I feel like I’ve lost my blogging motivation a little and there probably isn’t a single reason, but I was struggling to figure out where I fit in. I’m doing it part-time, really only as a hobby, and I can’t compete with most blogs as they’ve become so editorial. I still enjoy those blogs, but that level of professionalism simply isn’t possible for me. I don’t make use of a professional photographer, don’t buy things only for the blog and producing a single post often has to spread out over three days.
But as I was sitting on my couch now, I realised I wanted to share our living room (great room?). It is our all-in-one living and dining room that doesn’t come to more than 30 square meters. It isn’t ‘done’ in the traditional sense of the word and I’m not being modest like most bloggers (we’re missing half our gallery wall) but our new flooring just pleases me so greatly that I can finally share the room with some pride. To say it has been a work in progress is probably an understatement. We moved in four years ago with only two small bookshelves and a borrowed couch. We’ve come a long way since then, so I’d love to share how we made this small living-cum-dining room work for us and our cats.
I’m starting with what is currently making us the happiest! Our new flooring is absolutely everything we’ve dreamt of. We’ve lived here for three and half years with half the living room in chipped, faded first-gen cherry laminate and the rest covered in chipped white tiles. The tiles actually weren’t half bad, but walking with shoes in the house resulted in multiple chips which just drove me crazy. We could’ve covered half the living room with a large rug, which we prob would have done if we rented, but damn rugs are expensive. It didn’t cost us much more to just redo everything. So we went that route.
Honestly we weren’t very impressed with the company that did the installation, so I wouldn’t recommend them. They needed constant supervision, motivation to actually do exactly what they quoted us on and had to be called back twice to finish the job properly. But now that they’re out of our lives, we love the Millennium Oak Brown flooring (not linking to the place that installed ours) we chose from Kronotex. It is the perfect mid-town brown that leans ever so slightly to the warmer side without any obvious yellow or red tones.
We decided on laminate as it is warmer than tiles and easier to clean than carpets, plus the 25 year warranty settled most of our concerns with regards to fading. This is definitely not getting covered up with a rug! Promise I’m not only saying that because I’m on a budget.
We live in a small townhouse and enter from the front door most often (single garage problems!), so we needed to create a drop zone in our living room as there wasn’t much space in the entry hallway.
So we gave some thought as to how we spend most of our time. When it is just us, we mostly glue our asses to our couch and when we have friends around we’d love a large table for boardgames (#nerdalert). So we created our living/dining room to work for us with a large couch facing a TV, a single-seater beside the TV, loads of storage for our large collection of books and board games and the largest dining table that made sense.
A smaller round table would definitely have made the space feel bigger and a second couch would be great, but it doesn’t make sense. We’d most likely want another three seater when we eventually move and we can currently only fit a two-seater. Plus couches can easily break the bank. So I’m delaying that purchase by as long as I possibly can.
I created two drop-zones right as we enter the living/dining room so that we can put down our keys and stow away our bags in two easy movements. This is great as we always know where to find things and our bags aren’t laying all over the show. I’ve shared our striped hook wall DIY on the blog before. Together with an old basket and a large bowl, we were able to meet all our entry needs. We’ve found that large kitchen bowls can also work and are often cheaper than decorative ones. We have bough this black one. If you don’t have as many keys as we do or don’t leave your sunglasses in the car, a tray might serve you better than a bowl.
It took us a while to get the financial courage it took to buy a dining table and six chairs, as one chair sounds affordable but multiply that by six and suddenly you’re considering plastic Adis chairs (which are a very chic affordable option).
Our dining table from @Home is still one of the most affordable solid wood options available and the texture is great as it hides some of the scratches from our fur babies. But do take note of the fact that is actually the height of a formal dining table, meaning most chairs would seat you too low underneath it. So after a lot of backward and forward going, we eventually settled on the classic ghost chairs. They’re wipeable, stackable and fairly comfortable plus Decofurn have them at a great price. As nothing works out as expected though, we had to put the table on risers to allow for the armchairs to fit underneath. Now I barely notice them and we’re sitting comfortably at the right height when dining.
