Updates to the Living Room

As more people hear about The William Morris Project (thank you to all who are spreading the word) I realized that the biggest mess around here is my blog! If someone were to stop by via link to one of my William Morris posts, their first thought would undoubtedly be, “Huh?” I have no explanation, no links to previous posts, and no way for regular readers to track what I’ve done.


I’ve also done a few projects around the house and don’t have a picture to show for my work. Double oops!

Take the living room, for example.

A few weeks ago I uploaded these images to Craigslist because, as my list so clearly states, I wanted to sell the mid century china cabinet we used in the dining room. Except we moved it into the living room to break up the world largest expanse of blank wall. Likewise with the two framed photographs.

I moved the cabinet from the dining room to the living room and then straight out the door to strangers from Burbank. See how I did that without any photographic documentation?

We have rugs now, too. More things to mark off the list without documentation! I’ll talk about the large, beautiful flat-weave that I refused to settle on another day, but suffice to say we kicked it into gear when Mikey looked around the room after all the Christmas decorations were gone and said, “I’m sad. This house looks lonely and empty.”

A shot to the heart, but only more so because he was right. With just two chairs, a coffee table, and a sofa, voices echoed off the floors and walls. It looked like someone was moving in or moving out, but not living here. Enter the large rug. For our anniversary we bought a Koldby from IKEA.

People have strong opinions about cowhides. They either love them, hate them, or think they are trendy. I can see all viewpoints, but they remind me my childhood. Being from Argentina, they were ubiquitous in our home. My mom has three on the walls in her office alone. I do think it’s funny they are so popular now. Crazy, when I think of how many people in high school and college teased me about them.

For now, our living room looks like this.

I had plans to sell this other china cabinet on Craigslist, too, but once the mid century cabinet left, I knew I had to put something in its place, at least temporarily. It will be a while before we can afford to replace it, but right now I am debating between an upright piano (I played for 11 years) or a low sitting set of bookshelves with an assortment of family pictures on top. Similar to this, but not quite so cluttered.

On Sunday, after my solitary walk, I went home feeling inspired. I unloaded the IKEA china cabinet and put everything on the dining room table. (Picture it, because I forgot to take a picture.) Then, the Mister and I moved the cabinet to its placeholder position and I spent the better part of an hour fiddle-faddling with the contents.

The bucket of white flowers is 12 years old. The vase and obscenely large candle stick (I mean, really) is around 7 years old.

Not willing to spend one red cent but aware of the decorating lesson I had just learned, I went around the house and tried to find accessories, which I generally loathe. Don’t get me wrong, I like accessories and think they make a house look homey. I just find most of them are insincere or staged for me. It’s a bit like wearing red lipstick. It looks good on everyone else, but when I do it I feel like I’m playing in my mom’s makeup drawer.

Basically, the story we have here is of a woman who was once timid, but now isn’t. She was once rushed, looking to make things work, but is now willing to wait until she finds just the right thingamabob to pretty up the coffee table. (Most likely books, rocks, and plants or a terrarium.) Also, she lives with people with severe allergies and is still looking for a candle that won’t make someone sneeze or get itchy, runny eyes. The odds aren’t looking good.

I have such plans for that large corner in the window. I see a round library or tea table stacked with books, plants, a vintage bust (I’ve always wanted one!), or even a globe. I thought this globe was snazzy, and didn’t even balk at the price. This project taught me to buy for life, and therefore prices aren’t as intimidating anymore. Only cheaply made, disposable items should have a too good to be true price, and that’s because you need to account for buying items two and three times over before you learn your lesson. If I loved it enough to buy it, I would save my money, sell items I don’t love or need, and wait until I could afford the darn globe. If it’s gone by the time I can buy it, it wasn’t meant to be. That’s neither here nor there, unfortunately, because I think the globe is too big. I would need something more petite for the size table I can fit in that corner. That’s okay–that gives me more room for a freaky bust!


This post was part of The William Morris Project, a weekly series that details the steps I am taking to create an intentional home. You can see more of my goals and completed projects here. To learn more about this project, start here.


Now it’s your turn! Feel free to share how you have lived according to the William Morris quote, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Made a plan? Cleaned a drawer? Bought a sofa? Let’s hear it with a link or in the comments.

