DIY & reno, our home

new year, new room reveal

When we first looked at our home, one of the things that attracted us was the sheer size of the living room. The decor, however, was…. not us.

from the real estate listing

A year ago Thanksgiving, we started peeling wallpaper in the living room.  Needless to say, we were in over our heads.

Closeup, complete with grime from previous owners.
Closeup, complete with grime from previous owners.

Luna really didn’t mind the room, but I couldn’t stand the grimy, metallic wallpaper, even when we began setting up the room with our furniture.


I tried everything from hot water, to a steamer, to fabric softener, to vinegar. NOTHING helped take this paper off. Long, sweaty hours over a period of months were spent dedicated to the frustration of getting the paper off. It was March before the room was even 3/4 of the way stripped.

Layer upon layer of wallpaper HELL.
Layer upon layer of wallpaper HELL.

That was when we hired a painter to do the ceiling.

I’ll be the first one to admit that painting a textured plaster ceiling is a pain but doable. In our case, though, we had a blackened stain about three feet in circumference right over the fireplace that we had no idea how to deal with. In the end, it was well worth it to leave it to the pro – a local painter recommended by our plumber – who not only treated the stain and made it disappear, but also leveled the texture where he could and caulked around any areas of the molding where it had separated.

Ceiling in progress.

The biggest challenge was the prep work. Washing the walls with TSP meant taking painstaking care in protecting the original wood floors, which was one of the few things both clean and in immaculate condition when we moved in the house. We ended up draping/taping down 4 mm. sheet plastic and left it down throughout the washing, sanding, caulking, and painting.

Surveying what lie before me in my sexy painting jeans.

The most frustrating part of the room was that once I got the paint on, I noticed that there were odd waves in the wall where the TV would be going. I contemplated just leaving it, but in the end, decided I wasn’t going to leave the room half done. So out came the spackle again.

I like spackle!

When it came to picking the paint color, we were set. While we picked Behr’s Arctic Ocean, we had the paint mixed at MAB which was well worth it for the size of the room and the coverage we needed. At an estate sale last year we scored the beautiful rug that became our inspiration for just $100. The rest of the room was easy, too. The sofa was my grandmothers, the settee was a $20 score at an estate sale, the secretary $150 from an estate sale, and both radiator covers were purchased together for less than $100 at Philadelphia Salvage. They needed love, but I’ve become a pro at refinishing metal covers.

Just a little dirty...
Just a little dirty…

Add in my grandparents antique radio, and our existing TV and stand, and some art, and voila! Room! Well, almost.


The goal was to have it done by this Thanksgiving when we were hosting the Man’s aunt, uncle and two cousins. There was some last minute touching up to do, but the cats were more than happy to help.

"This drop cloth was for us, right?"
“This drop cloth was for us, right?”

I sent my mom some preview pictures to see what she though, and what we realized immediately was that I needed valances. Desperately. I have never had much luck buying fabrics online. Instead of guessing, I ran down to my living room, took a picture and uploaded it to my computer. Using the “pop out” feature on the website I layered the two to see the effect. I highly recommend this method, as unscientific as it may be.

screenshot decorating
screenshot decorating

And it was done, and soon after decorated for Christmas. And we couldn’t be happier. Enjoy!

peacock prints: $12 at Michael's
peacock prints: $12 at Michael’s
Valances from $34 per panel
Valances from $34 per panel
stockings: $8 ea. at Target.
stockings: $8 ea. at Target.
Fireplace Candelabra: $79 at Crate&Barrell
Fireplace Candelabra: $79 at Crate & Barrel
radio, sofa, coffee table, and lamp table: grandmothers. map print: $20 at estate sale
radio, sofa, coffee table, and lamp table: grandmothers. map print: $20 at estate sale
secretary with antique books, purchased and already owned
secretary with antique books, purchased and already owned
A Merry Christmas & Happy New Year: priceless.
A Merry Christmas & Happy New Year: priceless.

I think this room has been one of the biggest transformations so far. We are still contemplating painting the fireplace white, but that can wait. While a year is a long time to renovate one room, I’m glad I took the time, and I think that the end product was worth it.



4 thoughts on “new year, new room reveal”

  1. Nice job on the transformation. My wife and I are slowly working through our house doing the same thing, and the cats are always underfoot trying to help in any way they can.

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