How I designed and updated a log cottage living room with a plan and on a 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 living room on a plan and with a fairly strict budget.

Here’s how it looks now.

Photo credit: Melissa Kew Photography

It’s a large living room and some of the furniture was left behind, which was great for us, even if it wasn’t entirely our style. So I worked a lot with what was left and what we brought from our other cottage.

Pictures do say a thousand words so here’s a quick breakdown of what was changed and how.

So to take it step by step, here’s what I did:

The sofa and love seat were such great quality and in perfect shape, so it was easy for me to decide to slipcover them in a white denim. They are slipped off and washed once or twice a year as needed. I must confess I do put throws on them where they are likely to get soiled to avoid having to clean them more often. I love that they make the room a little brighter as all wood interiors can get dark.

The area rug was too traditional for my liking so it was donated and in it’s place I had 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.

I just removed the swag drapery treatments as I think the view speaks for itself and privacy isn’t an issue,  and with the large roof overhand that is typical of log buildings, we didn’t need them for sun protection. Simpler and more light, both big pluses in my book.

The clock and console table were actually not left by the previous owner so that was an easy one. I would have removed both of them regardless as there was far too much furniture in the space, in my opinion.

The coffee and end tables had glass inserts and were very high for some reason. They have been relocated in the cottage and I purchased one end table and coffee table from Urban Barn (when I was lucky enough to win a gift card from them). They are made from repurposed wood and I love the rustic feel and look of them, though they do strike a bit of a challenge when placing your drink on them (watch out for the uneven surface).

The other end table was replaced by my grandfather’s travel trunk from the early 1900’s. I just had a piece of glass cut to fit the top and it has been the perfect thing.

Photo credit: Melissa Kew Photography

And on the other side of the room.

We upgraded the wood pellet stove for a wood burning insert and that has been 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, especially since I added a tv right behind them, so now you can swivel to watch the fire or the tv. However, their fabric was threadbare and since pink wasn’t my favourite colour for this room, I had them reupholstered in an exterior fabric that will hold up to use and abuse. I also had them raised a few inches as they were very low to the ground.

Photo credit: Melissa Kew Photography

The window seats were completely redone, with new foam and durable fabric. The pillows are a combination of ones I have made, knitted or picked up at various shops.

Of course, I added my own decor items, like the large clock above the mantel (I’ve actually switched out this clock for an even larger metal industrial style one, since this picture was taken), some antique books and candles on the mantel itself.  You can’t quite see them in these pictures, but to help my budget, I used images from a great desk calendar and put them in inexpensive frames. They are stacked to give them a bit more presence on the wall.

The floor lamp by the way, was an old gold plated one with a rather small pleated shade. I spray painted it in black and pick up a larger drum shade and it is like a whole new light.

Photo credit: Melissa Kew Photography

The cute little turquoise cabinet was a hand me down gift from a neighbour, it was orginally in a dark brown wood finish, so I decided to paint it a fun colour for the corner. The swing chair lives right here in the winter and in the summer it goes out to the back deck.

Obviously, budget wise we didn’t do this all at once, but it was pretty much the first room I tackled since it is one of the most used. 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. I know you may find things as you go along, and they made fit into the plan but you really need to have a pretty good idea of where you are heading. That will also help you to avoid getting off track by spending more money then is necessary.

Exciting news

 

modern cottage kitchen

Photo credit: Melissa Kew Photography

This kitchen will soon be featured along with the rest of my log home cottage in a local magazine. I’m so excited. Once it’s published and available I’ll let you all know.

And did you know that it was an award winner? Click here or on the picture below to see the DDA video showcasing it.

2017 Silver award Kitchens DDA

Lisa

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

Do you have a long narrow living or family 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 are sure to help you then.

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. This way they will be drawn more into the center of the room.  Creating two seating areas works well in this kind of 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 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 just this dilemma and here’s 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.  This space was particularly challenging as it had two entrances and two windows so they had to be accommodated and the natural walk or flow needed to be addressed. Also, keep in mind drawings are for design layout purposes only and not necessarily suggestions for colour or specific pieces.
Option 1 – 
  long narrow living room
The end of the room closet area was brought forward by using a console with a piece of art above and two matching chairs in front as the secondary seating area.  The remainder of the room is focused on the television set in the middle of one of the long walls with a sectional facing it.
long narrow living room 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
long narrow living room
So what’s your favourite Option?
Lisa

The 6 questions you need to answer before you start designing your space

6 questions you need to answer before you start designing your space.

When I’m starting a client’s decorating or renovation project, function always comes before form. What I mean by that, is the function of the space has to be determined before we get to the layout or furnishings. The foundation has to be solid so that we can move ahead with the pretty. You wouldn’t spend money on having fabulous wallpaper installed when the wall is crumbling…right? Even the prettiest room has to function properly.

So on my first client visit I ask these 6 questions:

1. What do you use the room for?

All rooms have a purpose, perhaps even many purposes. If you need a room to function as a family room and as a home office, then that will determine how the layout gets decided and what furnishings are needed.

