How I designed and updated a log cottage living room on plan and on budget

Since lots of you had questions and wanted to see a bit more about our log cottage that was published in Ottawa at Home summer edition, I thought I’d share how I designed and updated the cottage living room on a plan and with a fairly strict budget.

Here’s how it looks now.

Log home living room with white sofas and blue swivel chairs

Photo credit: Melissa Kew Photography

Since it is a large living room, I worked mostly with the furniture left behind and what we brought from our other cottage. By repurposing and reimagining a number of pieces I was able to keep within our budget.

Pictures do say a thousand words so here’s a quick breakdown of what changed in the cottage living room.

Before picture of log cottage living room with design changes

The sofa and love seat were great quality and in perfect shape, so I quickly decided to slipcover them in a white denim. Slipped off and washed at least once a year they stay clean and fresh. And putting throws where they are likely to get soiled helps keep them clean longer. I love that they make the room a little brighter as all wood interiors can get dark.

Donating the traditional area rug to a shelter allowed me to have a faux sisal wall to wall rug cut and bound to size. This is the perfect thing to do when you need a specific size or a very large area rug. It has held up nicely and it hides sand very well.

Removing the swag drapery treatments lets the view speak for itself. Privacy isn’t an issue and with the large roof overhand that is typical of log buildings, sun damage isn’t either. Simpler and more light, both big pluses in my book.

Even if the large clock and console were left by the previous owner, I would have removed both of them,  as there was far too much furniture in the space.

I relocated the existing occasional tables within the cottage and purchased an end table and coffee table from Urban Barn, with a lucky gift card win. Made from repurposed wood they have the rustic feel and look I was going for. Though they do strike a bit of a challenge when placing your drink on them, with their uneven surface.

My grandfather’s travel trunk from the early 1900’s replaced the other end table. I just had a piece of glass cut to fit the top and it has been the perfect thing. If you want to learn more about cottage decorating click here to read an Ottawa Citizen article that I contributed to.

Antique trunk fitted with a glass top to use as a table

Photo credit: Melissa Kew Photography

And on the other side of the cottage living room.

Before picture of living room with design changes

We upgraded the wood pellet stove for a wood burning insert. Well worth the change both aesthetically and financially, as it has lowered our heating bills substantially in the winter.

The two pink swivel chairs were functionally perfect for the space. Even more so after I added the tv behind them, so now you can swivel to watch the fire or tv. With their threadbare pink fabric, they needed a makeover.  By raising them up a few inches (they were quite short) and reupholstering them in an exterior fabric they will be used and abused for many years.

log home living room with white slipcovered sofas

Photo credit: Melissa Kew Photography

New foam and a durable exterior fabric completely updated the window seats. The pillows are a combination of ones I have made, knitted or picked up at various shops.

Adding my own decor items, like the large clock above the mantel, makes it feel more like us. Since this picture was taken this clock has been switched out for an even larger metal industrial one. Antique books, candles and other decor items are displayed on the mantel itself.  You can’t quite see them in these pictures,  but I used images from a great desk calendar and put them in inexpensive frames. By stacking them on top of each other, it gives them a bit more presence on the wall.

Originally this floor lamp was gold plated and very dated. I painted it black and bought a new drum shade to give it a new lease on life.

Cottage living room with stone fireplace

Photo credit: Melissa Kew Photography

The cute little turquoise cabinet, a hand me down gift from a neighbour, got a fresh coat of paint. The swing chair lives right here in the winter and in the summer it is enjoyed on the back deck.

Obviously, budget wise we didn’t do this all at the same time. However, it was high on the priority list since this cottage living room is one of my family’s most used spaces. I had a plan and as cash became available I just kept going down my list. That is really the key…to have a plan. You may find things as you go along that aren’t in the plan. That’s okay just as long as you have a good idea of where you are heading. That will also help you to avoid getting off track by spending more money then is necessary.

How can I help you design your living room?

