The House Files: My living room before and after

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Photography: Eleanor Skan

I’ve teased enough on Instagram, but I’ve finally pulled my finger out in order to produce the definitive before and after post of our living room.

Are you sitting comfortably? Because this is a long one!

I’ll try to keep the waffle to a minimum, but first, some background, because context is always important! We bought our house towards the end of last year and moved in on December 21st. Totally sensible. The house may look it but it isn’t very old – it was built eight years ago.

Now, I have never lived in a modern house before and will admit that I went to look at it under duress. But moving from London, what we couldn’t ignore was the light, the space and the fact it was a completely blank (read: bland) canvas. (Other positives: it sits within a beautiful country setting, has a plethora of great primary schools and is less than ten minutes to walk to the main train station, which gets into London in an hour). In short, it ticked all our boxes.

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Large white metal vase, La Redoute | Mirror, Amara Collection | Small vase, Amara Collection

When I started thinking about how to decorate, I had a really clear vision. It was big enough to really go for it – the room sizes and number of windows meant I could go mad with colour (something I couldn’t have done in our London home). I wanted the house to be vibrant, happy and provide the kids with an inspiring, fun and comfortable home.

Before you all ask, yes I do have the world’s most patient husband! He married me knowing that my idea of a great night in is ‘Location Location Location’ and the OK to buy a new lamp. Maybe a curry too if we’re REALLY going crazy.

But seriously, he knows how much I love interior design, so while I run everything past him (particularly the finances!) he knows that I can ‘see’ it, when he can’t really envisage how it will look.

The first room we completed was this – the living room.

So this is what it used to look like – and how the same views look now I’ve put my stamp on it.

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Furniture and pieces: Sofa, the large ‘Bagsie’ by Loaf in Midnight Blue velvet | Grey Parker Knoll sofa, found on eBay and reupholstered in grey flannel | Mid-century console, West ElmTree top side table, West Elm (sold out) | Vintage Beni Ouhrain rug in front of sofas, sourced by edit.58| Beni Ouhrain style rug in above shot (just seen), La Redoute | Blue lamp base, eBay | Blue shade, Etsy | Gold lamp base, Graham & Green | Palm shade, Etsy | Blue throw, Snape Maltings | Gold reclaimed planter, Hythe Antiques | Fiddle fig, sourced by Conservatory Archives | Capiz shell ceiling lights, Spitalfields market (years ago!) | Green Dutch cupboard, eBay | Cloud print, similar available from Rockett St George

In terms of layout, it’s a large space, so the furniture didn’t need to be pushed against the walls – I really want to create little areas.

The first thing I wanted to do was remove the carpets and replace with real wooden flooring. As I knew we wouldn’t be having a sofa up against the wall, I asked the electrician to put floor sockets in so I could have a lamp table in between the sofas.

For the walls, we eventually decided on Juniper Ash by Little Greene Paint Company which, despite being blue, has a lovely, warm feeling. We also painted ‘out’ the radiators so they blended into the walls. We replaced all the window dressings with exactly the same shutters we had in our house in London, which I love because they’re so simple.

Buying a new sofa was a big decision, but finally we decided on the Bagsie from Loaf in a midnight blue velvet. The other grey sofa was a Parker Knoll I found on eBay and had reupholstered, but I am very tempted to move that upstairs and get this one from Made.

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Dress, Beaumont Organic | Shoes, Marks & Spencer | Necklace, Chambers & Beau, smaller necklace, Accessorize | Green lamp base, eBay | Palm shade, Etsy | Blue plant pot, Wyevale Garden Centre | Drawers, eBay | Gold mirror, Amara Collection | Lavandou large glass hurricane vase, Amara Collection (sold out) | Bespoke ‘showtime’ knitted word, made by Seventy Seven84 | Log basket, TK Maxx

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I’ve written about my love for eBay here, but I’ve found so many great pieces including this multi drawer unit, the green chest of drawers (in photos below) and the pair of chairs I covered in the banana leaf fabric. My top tip would always be to save your searches and check in every day, you can even set up alerts. So if you’re after a vintage haberdashers chest, search specifically for that and then regularly check in.

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Sofa, Loaf, as before | White ceramic side table, La Redoute (sold out) | Small pictures on wall, vintage finds | Standard lamp, vintage shop | Mustard lampshade, Love Frankie | Rug, sourced by edit58 | Green velvet cushion, Rockett St George | ‘Rothesay’ floral cushion, Bluebell Gray | Yellow velvet cushion, Amara | Moroccan wedding blanket throw, bought in Marrakech | Vintage peach glass mirrors on the wall, collected over years | Green stair carpet, Roger Oates | Hall floor tiles, Bert & May | Yellow velvet cushions (on grey sofa), Rockett St George | Blue leaf print cushion, La Redoute

