4:28 pm

      Thank you! Three Sonja’s is much too many and I didn’t want to post that photo, but since Alex already created it, I did. There’s nothing worse than seeing yourself three times in a photo!

  • Reply
    Kasey
    February 25, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    I’m totally in love with your house + aesthetic.

    • Reply
      Sonja
      February 25, 2015 at 4:29 pm

      Thank you, Kasey! That means a lot coming from you, since I truly admire your aesthetic (what I see of it through your blog and Instagram)!

  • Reply
    Sara @ Cake Over Steak
    February 25, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    Can I come live with you guys? I love your design sense in the home, and these are really great tips.

    • Reply
      Sonja
      February 25, 2015 at 4:30 pm

      Yes, please! We have an open guest room! :)

  • Reply
    Ashley
    February 25, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    Amazing job!! I love the cool colors and brightness. You’ve added the perfect amount of furniture and decor. I especially love the idea of 3 Sonja’s. That would be rad. Great job with the tips, too. Definitely agree with everything!

    • Reply
      Sonja
      February 25, 2015 at 8:52 pm

      Awww, thank you so much, friend! Erg on the 3 Sonja’s….it sounds like a band name!

  • Reply
    Samantha
    February 25, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    So beautiful! Where is the couch from? Also, what is the paint color?

    • Reply
      Sonja
      February 25, 2015 at 8:51 pm

      The couch is from Macy’s two years ago. I found a similar couch here. The paint color is Morning Lake from Valspar!

  • Reply
    Kathryn
    February 26, 2015 at 4:24 am

    We have a similar shape/size living room (albeit with nowhere near as many windows plus ours doubles up as a dining room too) and it can be really tricky to work out how to ‘live’ in the space. You guys have done such a great job at carving out areas + the colour works so well in the room too. Love all of those windows (and seeing Sonja x3!!!)

  • Reply
    Pam R
    February 26, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    Wow! I absolutely love the makeover! :) Would it be possible to know where you got the ottoman and couch? I’m in the process of picking out some new furniture and LOVE them!! Thanks!

    • Reply
      Alex
      February 26, 2015 at 2:07 pm

      Thanks! We found the couch at Macys, and the ottoman from Overstock.

  • Reply
    Dearna || to her core
    February 27, 2015 at 2:34 am

    Wow, I cant believe how much lighter the room is just from swapping up the furniture and painting the walls! It instantly looks to have a much greater feel to it. We are renovating our house later in the year, so I love looking at other people’s renovations and seeing what they did, as well as hearing their thoughts on what worked and what didn’t. Thanks for sharing :)

    • Reply
      Sonja
      February 27, 2015 at 9:28 am

      You are so welcome! When we started our reno, we were so inspired by so many people’s renos pictured online too. Pinterest was where we hung out for a few solid months conceiving our design, haha! Best of luck to you and let us know if you have any questions!

  • Reply
    Amy @ Parsley In My Teeth
    February 27, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    Great job! So charming and cozy — just like the two of you!

  • Reply
    Kate
    March 12, 2015 at 11:20 am

    Love it!!! So calming and inviting. That’s the general vibe I was going for in my living room. I’m really looking forward to owning my own home someday, so I can decorate it just the way I want it while knowing that I’ll be there for a while. My living room rug is too small, but why replace it when I don’t know what my next living room situation will be like? And why bother fixing up my kitchen and bedroom when my landlord won’t let me paint over the beige?! Sorry, end rant. :)

    • Reply
      Alex
      March 12, 2015 at 11:43 am

      Thanks! Don’t forget the downside to decorating freedom is the responsibility of dealing with the house constantly falling apart / needing work :)

  • Reply
    Kate
    March 12, 2015 at 11:21 am

    P.s. Love the giant print on top of your shelves. Did one of you take the photo?

    • Reply
      Alex
      March 12, 2015 at 11:45 am

      Thanks! We captured this during a super awesome experience a few years ago on a trip to Paris. It was the first warm sunny day of spring and EVERYONE was out in the plazas. (of course, the warm sunny weather was keeping a volcano in Iceland from dissipating ash, and our flights were cancelled coming home for five days straight…)

  • Reply
    Rachel Hardacre
    July 20, 2015 at 11:42 am

    I LOVE your living room reveal! Just wondering where your rug is from? it is such a beautiful weave and color:)

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 20, 2015 at 3:08 pm

      Thanks! The rug is from West Elm last year.

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