For those of you following my blog, you may have noticed a trend in recent posts. Less finished rooms, more small projects to fill rooms. When I scroll through Pinterest or look at other blogs and see these beautifully finished, perfectly accessorized rooms I get intimidated to share my own work. Buying a house isn’t cheap, nor is it cheap to furnish 2100 square feet. Some of those Pinspirations I drool over are clearly not working on a tight budget.
As I scrolled my photos and Pinterest boards for inspiration on what to share with you this week, I came across this quote I saved just after we bought our home;
“If you wait until you have enough money to decorate and make your home your own it will never happen. If you wait until you can afford to buy everything new you are missing the point. It is the old, the new, the made, the hand-me-down, the collected, the worn (but loved) things in your home that make it your own.” – Stacy Risenmay
The quote was a great reminder as to why I started this blog in the first place. It can be overwhelming and sometimes frustrating to choose decor that fits your style, and your budget. And while you may not be able to make every update and purchase you have planned, there are endless opportunities to transform a space with a little paint and some creative staging using items you already own.
So with that quote in mind, today I am sharing photos of the first space we updated upon moving into our home, the den. Below is a shot of the BEFORE– the walls were a basic grey. The plain walls, combined with the grey tile and grey fireplace, felt like a blank canvas. It is a huge room, as you can see with that wrap around sectional couch.
This is the AFTER– pretty amazing what a difference paint and furniture staging can make right?? The den connects to our kitchen, front entryway, and leads to the backyard. I wanted to keep the walkway open to all of those spaces, so I moved our couch to the wall and placed the chairs back where the previous owners had placed the curve of their sectional couch. One major splurge we made in this room is the new furniture– my husband and I agreed that our tattered red Ikea couch was not making it into our first home. The sellers left the curtains in place, and since they have a navy/grey pattern I kept them.
Here is a closer look at the fireplace before– the previous owners did a great job painting the brick. I am not in love with the cream-colored mantle but it is nice and simple, which makes it easy to decorate around. Most of the homes in our area have the old red brick and brass fire insets, so I was thrilled that this update had already been done!
I love, love how much the fireplace stands out after painting the walls the dark navy. I tend to use seasonal decor on the mantel, but since I do not have much for spring decor, I opted for a neutral option that can be used between seasons, or when I just don’t have the time to change it out for something new. The candles, initials, and decorative bottle are decorations left over from our wedding. The vintage maps I found at an antique store– the center one is of New Hampshire, where my husband proposed. On the left is South America, one of our favorite places to explore. On the right is Africa– Kilimanjaro is on our bucket list to visit. The antique Coca-Cola cooler and copper pot of logs are a little heavy for spring. Those will most likely be swapped out for decorative lanterns or glass vases and greenery to lighten up the look for spring and summer.
I wanted to create a large gallery wall that comprised photos and souvenirs from all the mountains we have climbed. The blank space just above the couch will be filled with mountain photos from our honeymoon once we get them back from the framing shop. Longterm, the plan is to expand the gallery wall over to the ladder as we collect more photos and more adventures.
The footstool was a hand me down from my mom, which I recovered with a plaid blanket I found for $5. The end table is an old school desk I picked up last week for $15 on a local Facebook sell page. It will get a cool decopauge top and new coat of paint on the legs once I decide on a color. The brass lamp and globe shade, as well as the blanket ladder were treasures I swiped from my parents.
Wall mounting our TV and sound bar made such a big difference! I love that it can be tucked away on a side wall so that it isn’t the first thing you see when you walk into the room. My husband made the table using reclaimed barn wood he found in his parent’s garage. The stack of books are some of our favorite adventure novels, which fit nicely with the theme of the room. The vintage thermos and suitcase were flea market finds.
This shot gives perspective on how the den connects the entire house (I am standing in front of the fireplace for this shot). Using two separate chairs maintains an open flow from the kitchen to the den, and outside to the patio. I didn’t want the room to feel cut off from the rest of the house. A few friends thought I was nuts when I picked out the cowhide chair, but I LOVE it. It provides a bright pop and relief from the heavy carmel leather furniture and dark navy walls. That square floor lamp is the first piece on the list to go. Once I can sell it, I plan to replace with a brass floor option that will add some bling and give the space a more sophisticated look.
And now I am sure you are asking about those hanging string lights behind the cowhide chair… it is a small nook that we weren’t sure what to do with at first. Since the den is right off our kitchen, we decided it was the perfect spot for a small bar.
My husband made the bar cart in an afternoon using construction lumber and metal pipe parts from Home Depot. I hung the string lights (leftover from our wedding) from a piece of reclaimed barn wood and hung that from the ceiling to provide some much needed light in the space. Copper bar ware and the gold tray provide bling and brighten up the dark stain used on the cart.
So that’s it– new paint, updated staging, and lots of accessorizing with re-used items and flea market finds. Take a look below at the Before & After photos side by side:
While the room is not completely finished as how I envisioned it, I absolutely love that it now functions well and reflects our personality. For the small amount of money spent, it is a drastic improvement! I am happy with where this room is for now, but when I have the time and budget to come back to it, below is my working To-Do List:
- First on the list– a large area rug. Something in a lighter, neutral tone to keep the room from going too dark. I am hoping to snag an indoor/outdoor rug on clearance at the end of summer that would work in the space.
- Curtains- Ideally I would like to have a darker, flannel curtain set for winter and a light, brighter cream or white for the warmer months.
- Artwork- There are several open wall spaces that desperately need artwork. Rather than fill with inexpensive, knock off pieces, I would prefer to splurge on something really I truly like and will not grow old of. Another plan is enlarge photos of some our favorite adventures and have those framed for display.
- New Mantle & Fireplace- Down the road we plan to re-face the fireplace with tile and replace the mantel with a floating reclaimed wood beam. It will be an expensive update, so it will be some time before that project reaches completion.
I hope this inspires you to think outside the perfectly completed box of rooms filling your Pinterest boards and get creative! And please, let me know your thoughts on the room. Suggestions for a rug? curtains? I would love to hear it in the comments below!