A few guidelines:

  1. Please link to a specific post, not a general blog address.
  2. No links to giveaways, please.
  3. A link back to this site is always appreciated. There are buttons to add to your post or sidebar, too, thanks to the lovely Alex, of Type A Calligraphy. Just copy the code and insert into your blog post or sidebar while in html mode.
  4. Let’s use this weekly link up as an opportunity to gather inspiration and motivation. Click links. Discover new people. Say hi and good job. I know I will.

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  1. Geesh. I really want to use a Manhattan Nest expletive here. Jules your living room looks so good. I am definitely for the wall of low bookshelves. Are you still planning on enlarging photos of the boys? Oh, and if you go the vintage bust route, I am definitely for Elvis. πŸ™‚

    • Yes, still planning on enlarging the pictures. I thought at least one could go in the dining room. In the living room I was imaging more vintage ones of prior generations, but that’s all subject to change.

  2. Hello…I think I have your backdoor in my kitchen, shade and all. I was looking through the photos and started laughing when I saw your door in the background. Did you possibly get that green Roman shade at Target? Anyway, just a funny little tidbit for the day.

    No link up for me this week, but the office is looking A-MAZ-ING, I’ve learned a ton, and I’ve got a post in progress that I’ll share next Thursday. My plans for this week include starting on the laundry room, which somehow led to me playing with Mod Podge and paint and clipboards for an office wall project yesterday. I told my husband last night that I had every intention of cleaning out in the laundry room, but that this project was the first thing I saw upon entering it, and I figured that I might as well do the project instead of finding a new storage spot for it and putting it off for later. I’ll let you know how it goes since I’m SO not gifted in the craft section of life! πŸ˜‰

    For the record…your living room looks GREAT! I’m all over that idea of saving and waiting (one of the themes that I discuss in that post I’m working on) and then paying more for something that I really love. Rock on, Jules! πŸ™‚

  3. Your living room is looking amazing. I am teeth-gnashingly jealous of the blue chesterfield. The whole set-up looks well thought out and cozy.

    I have been looking for a bust for about a year now. Everything that comes through Home Goods seems to be just not quite right in the face or proportions, like the horse head that appears to be wearing a turtleneck, or the Grecian gooddess whose bulging eyes make her look like she just got goosed. I’m holding out for something pretty.

  4. Love the red lipstick analogy. I don’t know what I’m doing with accessories, but I think that yours look fabulous. I’m learning a lot from this series. Keep up the good work!

  5. Nice pictures Jules! I like the idea of the low table with pictures but then what would you do on the wall? I also want an upright piano (even though I don’t play!). I bought a bust a couple of months ago which I love. It’s of a french peasant girl (at least that’s how I would describe it). I can’t wait to put it out, along with all of my other things that are still in boxes:(

    • Sorry, posting while sick isn’t a smart move. I meant the pictures would go on the wall, above the bookshelves. Like in the picture I linked to. πŸ™‚

  6. It’s so fun to see your living room come together–love it! I, too, love a good bust (that sounds wrong, but you know what I mean)–sculptures in general, really. I imagine it’s the whole story thing . . .

  7. That globe is fabulous, but I’ll bet you could make one for about $29.

    I am also enamored with your Chesterfield, and think it would look lovely with the upright piano. But for now, the bookcase looks great with the vases & basket of logs. Those two touches take it to the next level.

    • I don’t think I could. I think it’s a project that looks deceptively simple and inexpensive. The globe has an aged brass semi-meridian (I think that’s what those are called), and that type of globe usually starts at $100. (I found some at $70, but not as cute.) I think most of the cost is tied up in skill and labor, which is fine. I don’t have the eye to compose the book scenes as well as she does. I love the color of the globe, but even she says in the description that the book art will be colorized to match the globe, which means she doesn’t always have access to that pretty, muted blue.

      The cabinet that is there now will be there for a while! Both a set of bookshelves or a piano will cost money that would be better spent in other areas of the home. πŸ™‚

  8. I love your home. It feels bright and cozy and uncluttered. The couch is to die for. I totally relate to “I like accessories and think they make a house look homey. I just find most of them are insincere or staged for me”. I’m going to start buying for life rather than filling the shelves with cheap things just for the sake of filling them. You are so inspiring…thank you for sharing your adventure!

