Living Room: A Progress Report

I stopped my inside/outside posts because once we moved into our new house, we didn't do nearly as much decorating as we thought we would. I had this picture in my head that I'd be scouring street fairs and markets treasure hunting for $1.99 Civil War era chairs. Because... you know... one hears stories. But any time I did show up to a market or swap meet I felt overwhelmed. Frustrated by everything's close-but-no-cigar... ness.

"This would be PERFECT if only it worked!"

"I'd buy this is in a SECOND if it wasn't hot pink!"

"I'll give you 200 bones for this $900 rug! No? $225?"

...And then one day we woke up and were living in a room with no lights. (Literally. Not one.) We lit candles and pretended we were an 80's ballad but that grew tired eventually. And expensive in the Voluspa department. Nine months later... we finally went shopping. At Ikea.
We purchased three small table lamps and plugged them in behind the bookshelf in a neat little row, situating them atop the shelf.

The room has high ceilings and no recess lighting anywhere. No wiring in the walls for us to hang some cool wall fixtures and although our landlords are down for us doing pretty much whatever we want, the fact that our house was built in 1929 and has never been wired for fixtures doesn't exactly tempt me to go there. So! Our only options were floor lamps and table lamps. Except we hadn't any end tables (I had this fantasy of buying ten tiny lamps and having an electrician wire them together as one light to place over the fireplace. Again. The fantasy was a lot easier to construct than the reality. This is why I will never be crafty.) and floor lamps are tricky because they need furniture to support them.

Our grandiose reading area, though eventual, has not yet happened. Instead? The dogs have a massive bedroom to share with our friendly dust bunnies.
Little bitty lamps were a great solution for needing light in a room where floor lamps didn't fit the bill, and because they're placed so high, give off plenty of light. They're also quite charming I think! (If you ignore the emptiness of the room that surrounds them!)
As for the other side of the room, the "lived in" part, we found a lovely modern hanging lamp. I'm not usually a fan of modern - my interior style is more "eclectic boho antiquey" (your new band name) but Hal and I agreed this lamp was a go for the money/space.
The lamp on the Clavanova is an original John Lloyd Wright lamp that was (no joke) sitting in my parent's garage for the last thirty years. (John was married to my great-grandmother and built the home my Nana still lives in. More on that, here/here.)
The rug was also a CB2 purchase. (It's no longer in stock. We literally bought the last one. From the Miami store. Because someone had bought the last one in the LA store an hour before I called to buy it. Which sent us all on a wild goose chase calling every store in North America. There was one left. In Miami. I cried with joy. The end.) I'd been holding out for my favorite Anthropolgie rug to go on 99% off sale but that didn't happen. Strange.
Clearly, we're a ways to go before the room is perfect. The couch is old and broken. The chair, an antique is there for extra seating, not so much style and the walls are mainly bare. (Wall art cometh next. My plan is to have some of the artwork on my mother's walls giclee(d). (All the art in our house is family done and/or gifted and I feel strange purchasing art with no sentimental value.) So the space needs work. Quite a bit, actually. The thing is? I kind of love the unfinished vibe of the room. The "in progress" ness of it all. It's a relief in a way. A reminder that no matter how much "gets done" there's always more to do. Always, always, always infinity always.

How about you guys? Any great finds lately for your house? Cool lighting? Rugs? Swap meet amazingness? Treasured booty? And if you're local, where do you go for goodies? Twelve years in Los Angeles and I've still yet to hit up the Rose Bowl Flea Market for goods. Which is something I need to do. Which is something I WILL do. As soon as I have the cargo space in my automobile (we're in the early stages of Minivan shopping. More to come on that later) to handle the kind of purchases I intend to make. An ancient ship anchor for example.



Updated: The Treehouse is Melissa and Doug (purchased last winter). Small Dollhouse is Calico Critters (was the floor model at our favorite toy store in LA, gifted to us by the owner, which was so totally kind of her. This is why it pays (in a thousand ways) to support small businesses. They become your friends.)


The Wh0le Story | 9:30 AM

Your house is beautiful, and I love all the personal details. We are about to move, so I have been starting the search for new items to decorate my new pad (even though I have no clue where that will be yet)...this post got me so excited to do so!

grace | 9:31 AM

I really like the little lamps. Do you have them all plugged in to a switch so they are easy to turn off/on?

