September 23, 2009

Our 70s Split Redo Part I: The Living Room & Dining Room

So, we finally (mostly) finished our house! And I wanted to share some (ok, a lot) of pictures with you!

Here’s a recap for people who haven’t been reading as long…. When we bought this house, some people thought we were crazy. If you’ve been reading along since the house-hunting posts (back in Feb-March) then you know that we looked at & saw potential in some frightening places- an 800 square foot dump near my parents (all we could afford in that area), an 1800s farmhouse that needed everything ($200,000+), a turn-of-the-century bungalow that needed $100,000 in TLC ( I still drive by it & love it) countless colonials (all very nice actually, just not what we were looking for) and many others… This was the first house that we walked into that I loved that didn’t need repairs in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. I walked into the house (with Dave waiting in the car with a sleeping Christian) and when I came outside, I didn’t say anything except “Go inside.” I was freaking out. It had a HUGE yard, a quirky but very liveable floorplan, awesome bones and an insane amount of natural light & space… and it was IN OUR BUDGET!!!!!

It had been on the marklet for 2+ years (was it 4??) and it “lacked charm” according to people who saw it…. they didn’t see the potential we did. Those who knew us better couldn’t see it but did trust what we could do… (To be honest, I still don’t think the before is that bad… just empty really)…

The quality of the images is not good, as I had a lot of trouble shooting pics because there’s so much light coming in through those windows. Above is the room before and below is it now (Sorry about the random junk on the sofa here, but it’s usually there so I included it!) :

We’ve still got lots of tweaking to do- mostly with artwork & accessories but I’ll probably be forever tweaking those anyway… The inspiration for this space (and most of the house) is what’s outside those windows. We have woods behind us and tons of windows & when I walked into the house the first time I felt like I was in a treehouse (it’s a split-foyer/ bi-level so we’re up high on the main level)… So my inspiration here was green, glass, and wood and white…. Here’s a sort of inspiration board/ microcosm for the space (the coffee table atop hide ride with a huge chunk of wood I found at that first flea market with Mr.Ross and some vintage glass lab beakers with plants from around the yard):

I wanted to keep the light & airy feeling of the space but still have it be cozy enough to get us through Fall & Winter… I had a lot of help from Maria of the always-informative & fun Colour Me Happy steering me towards the right white & making sure it was warm enough. (She’s just amazing!!!) I got the lucite coffee table so nothing stops your eye from going to the windows when you walk in… The sculptural topiary-feeling lamp (Pottery Barn, a couple of years ago) and the antique crystal chandelier are also see-through & bring your attention towards the windows without obscuring the view.

Here’s a close-up of the lamp… I’d originally picked out a glass lamp but it was backordered so I pulled this one from the family room & now am really happy with it in here. It sits atop a mirrored reproduction French flea market nesting table from Crate & Barrell. I like that there’s a spot for the lamp and then a lower table for drinks (when I move my books of course! 😉

I wanted it to feel natural with a mix of old-fashioned & modern. I also wanted a neutral enough base that I could bring other colors in when things start happening outside- golds & oranges in the fall, more whites & metallics in the winter, etc… (This is why we’re also getting a white slipcover for the bright velvet green sofa… for when I’m in the mood for a change.) A glass floor lamp is on its way to balance out the chandelier on the right side.