  9. the room is coming along so great! Actually it looks pretty well done to me. I love it. Shelly wants me to get a hide rug too. I think they are very cool, but I’m just worried that in 5 years I won’t be as enamored with them. You at least have a back story…being that they were a staple in your home growing up. I’m afraid I would just be going with a trend πŸ˜‰

  10. This may sound 1970s and terrible, but I can really see your living room looking great with a tapestry hanging on the wall. It would suit the aesthetic of your furniture and the mix of textures you have. It would have to be the RIGHT tapestry though. That would look great hanging over a low bookshelf, and it would also take up a good amount of room and provide some nice colour. Just as an example, maybe something like this? http://www.etsy.com/listing/51453754/tapestry-embroidery-fiber-art-handmade?ref=sr_gallery_10&sref=&ga_search_query=tapestry&ga_order=undefined&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=&ga_min=0&ga_max=0&ga_removeLocation=1&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_facet=handmade (note, I have no affiliation here, just happened to come across it). Wow, there are a lot of ugly tapestries out there though, according to my searches. I share your discomfort with accessories. I like the look of them in other people’s homes, but I have a lot of trouble coughing up money for something purely decorative for it just to sit around and gather dust.

    • I know exactly what you mean about the tapestry/fiber art. I love them, but haven’t devoted the time to wading through all the really ugly tapestries out there! Thanks for reminding me that they can be worth the hunt. πŸ™‚

  11. I think that it looks lovely! Getting a used Chesterfield sofa would be so great for my family….I think that I just found the next thing on my list. πŸ™‚

    • Morgan found everything in the room, minus the rugs and IKEA cabinet, which we’ve had for years. The chest was hers and everything else was her exercising her Craigslist-Fu.

  12. I just need to take a moment to say how in love I am with your coffee table and that floor lamp. Absolutely gorgeous, just like the rest of the room!

  13. Mmmm. That corner, so empty, so deliciously lit by the floor to ceiling window, I could devour it. My kids get upset about the pairing-down of items, they equate the white space with an empty void – an unhappiness that needs to be filled with things. It must be comforting, the clutter, the stuff? There must be something to it.
    Love your living room space. It has the look that only comes through putting things together over time, instead of parsing it together quickly using all of ‘today’s’ trends. Love sculpture. Are there good auctions in your area? Or even art schools?
    Can just imagine reading by the light of that window. Makes me all warm and fuzzy inside πŸ™‚

    • It sure has come together over time! More time than I like, but it’s working out in the end. πŸ™‚ I’m going to start hunting for a sculpture or bust. I almost have enough money in gift cards saved up for a surprising cute (solid wood!) tea table from Target, so things are moving forward.

  14. I’m with you on the accessories. It’s one area where I rarely spend money, but then I find myself shuffling around things that were gifts or hand-me-downs that I never would have chosen for myself. When I do choose something I really love, it makes me absurdly happy.

  15. Jules, I posted about this very subject, including the William Morris quote, this week and was so happy to read about your party today. It’s exactly what I am going for in our newest home….creating a meaningful space that represents the family that lives in it. I’m so excited to meet you and your blog and can’t wait to read more over here!

  16. I feel like I always have this William Morris mantra in mind, but I rarely document my work either. Mostly because the “after” rarely looks impressive enough to post on my blog.

    Last January I got rid of 5 things a day for the whole month, and it was awesome. I needed to pare down and clearing the house of things that didn’t really grab me was a great feeling.

  17. I too, love the sofa, and the giant rock fireplace wall, and the coffee table…. It is so easy for me to get on a minimalist binge that I will take everything out of a room except the foundational furniture, and get really weird about finding the perfect thing to go back in. The sentiment of ‘it looks lonely and empty’ is so familiar, for a while people thought we were moving out. {I got rid of a rug too, it does the strangest things to the feel of a room!} The problem with all of that is that I am not really a minimalist, so things just kind of creep back in, one at a time, but without intention. The idea of an ‘intentional home’ is so perfect, I usually think of intention related to actions and relationships, and not space. Function yes, but intent? Thank you for doing this project, and for your beautiful pictures! {btw, what kind of camera do you use? Your photos are always so great!}

    • I was JUST talking to my friend Nicole about this. I am pretty much, in my heart, a maximalist. I like piles of books and things that look loved. I love the look of a minimalist room, but it’s not for me.