Unknown | 9:36 AM

Where is the treehouse toy/amazing imaginative play item from? It shows up in the background of most of your pictures - I want one for my future child!


Grace - They're all plugged into a power strip that's now rigged behind the bookshelf. We have to plug and unplug it for now because no wiring for indoor lights. Bummer.

Liz- It's Melissa and Doug! You may still be able to find it although I could not (I updated this post with 411 on toys).

And thank you, Vanessa! Congrats on your move! Super exciting!

Abi | 10:02 AM

You are going to love me. I have a solution for your lamps. Remote controlled power strips! :)

We got ours at Amazon. Hubby had the brilliant idea of plugging the Christmas tree lights on them. Perfect! No more crawling under the tree to turn the lights on.

We moved to our new home last July. No major decorating yet. There are still so many "little repairs" to do. We did start hanging art on the walls 2 weeks ago and it improved the vibe of the house!

BTW, I am so jealous of your gigantic windows!


Abi - I love you. THANK YOU. IDEAL solution. You rock!

L.L. | 10:19 AM

I am with you on not being able to buy art without some sort of sentimental/family/friend etc. connection to it. When we moved into our new house several years back, I searched and found art I liked but never was able to pull the trigger and buy. Currently we only have two pieces displayed - one is a painting given to me by a person that I am no longer friends with with whom I had a very painful falling out and a vintage print belonging to my dad's wife that I had always complimented, which was then given to me after she didn't want it anymore after she kicked & broke the frame during a fight they had. May seem like dysfunctional/negative connotations but to me, its just life in its gritty realness...people fight, friends can betray you...but we keep on keeping on...

Shelly Pfeffel | 10:30 AM

LOVE your personal touches! And those windows and arched doorways? BEAUTIFUL! What a cozy place to call home. :)

Abi | 10:30 AM

I love you too!

It was hubby's idea, but I will take credit for it. LOL

JCF | 10:30 AM

We are currently living in a tiny 2 bedroom married-student-housing apartment (with 5 people--I am so ready to spring out of here!), so we honestly didn't spend much time or money to decorate. It was mostly a chore to just fit everything from our last place (same size, but better use of space) in here.

However, we're moving to the bay area in June (woohoo! for a job!), and I've been scouring Apartment Therapy and other design sites for ideas of how to decorate on a budget. We're moving to a house, for sure, but we don't have one yet, so it is all hypothetical. I have a feeling it will be a slow work in progress for a long time.

Are you drooling over the 2011 Honda Odyssey? We have a 2001 with 130,000 miles, and as much as I love not having a car payment, that 2011 Ody is calling to me...

Lauren | 10:44 AM

K, more sourcing questions, where are your couch and that great bookshelf from?

Anonymous | 10:52 AM

We moved into our place (an adorable rented 1920s bungalow) after 3 years in our first house which was the same size. So, basically our house looks exactly like the old house inside, with everything in just a slightly different order. But, we had no dining room in the old place, and the new place has one. Luckily for us, my Memaw moved in with my parents around the same time that we moved, and she gave us an awesome drop-leaf table, a piano, a side chair, and a dresser (hand made by my great grandpa) that works as a buffet. Add in some antique-store chairs that we scored $200 for 6, and we suddenly had a pretty nice room! We also recently scored an awesome 1960s sofa on Craigslist for $160, replacing our khaki yard sale special and solving the issue of "the sofa blocks the room's one and only vent" by being up on legs. Our house is all hand-me-downs, Craigslist, and Ikea.

JBirch22 | 11:01 AM

WHERE. did you get that awesome treehouse/dollhouse?!

Alex | 11:23 AM

i love the ikea lamps & love the idea of the 3 placed across the top of that FANTASTIC bookshelf.

ty | 11:34 AM

i LOVE your house!

Andygirl | 11:40 AM

I live in Portland which is big on yard sales and thrift stores. I've found a lot of cool pieces that way. I know you're not crafty, but my roomie and I also hit rebuilding centers and take old bits of furniture, repaint it, and turn it into other things. when I lived in Hollywood, I did love the Fairfax flea market. can't really remember where I did my other shopping. World Market maybe.

