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Evolution of the Living Room

by | Jun 17, 2013 | Decorating Inspiration, my house

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Evolution of the Living Room

Today my living room is eclectic. Tomorrow maybe it will be all white.  The next day my living room might be my dining room. You never know around my house! But one thing you can count on, it is always changing! A little over a year ago I decided my living room wasn’t “living up” to its fullest potential. We didn’t enjoy or use the room much, it was mostly a walk way from the front door to the dining room and kitchen, but it felt like a waste of space. So I decided to make some changes.

My plan was to transform the living room to more of a “gathering space” since it was in between the entry and the dining room where guests tend to congregate on their way in and out. I also thought it would be a space better served as part of the entry rather than trying to make it function as a totally separate room we really didn’t need. And because it is open to the dining room too, we wanted flexible furniture so it could be a space to bring in an additional table for parties with sit down dinners.

I didn’t want it to be a craft room or any other space that would get messy since it is the first thing you see when you come in the door and the room you look at when you come down the stairs. Clearly I had thought this all through in the four years we’ve lived with this space!

Evolution of the Living Room

This is what the room looked like when we moved in, swine walls (the lighting in this picture make the walls look more tan but at many times of the day it was icky pinky flesh colored), tan carpet I wasn’t in love with, but great windows that let in a lot of light and a nice overall feel to the room with a higher peaked ceiling.

Evolution of the Living Room

Last spring we took everything out the room so we could just ponder what it felt like with nothing in it. We loved how open it felt and once we cleared the room, we knew we definitely wanted to have less in it. If you are ever uncertain about how to decorate or use a room, emptying it will definitely make it easier to see and you can choose to put back only what you really want in the room.

As a first step in making this room work better for us, we were able to remove our yucky damaged carpet and replace it with beautiful Hickory hardwood floors (by Mohawk, installed by Lowe’s). We LOVE the new floors so that was a huge improvement!

Right after we added the living room and dining room wood floors we decided to remodel our kitchen, so all plans for any further living room transformation were set aside.

Evolution of the Living Room

Once I added the hooks and wainscoting to the left side of the front door in the entry, the need for more ‘entry space’ in the adjoining living room didn’t seem as important or necessary, but we still are intrigued with using the living room as a ‘gathering’ room as opposed to a formal living room. As each room gains function and evolves in style, other rooms adjust and evolve as well.

Evolution of the Living Room

At one point we got a new cart and rug for the living room and we loved it as a nice change from our regular living room furniture! But, then we ended up moving the cart to the dining room where we actually love it the most, and we moved the round rug to the kitchen for the small conversation area when we remodeled the kitchen.

The furniture shuffling continues. ALL THE TIME.

It is a wonder we don’t injure ourselves tripping over unexpected furniture at night walking through our house.

Evolution of the Living Room

Our black and gold antique chinoiserie cabinet had been back and forth into and out of this room and the entry probably a dozen times! But when we moved the cart to the dining room, we brought the black cabinet back in.

You can see how the room looked before, with the love seat and the black cabinet (left photo) and how it looks at the moment (photo on the right.) When we removed the sofa and added the smaller settee, it really opened up the room and gave it a bit more casual eclectic sitting area feel and less “living room.” I brought the blue table back in from the garage again. A new indoor/outdoor Kilim rug on sale at Pottery Barn added some color and pattern (and on the diagonal it was more eclectic and didn’t make the room feel so boxy.)

Evolution of the Living Room

The sea green lamp from Target that was in the family room for awhile helped lighten up the dark bookcase. A new patterned chair amped up the eclectic mix even more. The chair will be sitting here until the next inspiration strikes {heh heh}. The white wing back was moved to the family room on a whim one day.

Even though it was the plans to makeover the living room that got the whole house makeover rolling, ultimately the new wood floors ended up being enough to make us love being in that room again, no matter what furniture is in the room! Funny how that one change made such a difference in how we felt about the room.

Evolution of the Living Room

The next possible plan for this space is to hang stationary curtains around the big window to frame and soften it, without blocking the light. I may also hang some blinds for privacy. I’d also love to replace the ceiling fan with some sort of orbed or round light perhaps and even add white planks to the ceiling.

The furniture in this space is likely to continue to change or be shuffled around, so who knows what it will look like next? That is the fun of life, right? I love having furniture and rugs that can go in multiple rooms of the house. It is nice to feel the freedom to change and evolve in style as we go to make our homes work better for us.

I’ve already been thinking of pulling up all the rugs for summer and then moving the living room rug to the kitchen in the fall…

Is your house always evolving?



  1. Linda Stoll

    We don’t even have a living room any more, Melissa! A few years back it morphed into the dining room with a huge handcrafted famhouse table that my husband built and a wonderful old cupboard filled with treasures and my beloved Hoosier cabinet.

