Elsie’s Living Room (BEFORE)

Elsie's Living Room BEFOREThis living room! I don’t even know where to start. It’s amazing. But it’s also by far the most confusing room for me to decorate. Most of the time I can walk into a room and envision what I would do. But this one is a real brain teaser. And I’m still developing my vision for it!

Here you can see what we started with. A lot of the natural light was dimmed by the layers of heavy curtains. I knew that had to go. And I’ll spare you my rant about butter yellow. But that had to go as well. Since this is technically the “formal” living room (I hate to call it that, though), I initially felt pressure to make it more fancy. But after living with it for a bit I no longer feel that pressure. I’m just going to do my version of fancy (which is not all that fancy, but just a little more bold than the den, which is the more cozy/television space).

The first time we viewed it, the house was still being lived in and in addition to the piano, this room had two couches, four chairs, two coffee tables, two side tables and a glass display case. It was fun to see how much furniture could actually fit because if I had only seen it like this, I wouldn’t have believed it. We’re still deciding how we want to furnish this room and haven’t purchased anything at all yet. I’m really excited to get to that stage, though, sometime in the new year!

In the meantime, I think it’s good to be able to just live with it and learn what the room could actually be useful for in our real lives. So far we’ve used it for a lot of photos for the blog and Jeremy plays piano in there almost every day (usually when he’s ready to leave the house and he’s waiting for me to put on makeup or something…).

SmAR5A4801Here’s the opposite view. You can see here where this room is in relation to the entryway and front door. Besides the actual entry, it’s the first thing you see when you come in the house. You can also see here these two spaces on either side of the door, which I am not sure what to do with. Tables? Chairs? Bookshelves?

To the left is my future office (still currently filled with tiles and paint from all our projects!), and to the right is our dining room.

SmAR5A4822These ceilings where definitely a feature that drew us to the house. I love that they were already painted white. This room is medium sized, and it’s weird to me that it seems to either look much larger or much smaller than it really is when I photograph it.

SmAR5A4819Here’s the view looking into the dining room. That “window” to the right is actually a set of French doors that lead into the sunroom. I still have no idea how the furniture is going to lay out in the room or even what furniture I need to look for! Options are endless!

EwwwBehind those giant curtains is a beautiful, but badly damaged window. The double pane glass had trapped moisture that was molding and the wood was rotting. We knew it would have to be replaced semi-quickly, but when a rainstorm revealed that it leaked in heavy rain, the new window shot up to the top of our priority list.

SmAR5A4815SmAR5A4815Hands down, our favorite thing about this space is the baby grand piano. It’s something we negotiated into our house sale. Probably not something we would have prioritized buying, but we’re so glad it worked out. It fits the room visually, but is also something really special and functional in our family. Jeremy was a piano performance major in college, which means he can play those crazy fancy classical piano pieces that impress everyone. He also plays songs to make me laugh all the time, like songs from television shows we watch and what not. Anyway—I’m rambling! We love the piano and want to decorate the room AROUND it.

SmAR5A4809This big empty wall is begging for something big and bold. And that’s my little (future) office space you can see through the doorway.

SmAR5A4805These carpets had to go immediately. We knew that even if that was the ONLY update we did, it would make such a big difference in making the house feel more modern and fresh.

When we removed the carpets, we discovered a bad water stain on the hardwoods. It was the worst stain in the house and it couldn’t be sanded out. I share the whole story and our weird, but cool, solution here.

SmAR5A4804Alright! That’s the before. These photos are from the day we closed on our home in May. With many of the spaces in our home I feel an urgency to finish them quickly, but not this space. I am enjoying decorating it slowly in my mind. Besides the color washed floor, painting the yellow white and replacing that big window, we haven’t really done anything yet. If you have ideas, I’m all ears!! xx- Elsie

  • It is really awesome seeing all these befores! it’s going to be so fun seeing afters after seeing these!

  • I can’t wait to see what you do with this space! The ceilings are sooooo great. When you’re “decorating it in your mind,” where do you see the piano being positioned? As far as the life of a piano goes…being in sunlight AND near the sunroom (which you’ve said will have windows open often, which will mean a change in humidity at times)can be bad for your piano’s health, so it might be worth considering moving it to one of those other corners near the entrance, if it could fit/work there.

  • Hang in there! I’m almost done with these before posts and then it’ll be updates, updates, updates for the next two years!
    Thanks for reading! :)) -Elsie

  • Thanks for sharing, the house is really interesting and I’m sure the after shots will be amazing! But personally I think I would prefer to see the before photos as part of the after post, or perhaps seeing all the before shots (from the whole house) in just one post.

