Sunday, May 13, 2007

Ideas, Please!!

Work on our living room has been long anticipated. I've decided to begin in earnest gathering ideas for re-doing it. The only difficulty is that my ability to visualize what might look nice leaves me lacking. Heck, my ability to look at a finished room and notice when it is ugly is not that strong, either. Hence, when we bought this house three years ago and the living room came as is (minus several stains on the already worn carpet), I was pleased that the curtains and the carpet matched. I didn't even really notice that the carpet was probably going on to 25 years old and desperately needed to be replaced.

So, I am trying to enlist the suggestions of anyone who feels they like to work with color or rooms or anyone who is willing to give a suggestion. Below are the photos of the current situation. Here are the non-negotiables: First, the carpet is being ripped out and the hardwood floor below exposed. Second, no painting the woodwork. Third, we have two young children, and we "decorate" with them in mind. The rest is up for grabs. I'm thinking it is about 14 x 15, something close to that, at least.

This is the front window. What you can't see from this picture is the design in the top of the window, similar to the side windows, below. I probably need a better picture of this.

Ok, so this is a bad picture of the staircase and entry hallway taken in the living room.

This is a wider angle picture of the front window, showing also the smaller side window with beveled glass, hinting at the ceiling fan, and the obvious white walls.

This is the view from the entry hallway into the living room. You see the two small windows, the fake fireplace, the light green print wallpaper and most of our current furniture layout.This is a close up of one of those windows, and a better view of the wallpaper and mantle. This window has the curtain rod taken off; you can see the white band on the opposite window in the picture above that previously held a valence type thing identical to the one on the hallway window, second picture.

Here is a brighter picture of that fake fireplace.

Here is a detail of the stenciling currently over the archways and the front window. You can also see the blue wallpaper in the dining room a bit.

Here is a wider angle picture of the archway into the dining room. I suppose that room needs attention, too, but one thing at a time :). The flooring in the dining room is a laminate we put down to protect the hardwood floor which was bare when we moved in. The actual floor is dark, much closer to the color of the woodwork.

This is the view looking towards the front door and shows the exposed hardwood floor at the entryway for an idea of the color.

This is the view standing at the front door looking into the living room and towards the dining room.

This is the view standing at the front door looking straight ahead.

This is the front door.

So, what do you think?


Claire said...

I absolutely love decorating; HGTV is my
favorite channel. Your house is absolutely beautiful. It has so much
character. I love all the little details: the moldings (I agree that
you shouldn't paint them), the leaded glass windows, etc. I think
it's great that you are going to expose the hardwood floors. I have
one suggestion regarding window treatments. I assume that the windows
have very nice woodwork. I myself prefer to use an inside-mount
window treatment, so that the woodwork is exposed. Some suggestions
are Roman shades, accordian shades, or plantation shutters.

Marie said...

Thanks, Claire,

Here's my ignorance -- I have no idea what Roman shades, accordian shades, or plantation shutters are, but it gives me something to research!

Faith said...

Hey, Marie, if you go to my blog, I just sorta, kinda figured out how to post pictures on my blog. Anway, I put up pictures of a couple of spots in my house. I like thing colorful and airy feeling.

I don't really care for dark wood, but if you keep your woodwork dark, I would really lighten up everything else. Put a lighter finish on the hard wood floors. Put color on the walls, minimize window dressings. You have those beautiful windows anyway, you wouldn't want to cover them up. Put bright area rugs on the wood floors.

My 2 cents.

Marie said...

The floor will need to be refinished in probably another 10 years or so (roughly the rest of the life of the laminate floor in the dining room). That might be the time to consider changing that shade.

Any ideas about what kind of color for walls? I had thought about "Blessed Mother blue", but more recently I'm considering something along a brighter orangish/yellowish Southwestern feel.

What types of window dressings do you use to minimize? We do have to consider cold winters with airy windows and the need to conserve heat, along with the desire to not go as dark as what the curtains currently are.

Jodie said...

