Living Room Progress and Design Questions

Living Room Progress and Design Questions

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It’s time to get you caught up on our living room progress, and I have some questions I need YOUR help with!

Back in June during my Styling Thrifted Decorations series I shared some of my plans about how I was going to be redoing our living room to give it a more English Cottage feel.

Well, I’ve been working on pieces since then and I’m at the point where I’m ready to give you an update, and I really do need your help deciding on a few key things before I can get finished! My goal has been to finish before the holidays, but these speed bumps have slowed me down a bit.

Hopefully with your help I’ll get on track and finish in plenty of time!

*This post contains affiliate links to products I know &/or love.

Inspiration Recap:

If you remember, back in 2018 I used Artissimo* milk paint by Miss Mustard Seed to paint our front door.

*Artissimo has since been renamed “Ink Blue”, in case you’re ever in the market for it yourself!

As I started putting together my new living room plans, I knew I wanted navy blue to play a bigger role in the space, and for the room as a whole to have a more English cottage feel, but without losing all of its farmhouse charm.

I knew the room needed some formality and that swapping out some furniture and adding some more dark wood pieces would help create that.

What I’ve Done So Far…

One of the first things I did was to use the same shade of blue from my front door to paint both sides of our french door that leads into our walk in storage. (Formerly called the “toy closet“.)

Next I found a rug I loved from Rugs USA that was large enough for the space, had rustic elements for the farmhouse feel (the natural fibers), and also pulled in the formality and navy with the stripe around the edge.

My recommendation is always to look for a seagrass rug when you’re looking for natural fibers, due to ease of cleaning (the water reeds come clean quickly), but I had not been having any luck finding exactly what I wanted in seagrass.

I settled on this one, that is jute, because it checked off all the other boxes I had been looking for.

And now that it’s in our space, I do love it!

Furniture Updates:

One of my favorite new pieces is this couch I found on Facebook marketplace. I paid a little bit more for it than I would have liked, BUT I rationalized it since the cushion is from Urban Outfitters and is almost $300 alone! That really helped sweeten the deal.

The cushion is also really comfortable, perfect for napping on!

The couch back is a little less comfortable, but I know I’ll be able to beef up the comfort level with some more pillows.

I bought this second couch for $500 from hayneedle. I love the color, and the fabric feels great, but the seat itself is very stiff.

Sitting down takes me right back to my Grandma’s couch – and not in a good way.

I also have not been loving how the placement of this couch makes the surrounding areas feel more like hallways than the cozy living room I’m going for.

This room is the first thing you see upon walking in the front door and I want it to very clearly say ‘Welcome to our Home!”

It also has a very low back which is probably my least favorite part. You can’t lean back without feeling like you might topple over.

All that being said, I think I’m going to see about reselling it locally and then finding two chairs to add to this space instead.

I’d like to find options with higher backs that can be angled towards each other to create a curve in the room as well, because as it stands right now, it has a lot of very straight lines and they need to be broken up!

I’ve noticed that there seem to be usually four things in each room I work on that I end up needing to back track a little bit on. So if you’re in the middle of a project and needing to change gears, please know you’re not alone! It’s a normal part of the decorating and designing process!

Back to furniture pieces, next we have the coffee table!

This was another fun DIY project from a few years back where we converted a $9 table from goodwill into a faux chicken crate.

The family that built this house and owned this property used it as a chicken farm in their day, so I have always loved that connection to the story of this house! (More about the family and how we found each other can be found HERE.)

I still like this piece, and especially the sentimental aspect, but I think it’s a bit too square for the space and needs a little update if it does end up staying.

The alternative would be this beautiful round coffee table from Pottery Barn with a marble top.

If I choose to keep the chicken crate, I’ll probably end up staining it darker, roughing it up a little to give it a bit more of an aged look, and adding some gold nails and maybe a little plaque that says “Swanson Chicken Farm”.

This vintage chicken crate is my inspiration for that.

Which option do YOU think I should go with?

More Progress in our Living Room:

Another project I’ve already completed is removing our old armoire and replacing our TV with a Samsung Frame TV with a DIY golden frame.

I really love how this project turned out, and that at first glance, AND upon further inspection, this looks like a piece of real art above a beautiful buffet.

