Contrast is Key: My Living Room Makeover
The thing about building a new house is that you think it's going to be complete when you move in but, aside from its structural details, it ain't complete by a long shot. This came as a surprise to me. Being that I'd only owned older homes before, my imagining of a new house was that it would have perfectly designed rooms resembling a Pinterest page. In practice, the past three years have seen my little family grow into our home slowly. Part of the reason was that when we were building, EVERYTHING seemed to be an upgrade and you've gotta draw the line somewhere. Second, it takes time to settle in and get a feel for how existing pieces fit into the space (with an open floor plan, one change affects your whole main level). And last, our family's style has evolved because our family has evolved: we went from two to three this past year and our needs are quite different now. So it was that we finally decided to step up our living room decor. And oh, am I glad we did. Take a peek.
The all-over soft off-white of my home is comfortable but did no favors for our beautiful alabaster and marble fireplace (it's an electric gem we also had in our loft). The only contrast was whatever happened to be on the mantle, which made for a junky silhouette. In my defense, there was usually a mirror perched atop, but I disliked said mirror enough that I refused to commit to hanging it.
What the wall needed was to contrast the fireplace thereby making it the focal point. Enter BLACK WALLPAPER.
And though only took years to find the right wallpaper, we did indeed find it. I'd been stuck on this art deco seashell pattern whose sheen was too delicate to be in the life of a child bound to scrape it white, so it was only after I let that paper go that we landed on this one.
Of course, we'd brought the book home but a foot-squared piece of a pattern really can't tell you what it's going to look like floor to ceiling. But I sure did ooh and aah as my installer, Chris put it up with his assistant (kudos to the DIYers because this is picky work).
There's an amazing vintage sunburst clock on another wall so we chose a mirror that echoed that in a chic, homey fashion. And I loved the New York map so much, I let it dictate the room's palette of stormy blue.
On the left side of the mantle, I placed two reminders of my musical career: a mixed media painting of Junior Pantherz by artist /my band mate, Terry Mattson, and a candid my husband took of my brother and I at a Violent Kin photo shoot.
On the right, I placed a couple of my little fam alongside some five-dollar Sobeys roses in a stunning, gold-rimmed, china vase on perma-loan from my Grandma, Olga Kardash.
Another of my Grandma's touches came in the form of an oil painting she did in the '70s (my home is peppered with my grandmother's artwork). I love that on one side of the wall hangs this ode to my prairie home and on the other is a reminder of another city that shaped my life so deeply (aside from band tours and visits, my brother and I lived in NYC for a summer with our band and I'll be forever grateful for the people that city brought into my life).
Gah, it's so much better now. Even Sam the cat seems to appreciate the room's revitalization. That's him in the coffee table tray.
I mean, it's a big transformation!
The fun didn't stop there. As I mentioned, an open floor plan doesn't offer rooms to purpose per se, and that led me to designing a toy area reined in by a carpet for my baby, Petra.
To help blend the styles of our living room and Petra's little play area, we brought the wallpaper into her space, too.
Really either way to her, as you can see. But I'm all about this newfound contrast.
If you're in the market for wallpaper, I found this durable paper (and the wallpaper we chose for Petra's room) at Eastside Paint and Wallpaper, though my basement's beautiful stuff came Sew & Home so I suggest you take an afternoon and check out both stores. And if you've got another great location for wallpaper or a DIY testimonial to share, the comment section is always open :)