My Life Is Brilliant

Well, it was a long four days, but yesterday was worth every sore muscle and aching joint. We started with a cluttered, miserable, dreary, and unusable space that had become just a walkway that we went through as fast as possible to get somewhere else. We couldn’t use our dining table, so the last meal we ate as a family in our own home was at Easter, and the time before that, Christmas. Our house is already small, and we weren’t using a fifth of it.

By the time my fairy godparents were done, I didn’t want to move out of my seat, both because I was tired and I was in awe that my friends Leigh and Bill had taken my most loved possessions (that went with the color and theme of the room, of course), and what I thought was the world’s ugliest furniture and turned it into a room worthy of an HGTV show. While most of those shows have a minimum budget of $500, Leigh pulled this off for about $250, ALL of which was paint, electrical outlets and switches, some brushes that I didn’t have, and a ceiling fan. Everything in the room was already mine!

Bill is a wonderful husband…he just nods his head and does what she tells him to. Ron was as bad as the dogs, and even though he took Monday and Tuesday off, I think if he could have hid under the bed yesterday, he would have. He was fine when they were painting and doing the basic, bottom layer stuff, but when Leigh started putting the furniture back in the room, he lurked in the bedroom for most of that time. When Leigh asked him if he liked it, he said, “I really do. It doesn’t look like Carolyn’s taste at all.” Sigh. Fortunately we have a marriage counseling appointment scheduled for next Wednesday.

While I have to do one more coat of gel stain on my French doors, stain a side table, and paint my dining table, here’s the basic breakdown of the room.

Bare walls, bare windows, bare cushion covers. What it looked like when we started on Tuesday morning.

After the first coat of gel stain. I added the second coat, but it needs a third.

The first thing someone sees when they walk in the door is a collage frame that hung in the entryway of our old house for almost 10 years. I took all of the photos of the kids, their friends, and Ron.

Finally! A place to eat. The dining table still needs to be painted. The candle holder was purchased at a candle store in Fredericksburg for $10, the picture of the bridge was bought at Goodwill for $5, and the butterfly pics were bought at Walmart for Aub’s dorm room at $5 each.

The Poppies poster was $3 at a garage sale, the frame was $15 at Michaels, and the dragonfly hung in our old bedroom. I bought that for $12 at World Market about 10 years ago. Leigh confiscated the comfy chair from my office, and the ottoman serves double duty as a coffee table.

The antique desk (which came with a chair that wasn’t used in this room) was bought on craigslist for $75. The curtains and pillows were left over from when we staged our old house to sell. The curtains are from World Market, and were $20 each (and were a gift from my mom!). I did have to buy the sheers, $5 each at Walmart. I bought the curtain rods for staging the old house, and the sheers are hanging on $3 rods from IKEA that I’ve had for 10 years. The pillows were $7 each at Ross. The lamp is from Target ($15), the chest was a Christmas gift from 13 years ago (it was a makeup set, actually), the faux books are storage boxes bought at Ross for $6 and $3 each, and the digital frame was purchased on for $45. The sofa is Crate and Barrel, bought on craigslist for $120, the mirrored candle holder is from Michaels ($9), and the dragonflies around it are actually Christmas ornaments that I picked up at Pier One 8 years ago for $.75 each. I’d never used them! The pink throw was another dorm room purchase, from IKEA for $15. The bamboo “rug” was another craigslist find for $20. It’s perfect with dogs in the house, because it’s easily cleaned.

The lantern on top was a gift from my ex-husband for the Valentine’s day before we were married, as was the box on the top shelf. The wooden “relax” sign was a garage sale find for 50 cents. The statue of the mother twirling her child was from T.J.Maxx for $12. The three vases are from IKEA, $2 each, the birdcage was a Michaels find for $8, as was the bird, $2. The star lantern was a table centerpiece at a Christmas dinner for Ron’s old company, so it was free. Matthew made the bowl in high school and the little gray vase on the shelf below. I bought the frog with a monkey and a sofa at a little boutique for $15, and the picture frames were $5 each at least 12 years ago. The Arabic writing quote was bought at a craft fair for $10 from a woman from Afghanistan. The botanical collage was a gift from Ron’s dad, 11 years ago. I’ve had the picture frames for forever. The wooden vase was a garage sale find for $3.

The watercolor that was the inspiration piece for the room. I bought it for $5 at a garage sale a few weeks ago, and I loved that it made even my old living room make sense. There is actually nothing wrong with it; the white marks are from the camera flash. I used gel stain on the frame to make it match the other wood. The lamps are IKEA ($10 each, 13 years ago), as is the filing cabinet, a craigslist find for $50. The dragonfly vase was from a boutique in Austin for $25, about three years ago…a major splurge for me, but I obviously have a dragonfly addiction.

The butterfly is a match with the dragonfly behind the comfy chair, and was also $12 at World Market. The vases are IKEA, $1 each. The turquoise vase was $8 at Michaels (the same thing goes for upwards of $40 on Joss and Main or One Kings Lane). The watercolor was painted by a friend, but I bought it in a silent auction for $15. The tiny teapot frames were from a boutique in Fredericksburg, $5 each. The leather bound Tolkien books are Ron’s, a gift from his dad when he was younger. Three of the wooden boxes are from the same boutique as the dragonfly vase, and one was a gift from Ron. Two more teapot frames, and a family photo from six years ago, taken by a photographer friend and given as a Christmas gift. The two bottom books were from garage sales, and the top two are from Michaels’ dollar bin. The baskets were garage sale finds, and part of a four piece set for $5.

The overall view, taken from the dining corner. Perfection!

I cannot believe this is my living room. I love just sitting in here. It’s my second most favorite place in the world…Leigh’s house is still my favorite, just by virtue of being located in Connecticut. I’m sure it has something to do with it looking much like Leigh’s, but with my stuff.

This was better than Trading Spaces, since we didn’t have to do someone else’s house while sweating on camera. Also, I didn’t have to worry about coming home to hay on the wall, or orange carpet. Next on the plan of attack is to finish my office, then the playhouse, then Aubrey’s room, and finally, horror of all horrors, the laundry room. The kitchen will be last…maybe. Leigh plans to come down more often. It will sure make this place sell a lot faster next year! However, that will all have to wait, as I pay for the last four days of hard work with the next two weeks of being bed bound. At least I’ll catch up on the afghan that I’m making for Leigh’s grandson.

If you want to see Leigh’s amazing artwork, check out her facebook page at Leigh Whalen!

“You’re beautiful, you’re beautiful, you’re beautiful, it’s true…”


2 thoughts on “My Life Is Brilliant

  1. Cally says:

    Oh wow! It’s amazing! Total inspiration for getting stuff done on a reasonable budget!

  2. mzklever says:

    Thanks, Cally! I wish I could take credit, but really, it was Leigh that pulled it all together. I guess I can take credit for all the things that have been purchased over the years. It’s so funny how that one watercolor inspired an entire room. As Leigh says, people tend to be drawn to the things that they love. I am always buying florals with a blue undertone, with French reds, creamy yellows, sage greens, and soft teal. Now I know that if it doesn’t fall in that range, I shouldn’t buy it, because I’ll hate it later. 🙂

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