If we didn’t get our drinks cabinet (which houses all our cooldrinks, a little wine and my wrapping supplies) and our large bookcase from my mom I would have also looked for something second-hand online. Gumtree is a great place to begin looking, but I like the convenience of purchasing from a second-hand or vintage store rather than an owner. Some of my favourite second-hand shops include Wispen Interiors and Huis Paleis.
We also needed a home for our cats’ food and water, so stuck down a simple plastic tray with plain white ceramic and clear glass bowls. I think it looks quite chic compared to the traditional cat food bowls and considering how little it cost us. The tray was a hand-me-down, but Home Inc sell very similar ones and the bowls came from various kitchen shops. Just look out for something with straight edges that isn’t too narrow or deep. Our cat food container is hidden in one of the cabinets.
Living Room Section
We saved up and treated ourselves to the three-seater Sophia couch from Sofa Worx. We walked through their showroom (and that of several other brands) and sat on each sofa until we found the perfect one, something I’d highly recommend. It definitely isn’t the sexiest looking sofa and I could have easily been tempted to get a statement making insta-perfect couch, but I’m so happy we didn’t. Besides my bed, this is my favourite place to be! Something that I really appreciate from Sofa Worx is that they don’t restrict your fabric choices like so many other stores do. So we were able to choose from their large fabric library which featured plain and patterned fabrics from many different fabric houses. We decided to go with a more durable fabric in a colour we really like (a warm dark grey).
We built our own TV cabinet (not shown) and have a gallery wall behind it. Recently though one of the frames broke and since then I’ve realised that I don’t really like it that much any more. So I’m working on making a few small changes and will share that once it is done. Next to it we have a single-seater that my mom handed down to us and now wishes to have back as it is so comfortable! For now though we’re hanging on to it.
The coffee table is one of the most satisfying pieces of furniture we own as my husband and I designed it ourselves and had it made by Palladio Stone. It features a stone top which we chose from their off-cuts and they also welded us the brass steel frame. Then we added a piece of glass to function as the shelf. This houses books, magazines and our keyboard (because Netflix doesn’t work with a remote). I’m somewhere between loving all the shi*t and minimalist, so we have a tray on top containing candles and other knick-knacks that still leaves enough space for us to enjoy our dinners in front of the TV most nights.
On our couch we have three 50cm cushions. I think your cushion size should be determined by the height of your couch back, the higher the bigger you can go! The amount of cushions is absolutely up to you, but I like the uneven look and prefer cushions to be stacked in the corners than floating around in the middle. We purchased slightly more expensive feather cushion inners and covered them in velvet. This way if we ever tire of them, we only need to replace the covers. H&M’s sells beautiful ones at very affordable prices.
Our side table was originally black and came from my grandmother, but there are very few things that can’t be salvaged with a lick of spray paint. Now it matches our coffee table and because it is so slim it fits the space perfectly. One of my pet peeves with side tables is the fact that they are often too low, so do measure your couch arms to find your perfect height. You want to be able to put your coffee down with ease, especially if you have a cat on your lap (can you tell I’m obsessed with our kitties yet?).
Lastly you want to consider art. I think too many smaller pieces can easily feel cluttered and we also wanted to leave some space for our furniture to breathe. So we have an art wall featuring some mid-sized works on one wall and a larger print above the couch. Our large print by Amy Donaldson was quite the investment for us (print plus US shipping is never cheap), but actually it’s still much more affordable than canvas options in our decor stores. We had it framed by a local art shop and taking into account the size, it wasn’t much more expensive than a ready made from Mr Price Home.
Lastly for lighting, we replaced the ugly off-centre wall lights with down lighters for affordable overhead lighting and added a side table lamp (old one that we painted) for ambience lighting. Both feature warm-white lamp that cast a welcoming glow, rather than a stark atmosphere.
Over the dining table I really wanted a feature light, but don’t want to spend a fortune and I don’t like the look of exposed bulbs. So we centred a beautiful Hoi P’loy ceiling cup with a large fabric lampshade from Mr Price that we painted.
It really brings so much joy to me to see everything I’ve dreamt of for so long together, so if you’re only just beginning to decorate and might have to go slow, I can promise you that it is so worth it! Here is to posting more posts that bring me joy, rather than constantly trying to make it perfect.