Our Living Room Revealed


I can finally (and proudly) say that our living room is complete. As complete as it’s going to get in this house. Would you like a tour? Here we go.

First of all, I HATE the color of our walls. Seriously, what genius picks out a slightly pinkish, yellowish off-white? It’s got to be either true white in my opinion or something completely different. In my dream home, I’d love to have glossy white everything. Okay, continuing on. . .

We upgraded our couch from our last place (the Urban Outfitters One). It was cute, but hardly comfortable as a living room/family room couch. I was 4 1/2 months pregnant at the time, so I was NOT going to tolerate an uncomfortable couch. THIS, my friends, was a huge splurge for us. It’s a Notuzzi limited edition, top-grain leather couch in mushroom. We thought about black, but ultimately the mushroom was a more interesting color. This was our Christmas present last year & we love it. It’s the perfect kind of soft leather so you’re not slipping around all over the place – it’s soft, cool & not sticky. The shape was something that took us a LONG time to find. How come it’s nearly impossible to find a leather couch with straight lines? I can’t stand the overstuffed look (sure it’s comfy), and I’m not into the rounded tight ’90s contemporary look that was the only other option.

After looking for a couch for over a month, it was between this one & Ikea’s Karlstad. This one was a little more expensive, but we liked the leather a lot more than the Ikea one. We bought it at Sofa Mart in Draper.

The TV was another splurge. Until last October we’d survived our entire marriage without a TV. We had a projector, which was perfect in our small 1 bedroom San Francisco apartment, but not very ideal for a little girl that wanted to watch her shows right now (it was a 5-10 minute process to set up the projector & get it going). Chris & I debated back and forth about what size TV we should get. He wanted a 60″, I wanted a 40″. We compromised at 55″. We got this 780p Plasma LG TV brand new (never been opened) for $500 off of craigslist. We saw it in stores for $1300.

Along with the TV, we needed a console. We didn’t want to spend an arm & a leg for it & we wanted it to fit our speakers neatly in there. Ideally I would’ve found a beautiful sideboard with cabinets that were the perfect dimensions, but that was out of our budget. We used the Tryde plans from knock-off-wood to make our own custom console. Chris built it, I stained it, all for just over $100. I’d love to add doors to the console to hide the cords & electronics, but that’s a project for another day. In the mean time, we’ve trained Penelope to avoid those electronics.

The rug we had at our previous place & inherited from my parents when they relocated to Charlotte. The coffee table we had previously, too. The coffee table previously had a chest that nested inside the frame. We found it was muffling the audio from the speakers so we picked up some wood planks & nested them in the chest’s place. This was the compromise between Chris shoving it to the wall (or tossing it out). Chris seriously questions the need for a coffee table. Am I the only one who needs one?

That modern chair you see in the background was from the thrift store & the pillow was hand made. Lamp was thrifted & DIYed.

Originally I stained the planks the same color as the console, but it was looking too dark & monotone for me. Also, Penelope had her way with the surface, so I sanded it down a bit to show more of the wood grain. I like it much better now.The natural wood grain is really pretty & has sort of an industrial look about it. I found these blocks at House 8810 & had to buy them for Penelope. They’re adorable toys & look fancy & fun on our coffee table.

The peace sign we’ve had for a while – we got at a white elephant exchange. The succulent I found at Lowe’s as well as the cork round. The Giraffe was a thrifty & chic find.

I found two of these matching stool table thingies at the thrift store. They had disgusting laminate on top, so I turned the wood over, sanded & painted a cheery orange. They’re really low profile & very minimal in our small living room. The bowl was found at a thrift store, too.

I love my Studio on Fire print! The above print is a father & son letterpress collaboration. It’s sweet & a steal at $30.

This is artwork done by me. The square frame and matte on the bottom were passed down from my great grandmother. It’s so old you can tell the glass was hand blown. This is our engagement photo – my mother-in-law shot for us & I cross processed. I love this picture.

The above drawing is a Sunday doodle of mine & the clock I found at a housewares swap several months ago.

These pieces are mine. I framed them in my framing class in college. The large frame was found at a thrift store.

The embroidered pillow cover I scored years ago at Ikea for 99¢, the fish scale pillow I made & the yellow ikat pillow I purchased from Moxie Mandie. The Ikea pillow is looking a bit worn, I plan on replacing it with another handmade pillow with a graphic print. I’ve got my eye on a few Ikea fabrics.

The shoe basket I scored at a thrift store, the pillow I made from Proud Mary fabric, the chair was scored at Ikea’s as is section & the lamp & curtain were also ikea. The mirror was scored at a thrift store.

This is the entry way; also part of our living room. The bench I scored a while ago at a thrift store (I still need to get it reupholstered) the shoes & jacket were thrifted & purses were either thrifted or won on giveaways. I spray painted the hooks white & the artwork is this year’s Seesaw designs letterpressed calendar.

