Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Home Tour: Living the High Life

"May you live all the days of your life." - Jonathan Swift
Let's explore the living room next...as you come in through the front door to my entry and look to your right, this is what you see: a long and narrow room with high vaulted ceilings, generous moldings and wooden trim, and a huge window that faces south, filling the room with winter sunshine. Thank you, William Buchan, for building me this lovely home. 

As much as I appreciate this space, it's always been a challenging room to use. Those stratospheric ceilings tend to make one feel adrift in here, and in cooler weather (which means eleven months of the year, up here in the Pacific Northwest) this room gets downright cold. So I've come up with a few tricks to help cozy up this space. 
Our three kittens love this room and chase each other madly throughout.
Here, Luna innocently gives himself a bath.
I kept the sight lines low. These ground-hugging IKEA couches bring the eye down from the top of the room and the mix of bright IKEA pillows create interest to keep the eye from wandering back off to the heavens. This room has been used heavily by mobs of teens and the low-cost, visually appealing furnishings have ensured a comfortable, stress-free experience for all. 

With the help of my talented daughters, I created a gallery wall of their biggest, boldest paintings and drawings. By running the art along the edge of the white woodwork, I kept the focal points of the high impact pieces as low in the room as possible.

I got super strategic about the paint color. After experimenting over the years with several different wall colors, I went with a shade bold enough to maximize the contrast at the place where the wall color meets the wainscoating but neutral enough to let the art steal the show. This deep golden brown cranks up the visual warmth and helps create some cozy.

Wait..where did this orange lamp come from??
It is definitely not in that first pic up there.
Why yes, I did run to Target in the middle of this photo shoot to buy an updated lampshade for this amazing thrifted lamp that was waiting to make its debut. Look how happy he looks. I'm glad I made the trip.


Thrifted silver bowl, oak parquet tables that I've had longer than any of my daughters. 
I fill my fireplaces with candles and save my fire-making madness for the campground. Metallic candle holders, a thrifted mirror that I showed you here, and this funky thrifted candleabra bounce the candlelight beautifully. And to complete the decking out of the fireplace and hearth, check out these two ceramic masks, made by my eldest daughter in a high school pottery class.

You're right...there are no candles in here right now..
I just cleaned out the remnants of the last generation and need to start with a fresh batch.
But check out my darling dog, reflected in the mirror as he naps like an angel

The gallery wall evolved over time but it was conceptualized around two big bold pieces, both featuring chairs. Completed in a homeschooling co-op art class, the assignment was to interpret Van Gogh's Chair. My second daughter did a fairly literal version using chalk pastel that now hangs over the mantel, at the right end of the gallery. Working in oil pastels, my fourth daughter created her own composition using a small chair that we own, and her finished piece anchors the left end of the gallery. 

Those two pieces set the color story for the entire room. We gathered other pieces from the girls' work that featured orangey-reds and bright greens, and enlisted help from the supporting cast of turquoise, yellow and blue. Mixing in a few black and white pieces helps calm the visual riot of all that color and brings some balance and calm to the collection. 

Daughter number two's chair piece.

More IKEA pillows on wicker chairs. 
Daughter number four's chair piece holds down the end of the gallery row,
with some help from a friendly black walnut cabinet.

This big wooden cupboard was hand-hewn and handmade by my husband's great-great-grandfather, plus or minus a few greats. When I joined the clan, this neglected prize was living a quiet life under a very dusty sheet in my husband's parents' Ohio basement. During one of our family history lessons/storage room tours, my mother-in-law beckoned me to the draped behemoth, shyly suggested that if I wanted this, I could have it and then unveiled this priceless beauty. I'm told that the wood is black walnut, from trees grown on the family farm, and harvested by this ancestor's own hand. He planed the wood and built the piece from his own design. I think it is an absolute gem and feel very lucky to have it under my roof.

Ranger on the move. His fur is a perfect match to the black walnut.
Most of the original pulls were missing so I improvised with these birdcage handles from Home Depot.
I like their spirit.
This is one of the original pulls.

Thrifted oak box up top, and thrifted maple round bowl thingy full of driftwood.
I trial-and-errored my way into the finish on that white and green box.
My mother-in-law made the robin in a ceramics class.
Yes, I do buy second-hand books based on the colors of their spines. Don't judge.

And when you think this piece couldn't get any more fantastic...secret compartments!!
This drawer is great because it's made of a different wood, which makes it a bit more obvious but still cool.
The other hiding places shall remain a mystery. 

The two top drawers hold my collection of carved animals, and the three compartments in the lower section hold family photos, diplomas, some precious family collectibles, Advent gift bags, glow-in-the-dark bracelets, Wii remotes and a Bible left over from the days when our youth group used this room for weekly meetings.

Well, we are almost done with this room now. A few more paintings adorn the remaining bits of walls and I can't resist one more peek at that half-circle window. Then it's on to the dining room!


1 comment:

  1. UMMM check that white paw!! That is most definitely Sirius in the first picture!


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