Next on my List of Questions, The Piano:

This one is one of the harder questions I have to answer! This was my Grandfather’s piano, and no one else in our family has wanted it.

It’s been a standard feature here since before the beginning of the blog, and apart from a new coat of paint in 2017 and various different stylings over the years and seasons, hasn’t really changed much.

The problem, it’s not really a very English cottage style.

I had thought about repainting it to match the new direction of the room, and then a few months ago I received a call from the Swanson family (yes, those same Swansons!) saying they had the original piano from the house and wanted to know if I’d like it.

And here’s the problem, from a purely design aspect, I like their piano better!

But sentimental Sarah feels the heart tug towards keeping the piano that my Grandfather used to play for me.

A few other aspects to think about are that I hate moving pianos, it’s just no fun.

I’m also not sure what I would do with my family’s piano if we did decide to switch them out. It’s pretty difficult to even give pianos away, much less selling them.

And lastly, if I do get the older vintage piano, should I paint it to a shade of blue to match the living room?

I already mentioned to the Swansons that if I did take it, there’s a chance that it would be remade or changed (as that’s exactly what I do for a living), and they said that was OK.

They were OK with it when I changed the desk chair they gifted us into a rocking chair, too!

So here’s where I’d love to hear your thoughts! Do I keep my family’s heirloom piano, or do I reunite the Swanson’s piano and former house again?

Next Up, the window seat, and another big question:

I made the french cushion for our window seat a few years back, and it’s seen lots of love from family, friends, and our sweet dog, Kiera, since then. It’s gotten a little flattened over time, so I’m wanting to give this a good clean, then re-stuff and re-tuft it with real buttons.

Previously I had just tufted it with thread, and that wasn’t quite enough to stand up to constant 4-legged friend use.

I would also like to repaint the trim around the windows, and possibly around the entire room a light grey.

But sometimes I over-do it a bit with the ideas, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

Another new furniture piece I almost forgot to tell you about is this new to us desk that I found on Facebook Marketplace for $260.

I’m leaning toward not painting this and leaving the dark, rich wood.

Some of my children do end up using this desk for their college work, so my plan will be to have two of these white slipcovered parsons chairs here at the ready.

Above the desk I’m going to make and hang a second knock-off ballard designs bulletin board. The first one I made ended up having a permanent home in our master bedroom.

Above the desk I’ve also swapped out the chandelier that we had previously for one I found on Craigslist for $60. It had a really in-expensive looking chrome on it that I repainted in gold, but I’m actually not too happy with how the gold turned out either.

My plan is to take it all apart again (remember what I said about having 4 big derailments per project) and repainting the gold accents to match the sconce we have above our couch. Then I’ll hot glue some crystals onto that sconce (remember how I did that with the chandelier in our bedroom) to make the two pieces tie together even more seamlessly.

Kiera’s Corner

So as you saw up above, Kiera our Rhodesian ridgeback loves sitting on furniture (I know, I know, that’s a habit we should have probably focused on staying away from when she was little, but I digress), and I have finally given in and figured out a way to incorporate her own chair into our living room.

I ordered this really pretty settee from wayfair that will fit perfectly in this corner.

And I’m going to make it extra cozy, AND easier to keep clean by layering this lovely washable white fur dog bed pad from on top.

What’s your guess? Will Kiera like it more than sitting on my french cushion and our couches? The settee should arrive around Thanksgiving, so we’ll know after that!

Above her new bed I’m going to hang a little shelf that will be painted to match the room.

It will hold her leather leash, collar, and a small jar of dog treats.

I’m also really excited to order a custom paint by number based off a picture of her that I’ll paint and display in her corner. I think it will round out her spot perfectly!

Next, the corner Bookcase:

I have just one other idea for this bookcase, other than just freshening up and changing out the decor that’s styled inside.

I’m considering a project (and tutorial for you) where I’ll starch some checkered chocolate brown fabric and wallpaper it onto the back wall of the bookshelf.

Would you love to see a tutorial?

Or do you think that would look too busy next to the curtain fabric I’m working with?

And that brings me to my last question!

Thank you so much for following along through this longer than usual post with lots of questions! I just love the community here, and it almost feels like I’m getting to invite you in to ask you questions like I would with a close friend!

I appreciate your thoughts and ideas!

