Before & After: Living Room Update (Almost!)


I really wanted to get the living room update done before we had Christmas here and we’re very, very close. Close enough for a reveal! The BEFORE photos are from when we first bought the house (Feb 2012), but the plastering, painting, and bookcase were done right after the sale went through.


Since the last before and after post, we realized that cats destroy all furniture. We bought a $20 vintage leather test sofa to see if they would trash it. They did. So we designed the sofa bench, bought a custom organic cotton futon for the bench, and ordered a custom cushion cover and bolsters. We also swapped the sheepskin on the mid century chair for velvet cushions, moved the wire chair and found, painted, and reupholstered a vintage rattan chair – staying away from upholstered chairs that the cats will destroy. I realize this sounds crazy. Theoretically, I like cats more than I like pretty wingback chairs. Maybe. Maaaaayyybe.

What else? We added: another shelf to the bookcase, a lot more pillows, the new rug, a new coffee table, side tables & lamps, swapped curtains for roman shades, repotted a few plants in nicer pots, and put in a new front door. We also moved the boys trunk of toys out and will let them fill one of the new bench drawers with toys.


There’s a few things left – for one, we can’t leave the tree in that corner forever. I have no idea what could go there, though, so it’ll be empty until I figure it out. We’re still waiting on this magazine rack, and the art above the sofa bench is temporary until something jumps out at me. The folding screen (purchased at an antique shop when I was 17, holy cow) is temporary until we build a giant fence outside in the spring. Neighbor issues! We also need to paint and frame the front door, please note paint color strip and blocking around the door. Ooops! We’re thinking either grey to match the cushions or green to match that little table under the mirror.


When we were deciding on the fabric to use for this chair, I asked my mom “What would Nana do?” – so we dug out old photos of my grandmother’s living room in New York. Green on white toile was my favorite of her decor – and I already had this roll of blue and white toile fabric.


Meet Moon! He’s nothing like Huey. I think he’s part Siamese because he has blue crossed eyes, super long legs, talks a lot, and opens cabinets. He’s the dopiest cat I’ve ever met, but I volunteered at the Humane Society here and couldn’t leave without bringing a new friend home.

The rug seems short for the room, but without going custom we couldn’t go any larger on the standard sizes without getting too close to the wood stove.

bench_detail coral greenchair2 coffeetable Sources:
Rug: thomaspaul
Coffee table: CB2
Chairs: vintage finds
Blue ikat pillow and vintage Swedish textile pillows: Alpine Home, Stowe, Vermont
White silk pillows: Eileen Fisher for Garnet Hill
Toile fabric on rattan chair: Waverly Idyllic Days in Lakeside
Upholstery on sofa bench: Rags & Riches, Burlington, Vermont
Sofa bench: My awesome dad and brother
Drawer pulls: House of Antique Hardware
Wall color: Benjamin Moore Steam
Roman shades: Restoration Hardware Baby & Child
Pendant lamp: Nelson Crisscross Saucer
Front door: Jeld Wen (yes, I wanted wood, but Vermont winters wanted EnergyStar more.)


  1. Oh, what perfect Sunday morning inspiration. That sofa bench is bonkers beautiful, what an amazing family you have to build it. I’m also especially loving that little green table and your close ups on the book shelf. Beautiful. God, now I need to clean out my closet and buy some rugs.

  2. go green! doors in unexpected colors always look amazing, like they hide really good secrets. I really love yur blend of old and modern, I wish I could pull this off in my apartment, but I don’t trust my taste enough :( The bench is an excellent idea, I need to swap my scratched ikea couch for something like this. Cats always teach a new approach to interior design, don’t they?

  3. I must have missed it in an earlier post (I came here from Manhattan Nest and thought I read all the house posts and most of the others) but tell me about the shelf above the doorway. I see you removed the trim to get the space. And then the shelf is built into the wall? I love this. And it changes the look completely, not to mention finding precious space for display. Happy New Year!

    1. Hi! The shelves are actually primarily braced by the 2 boards on the ends – we did not remove the trim (it’s original to the house) and the shelving is built on top of the wall, with a few sturdy connectors. It would actually be fairly simple to remove and patch the walls to return them to their original state.

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