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Console table, West Elm | Small linework honeycomb vase, West Elm | Tall linework honeycomb vase, West Elm | Tall ceramic parrot, TK Maxx | Bar cart, West Elm | Coasters, Sainsburys | Large cactus vase, La Redoute

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Pair of chairs, eBay | Reupholstered in ‘Swaying Palm’ fabric, shipped internationally from Decorative Things | Rug, La Redoute | Table, a vintage one from my parents | Whatnot, a gift from a family friend | Standard lamp base, Graham & Green | Shade, Love Frankie | Raffia plant basket, La Redoute | Neon light, Bag & Bones | Flowers, Myrtle & Mint

I had seen an image on Pinterest that sparked the inspiration for dividing up the room into sections, with large built-in bookshelves creating this reading corner. They were an investment, but I absolutely love the character they have brought into the room. Painted in the same colour as the walls, they look as though they’ve always been there. We went for fretwork at the base, as the two walls on either side of the doors have radiators mounted on them. So we boxed them in as part of the design but the fretwork means the heat can still circulate.

The chairs have been well documented on Instagram – and I love that so many people made suggestions for the piping of them! The chairs were from eBay and I had them reupholstered. While I love the House of Hackney ‘Palmeral’ fabric, it actually worked out cheaper sourcing the classic Beverly Hills Hotel ‘Swaying Palm’ fabric and having it shipped from the US. I found a great upholsterer locally and since they came home, they have made me happy every day!

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So there you have it, our living room revealed! I hope you like it – please let me know what you think in the comments section, would love to hear!

I have absolutely loved sharing small areas of it on Instagram and love that so many of you are such like-minded decor nuts.

We have still got PLENTY of rooms to decorate, so this House Files project won’t be stopping any time soon.

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  • Comments ( 55 )

  • avatar
    Rachel

    Oh gosh, your home is beautiful!

    • avatar
      Erica

      Thank you so much! x

  • avatar
    Alli Williams

    Love what you have done, the colour mix is inspiring. Great job, well done.

    • avatar
      Erica

      Thank you lovely! x

  • avatar
    Sophie

    Utterly joyful & joy-filled space. A Masterclass in adding character to more modern (b)landscapes. I hope you whipped up a big Cocktail (or 3) & kicked back to survey your completed work. It’s ‘Showtime’! S x

    • avatar
      Erica

      Thanks Sophie! We sure did! xx

  • avatar
    Lyn in Yorkshire

    Once again you have inspired me with your clever use of colour and texture. You are a true Aesthete . On a dull grim day you are a tonic. Cheers!

    • avatar
      Erica

      Aah what a lovely comment, thank you! So pleased it inspires you x

  • avatar
    Luisa

    Love everything about this! Can we please have a house tour when the rest is done?!

  • avatar
    Luisa

    Love everything about this! Can we please have a house tour when the rest is done?!

    • avatar
      Erica

      Ha ha! Yes! X

  • avatar
    Candice Aboderin

    This is so amazing!

    • avatar
      Erica

      Thank you Candice! X

  • avatar
    Becky | accooohtrements.wordpress.com

    Oh my gosh, it’s beautiful! You have such a fantastic eye for a bargain too – I think all my favourite pieces are eBay or TK Maxx (that parrot!).

    Becky ⋮ a c c o o o h t r e m e n t s . w o r d p r e s s . c o m

    • avatar
      Erica

      Thanks Becky!! I do love a bargain! Thing is with TKMaxx, you have to grab them when you see them! There have been a few things I didn’t get and regretted!! Xx

  • avatar
    Louise

    Incredibly stylish yet relaxed and homely – almost edible! Lovely.

    • avatar
      Erica

      Thanks Lou! Xx

  • avatar
    Katy

    It’s awful, why not go modern? it looks like you’re decorating it to be the large Victorian house it isn’t. Messy and likely to date within the year.

    • avatar
      Erica

      Thanks for your comment Katy. I guess it’s not everyone’s taste, but I love it and am very happy with it.

    • avatar
      Lucy

      Katy, you’re obviously a very unhappy person.

      • avatar
        Zoe

        What is “modern”? A bland copy of what everyone else has “at the moment” otherwise known as unimaginative, boring and dated within six to twelve months.

        You have transformed the room and done an amazing job and to suggest otherwise is really quite bizarre!

      • avatar
        Katy

        Why? Because I don’t like something? What a strange thing to say! I assume she wanted feedback not just ‘oohs and aaahs’. .

  • avatar
    Roo

    Absolutely love your style, and so much to be inspired by. I really love the mix of sources too. Your two vintage prints inspired me to bid on my very first auction room buy – a lovely watercolour of some trees! So for that alone: THANKS.