Here’s where I am with the curtains:

I ordered this beautiful linen fabric with a block print detail and it finally arrived after 8 weeks! I ordered enough for two panels per window, but now that I have just one of my pinch pleat panels done, (tutorial coming soon!) I’m thinking it looks too thin and a little cheap – and it was not cheap fabric.

Do you think I should order additional yards of this same fabric to add more panels for some fullness, or should I use a light sheer white embroidered panel on the inside of the rods (towards the middle) to help bulk up the look and make it feel more cozy and luxurious?

Please let me know your thoughts about all these living room plans in the comments below!

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  1. karen
    October 17, 2021 / 6:15 AM

    Hi there. I think the chicken box is too square and you need some curves in the setup. I think you should keep your grandfathers piano…big project to take on and finish before the holidays, and although I like the design of the other one a little better, I don’t think it would be that much different. I think the French mattress definitely needs a lift and there is no guarantee that your pup will sleep where you want (lol), so it may need more lifting down the road. I think the 2 chairs aren’t cohesive enough…the wing back and the more modern one…styles too different and wood colors are different, as are their scale…I think you need 2 more similar chairs there, especially with the 2 very different sofas. Maybe look for 4 similar chairs to replace the sofa and the chairs? I think white sheers would work, but you are right, you need more bulk there. Love the rug. Love the idea of a corner for the dog. Like the brown checked fabric idea. Have fun!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      December 7, 2021 / 10:23 PM

      Thank you, Karen!

  2. Diane Gelinas
    October 17, 2021 / 11:22 AM

    I think you should keep your Grandfather’s piano. You like it, it has sentimental value to you. The other piano doesn’t have the same meaning to you. You can paint it differently but what if you get rid of your piano and then change your mind about your friends piano? There is no coming back from that. You can change your mind about other furniture that doesn’t hold sentimental value and it’s ok. Even if you regret getting rid of a piece it isn’t that bad. Sentimental things are heart things. There is nothing you can do once it’s gone.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      December 7, 2021 / 10:22 PM

      Thank you for that perspective, Diane!

  3. Corrie
    October 17, 2021 / 11:37 AM

    I just wanted to say, thanks for sharing your dilemmas and your progress pics. It’s so much more helpful than just presenting a “fait accompli” of perfect pictures!

    Good luck, and happy fall!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      December 7, 2021 / 10:22 PM

      You’re welcome, Corrie! Though to be fair, I get just as much help here from everyone’s helpful ideas as I do by sharing the posts for you! 🙂

  4. October 17, 2021 / 4:01 PM

    Regarding the piano, could you get some decorative mouldings and trim, like the Swanson’s piano has, to add to your Grandpa’s piano to make it more in line with your style? You could also paint your Grandpa’s piano navy, if that is the direction you want to take the room.
    If the piano has sentimental value to you, you should definitely keep it!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      December 7, 2021 / 10:21 PM

      Thank you for the suggestions, Nicole!

  5. Cindy
    October 17, 2021 / 9:42 PM

    – If you’re thinking about painting the ‘new’ piano, just keep your grandpa’s piano and paint it blue if you’d like. That’d be so much easier.
    – The drapery fabric is gorgeous! What if you line it? You could even interline it and use another beautiful print for the lining. I think that would make the curtains look so much more high end and make it possible to use what you already have.
    – I love your idea for putting fabric on the back of the bookcase. It gives me ideas as I’m planning on moving two bookcases to our new sitting room. Please, share a DIY video if you decide to do it with fabric/starch or with anything else. – I love your dog corner! And thank you so much for the paint by number idea!
    – Your new cain-back (sp?) couch was so worth the money. How unique! And ditching the new grey sofa makes sense if it’s just not working for you. That gives you an opportunity to thrift/DIY two chairs to keep your 90% thrifted goal for your home.
    – Love, love the desk! Keeping it brown fits in nicely with your English theme. And it looks so beautiful with your new chandelier. Would you consider a DIY video if you change the gold on the chandelier?
    – Am I remembering correctly that you had a beautiful blue plaid fabric in your original plan for the room? I can’t wait to see how you’ll use it.
    – Lastly, staining the coffee table will really give it a vintage patina. Great idea.

    I love all your videos. Please keep them going!
    God bless.

  6. Amanda
    October 18, 2021 / 11:03 AM

    The curtain fabric definitely needs to be lined and interlined. And I would keep your grandfather’s piano, especially if you would be painting the other one anyway. Love the desk and cane-back sofa!