The fabric on the chairs is a linen-cotton blend on the reverse. It’s kind of a fern-toile…
In the afternoon we get rainbows from the antique crystal chandelier that hangs low in front of the window. (It’s not hard-wired in yet but will be for a fun alternative to a reading lamp.) They make me so happy… I give it a little spin (shhhh!!) and Christian loves to run around the room and “grab” them.
Here’s a rainbow on the mum & basil arrangement I have on the mantle right now. We have SO MUCH basil that it’s making its way around the house…
I found this crazy antique chair at (where else?!) Lucketts for $65 and although the gold isn’t really anywhere else, I just thought it would add the perfect quirky-glam- “something off” touch that I needed in the room. I love that the feet are webbed:
I love the vibrant shot of green in the fern. You know how badly I wanted one!!! Now if only I can keep it alive…. It’s sitting atop one of those $10 cheapy “decorator tables” that you’re supposed to put a cloth over. I plan on painting the legs black for warmer months & can always skirt it for some added coziness…
I’m still looking for the perfect piece above the mantle… something taller… and maybe switch around the flea market paintings. The mirror is from the 20s and is from a friend of my grandmother’s, a wonderful teen author, Bebe Faas Rice. I repainted over the black glass & blue & gold paint… I wish it were taller…
I’m crazy over the 2 vintage birds on the mantle… (Dave thinks they’re hideous hahaha) I found them at Volo for $14 for the pair and had to find a spot for them… Does anyone have any idea what era they’re from?? (They’re all crackled when you look up close and just feel very “old”)
Here’s a close-up of the camel saddle on the natural-woven-looking wool rug. (I’m doing a post all about the rug, I promise!)
Here’s my crazy “cluttered” bookshelf full of books & things we’ve been collecting over the years… And I have to tell you, my creepy alligator (bottom left) has started to SMELL!!!! no joke, it’s disgusting!!! It’s very faint but I have the nose of a bloodhound and I had to move him. (Sorry Ernie!! We named him “Ernie” because my dad loved him when he saw him & thought we should name him after him. Since we won’t be naming any children “ernie” we indulged him 😉

Here’s that Lee Industries Craiglist sofa all redone in a bright green velvet.

All of my pillows are done by a local company. Paul David Designs and they do beautiful & VERY affordable work. Paul’s email is He & his wife are so sweet- they even made Ashby a dog bed as a surprise for us out of extra green velvet fabric!!!


And here’s the dining room (still need to get that last window treatment!) with the coconut bead chandelier, pedestal table, $100 set of chairs and the Medieval drawing blown-up:




The drawing on fabric (I call it my “tapestry”) is an Albrecht Durer (1471- 1528) drawing that I had blown-up to 7 feet by 5 feet on fabric with an adhesive backing. The space is tight over there so we didn’t have room for furniture but I still wanted something special…

Dave spied the chairs at Lucketts and at $100 for 4 I was sold!

And that’s it for now. (I know I show an insane amount of redundant photos but I just like to give every little detail & the reasoning behind it. – sorry!!!) We’re happy to be relaxing finally & had a nice fire & s’mores outside last night!! I’ll be posting the kitchen, family room, master bedroom & Christian’s room shortly!!




ps- If anyone has any specific questions about items, I’ll be answering them right here:

Questions/ Answers:

1) The curtain rod is actually 2 iron rods from but I hid the part where they stop under the curtain. (I would have done 1, but 12 feet was about as long as they went.)

2) You can read all about the “tapestry” here: and I had it enlarged here:

3) Question: Why did you select such a heavy chandy for the dining room when everything else is so clear and open?… Answer: Great question. The dining room is really small & has the potential to feel like just an extension of the living room. I really wanted it to stand out as a space on its own so I chose the massive chandelier (I love going oversize on chandeliers/ lanterns) and also a very sculptural, strong pedestal table to anchor that space among all the windows/light. I also just loved how crazy & natural the chandelier felt & sometimes when you just love something that’s “off” it ends up being part of what makes the space so personal & unique.

4) The mantle: ahaha I totally forgot to explain this. Yes, right now it’s just painted black but I think I’ll steal Eddie Ross’s idea in his NY apt of having mirror cut to fit. Either that or we’re going to cut into the wall and do really short “logs” of wood that look like they could be going into a real fireplace… Option 1 much simpler & will open up the space… Option 2, I love this look I see so much in Darryl Carter’s rooms but I think my kids would have a field day with the wood… eeek maybe save this for when they’re older??

5) The fabric on the sofa is a cotton velvet & is great for kids. (Found this one at Calico Corners! 🙂

6) For the fabric on the 2 chairs: Here’s the same fabric I used: … I had the chairs custom-made and had the fabric upholstered on the reverse so it’s much paler than the actual fabric.

Join Our Newsletter

Sign up to receive design inspo, exclusive content, shopping guides, and more.