How old is your house? The woodwork is just beautiful. I am by no means an expert, but for easy clean up, are you considering painting the walls rather than wallpapering? When we worked on our house, painting the walls off white or a cream color gave the illusion that our rooms were much bigger than they actually are. My own personal taste had me painting the ceilings a pale blue. It just is relaxing to me when I am staring at the ceiling to image it is the sky. I also had read (and it seems to be working) that the blue ceiling deters spiders who appear to believe it is the sky. We have an octagon shaped house--wish I had thought of painting all the corners blue.

Lorna said...

Hi Marie,

Though the room is on the smaller side, that it has been opened to the hall and stairway gives some advantages, if you stick with light and warm colors(yellow to light oranges or cream through sandy beige) you will create the illusion that the space is bigger. By the way, light blue would be lovely if you catch lots of Sunshine in the room, but otherwise it will can give the room a cold feel.

We also have lots of wood detailing(Rimu and Cedar) in our home, and I wouldn't want to ever paint it either.

With the Art Deco windows, I would not be inclined to use Roman blinds, as when they are open (up) they will still be hiding the about a quarter of the glass detailing at the top. What I would suggest is a good solid wooden curtain Rod in matching wood colour, set above the wooden window frames and extending to the walls at the sides, so that when you draw back the drapes, neither the window or the frames are hidden.

I would suggest that because you like lots of photos etc, that choosing a light coloured fabric, with a textural pattern not a printed patern, would help with a lighter, airy, simpler look.

One thing that we learned was that when we took all our clutter upwards into 6 foot tall bookcases, everything looked instantly tidier and more spacious.

WRT Fake fireplace, we had one in our last home, and it was a darker brick, however like yours it doesn't fit with the Period features that you want to retain, some suggestions are: painting it the same as the wall colour, to minimise its eye catching effect(friends of ours did this and it worked quite well), or to pull it out. We were able to determine with ours that it was just a facia, built in front of the wall, therefore removing it wasn't going to do any damage structurally..... so we knocked it down... messy but much better. We then tidied up the wall finish and painted it, and because we had Gas, we put in a gas fire place and hunted the demolition yards for an old Kauri Wood fire surround/Mantle, which was light and blended nicely. Perhaps an alternative depending on funds and whatever your existing home heating is, is to put in a log burner, or one of those modern gas fires that looks like the real log fire.
What is your Wood? is it Oak or Cedar or? ....

If you go for Area rugs for your wooden floors, look for patterns that are simple, not small, all over busy patterns, this will help keep the spacious feel.

I hope there's some helpful thoughts there.

I am about to embark on a decorating project too, Isaacs bedroom.

Marie said...


Thanks for your comments. I never even considered that the fireplace could be altered. These things seem to be quite popular in our neighborhood, lots of houses have them. But I have seen people hide them with furniture or shelving or whatnot.

I have no idea what kind of wood we have. I'm thinking maybe I was told it is oak.

Nice curtain suggestion; reminds me of the kind I grew up with, and would give the possibility of winter/night time heat saving too. Right now on the front window we have a pull-down shade and the curtain but unless it is very cold we leave the curtain open all the time, just pull down the shade.

FloridaWife said...

I'm so glad you are getting rid of that carpet. That carpeting looks ugly. The hard-wood floors will look gorgeous in this house. I love that woodwork and that column.

For colors I suggest something creamy. I think it would complement the wood well.

I like the idea of Roman Shades as well. I'm thinking in a punchy color, like green or red, maybe in a toile pattern. Those black patterned curtains make the room look too dark, and it'll look darker once it's all wood. The cream colored walls plus a punchy color will really bring this together.

Marie said...

Thanks FW!

The curtains are actually a paisley mix of dark mauve (?) and green. But unless light is right on them, they are pretty dark.

A toile pattern? Where's my dictionary...

Cream as in slightly tan, or just any color that's not real bright? You just can't believe how visual-conceptually impaired I am. Cream to me is a texture word, not a color.

Mathochist said...


