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Our main floor makeover is finally complete! (Read all about the inspiration for our living room, plus the inspiration and after photos of the kitchen.)

As you can see from these before photos, the open-concept dining/living room was in need of some cosmetic changes. The walls were a too-bright green, the bulkhead a too-dark brown, and the dated sofas were too large for the narrow space at the front of the house. We wanted to create flow from the far back (kitchen) to the very front (living room) through common colours and patterns. We didn't move any walls or rip anything out, but last summer and fall, we went about making small changes like paint and furniture to refresh the space we use most often.

Here are our progress photos. It's been quite a journey!

From the kitchen looking towards the front of the house:

First came the white paint. We went with Benjamin Moore's Cloud White (OC-130) — just like the kitchen walls and cupboards — for fresh yet warm walls that would let the wallpaper and gallery wall stand out.

We traded the sparkly orbit chandelier for this silver antiqued metal drum pendant from Restoration Hardware. I love the contrast between the soft trees on the wallpaper and the industrial feel of the pendant. It's quite large for the space, but since it's all one room, I wanted something that would command attention.

And I should mention that we didn't toss anything — we sold everything from the chandelier, artwork, TV and sofas on Craigslist and Kijiji. Economical!

Like the inspiration shot in my previous post, I love the look of mix-and-match coloured moulded plastic chairs, so we ordered four from Ottawa's The Modern Shop in shades of blues and greens. Along with the wallpaper, they add some colour to the mostly grey and white space. One day, we would like to replace the dining table with a longer, more rustic version, at which point we can add more chairs.

Instead of replacing this '90s-like metal-shaded table lamp with a pricey new one, I replaced the shade with a creamy linen one from HomeSense. I really like the geometric base of the lamp, so I didn't want to toss it. I did the same with a matching floor lamp in the living room, and they look like new!

We wallpapered this recess and the one in the living area in Cole & Son's Woods wallpaper in lilac (69/12151), available through Kravet. We were going to go with a plain grey and white version of this pattern, but I'm glad we opted for some colour. The two wallpapered walls really add warmth to the main floor. And having the same pattern on a dining room wall and living room wall creates cohesion between the two connected areas.

On the opposite wall are the staircases — left goes down to the front door, right goes down to the grade-level laundry room and office, and you can also see the staircase to the second floor. Beige, beige, beige.

I was inspired by the photo wall in former H&H-er Emily Walker's home. We wanted to create a casual arrangement of black and white photos like hers on our boring entryway wall — it's a great spot to pause and take them in!

I brought a memory stick of digital photos of all our loved ones to Staples and they printed them on good-quality paper for me. I cut them out, then used one stainless steel thumbtack to pin each photo directly into the drywall. There will be lots of little holes, but drywall filler will easily cover them up if we move one day. Everyone who visits lingers here on their way in and out to pour over the memories — they love finding themselves in the collage! And we can easily add to it over time, too.

I created this gallery wall of my own Leslieville photography for my husband as a Christmas gift a couple of years back, but it was a little sparse and we wanted to add a few more to fill it out.

Did you know you can browse your city's archives for old photos that were taken in your neighbourhood? The City of Toronto Archives has an extensive database full of old transit photos, construction photos, demolitions and new buildings going up. You just type in the street names in your area and you'll find lots of fascinating snapshots. You can save small JPGs for free, or you can order larger JPGs for printing purposes. We ordered five new photos of the Leslieville area to fill out our gallery wall. Some of them are even the same photos I happened to take of the area, so we paired them side-by-side on the wall to show the old and new. Some of them date back to the 1920s! Our gallery wall is finally complete.

You can see that the TV and sofa were cramped into a narrow space. We want to replace the bulky TV with a wall-mounted one on a pivot bracket one day, but in the meantime, we're enjoying the quiet of not having a TV on the main floor. Is that crazy?

The TV will eventually go on the wallpapered wall to the right.

We painted an accent wall in the kitchen with Benjamin Moore's Overcoat (CC-544), and used the same dramatic grey on the brown bulkhead. Much improved!

It took us longer than expected to find the perfect sectional. It was tricky to find the right dimensions, since the speaker needed to stay to the left and the sofa needed to fill the corner properly. Several sectionals we loved didn't come far enough along this half-wall, so they would seem a bit lost in the space. Many sectionals also have a chaise instead of a full back, but we really wanted to maximize seating for guests with two proper backs.

But we found it! We could keep the speaker where it was, and it was just long enough to cover an unsightly outlet to the right. We came across this beauty in Stacaro on King Street East — made by Montreal-based Lucyau — and it definitely checked off all our must-haves. Called the Cloud, no chaise meant it could accommodate lots of lounging guests. The down-filled cushions are clean-lined and contemporary in shape, and we love the two long seat cushions and barely-there legs.

I found the down throw pillows at HomeSense for a song, and their linen-like covers (removable!) are the same texture as the sofa's upholstery. The braided twine piping adds a raw contrast to the soft fabrics, too.

We kept the same curtain rod and Umbra drapes to save money.

The white walls really do make the space seem larger. Eventually, we want to replace the carpet on the stairs and paint the spindles white, but alas, that will have to wait. Charlie the cat seems pleased with the makeover, especially because of all the grey.

What do you think? I would love to read all your feedback. Comment below!

Photo credits:
1-12, 14-33. Gwen McAuley
13. Dining room from House & Home Makeovers 2011 special issue, photography by Donna Griffith

Author: 

Gwen McAuley

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