  7. Marjorie Anderson
    October 20, 2021 / 8:06 AM

    Keep your Granfathers piano. Maybe paint it. A darker color/finish may add more depth (I love milk paint) . We have moved into the family farmhouse this past year, we are the 4th generation to live here. Love History, and being a part of it. However there is some things that come with the house (good and bad) a piano is one LOL… it displays pictures, and takes up a wall. Maybe the next generation will use it 🙂
    With your curtains, have you thought about adding another material to your curtain panel . Make them two tone, add some fancy buttons/trim. That way you don’t have to buy more of the block print, might give the pattern the umph you feel it’s lacking.
    Love your dog, and how she had claimed the window seat. Hopefully she will like her new bed. We have a border collie in our family, she involves herself in all the chores on our farm. So you can imagine the dirt she bring in. However she gets a complex if she can’t be near us in the living room ( border collie thing). Thankfully she doesn’t go on the furniture. I can’t wait for the rugs to be ripped up, and the pine flooring to go down. Love your videos ! You’ve been a big help to me. I had a vision for the farmhouse I lived in, but with farm transition we had to move. My in laws lived in this house for almost 40 years, so it reflected my Mother in law. She’s a great decorator (which is hard to live up to) but we have different tastes. So for the past year I have been feeling like I’ve been living in “someone elses house” . Things have been changing in the decorating world, and finally I’m starting to see a way I can make this house ours. Your videos and post have helped, thank you once again.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      December 7, 2021 / 9:56 PM

      I’m glad your home is beginning to feel more like your own, Marjorie! Thank you for the sweet ideas!

  8. Tshyna
    November 3, 2021 / 5:45 PM

    Keep your grandfathers piano, and check out Redesign with Prima transfers. They are easy to work with and you could add a beautiful floral transfer to the piano. I also like the Pottery Barn round table. It is a touch more elegant without overdoing it. I think both of these things would add to that English cottage charm look you desire.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      December 7, 2021 / 9:54 PM

      Thank you, Tshyna for the ideas!

  9. November 3, 2021 / 8:57 PM

    Here’s my 2 cents! Keep your piano. The other one has no meaning to you and it is heavy. Let the buffet, the cane couch, and the desk speak the music for the room. It’s always been hard to tell the size of this room from the photos. I feel like the pottery barn coffee table may be to heavy I would let that be your last decision and maybe rest for a bit before you make the decision. Letting a room evolve is a good thing and living a space, as you know, is just as important as designing the space. The block print on the curtains is lovely but they definitely need to be lined. I would find a beautiful 2 1/2″ tape for the leading edge to enhance them. You know the fullness rules I would say use them. There is nothing worse than skimpy drapes. I would do 2 matching chairs, lose the Wayfair sofa. Let the room breathe. The cabinet in the corner with the check concerns me. I feel like the scale may not be quite right with the block print. Its a small cabinet and looks like a small check I’m afraid it will just close it in more. If you want texture, a few years ago I upholstered with batting and nail heads a built in I have with burlap. Loved it and so did everyone else. It would reinforce the texture of your rug. I think your spot on, on everything else. Hope your dog agrees! Good luck

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      December 7, 2021 / 9:53 PM

      Thank you, Shelley!

  10. Linda
    November 4, 2021 / 7:04 AM

    Hi Sarah. I think the chicken crate has to go! It looks too cluttery (is that a word?) and the one from PB would elevate that room. It would make it a more “friendly” space. That crate could HURT you. Lol. You, like me, let sentimentality get in the way of good design decisions.. Go with your gut. On the piano as well. If a thing bothers you every time you look at it, it’s gotta go!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      December 7, 2021 / 9:53 PM

      Thank you for the thoughts, Linda!

  11. Karen Harrison
    November 4, 2021 / 10:05 AM

    Hi there!
    I think if you are wanting more elegance, the chicken crate is not the way to go. Also, consider lining the drapes for a better, more substantial look. You could still add the embroidered sheers as well.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      December 7, 2021 / 9:52 PM

      Thank you!