I can't visualize anything either. However, if it were my room, I'd have the fake fireplace taken out, and move the couch to that wall. I might also get a lighter slipcover for the couch. And I wouldn't go with anything too dark for the walls, so the beautiful wood really stands out. (And so the room feels bigger.) In theory I like the idea about cream walls and blue ceilings, but like you would have to see the end result before I knew for sure. I know nothing about window treatments, except that I really like the (faux) wood blinds with 2" slats that were mounted inside the windows of this house when we bought it. They don't do much for insulation in the wintertime though... Good luck in the decision process!

Beate said...

I love your front door and the windows! Like others suggested, I'd definitely open those up and get rid of the drapes. It looks like you already have some blinds, so maybe just sheers for the big window? I agree on getting rid of the fake firplace. First I thought the couch could go there, but then I noticed you do have a small tv....perhaps some built in or modular shelving on that wall to contain the books, pics and tv and then the couch could face that wall. If you use open shelving, your wall color would peek through and help keep things light.

As for paint, I love painting but it takes me forever to decide on colors ;-) Once I do though, it always turns out nice. Bring home tons of paint chips from Home Depot and put them up....I like doing the faux, which sounds hard but really isn't and really adds some character to the room. You could use a creamy base and sponge on some golden yellow, for example. I did my front room with a very pale green and sponged a darker green over it. You could do just the wall with the smaller windows and just paint the other walls. I'm big on using more than one color in a room, so if you do want to use pale blue, you could use that as an accent wall. There are so many shades of blue, that you could find one that leans more towards the warm spectrum. Like others have mentioned, I'd keep the colors light and bright since the woodwork is so dark.

Have fun, if you lived closer, I'd love to come and help ou pick out colors :-)


Sue said...

I love all the wood work in your house. It is gorgeous and very rare
that woodwork like that is not painted over. Our home has many of
the same features when it comes to the woodwork. I was very happy
that the previous owners did not paint any of it. However, the walls
were every color in the rainbow. A nice cream color looks fantastic
on our walls and I think it would compliment your woodwork nicely.
Also, having one solid color would really open up the room and make
it look much bigger, as opposed to the wallpaper. I can't handle
putting up wallpaper. I think I'm too much of a perfectionist :)

It also looks like you get lots of sunshine in that room too which
brings a nice warm feeling. The other thing I would look into is a
light filtering type of blinds for the window treatments. They go in
the inside of the window and can be bought at home depot rather
inexpensively. That would really showcase the windows. They are off
white and do provide quite a bit of draft protection in the winter
time and it helps to keep things cool in the summer time when they
are down. The best thing about them is that they allow the light to
filter through, so on the days we don't have them drawn, we still are
able to get the natural sunlight. And if you want to dress the
windows up a bit more you can do a simple valance above the windows.

I'm with Stacy about removing the fake fireplace. It doesn't really
serve any purpose at all and perhaps you could rearrange your
furniture to open things up even more.

As for the flooring, did you say there was hardwood floors under the
carpet? If so, tear up the carpet, get the murphy's oil soap out,
and show those nice hardwoods. Will you have to get them done? I
know we removed some lovely red shag and green shag carpets to expose
the hardwoods. They were pretty worn and we did have them redone
before we officially moved in. If you just have plywood, you can
always paint the plywood with outdoor porch paint. We lived with
that for a couple of years until we could afford putting in brand new
hardwood flooring. I figured it looked much better than the stained
carpet :0

And with the solid flooring you can get a solid or small patterned
area rug from home depot. They have all different sizes--some large
some small. It all depends on how you arrange your furniture as to
what size you can get. One thing to keep in mind, is that a larger
sized area rug will make the room appear smaller. If the area rug is
too small it will look like a kid who has outgrown their clothes.
But if you get it right on, it really adds a warm feel to a room with
hardwood floors.

Happy home remodeling and let us know what you do decide.


Anonymous said... is great for playing with color. You can choose all kinds of different shades and see how well they compliment each other.

This is off-topic, but you may want to change your settings so that the time-stamp also displays the date for your comments (rather than just the time).

Mo said...


1. A wall color other than white.

2. Bookshelves

3. Plenty of space for shelves. The kids won't be knocking things down forever.

4. Half curtains to let in the sunlight. Inexpensive curtain rods to cover the lower portion of the window.


Mary Ellen said...

