Our sitting room makeover
In the weeks and months before baby Nye came along I decided to give our sitting room a bit of a face-lift, to give it a more grown up feel, and to make it more comfortable to relax in, as I suspected we would be spending quite a lot of time in it during those early newborn days (I wasn't wrong!) I didn't exactly dislike our sitting room as it was before, but had started to look a bit tired and scruffy, and needed a bit of a re-think and an update to make it feel more coherent.
Below are a few photos of what it was like before - bright primary colours, tired looking furniture and lots of mismatched pictures, cushions and blankets which worked fine three years ago, but which I had got a bit bored of. The walls, which we painted with cheap white emulsion hurriedly just after moving in, were in a really bad state, covered in drips and grubby marks, and they did nothing but make this rather dark road-facing room feel small and bland.
With a new baby about to arrive we had a limited budget and time. We also had to incorporate the existing red sofa (a hand-me-down from my parents, which although not what I would have chosen myself, is comfortable and indestructible) and various other bits of furniture that we couldn't afford to replace. My overall aim was to make the space calmer, softer and cosier, and to create more of a flow, but without spending a fortune, or completely replacing everything.
Although I love white walls and aspire one day to having a a beautifully pared down minimalist home full of white walls and artfully placed pieces of roughly hewn furniture, I also love the immediate effect that colour can have on a space when used well. Our front room is north facing, rather dark and of Victorian terrace proportions. In short, its hastily painted white walls were doing it no favours, and it was crying out for a more flattering colour. After countless tester pots, I settled on Mizzle by Farrow & Ball, a curious green-grey which changes artfully from green to blue to grey depending on the light. It immediately made the room feel warmer, softer and cosier. It compliments the yellows and greys in the fireplace tiles and holds its own against the red sofa. I'm really pleased with it!
We decided it was finally time to say goodbye to our other sofa which was a Gumtree purchase about 6 years ago and was in a really terrible state - bashed about from multiple house moves and severely cat scratched. We replaced it with a two seater Jonesy sofa from Loaf, in their Thatch house fabric which was exactly the neutral tone I was looking for. It's low-slung, slouchy and relaxed and doesn't dominate the space.
I am not a fan of colour schemes in interior decorating but, when it came to accessorising the room I needed to tone down the jumble of colours we had before, so I did loosely stick to a restricted palette that included grey, green, soft yellow, muted dusky pink, red and neutrals. I replaced our mismatched bright cushions with some more grown up ones, mixing cotton, linen and wool to create texture and interest. Most of these I had already in various other places in the house, but I did buy a new oat coloured linen one from H&M home. I also added two beautiful faded vintage kilim cushions from Wild and Idle, a lovely Etsy shop whose owner, Anna, has a great eye and sources beautiful vintage rugs, cushions and basketware from Morocco and elsewhere. I absolutely love my kilim cushions - they add interest and depth, and somehow tie the whole room together.
I also replaced our brightly coloured Welsh vintage blankets that we had draped over the sofas with softer blankets and throws in neutral tones (don't worry - those Welsh blankets found another home elsewhere!)
The rug we had on the floor previously was a large Turkish one purchased from ebay years ago which, although lovely, did not fit the space properly and, with its browny - purple tones, only added to the rather chaotic colour scheme of the room and made the lower half of the room look dark and dull. I also wanted something that would be softer and warmer underfoot, given that there would soon be a small person roaming about on the floor. I eventually chose a thick natural wool rug from John Lewis in a soft grey which feels warm and luxurious underfoot. On top of that I layered sheepskins and a large kilim floor cushion to bring the eye down to the floor, and to create a comfortable area for lounging and playing with Nye.
Our sitting room was suffering from a bad case of clutter so I spent a ruthless hour removing crap and carefully thinking about what I wanted to look at, and what would suit the new space. I often have to remind myself to do this as I get into a habit with objects and stop seeing them after they've been in the same place for a long time. I was keen to include lots of natural textures and objects in the room, so I was drawn to marble, wood and wicker. I also made sure to create space for lots of plants as their vibrant green leaves look wonderful against the mellow grey green walls and I love the way that they catch the light and create moving shadows against the walls.
So there you have it! There are still a few things that I'd like to get for the room - a larger lampshade for one thing, and I'd like to get round to painting the corner cupboard at some point, but I'm so pleased that we managed to get it done before Nye was born, as I now have zero time for anything other than baby care, and I am perpetually grateful to have created a calm, inviting space to relax in on those rare occasions when I get five minutes to myself!
The beautiful kilim cushions above were a gift from Wild and Idle - do go check out Anna's shop, she has free shipping on her stuff at the moment!