Here are the totals (including the cost of things I had on hand before moving here):

  • couch – $1400
  • tv – $500
  • console – $110
  • coffee table – $45
  • poang chair – $75
  • arthur umanoff chair – $8
  • pillows – $40
  • tufted bench – $15
  • artwork & frames – $150
  • side tables – $4
  • lamps – $30
  • tchotchkes & plants – $50

Grand Total: $2427

Looking at this list makes me feel like I’ve spent a TON of money on this room, but a lot of these things we’ve collected over the last 5+ years. Mostly the artwork. Honestly if we were to have paid full price for everything, this would be a $4000+ room. Good artwork adds up so does good/unique furniture. I consider myself pretty proud of this space. I’m definitely proud to show this off as the first room people see. Well, besides the awful paint. I guess I should be thankful it’s not lavender or lime green.

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    1. Elaine says:

      I loved your tour!

    2. Faith says:

      It looks fantastic! I’m jealous that your space is so put-together. My living room and kitchen are in desperate need of redecorating.

    3. Emily says:

      Fantastic! That is the BEST looking leather couch I’ve ever seen, and probably the only way I could be talked into leather. Love the artwork, your engagement picture, and that deal of a tv you on on CL. PS the wall color doesn’t look that bad on my computer. I might not’ve even noticed.

    4. I like your frame wall. And still love that ombre lamp. Nice.

    5. SarahJane says:

      Love, love! It looks good in person too. I totally dig your lamp!! What an awesome idea! That rit stuff is pretty good stuff. I am now caught up on your blog. Missed it!

    6. Taylor says:

      Looks fantastic! You’ve really got a good eye! Oh and I would totally steal that peace sign hand from you! I LOVE it!

    7. Melanie says:

      ctrl + c your style
      ctrl + v into my house.
      Thanks! <3

      But really, I've been following your blog since Pen was just a little sproglet, and I've got to say that I'm majorly impressed… you have TWO KIDS and your house is so NEAT and ORGANIZED.

    8. merrick says:

      Wow, what a great space! You have done an awesome job!

    9. Melanie says:

      PS: You should post your living room at Saucy Dwellings, a LiveJournal community that has amazing houses + rooms like yours. Seriously, you’ve got style. http://saucydwellings.livejournal.com/

    10. Mary says:

      I love how it’s simple, practical, and just so perfect-looking. I love the idea of white walls.. it’s definitely something to keep in mind. Thanks for sharing!

    11. oh my gosh that bench is beautiful! great work!

    12. natalie says:

      it looks awesome. i love the hanging lamp. you did great getting all the details in there. love it.

    13. Leanne says:

      Hi Melissa! I love your living room especially all your beautiful framed pieces. It looks even better in person although you’ve added a few more things since I’ve been there. That lamp turned out beautiful.

    14. Jenna says:

      I dig this room a lot! Wow, you’re awesome.

    15. NOT that you’re in the market for one, but i just came from ikea, where there is a creamy white leather karlstad sofa in the as-is section for $629. i melted when i sat in that sofa… and then quickly hopped out when i realized there wasn’t $629 at my disposal.

      love the room. the neutrals are creamy and delicious.

    16. Sandra says:

      Omgosh, that looks awesome! I especially love your wall art!

    17. moxiemandie says:

      I love the room! Thanks so much for linking back to my shop. Seriously, you’ve got beautiful taste. The room looks lovely.

    18. Katherine says:

      Looks great… love all the art and the entryway! I wouldn’t reupholster the bench, though (unless the fabric is in poor condition.) I really love that pop of seafoam green!

    19. Bmerry says:

      I like the tables and wish Ikea was closer.

    20. nikki says:

      obsessed with your coffee table! i want to find a metal frame to copy it! also, where did you get those tiny vintage coat hangers you used to hang artwork? i’ve been looking for some!

    21. Marissa says:

      amazing! and you have a coffee table. rodney won’t let me put one in our living room. bah!

    22. I love the artwork in your living room. It makes it so alive and it’s really inspiring. I think the color of the walls fits perfectly, or rather you made a good fit out of it. So nice and bright.

    23. I love all of your wall decor! I am taking notes.

    24. Laurie says:

      Very nice! I love the golden rule print. I want one!

    25. Hi,

      My name is Hannah and I came across your site while exploring issues related to the college job market and student debt. Myself, along with a team of designers and researchers have created a graphic which shows the facts and figures behind the struggles of recent college graduates.

      I would love to share it with you, if you’re interested let me know. :)

      Thank you,

      Hannah Peters
      petershannah8@gmail.com | CollegeAtHome.com

    26. Aaron D says:


      Im looking to paint my bedroom a neutral color. I just was wondering where you received and what the name is of the paint you used in this room? Thanks.

      • Melissa says:


        Unfortunately that was a rental we moved out of years ago, so I have no idea what it was. I would recommend Behr’s Heavy Goose for a light neutral.

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