    With 6 grandchildren having come into our lives, we NEVER would have fit 12 of us in the old dining room without stacking people like a cord of firewood.

    The old dining room morphed into my cozy office. And we live in the family room now which is wide open to the kitchen. That is our live-ing room.

    And we’ve NEVER looked back!


    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      That is great! I love that. I ALMOST at one point changed my dining room to the living room. But we love our cozy dining room and for some reason the wide open space of the living room with the tall ceiling just didn’t appeal to us as a dining room quite as much. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be the dining room at some point! We tend to change our mind and try things before we fully make up our minds :-).

  2. Glenda Childers

    Yes, my furniture is often moved, because I too, like to really use all my spaces. In our smaller Chicago vintage apartment … it is essential.


    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Yes, me too. I hate the thought of a space being like a museum you never go to. I want to fully live in each space.

  3. Laura

    Our house goes through more evolutions than an army of Tranformers! I usually try something while The UPS Man is at work. If I don’t like it, I rush to get it back before he gets home. Our oldest son just helps me move whatever it it wherever I want it. Things are currently (mostly) in the place where they function best, but that doesn’t mean I will not try moving SOMETHING this summer! A girl’s gotta move, and it’s so much cheaper than buying a new house!


    I love the way your home evolves and it still stays true to who you are, that is talent my dear!! I am in the process of adding a bit of summer to my new family room with the addition of some cooler hues.
    Happy Monday,

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Thanks Kathysue, I do love moving things around and having it still feel like a new expression of my style — and not suddenly like things don’t belong any more! :-) Maybe I get easily bored and just need a little update, who knows, but it is fun!

  5. Brenda

    Oh my gosh, Yes! I’m always moving things around! My sister says it’s the artist in me…..not sure about that, but I just love doing it. Your home is lovely! Can I ask the color of your living room walls? I’m about to embark on a new color for my living. :)

  6. Brenda

    Thanks Melissa! That color is gorgeous!

  7. Barbara (WA)

    Gee whiz, I don’t think I have enough rooms to change them around (and they a teensy). I love what you do with your rooms, however!!

  8. Mary

    Hi Melissa,
    I love your hickory floors but does Jack scratch them? We have maple floors and our goldendoodle Lucy scratches the heck out of them. I thought maple was a hard wood & wouldn’t scratch – boy was I wrong.


  9. Heidi @ Honeybearlane

    Those floors are amazing!! It was the first thing I noticed in the pictures. I loved reading this post because it’s good to hear that I’m not the only person who is always rearranging and moving furniture around and totally redecorating. I have always been that way and the other day my husband asked me “So once we finally get into a house (we’re renters) will you stop rearranging or is that just going to be the way it is forever?” And I said “Yep, it’s going to be this way forever.” Who says that once you put furniture a certain it has to stay that way forever? I love changing things up and you never know what you will end up liking. I recently changed a few things around and LOVED it so much better than it used to be. Go us!

  10. NC

    Could you tell me where the patterned gray chair is from ? Thanks

  11. Dee at the Carlton

    I change my soft furnishings & move things about too with the seasons – it helps to keep things interesting. I love your dark dresser – it is fab!

  12. CristinaF

    We just remodled our family room. We had 70’s wood paneling, no ceiling lights and a floor to ceiling red brick fireplace. We coved up most of the brick, our contractor did a mantel and surround and we bought a slate hearth. It looks amazing but now my old couches look terrible in the room so I’m trying to salvage them instead of buying new ones.

  13. Michelle

    It is so nice to know that I am not the only one who moves the furniture around. In fact, I just rearranged the living room because our doodle Max keeps getting stuck behind the couch! My puppy proof decor leaves a lot to be desired at the moment! I love how Jack photobombs the pictures. He needs to teach Lily how to do it too!

  14. Sandra at Thistle Cove Farm

    What the heck are swine walls? The only thing that’s moved frequently around here is the vacuum and that not often enough! Furniture isn’t moved around here much; simply too many pieces and too many rooms. This old farmhouse has 19 rooms and what with all the farm work, I’m content to collapse at day’s end. My energy is used on doing what *has* to be done, not what I fancy.

  15. Diane | An Extraordinary Day

    As much as I love everything you’ve done, Melissa…I still am smitten with the arrangement with the white wingback and round rug and the rolling cart with all its accouterments. That photo just looks so inviting and peaceful to me. And let’s not forget that lovely wall of plates.
    I can see the Aztec-style rug in the kitchen this fall and winter. Great idea!
    Me moving things? Ha! Having moved to smaller homes it has been increasingly difficult to do a lot of moving things around. And though I do play around a bit….it seems that the first design that I wrestle and wrestle with ends up being the best. So…mostly I play with vignettes. And then there is our tiny sunroom which does see lots of changes. There are more on the way again. Fun awaits!!
    Have you been to Joss & Main lately? They had a driftwood whale the other day. It has possibility…thought of you.

