Living Room Redecorating (Again!)

Since finishing my MBA, I’ve found myself with a lot more time to notice little things I’d like to change about my house. And, thankfully, more time to actually do something about it! Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working on yet another round of living-room redecoration. I think I’m finally moving closer to finding the right mix of style and function…

The last time I showed you my living room, it looked like this:

Stephenson living room, circa January 2013.

Not bad, but that sofa was just so huge. And so dark. And, I came to realize after months of sitting on it while cramming for finance exams, so uncomfortable. It makes me sad to admit that, because the sofa wasn’t actually that old (you can read about when we bought it here: But, I realized it just wasn’t working well in our space, and so I started warming Robby up to the idea of getting a new one. ;)

My other motivation for getting a new, smaller sofa was that it would allow us to get a bigger dining table. Our old one was cute, but could really only seat two people comfortably, and we’re hoping to have people over more often!

It took a while to get Robby on board with the new-sofa plan, especially when I initially fell in love with a $2,400 model:

So pretty. But so expensive.

Eventually, I came to my senses and realized that a $2,400 velvet-covered sofa just wasn’t affordable or realistic given that we have a slobbery bulldog. So, I did more research on small sectionals with chaises, and kept finding good reviews about the Ektorp sofa from Ikea. I know, 75% of my house is from Ikea, but when you’re trying to live on a budget it’s hard to resist those prices. Plus, the sofa actually had a 10-year warranty and tons of relatively affordable replacement slipcovers.

So, a few weeks ago, I broke Robby down we decided to take a trip to Ikea to purchase our new sofa. In white, no less! I also moved the bouncy chair upstairs and replaced it with a cushy armchair from World Market (that’s a story in itself…we bought the chair the night before we left for Hawaii, only to discover that no amount of shoving would get it into our car, and World Market couldn’t deliver it that night. So we actually sprinted over to the U-Haul place and begged the guy to let us rent a truck 1 hour before closing, just so that we could get the chair home. It’s funny now, but didn’t seem so funny at the time!).

Anyway, once we got the new furniture in place, our living room looked like this:

New sofa and chair!

Living room, different angle.

My parents actually took our old leather sofa. They’re redecorating, and it fits much better in their big house! When they came to pick it up, they brought an old friend with them…Robby’s old, old dining table and chairs, which they’d been using since Robby and I got married and decided to keep my smaller table!

The table and chairs were in pretty good shape, and were the bigger size that I wanted, especially with the leaf extension. But, I didn’t love the color (cherry-stained wood with forest green accents). Here’s a REALLY old picture of the table, I think from 2004 when Robby first bought our house (check out the old kitchen, too!):

Dining table way back when.

Bad lighting, but you can sort of see what I mean about the colors. So, I started another DIY project: refinishing the furniture! I decided to go with an antique pine stain (to coordinate with our other furniture) and black accents. It took a LOT of sweat equity over several weekends to strip off all the varnish, apply multiple coats of stain and paint, and seal everything, but I’m really happy with the results!

Close-up of the refinished table and chairs. One of my more successful DIY projects, I think!

I also decided that the old dresser we had in the dining area felt a little big for the space. So, we moved it upstairs and replaced it with two floating shelves that we had once used underneath the bar counter before we remodeled the kitchen (you can see them in action here, before they fell down…whoops: Here are the new shelves:

Refinished dining set and new floating shelves. Much lighter than the old dresser, I think!

So far, the changes seem to be working well for us. The new sofa and chair are super comfortable, and the room seems bigger and brighter. We even had some friends over for dinner and were able to fit 4 people plus multiple serving dishes on the table, hooray!

Sadly, though, there’s one catch. I had talked myself into the white slipcover for the sofa, reasoning that I could just bleach it anytime it got dirty. And then, on our very first day with the new sofa, Lucy jumped on it with muddy paws. I washed everything (which took hours), and then, a few days later, she did it again. Argh. It actually bugged Robby more than it bugged me, and he started hinting that maybe we should look into getting a different-colored slipcover.

Before spending money on that, though, I decided to try to salvage our initial slipcover investment by dyeing the white fabric a darker color. I settled on the Pearl Grey color by Rit, and went on a grand tour of two Michaels and a JoAnn Fabrics to find enough boxes to dye the whole slipcover (you need 1 box per pound of fabric, and our slipcover weighs 14 pounds).

I’m still working on finishing the dye job (the final load is in the dryer right now), and sadly, it’s not going well. :( I don’t know if I didn’t use enough dye, or if there was just too much fabric in the washing machine, or if the dye was just off, but all I know is that the slipcover is supposed to be this lovely shade of taupey grey:

Pearl Grey

But, instead, it’s this strange shade of pale blue with random grey splotches:

Yeah, that doesn't look like the box AT ALL. So frustrating.

Waaaaahhh! I’m going to try to salvage things with another batch of dye (darker grey, from a different brand), and smaller loads, so we’ll see if that helps. I’ll let you know how it goes, but we may be saving up for another slipcover soon. :/

My other upcoming project is to add some distressed, antique-stained pine planks to the top of our coffee table. Partly to make the table look more interesting, but mostly to cover up the area where I spilled nail polish remover and ruined the paint on top (sigh…).  Oh, and I’m also brainstorming ideas to replace the cheap Target-clearance art that’s currently hanging over the sofa with something a little more sophisticated. Wish me luck with my never-ending DIY-decorating quest!

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