    • avatar
      Erica

      Aaah that makes me very happy! I hope you enjoy looking at it! Thank you so much for your comment! X

  • avatar
    Liz

    Love this Erica. Thanks for sharing your house with us. I love the use of colour. I’ve already purchased a knitted sign…hmmm what next…

    • avatar
      Erica

      Ha! Thanks Liz!! What word did you go for!? x

      • avatar
        Liz

        I’ve gone for welcome in green for our hallway. Now I’m on ebay… you’ve got me back on interior hunting. Thank you

  • avatar
    urbandelice

    I’ve just seen your Insta Story on this. Glad it’s done, it looks fab!

    • avatar
      Erica

      thank you so much! x

  • avatar
    urbandelice

    I’ve just seen your Insta Story on this. Glad it’s done, it looks fab!

  • avatar
    Jane Dumas

    Love it all Erica. We built our house and plan to sell in the spring. Completely inspired for our next project. Will be brave enough to use lots of colour. I just wish you lived nearer Kent!

    • avatar
      Erica

      Thank you so much Jane! Sorry I called you Lulu on the Insta DM!! X

  • avatar
    Kat

    This is stunning! So loveable but so many beautiful touches. I adore it!

  • avatar
    Yvadney @ Style After Nine

    Oh Erica it’s blooming gorgeous. You can tell it’s been a labour of pure love and colour and print. I also love your furniture spacing as that really makes everything. Yvadney xx kids rooms please

  • avatar
    Jb

    Erica – I absolutely love it. Especially the colour combination there. I have been long lusting over blue and green and you have pulled it all so seamlessly together!

    Love it!

    ps just listened to your webinar with Sarah Akwisombe, thank you so much for sharing it was so interesting and very inspirational!

    Jb
    http://www.velondonista.com

    • avatar
      Erica

      Oh thanks Jo! I hope I didn’t waffle too much! And thank you so much for your lovely comment x

  • avatar
    Emma

    I love it! Such a great combo of colour and texture and excitment! I do love a bit of home inspo…I’m away to find some bargins to pilp out my home! Great work X

  • avatar
    Luci Hindmarsh

    Brilliant, just what I needed. We did the big move out from London three months ago, so we’re just at the start of our redecoration mission, amntaking notes from this post!

    • avatar
      Erica

      Aaah thanks Luci! Hope you’re settling in well – it took me a while to find my feet ) but the decorating helped!) xx

  • avatar
    Helen

    Erica, Love, love, love it all! Very inspiring, i also live in a modern house (built about 12 years ago) and you have opened my eyes to what can be done. The most adventurous i have been has been a feature wall and a couple of DIY canvases! Although I do love old paintings and have quite a few already! I am planning in my head a built in bookcase to a wall in my living room just need to put it into action! Thank you for your inspiration! xxx

    • avatar
      Erica

      I’m so pleased if it’s given you a few ideas! Go for it! x

  • avatar
    @donnalouisetait

    Love love love this Erica!
    I love the Bagsie but couldn’t fit it into my little cottage!
    The eBay chairs are divine! Love the fabric!
    It’s a really inspirational transformation.

    • avatar
      Erica

      Thank you so much Donna! Couldn’t you even have a little Bagsie chair?! xx

  • avatar
    Morgana

    Oh wow, what a beautiful room! I find this post so inspiring and I definitely want to take a leaf out of your book when it comes to using colour. We are currently looking for a new home and I am pinning this post for inspiration when the inevitable house renovation/make over happens.

    • avatar
      Erica

      Thank you so much Morgana! So happy to read that lovely comment! x

  • avatar
    TEEN!

    GORGEOUS! xx

    • avatar
      Erica

      Aaah THANKS TEEN!! X

  • avatar
    Jazmin Cabrera

    Oh my, so beautiful! We’re in the middle of a house renovation and have gone for all white walls with dark floors upstairs and medium herringbone downstairs, but you’re making me long for blue! (We do have one blue wall in the bedroom…that may help quench the thirst!)
    Jx

  • avatar
    Belinda Millar

    Amazing!! What a gorgeous room you’ve created! Love the paint colour choice, clever space plan and THOSE chairs! Beautiful!

    • avatar
      Erica

      Thank you so much Belinda!

  • avatar
    Pauline johnson

    Hello, i am new to you blog but i follow on instagram and love your style and fashion sense. I lOve the detailed pictures, the clean and fresh look and more importantly all the informaTion and layout😀👍. It all looks fab and i look forward to seeing lots more😊.

    • avatar
      Erica

      Thank you so much Pauline! xx

  • avatar
    Toni Bowater

    Erica, what a refreshing interior to see – I love the fact that you are designing the home that you want and not something that will be safe for a future sale. You have inspired me to do the same! I hope you don’t mind me asking but I love the black capiz chandelier and was wondering where you acquired it?

    • avatar
      Erica

      Thank you so much Toni, that’s so lovely to hear! The capiz chandeliers were an old purchase from a little shop in Spitalfields market in London, but Graham & Green seem to do similar xx

  • avatar
    Toni Bowater

    Thanks

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