The completion of our living room has been a very slow process - much slower than I'm used to. I think my decorating philosophy (if you will) has transitioned from this need to have a room furnished all at once, to a more layered approach to decorating.
Previously, I would have had to set up every part of the room all at once, from painting to furnishing. The problem with this approach, I've found, is that you just don't get it right all at once. So things get switched out, and rearranged and returned.
While there's nothing wrong with doing a room like this, I've really come to appreciate the art of living in a space and experiencing it before I rush to furnish it. It requires patience, but I've learned it's so much more gratifying than just jumping to get a space finished.
I've seen this so clearly in our living room. It's currently quite sparse, and feels like it's finished as a room, but lacking personality. But it's coming... I can see it. When the room was finished, the basic furniture was set out. No rug, no artwork, no character. And it remained like this for a few weeks. Day after day, after living in this room, I began to understand how I used it, and could then see what the room needed to feel finished and like it was my own.
Which chair did I prefer to sit in, and did I feel like I needed a lumbar pillow to make reading a book more comfortable? When I lay on the couch in front of the fire, do I prefer to have a throw to drape over me? And did I find that when I went to set my morning coffee down, would I have preferred a small side table beside me, or did I find setting it on the radiator top sufficient. How is the lighting in the morning, and in the evening?
I've found that this approach makes furnishing a space so much more simple. It creates a list and helps me really focus on what's important for the space, and where I should invest my money.
Aside from our sofa, one of our other investments was a large area rug. We took weeks to research different options before we finally settled on the one that I had in mind in the first place. But I love it! And it was a good investment.
In the end, we chose Pottery Barn's Colour-Bound Natural Sisal Rug in Chino.
And while I knew that I wanted a natural fibre rug, and leaned more to the look and durability of the sisal rugs, I wasn't entirely sure on whether it was necessary for me to get a full 9' x 12'. Would a 7' x 9' work in this space?
So we moved our family room rug, a very cost effective ($149) jute rug from Ikea, into the living room and lived with it for a while. And while it was the right look and feel, it really was too small for the space. We made the investment, and purchased the full size. And I'm so happy we did. But I'm also happy knowing I didn't spend money on something I could have used for something else.
This approach was very beneficial when we went to purchase another large piece for this room. I had been looking for months for a large antique cabinet for the North wall of the living room - a wall that's remained completely empty until now. In my mind, I saw this early pine step-back cupboard, of simple design but with years of character in the wood. I wanted something tall to suit this large wall with high ceilings, and it needed to have cabinets on the bottom for Ryan's record player, and shelves on top that were deep enough to accommodate our coffee table books.
I wasn't having any luck, and at times, a lovely piece would come around and I would be close to just purchasing it. But then I had to remind myself that if I just waited, eventually the perfect piece would surface... it always does! And when it did, I wouldn't be disappointed that I settled for something that wasn't what I had my heart set on. However, at the same time, I had to be reasonable. There were a few cabinets that were exactly what I was looking for, but the were well over $1000, and often required an overnight drive. Sometimes I need a little perspective when it comes to decorating, and that Sunday, my perspective came in the form of Compassion Sunday. Compassion is a child-sponsorship program that we sponsor a boy through. I really had to think about this purchase. While it would be wonderful to spend that kind of money on a beautiful old cupboard, was it wise? Was it going to bring me more joy? Those are hard questions to ask. I do get a lot of joy out of things like this. And sometimes I need to be reminded that they are just things. And my life is not about living for more things. Sometimes I need to see my purchases in black and white. This cabinet would cost me as much as it would cost to provide food and education and medical attention for a year for not one, but two children - possibly even three! And you know, I just couldn't do it.
Now understand me, I don't weight every purchase like this. Furnishing a home is not wrong. But I know my heart. And sometimes I need perspective.
As you can see, I did find a beautiful old cabinet for this wall. It's not tall, but it's old, and it's full of character, and it's just what I had in mind.
My parents offered it to me when they were downsizing their kitchen. It had about four layers of paint and consumed Ryan's free time for days. But after hours of scraping and sanding, this transformed into exactly what I wanted, and it cost me nothing.
I have another piece in storage that I will try on top. It's an old top of a cabinet. Every time I walk past it I'm thankful that I didn't purchase something else.
And so, slowly, over time, this room evolves closer to what I envision. In the mean time, I make due. One of the items on my list is a coffee table. But until I find it, we are using a child's table. And you know, for now it works.