Finally! My living room is all but finished and I’d like to share some images and the story with you. I’ll put together separate posts on the upcycling projects I did for the living room in due course but wanted to give you the view of it now and I’m thrilled with it!
This has been a looong process. The problem with Mr Wheel Chic Home being disabled and me being largely DIY incompetent means we have to wait to workmen to come in and do the job. That makes it a long and a costly process. About 60% of the budget for the makeover has been on labour costs. I can use a drill but some things need two people and with Mr WCH being unable to help in most of the big jobs I can’t always do things on my own.
We started to think about the living room makeover before Christmas last year, so it’s pretty much taken 6 months to get from the initial thoughts to moodboard to completion. Part of the the problem was my over thinking the issue as I discussed here and here. I felt overwhelmed and bombarded with Pinterest and Instagram and magazine images and then whenever I saw something I liked, I then saw someone else had it and then had a minor crisis.
Why? Well we spend a lot of time in the living room and it needs to be right. And as we have to rely on decorators, it’s a costly business to get him back in again to re-do the work. A quick coat of paint can be changed easily, but if you don’t do it yourself it’s slightly less easy.
The room we have is pretty small (it used to be a bedroom before the previous owners re configured the floor plan) and we only have 4m x 3m to play with. It’s a lovely cozy sunny room, south facing, and a view of the cul-de-sac we live in. We live in a small close of bungalows and no through traffic. It’s lovely and quiet. We had a lot of furniture in there, so the decluttering started with me selling the large bookcase on Gumtree. I then proceeded to paint the oak coloured TV cabinet. I will add a post about that shortly, so look out for that.
So, to the before photos – it was a pleasant, comfortable room, if a bit traditional. I wanted brighter and more modern, but still comfortable.
I also wanted to add a chair to the corner that means we don’t have to keep getting out the bean bag when guests come. I chose the retro looking Ekanaset chair from Ikea. It’s pricey for Ikea but it’s sturdy and looks mid-century modern which is what I was trying to achieve. It also doesn’t look particularly Ikea and it’s the right size for the space.
The first job in the living room was to box in the central heating pipes that went up one wall and then along the same wall near the bottom. Short of us breaking into the walls to push them out of view, we decided to take the shorter, cheaper and less hassle approach, which was to box them in. Luckily for us they are in the corner and we had them covered pretty quickly. Then once that was done we needed to replaster. We had some ugly thin ceiling cracks and a few chunks of plaster coming off in one corner. So for a smooth finish we decided to have the lot replastered, and then coving added. My friend said that coving was an 80’s throwback but I have to be honest I like the finish it gives a room and we have it in the other rooms, so wanted to complete it in the living room.
After the plastering we had some big chunky shelves put up. The shelves are plain old MDF with brackets from Ikea. I was really worried when they went up as they looked huge and imposing and I was worried I’d made a huge mistake.
Whilst that was going on I started to look more into the decorating options and after going round in circles I came back to the beginning. My eventual choice as you can see in the moodboard is the one kept coming back to – the Cole and Son Prism Wallpaper and eventually decided on some theme based on that. As that wallpaper is so busy we decided to have it behind the sofa, so you see it as you walk into the living room and is the first thing you see, but it’s far too busy to have it behind the TV as it could distract you or (as my decorator said – it can boggle your eyes!). I love the colours in this and I love how crazy it is. We won’t put any pictures on this wall, the wallpaper is artwork enough. Yes, it’s a feature wall and after some soul searching I decided I wanted a feature wall to give some oomph to a small featureless mid-century rectangle.
The other walls are Peignoir and Stiffkey Blue from Farrow and Ball. I’ll be frank, my decorator has long confessed to me a strong dislike for F&B and will avoid using it at all costs, instead trying to find colour matches with Dulux or Crown. I know that might be controversial with the huge love that’s out there for F&B amongst the interiors fans but he’s been decorating for us and the family for 10 years and I have to trust his professional judgement. However, I really loved the two shades I’d chosen and I asked him to work with the F&B Modern Emulsion finish. The Modern Emulsion is similar to your usual paint brands and is washable and a litte more durable than their Estate Emulsion or Flat paint types. This is important for us as the wheelchair or the crutches hit the walls frequently and we needed something durable.
The Peignoir shade looked really pink when it first went on and I have to confess I got pretty scared! However, after three coats (yes three coats on a freshly plastered and mis-coated wall!) and now it’s dried it’s a grey colour with a hint of pink, so it’s not millenial pink or blush pink that’s the recent fashion, but a slight hint of grey and pink. In some lights it looks like a mocha. It’s a lovely warm neutral tone and I’m really pleased with it.
Behind the TV we went with Stiffkey Blue for a couple of reasons, first, I wanted to try the dark without going the whole hog and secondly it’s a great way to disguise the television. I also had the shelves painted in the Stiffkey Eggshell and now whilst they’re still imposing, they’re almost invisible with objects on them and I’m pretty pleased with them. By the time he’d finished four (yes, FOUR) coats the decorator was cursing me and F&B again, but again the colour is great and I’m pleased with the outcome despite the paint costing twice as much as other brands.
We added a fabulous modern light fitting from Next and some retro inspired wall lamps from Ikea to sit either side of the sofa. The other big purchases was a new coffee table from M&S (see this post for more details on that) and a lovely faux palm tree from the local Garden Centre.
The rug is from Next and is a lovely teal/grey blue shade. With the wheelchair sometimes in use in the house we can’t have anything too pale (in case there’s dirt on the wheels) or too shaggy (it would get caught up in the wheels). I’ve written a post about buying a rug if you have a wheelchair to consider. It’s complicated, as most purchases are when you have to consider these things. The rug we chose in the end doesn’t have too deep a pile, or too light a design that it would get ruined with dirt on the wheels. It’s also not to deep that it causes a problem to wheel over. The deeper the pile, the harder the chair is to push.
We also decided to move our faithful old coffee table trunk to another room and get a smaller table. This one from M&S is perfect because it’s sturdy, smaller and with the open appearance underneath it gives the illusion of space. The wheelchair moves round it much more easily than the old trunk. We also added a smaller side table which sits under the sofa and helps Mr WCH to get up, you can see it a little underneath the coffee table. I’ll write more about this in a separate post.
With the amount we spent on wallpaper, rug, carpet, new armchair, coffee table and labour/materials it ended up being a pricey makeover so I wanted to keep some other costs down and reuse some old pieces we already had. I also upcycled some things, a lovely vintage side table, and then I also painted the lampshade, TV unit and end table. I’ll write separate posts on those things soon, so keep an eye out for those.
Once the room was all decorated we had new carpet fitted and started to put everything back. The flurry of activity was a couple of weeks, with a few months of waiting for it to start.
Is it disabled friendly? Well yes I think so. I’m going to write a separate post with specifics on how it’s disabled friendly for us. I think it’s an improvement on how friendly it was before.
Thank you for all your comments on Instagram, Twitter and the blog about my living room journey and for the lovely feedback I’ve received on the final outcome. I hope you can see how you can confidently colour clash, use bold patterns and mix the old and the new with style.