      As for my camera, I use a Nikon D60 with the kit lens or a 50mm with a tripod.

  18. I can’t imagine your house ever looking or feeling “lonely and empty.” The room looks lovely; I want to curl up on that Chesterfield with a book and a cozy throw. You know, seeing all these shots of your living room reminds me of when I first discovered your blog…last year? Or before? Anyway, whenever I’d click over, it always seemed to be a post about you stressing over the paint color for the room! (Glad you finally picked! ;-))

    And okay, whew, finalllly got my link up there. I had my eyes dilated earlier today and couldn’t stand to look at a bright screen!

  19. I love the cowhide! And I feel you on random “staged” stuff. I am in the process of purging these items. It can be difficult when they are gifts. You should see the very cheaply framed photo my mom gave us of herself, really close up! It’s a challenge! Thanks again for the inspiration.

  20. Your living room is gorgeous! I’m very envious of your hardwood floors and the lack of clutter and stuff! We have nasty old carpet and new floors are on my list (my very long list). Something about hardwood makes a room seem more contemporary and inviting. And please tell me that, like my living room, the rest of the time the room is full of toys and magazines and projects?

    • No, it pretty much always looks like that unless there are some coats or random pieces of paper there. It’s the FAMILY ROOM and the boys’ BEDROOMS that are positively, absolutely, HORRIFYING. Their rooms give me hives. I’m online right now looking at storage solutions, but I think the real problem is that they have too many toys!

  21. too often i accomplish projects around the house before i have the thought to take ‘before’ photos. i regret it when i am done because i tend to overthink things and wonder whether or not my changes were for the better.

    also, i love your taste in furniture. all of it. that room is the perfect blend of all the best of different styles. it’s wonderful.


  22. I have so much to write but all I can think of is how gorgeous your photographs are the light is INSANE, so gorgeous! I think of cow hide and Argentina (my job has a factory there), it’s the best in the world and it adds a beautiful dimension and ruggedness perfect for your fireplace (which I covet).

  23. Jules, I love how warm and cozy your home is. The cowhide is too cool, I’ve always wanted one! What type of rug is under your cowhide? I want to get rid of the carpet downstairs so badly! But, I know I will need some kind of rug and I like that type, but I don’t really know my rugs πŸ™‚

    Seriously, I also like how you put your books in the shelf so intentionally, I really stink at that type of stuff and need to practice to see what I like to see, it makes the bookshelf so inviting too. When you wrote about your neat cloth and leather books last week, I thought that those would make perfect gifts, thanks for sharing that! I may ask for some over time, I do love books and can’t imagine having such nicely bound treasures! I found a place in Boston that sells cloth and leather bound books at great prices outside their shop (they are used I think…but I am really trying to have self control and not beg a friend of mine to bring me some when she comes home to visit her mom.) I am trying to think of a trade I can do with her…maybe she could use some maple syrup? I want to start a collection now, ack!

    Thanks for sharing your interests and goals and progress. It is really motivating, inspiring and educational! Have a great day Jules! Lais

  24. Oh pearly girlie! I love reading the comments as much as the actual blog post!
    I came be back to post about the cow hide rug and your Lladro pieces. I LOVE cow hide rugs and have owned 2 of them, they are surprisingly durable. I sorta grew up with them too, being from Texas and all. Kinda wish they weren’t so mainstream (Ikea?!) and retained their uniqueness.
    As for the Lladro, would love to hear the stories about the pieces you have. I think you you are the only one I know ‘our age’ that owns LLadro. That’s a good thing. πŸ˜‰

  25. Oh- I also LOVE the reader suggestion to hang a tapestry on the wall. Oh the texture! With books?!
    Rock fireplace, chesterfield, books, wood floor, cow hide + tapestry (or other textile goodness)= happiness. Can you just transport that to my house please?! Thanks! πŸ˜‰


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