I love, love, love your woodwork! It's beautiful! And the windows as well. Such character! I too, would go with a creamy color on the walls, but be careful, cream as in beigy-tan cream, not yellow, sometimes that gets really strong. Also the hardwood floors will be lovely in there. Rugs will soften the "hardness" of the woodwork and floors if you want that (more comfortable for the kids to roll around and play on). But the reason I like neutral-colored walls is that it's easier to change window coverings and rugs or throw pillows when you want to change the color in the room. But that's just my preference, because I hate painting. ;-) Good luck with your decorating!

Mary Ellen

Heidi said...

I agree with all the suggestions and I also want to say how gorgeous your home is! You're very fortunate to have such a good home to work with. You can have shelves, just be sure to attach them to the wall (I think my DH uses L brackets). Since you have young kids and they sure add a lot of color to all lived-in rooms, I would keep things neutral for paint colors and let photographs, toys and area rugs add the splashes of color to keep things lively and warm. As far as paint chips, you can use the different shades on one chip - one color for the walls, another for the ceilling (or trim which I know you aren't doing and I wholeheartedly agree) and another for accent colors (like a slipcover for the couch or pillows or whatever). That way you can rest assured that the colors do go together. The entire paint chip area is a rainbow graph - you can even go over one chip and the colors will be complementary.

Have a wonderful time! Keep things simple and fun and I think you will do great.

Heidi :)

Marie said...

If anyone is actually reading all this anymore, I just wanted to make the grand announcement that today for the very first time, I realized that the hallway walls are beige/"cream" and not white like the hallway ceiling and the living room. It makes me think that the cream has to be at least a slightly bolder shade.

Still pondering ideas; thanks everyone.

Donna said...

Hi Marie,

Your woodwork is gorgeous! And worn hardwood floors can be very charming and warm - you don't necessarily have to redo those. =)

I see a completely different color here. I see something to trick the eye and make the room appear larger and lighter. A cool, cool, light, light green with just a slight touch of blue in it to cool it, and a white ceiling. I personally would not cover those leaded glass windows - they are too beautiful to hide! Depending on your personality, or style of decorating, I'd consider a happy fabric for the big window - something to match the wall color, on an rod that fits inside the frame, and only cover the lower half of the window. You might want a lined curtain for privacy.

I love the fireplace - fake though it is! I'd get a lovely wrought iron screen and then place candles on a pretty wrought iron stand behind the screen.

I would take the curtains off that stunning front door and let that beautiful glass speak for itself! =) We have a front door that is similar, except our glass on the door is oval.

And, maybe declutter? That would open it up more, too. =)

I can't wait to see what you finally decide to do with it - you have a beautiful home with lovely bones! =)

Marie said...

Thanks Donna for your ideas. The half-window curtains does sound like a nice idea. We can feel the wind through the front door in the winter; I'm thinking maybe a real curtain in the winter and nothing in warm weather -- although I'm not sure we want the neighborhood to be able to see straight into our house :-O

I had to smile at the suggestion to declutter. You should have seen the room a few hours before I took the picture! If I had my way, the room would be nearly empty, as would the whole house, but that's not the reality we live in. Still organization is the key. I guess finding shelving that would work is necessary.

Michelle said...

I'm a retired army wife and also moved a lot as a kid. I love the character your home has. I also like the faux fireplace. What about putting matching bookcases on either side of the fireplace (to make for a built in look)? I agree with the others about a light color for paint (definitely NOT white though). A sage green would be really pretty too. Also, if you want to be able to hide flaws on the wall use a flat paint (it's difficult to remove marks tho). We always use a semi-gloss that way it's easier to wash the walls from fingerprints, washable markers, etc.

For furniture placement--you could float the couch in the middle of the room in front of the faux fireplace. Use an old wooden ironing board or a sofa table and put behind the couch. Place a lamp and photo frames or a display of candles.

I definitely wouldn't want to cover up the windows. Your home has awesome potential!

Beate said...

Hi Marie - you mentioned being worried about shelving and climbers. If you build them in, you anchor them to the wall so tipping shouldn't be a problem :-)