  12. Mary
    November 4, 2021 / 11:42 AM

    Hi Sarah, I had an old organ from my grandfather ,that like you,I hated to get rid of! However ,it was no longer played by anyone and took up a considerable amount of room . If not used any more, and no one wants it, you may consider taking it apart to make a statement piece with the strings inside or using some of the keys. Just a thought ….or if keeping it,I would paint it.As for your room, I would not rush the style change into the holidays. English style rooms have a collected over time look. You sometimes need to step back and live with your beautiful pieces you have chosen for a while before making the next decision.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      December 7, 2021 / 9:52 PM

      Thank you for the suggestions, Mary.

  13. Dee
    November 4, 2021 / 5:28 PM

    Do you have a business email in which to connect. I wrote too much for a comment box. LOL

  14. Kim Cook
    November 4, 2021 / 6:44 PM

    Don’t paint the desk! Dark wood is making a comeback. Your style is gorgeous and in the end, your living room will be beautiful!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      December 7, 2021 / 9:52 PM

      Thank you, Kim!

  15. Dee
    November 7, 2021 / 5:24 PM

    1. I would accept the piano and keep the beautiful dark wood. It will look gorgeous with the other rich looking pieces in the room.
    2. I have had 2 antique upright pianos and repurposed them. One is in my office as my desk. I asked my husband to leave the top on it but all the insides are out. It has the original dark finish. We used a laminate marble-look countertop from Lowes which he cut to fit where the keyboard and insides used to reside and now is my desktop.
    a.The ornate flat face that had covered the insides is now painted white with large white iron hooks on it. It is upstairs in the bedroom that I have decorated as a Victorian Childs Room. It is hanging on the wall displaying beautiful baby clothes worn by our two sons and two daughters. I have their Baby booties displayed on the 3” deep top-edge.
    b.The second piano was left in the house when we bought it. The base of the piano now holds the antique cast-iron double sink which has built-in drain boards on each side. I don’t know if the sink was original to the house or not. It was sitting on top of a basic stock sink cabinet. The upper section of the piano such as the upper sides and corbels etc. were made into open shelves above the sink. I ordered a vintage oil-rubbed colored wall faucet. c. Maybe you can repurpose your Grandfather’s piano and still hang his music above the gifted piano to honor yours and his musical past. 3. I would stain the chicken crate, but can you use it on a Porch or another room? I would opt for an antique coffee table, again with the dark wood. And what about selling it and making a cute plaque to put on the outside porch wall close to the door saying something like, “The Swanson House, established 1895 or whatever year he built it. 4. As far as the windows go…. Have you considered using the English Country Cottage / Laura Ashley (vintage) type? I think your living room and windows would look amazing using the style that you shared in the “Grandmillenial” video!
    And the window seat and pillows could coordinate with the curtains. I love the richness of at least 3 times the window width for fullness. I also sewed some white flannel as a loose lining behind my dining room drapes. By loose lining, I mean that I only attached them at the header and not into the side seams of the drapes. This gives the drapes a nice “hand” and they “hang” with a very rich look and feel. But they are made with JoAnns’s sale fabrics! Our ceilings are almost 10′ tall. 5. When you began talking about the gray sofa, I thought…”She should sell it!” and then that’s just what you said! I think a comfy, maybe overstuffed love seat would be better than adding two chairs. 6. I Love the chandelier as is. We have several similar fancy chandeliers, and I recently heard that “gold” is making a come-back…maybe you said it? We have a Victorian home and style. We never have to worry if it’s out-of-style, because it’s a design statement and a choice, and not a trend. But, I do love the Farmhouse style which is an upgrade from all the Country hearts of my earlier years. Well, those are my thoughts! I look forward to seeing your Process! My God our Father continue to bless you and your family with the richness of His Presence and of His Son Jesus, through the power of His Holy Spirit! And with His wisdom, discernment, understanding, insights, – filled with His Love! Dee

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      December 7, 2021 / 9:51 PM

      Dee, I’m fascinated about your repurposed pianos! Do you have pictures of those you could share with me? Maybe via facebook messenger or email ([email protected]).
      Thank you for the tips on all the other pieces as well!

      • Dee
        December 15, 2021 / 4:04 PM

        Sorry I didn’t see your reply until now. Yes, I can share pics with you. I’m (non-covid) sick right now, but I’ll take some new pics of the sink and I’ll ask my husband to take a pic of the one in my office tomorrow. I love to decorate!

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