How to furnish and love a long narrow living room in 5 easy steps

Do you have a long narrow living room? Are you a little puzzled on how to go about using it to it’s full potential or at the least making it appear less long and narrow? These quick tips will definitely help you.

1.  First off, do not make the shorts walls a featured area. That is, don’t paint it a different colour than the other walls or put wallpaper on just this one wall. That will draw your eye right to the other end of the room and emphasize it’s narrowness.  So, no accent walls of paint or wallpaper, and if possible, do not put the television or fireplace there.

2.  Do try and place the television/fireplace or other focal pieces, on one of the long walls. This will redirect your focus there.

3. Place furniture away from the short walls wherever possible. So that they will be drawn more into the center of the room.  Creating two seating areas works well in a long narrow living room and enables it to be used to it’s full potential.

4. Built ins or shelving units are your friend.  They can be used on the short walls to create some additional storage and they will inevitably cause the room to be shortened in length. Especially if one of the longer walls has a focal point, as in the image below, the window wall will draw your attention before the shelving unit does.

5. Don’t be afraid of larger pieces of furniture, like sectionals, they work especially well for long narrow living rooms. They take up less space than a sofa and love seat and give you just as much seating, if not more, and allow you to stretch out to watch your favourite shows….hello, Netflix.

Recently, I did up a floor plan for a client with a long narrow living room and here are the two options I gave her.  There is an interesting closet like space at the end of the room that we needed to work with, you know….. old homes and all their character. The challenge in this long narrow living room was accommodating the two entrances and windows and the traffic flow. Also, keep in mind drawings are for design layout purposes only and not necessarily suggestions for colour or specific pieces.

Long narrow Living room Option 1 –  long narrow living room - layout

The alcove at the end of the room is brought forward by using it as another seating area. Placing a console with a piece of art above and two matching chairs in front make this space functional.  Having the television in the middle of one of the long walls allows it to become a feature.
long narrow living room - design option long narrow living room - design option

Long narrow Living room Option 2 – 

The left side of the room remains the same, with the right side accommodating a built in bookcases and storage.
long narrow living room - layout
long narrow living room - design option
So what’s your favourite Option for a long narrow living room?
Lisa

9 easy steps to go all the way with design

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Are you struggling with finishing or even starting to design a room. It’s something we have all experienced, even us decorators and designers. Life is so distracting sometimes and it can be hard to move forward.

However, the key is to keep making decisions and to focus on ONE ROOM AT A TIME!!! I know, I know, I always say that your home should be cohesive and it does but trying to design a whole home can be hugely overwhelming for most. So tackle one room at a time and I think you’ll see that one room leads to another.

Here’s the way I do it:

1.  Make a plan – decide on how you will be using the room, who will be using the room and what you need to do that properly.  If it’s a family room and you will be using it to watch television and do crafts – then you need to have comfy seating for the television watching and a large table with appropriate flooring and lighting for craft time.

2.  Plan your lighting – lighting is so important to a room.  Just think how annoyed you are when you don’t have the proper lighting when you are trying to do something.  Make sure there is ambient lighting (the general lighting for a room) and the appropriate task lighting (such as table lamps for reading or pot lights set over the craft table).  Decorative lighting can be added as well for mood and ambience in the form of sconces, candles or a decorative floor or table lamp.

3.  Style and colour – this goes along with #1 in that you need to have an idea of what style you would like.  The best way to do this is with magazines – pull out pictures that you like and keep a file or make a pinterest board (I’m going to post some tips on keeping your pinterest boards on point).  After you have a bunch in the file or pins on your pinterest board, a clearer picture of your style will emerge and you can use them as inspiration.  Colour will also show up in these photos – however, I still feel that the colour of the walls will be determined at a later stage once you have the bigger pieces decided upon.

4.  Large pieces – now is the time to invest in the larger more expensive pieces for the room.  Such as a sofa, area rug, draperies and case goods.  These are the items that you will be keeping for the long term and they form the base of your design.  This is where you usually spend the bulk of your budget and because of this I usually stick with classics and neutrals for these items.  You can however diverge from this tract, if for example you love red and fall in love with a red sofa.  GO FOR IT!  This is what will make your room, you!