  16. Corrie @ Little House On The Update

    YES! It’s constantly evolving as tastes change as well as overall functionality! I had a Hemnes cabinet from Ikea in my living room and as soon as the baby started walking, it had to go. She came way too close to falling into those glass doors. Now it’s my shoe cabinet!

  17. Mindy

    Yes, we move and change things up around here too. I love how your room has evolved into it’s current state. It is so warm and welcoming – a perfect place to sit and chat.

  18. Jessica

    Oh it is so nice to know I am not alone in my rearranging compulsions! Your home is lovely! That room has Such nice windows and ceilings! I’m curious about your plans for the wainscoting. I adore it in the entry. If you continue it into the gathering room it would make it feel less living room but then will that make you want to do the dining room too? I’m having a similar conundum in my house.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Thanks! Yes, I forgot to mention that! It is always an issue when rooms flow together, isn’t it? I decided that my likely solution for where to end with the wainscoting is going to be stopping it where it is and then hanging curtains over each side of the window so you don’t notice it ending. We’ll see how it looks when I get the curtain panels up! :-)

  19. Ann

    Don’t we all move things? My husband comes from a family that puts something there and it is suppose to stay for 20 years. Oh my goodness that would make me insane. Though as I get older I am more inclined to find a good set up and keep it. Though I came up with the idea of stealing 18 inches from the living room and giving it to the Master closets. That is a Fall project–so we will see. My living room became my dining room because the ‘dining room’ of my 50’s ranch is now a family room. This ranch was set up for the ‘family room’ to be downstairs! Half of my dining room is an office. Flex space is where it is at and armless furniture makes it all work well. Keep it up!

  20. Lauren

    I love those chairs! I also like the idea of hanging stationary curtains around the big window, I think it will be a nice touch to the room.

  21. Pat

    Yes. things are always evolving here—though I tend to stall out at times.
    I love how your rooms change though, not just in arrangement and content…but in style too. With so little effort !!!
    I enjoying seeing the befores and afters of this room.

  22. Lisa Conforto

    Your room looks lovely, I read the first part of your post to my husband and I asked him if this reminded him of me, his reply was “To a T”. I am constantly changing and rearranging until I get the proper balance and feel that I’m looking for.

  23. Crystee

    Looks beauiful Melissa!!! No matter how “eclectic” you go with your rooms, it looks completely put together!!! I am soooo inspired by your design style!! I’d like to ask about the slipcovers of your ottomans…. Did you make them or did they come that way?? Thanks!!!

  24. ellen

    Thanks for your blog, I love being inspired! You do so much…and I just sit around thinking about
    what a great idea it is! I’ve got to now get moving and so stuff. What’s the color of your
    living room? I’m sure it’s on another blog, but if you don’t mind. Mine is the same tone, but much lighter
    and I need to richen it up. I think you need some rustic bookshelves, or to boot the oriental piece and
    perhaps go for a white built in..or a pretty pine piece. Don’t let the decorator part of you overly accessorize,
    sometimes it starts to look like a store display instead of home..just a thought. Keep inspiring!

  25. Gayle

    Believe it or not, Melissa is one of the very few bloggers who keeps her decorating style simple and uncluttered, and she does Not use a LOT of accesories! That’s why I follow her blog coz her house looks like a real home and not always staged for a photoshoot!! :)

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Aw, thank you! :-) I do try to keep it real so you see how our room really looks (not staged like a photo). I am not a fan of excessive or meaningless accessories in a room. But of course, I also love a home that is personal and meaningful so without any accessories or books it would be like a hotel room and I wouldn’t be happy that way!

  26. Susan

    So do you actually sit in the room now? Essentially, it is still a living room and it actually seems a little more formal than versions 1 and 2. I liked version 2 the best. Do you miss having a table in your kitchen? Where is your TV? Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound negative. I love your new kitchen! Your pictures do motivate me:) Yes, I move things all the time.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Yes, as I mentioned in the post once we got the floors done we actually love sitting in there again. When we had a regular sofa it felt much more “living room” to me but with a settee it feels a little more like a place to perch for a bit. The room is actually ALREADY DIFFERENT than in these photos so the versions are just that, only stepping stones along the way. I liked version two as well, but all those pieces have moved on to other rooms where I love them so we are still evolving to what this room will be!

      The TV is upstairs in what we are calling the “media room” … we have a huge sectional up there and flat screen tv for movie watching.

      No, we don’t miss having a table in the kitchen, we’ve got a table two steps away in our informal dining room. We can add in a small round table at some point to the kitchen if we want to but right now we are loving that conversation area! :-)

  27. Angelica

    I have these chairs from Pier 1 too and I’ve been trying to find ottomans. Where did you find your white ottomans pictured? Love your site.

    Thanks, Angelica


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