Amber | 12:20 PM

I love finding wall art at thrift shops and on craigslist.

Grace Miller | 12:23 PM

I just added these koi & lillypad wall decals to my bedroom. Awesome :-)

Jenny | 12:37 PM

I have no furniture in my house that isn't hand-me-down. I've not bought a single piece of furniture. I'm not joking - I just went room by room in my head and NOTHING! I love your sense of style and how you make the best out of not-so-much! Good job. and we'll be fighting over the 99 percent off Anthropologie rugs.

lonek8 | 12:53 PM

the arch of that end wall, along with the echoing window make me weep with joy (as well as a wee bit of envy). What a lovely little home you have

Daisy | 2:24 PM

I have always thought of myself as a modern furniture lover, but my favourite pieces of furniture are a 1950s telephone table, an art deco cupboard/dresser thing and an etched mirror (also 1950s-ish). I could never figure this out, but now I understand.

After reading this post I see that I just had a reaction to my mother's antique style. It is all clutter and dried flowers. Your pictures show that you don't need all modern furniture to have a look that is modern.

And I have a lovely story about my telephone table. I was out with my mother and grandmother and saw it in an antique/junk shop. I didn't have any money with me and my mother wouldn't lend me the $10 they were asking for it because she thought it was too hideous. My grandmother saw how much I loved it and agreed to buy it for me, but only if I didn't tell anyone because she also thought it too ugly for words!

laxsupermom | 3:00 PM

That Wright lamp is a treasure! Crazy that it sat in your parents garage for so long. I love the bookshelf that the Ikea lamps are sitting on. Do you have a source for it?

The lighting is really coming along. Thanks for sharing.

laxsupermom | 3:04 PM

Oh, I forgot to mention, you've won The Versatile Blogger Award come on over to claim it.

I just found your blog from the Rambling Renovators blogroll. Love the blog! You've been blogging for ages - I can't believe I haven't stumbled across it before.

mommica | 3:12 PM

I mostly use my own photographs to decorate the walls, but I have recently become an Etsy addict and found some AWE. SOME. stuff for baby number 2's nursery there. Like a bright orange metal owl sculpture! Heart! And an owl on a branch vinyl wall decal! And felt owl mobile! Did I mention there's a theme to this nursery?

Anonymous | 4:06 PM

You have landlords? I thought you bought that house.

Margie | 4:38 PM

I totally feel you on the artwork situation. We don't have nearly enough artwork around, but I hate to just buy something without a personal connection. Makes for somewhat bare walls for now, but I can wait. Also, love the tiny lamp idea. We have a lofted area that is difficult to light, and I think that would work pretty well for us too. And thanks for teaching me about Voluspa and the word giclee!

amish baby crib | 5:51 PM

The house really looked so beautiful. The little lamps are lovely. | 6:58 PM

I love Restoration Hardware!Check them out online!

Anonymous | 7:50 PM

yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!! a decorating post! hope there are more to come.

Marisa | 8:39 PM

I love the windows in your place. I had the same lighting issue when in my old apartment in Seattle...literally "old". It was built in 1906. :-) You've done great with the place!

rebekah | 9:33 PM

We moved into our house last year and the living room has been haunting me. Your post is the perfect end to my day because I've been running around all day trying to finally, finally get every little detail finished because it's driving me crazy that after 13 months, we still don't have lamps or chairs in the front room. I've been doing a combo of thrift / antique / Target / Ikea and Homegoods store. The Homegoods store ROCKS (the home furnishings version of TJ Maxx). Love it!

I do need to calm down about getting everything in place b/c you're right -- always having more to do is actually something to look forward to.

Anyway, loved the pics -- you have great style!

One Hungry Mutha! | 10:28 PM

Never been to the Rose Bowl Swap Meet?! Bad girl! I found two amazing lamps there, mid-century, globe/crome lights, floor and table, very affordable. A FIND of a kitchen table, with lucite/orange vinyl chairs, too good! I also love Croft House,
found 'em on ebay, visited their downtown workshop, and now they have a store on La Brea! Everything made with reclaimed wood, we got a sick dining room table they custom made for us, making it really long. They do great work. But I too mix and match with Ikea, always good.