A note here about pattern – if the larger items that you have decided upon are all solids you may want to add some pattern either in the area rug or in a smaller upholstered chair or ottoman to give the room some pizzazz.  Otherwise I would consider adding some wallpaper to the walls instead of a solid paint colour.  The key with pattern is to ensure that the pattern sizes are not all the same – for example, if you have a large pattern on the area rug then have a smaller pattern on the ottoman, so vary the scale of your patterns.

5.  Shopping – Okay now that you’ve decided on the larger items and you know how much they cost, you can form a budget.  This will guide you as to where you can splurge and where you can save.  A great room always has some of each in it – that is what makes it interesting.  Remember to keep some money for paint and accessories (usually about 15-20% of the budget).

6.  Paint colour – now you can pick the paint colour. I look at all the major items purchased and the rest of the home and then decide what would be the best colour choice.  Since paint is one of the most inexpensive parts of the design process and there are so many paint colours this is the best way to go about it.  Once I know the main colour of the walls, I can then go on to the next step, accessory shopping.

7. Accessories –  I do up a list of what I think I’ll need – such as: small round end table, gold framed rectangular mirror approximately 24”x12”.  This is also when I check to see if there is an abundance of one shape or another in the room.  If there are lots of square items, I balant with some round smaller items and accessories.  Most decorators and designers will pick up way more accessories while shopping so that they have a choice when doing the final placement.  You just return the items that you don’t need, so make sure the store you are shopping at has a great return policy.

8.  Keep on track – Now is when you’ll usually get distracted and start looking for items for another room in your home.  Try and keep focused and only purchase for the one room – your budget will thank you and you’ll have one room done instead of all of them in progress.

9.  Put everything in place – if you have managed to hold off now is the time to put everything in place.  Of course, first off the room should be painted and then the larger items positioned in place. Then the smaller furniture pieces and accessories, such as artwork, mirrors and decorative pieces are added.  And Voila!! a perfectly finished space!!

Lisa

 

Handmade at IDS18’s Studio North

The 70’s influence was definitely being revisited in the decor at IDS18. Handmade and bespoke items are still being showcased and Studio North is the perfect place to see what’s next in design.

Large scale knitted upholstery and macrame rugs, lights and art were the key features at these booths. These lights are totally familiar to me, as they are very similar to one I had myself as a teenager. Totally dating myself…..

ids18 Studio North ids18 Studio North

I missed the names of these booths, so if anyone knows, please message me and I’ll add the credit.

Atelier C.U.B.

Custom leather and wood stools and leather tent shaped lighting was featured at Atelier C.U.B.

Gypsy Potter Studio

Gypsy Potter Studio had beautifully patterned pottery on display. Would you believe horsehair is used to create most of the designs? It is placed on the pottery before firing and it is a surprise as to how the final product will look.

Dusil Design

Dusil Design had these stunning barn doors that have been embellished with metal sculpture. Amazing!

Locus VIE & Hidraulik

Locus VIE & Hidraulik showcased their beautiful floorcloths, which are made to look like concrete tiles. They also did placemats in these designs. So pretty and practical!

And of course there was this unbelievable rug from W Studio. I was there and it’s still hard for me to believe it was a rug.

W Studio

Lisa

 

 

IDS18 observations

I’m just back from Toronto’s Interior Design Show (IDS18) that was held last weekend. And I thought I’d share a few of my observations about the show over the next while.

For me, the Benjamin Moore booth totally summed up the show and what’s happening in decor at the moment. It had the pattern (in the tiled floor and the fireplace), the neutral and jewel tones (in the furnishings and artwork), and the greenery that was everywhere. And it was eclectic, the envelope of the room was traditional with the black and white checked floor and panelled wall treatment, the fireplace was mediterranean inspired and the furnishings were all mid-century modern.

Benjamin Moore ids18

Benjamin Moore ids18

Benjamin Moore ids18

Could you live in this space? I certainly could.

Lisa