2. How many people will be using the room?

A dining room that sits 12 will be set up differently than one that sits 4. So think about the number of people using the room on a daily basis and perhaps those special occasions when you’ll need to accommodate a larger group.

3. Are there young children and pets that will be using the room?

Of course, if you have pets and young children that live or visit your home  you’ll need some adjustments for them and likely for your piece of mind. In this case, think easy care fabrics, hard floors (like hardwood and tile) and washable throw pillows.

4. Are there any allergies to be aware of?

This is something that is often missed but critical if you or a family member has environmental allergies. Those goose down feather pillows may cause needless suffering and that paint should be low VOC.

5. What is the feeling or mood you want the room to convey?

The answer to this question, shows me the direction to go in design wise. If you say you want it to feel like a hug, then I’m thinking mid-tone warm colours, lots of soft textiles and larger “sink-in” sofas and chairs.  If you want it to feel like a fresh breeze, then light toned cooler colours and clean minimal furnishings are what I’d be suggesting.

6. How long do you plan to stay in your home?

This is the big budget question. If you are in your forever home then you can decorate to your tastes exactly and also you will likely feel comfortable with a larger budget. If you are thinking you’ll move within 10 years than perhaps temper the design to appeal to a larger audience and the budget will likely be a little stricter.

Answer these questions and it’ll lead you in the right direction to set up your floor plan, the style and type of furniture you need and what your budget range should be.

Lisa

A new phase – What do you want your home to be?

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

A new phase begins. What do you want your home to be?

So now that the kids have left or about to, how do you want or need your home to function? This is the key to making your home work for you and your partner. Think about how you want to live. 

What are your goals? 

For example, do you want to entertain or travel more, start or continue a hobby, or just get out from under the clutter?

What path would you like to go down? 

More entertaining?

If entertaining is key to you, then perhaps an open concept kitchen/dining/living area will allow you to host those larger groups more easily.  Perhaps removing some walls (once an expert has determined this is doable), will make this a reality. 

Maybe you need a guest room or bathroom for out of town family and friends, then it is time to redo a few rooms to suit grown ups.

Want to travel more?

Than how about making your home more maintenance friendly. Easy care and durable finishes are a must. Declutter spaces for easy cleaning and installing internet capable thermostats and alarm systems will give you peace of mind travels. Perhaps you want to travel so much that a condo may be the ideal move for you. No yard or exterior to maintain may just be the ticket….pun intended.

Planning on playing?

Perhaps continuing with or starting a new hobby is exactly what you want to do in the next phase. Think about changing up that extra room or space into an art studio, music, craft, sewing or even a theatre room, so you can indulge your inner movie critic. Rooms DO NOT have to stay as they are advertised on your floorplan.

Or do you just need a refresh? 

Something to make your home feel shiny, fresh and new! 

Decluttering of course, is almost always necessary. First, check with the kids about everything they may want or need. Than be pretty ruthless about this, you DO NOT want six storage units full of stuff that no one wants and that you are paying monthly fees on.  Those units should be for temporary use only. Such as if you’re moving and want to store some furniture while you are staging your home or you are keeping items for a university student to use when they get their own home (hopefully sooner than later).

I know grandparents stuff can be sentimental or valuable, if so keep the best pieces that you love and can incorporate into your home, but not the entire dining room set that you don’t care for or have the room for. That chandelier that is priceless and unique can be the focal point in a contemporary room. A mix of design styles makes your home personal and interesting so don’t be afraid to challenge the norm. Breaking rules can be just the thing. That chandelier could be a showstopper in your master bedroom or bath. It doesn’t have to be in the dining room.

Paint or new flooring can also go along way to revamp a home. If you have worn and stained carpet, install hardwood. It is timeless, especially a mid-toned brown one with medium sized planks. Think of a french chateau with those beautiful hardwood floors, they never date. A stunning herringbone pattern will be cherished forever. Just choose what you love and not what you see everywhere, because that is likely a trend.

If hardwood is not your style, then a stone such as marble, slate or granite is another classic choice. If these are too pricey, then a great faux stone tile can also work. Typically porcelain tile is more durable than ceramic, but always ask your tile supplier about the durability of your selection and make sure you tell him/her where it is going. What is durable for a busy hallway versus a hardly used powder room can be vastly different.

Keep grout in mind as well for ease of maintenance, ideally it should be mid toned as well and now there are many stain and water resistant versions on the market. They are costly but well worth the investment.

Paint should always be chosen last on a project, yes dead last. There are millions of paint colours available but not millions of sofa or drapery fabric or tile choices. And also keep in mind paint should always complement your fixtures so DO NOT ignore the pinky beige carpet or tile (if you are keeping it) or you may end up highlighting it instead of working with it.

So think about what your goals are for your home and then you can start making your Reclaim your Home plan. 

I’ll be posting more in depth information on all of these options in the next few weeks so keep checking back. 

Lisa