Kate | 11:10 PM

Hi! I'm an interior designer and I have a few comments. FIrst off, I read somewhere that good design is always in flux. I agree! Good design is never done. I am always changing things up in my own space. So don't worry about finishing because it should never be finished. ALso, hope you don't mind if I offer a suggestion? If that were my room, I would move the sofa and place it in the middle of the room facing that lovely big window (where you currently have the wood chr). I woud then turn the coffee table so it is parallel with the sofa. Then I would place a chair where the sofa is, but away from the wall a bit and maybe a little table next to the chair. Voila! A nice little seating area. I always try to encourage people to pull furniture off of the walls. Any way, just a suggestion. xoxo.

Kristen | 12:28 AM

Last time we moved, I realized that a good 75% (or more)of our furniture was free - living in apartment complexes for a few years gives you access to other people's castoffs. Some of them are actually good, too, haha! Our TV console/cabinet thing, a footstool, my grandpa's old dining table, a bookshelf that I built myself (not free), an old sewing cabinet/nightstand... to be fair, we don't have a ton of furniture, but we really only bought the couch, coffee table, and desk.

Sarah | 5:05 AM

i love your style!

Stephanie Wilson she/her @babysteph | 6:47 AM

I love shopping antique stores but end up buying only small pieces instead of the really important stuff. To be honest most of my favorite finds were given to us by family or friends moving away. One of my favorite pieces in the living room is Jeff's grandfather's hope chest- it houses all of my yarn and knitting projects. That's about as far as my crafty goes.


jess | 7:34 AM

where'd you get that tv stand? love the modern look of it.

Marcela | 9:12 AM

I think everything you have done so far is great.

I love getting furniture/wall art or deco with sentimental value or knowing I will want it there forever also.

We have been at our house for 5 years and still there is decor to be done...but just haven't found the right pieces yet.

The Rose Bowl...yes you have to go.

Hidrofoare | 11:46 AM

I must tell you I love that lamp from Ikea, the Jonesbo Egby. It’s great. I like your house. Actually, I think it is pretty amazing. I can’t wait to move in with my boyfriend and decorate our house. I love your big window in the living room. It makes the room look even more spacious. Great way of decorating it.

Anonymous | 3:58 PM

Try for excellent lamps - and some awesome, giant floor lamps that don't need furniture around them to make a statement!

nmg915 | 7:55 PM

This is so awesome! I'm really truly thrilled that you did a decorating post. Thanks for the inspiration!!

If you ever get sick of the parenting blog thing, you would be a superstar at writing about decorating.

Liz | 11:52 AM

Man, you're inspiring me to finish unfinished projects around the house. I really need some artwork for the dining area (big open living/dining room), and I kind of want to paint the wall and add a chair rail. I have a crazy idea to paint the area below the chair rail with chalkboard paint so it'll fill up with kid art. Hmm. Something for the next few months!

jenny of all trades | 12:05 PM

I agree with mommica - just take a bunch of your photos and frame them up. I just took 8 of mine, converted them to black and white, (and I'm seriously not a photographer) and framed them all in black frames. The frames were all different sizes, not matchy-matchy, and all the pictures were more "abstract" then portraits. Have them blown up (did mine on, get some frames from Target, and voila, you have a great photo wall that's sentimental and CHEAP!
Your house is beautiful! I think we all have that moment of "holy crap, I'm living in my dorm room still!" But seriously, no one else thinks of it that way. Lots of people would kill for calm, open space like that. :)

Elli D. | 3:38 PM

The treehouse is awesome, where is it from? Also, I like the style of your bookcase, it looks really interesting - not only the bookcase itself but also the way the books are organized. Well, I guess I will have to reorganize mine.

Helen@baby shoes | 7:11 AM

I love the feel of your house. the oval windows are beautiful.

healthy life is easy | 9:27 AM

Hello, I'm blogger from Indonesia. About my blogsite Smart ways to live well with info and tips from experts on weight loss, fitness, health, nutrition, recipes, anti-aging & diets. and please add me as friend on Facebook with e-mail Thank you