  • i’d love to see the room divided into two areas. one facing the piano for those watching the performance and the other area for sitting and chatting. maybe back to back couches. hard to say without being able to tell the room size. i know whatever you do you’ll make it awesome.

  • This space is great! Loving the ceilings! For your large scale art, I suggest looking at Minneapolis (MN) based artist Garrett Parry. I think you would really enjoy his color pallet and abstract subject matter. Some of his older work can be seen on his website: Garrettperry.com
    Good luck! Can’t wait to see what you do with this beautiful space!

  • Absolutely love the ceilings! And I can’t believe you were able to get the baby grand! Swoon! Cant’ wait to see the after!

  • i fall a bit more in love with your house every time you put up a post!!! weird question… could you share a floor plan of the house? or have you already and i missed it?! it would make imagining the space and the before and afters so much more easier!! 😛

  • Maybe you could do a book shelf on one side and a reading nook on the other side!? A lounge area?

  • I love the structure of the room.. the beams are so amazing. I can’t wait to see photos when it’s all done!!

    Lucy xoxo


  • I think I’m going to leave it black since it’s a lot more valuable than our other (thrift store) pianos. :)) I LOVED the one we painted white though.
    xx- Elsie

  • I see this too! And with the doors going out to the porch, it could be a really beneficial for summer parties and people going in and out to just stop at this bar rather than go through the house!

    I seriously can’t wait for more progress pictures just to even see how you’ve painted, Elsie. This house is already so cool and unique as is, but the updates will make it so much more gorgeous and open.

  • I’m so excited to see how your space turns out, Elsie! The house has such a great structure, you’re renovations are only going to make it so much better!!!

  • are you going to leave that piano black or are you going to use your amazing paint skills and courage and paint it whit or a bold colour, hmm I forgot the floor is blue now so a bold colour might not be a good idea

  • So much potential!
    I love seeing the difference without those heavy curtains! It definitely made it feel brighter. I like the idea of book cases on either side of the entrance facing the front door. If they were clean white built ins with a bunch of colorful books, it would be interesting enough that you don’t need a ton of big and bold statements, since you also have that rad blue floor now! Anyway good luck! I’ll be closing on a house this spring and I can’t wait to get to your stage of renovations!
    PS i just found your youtube channel and I loved getting to walk through the houses with you! You guys should definitely try to do more videos because I loved them! (in all your spare time of course haha)

    Callie Goese

  • Hi! I have a question, are you renting this house? Or bought it?
    In case it´s a rental, does the owner pay for all the renovations??
    Or do you?

    Greetings from Mexico!

  • I see the walls serving as an art gallery. Funky art, fancy art, homemade art, art by friends. And a few lounging chairs. And a bar cart. What a great place to spend with friends, listening to music and enjoying cocktails and art. Seems like Palm Beach room to me. Enjoy!

  • Rather than a formal living room, how about making it a music/craft/reading room? With comfy chairs, good lighting, a table and chairs for card games or crafting w/ a credenza nearby for storage? Gradually add wall art.

  • Thanks so much Susie!! I was really insecure sharing just “before” photos that aren’t necessarily pretty, so I’m glad to hear you are enjoying them!! It’s a big part of the process!
    xx- Elsie

  • Really? I’ve never used Feedly. Looks normal in my Bloglovin’ so it must be a weird error.
    Sorry about that! I’m not THAT excited about my “before” living room. haha!
    xx- Elsie

  • Haha! Yes! It still feels weird. But it feels 10% more like home every month!!
    xx- Elsie

  • I’ve been thinking about that!! I think it would look amazing. BUT since I already have giant bookshelves in another room I am nervous it would be too many shelves to fill… Maybe a long term plan? Would look SO cool!
    xx- Elsie

  • Love that piano! Good on you for thinking to negotiate that into your buy. It really does suit the room.

    I have no idea what I’d do with a room like that – there’s just so much potential. I guess maybe a cocktail room/room for entertaining guests would be my first thought cause of the grand piano. Somewhere you could have karaoke nights and hors d’oeuvres before everyone sits down to eat.

    Not at all sure if that’s something you could use, but will love seeing what you turn this space into!

  • Such a beautiful house Elsie! Keep on going doing your thing, I`m sure it`ll be great! 🙂


  • You could do a built in bar on one side with a bench for lounging in the other. For some reason, I can see black moldings and woodwork in the room even though the rest of the house is light and airy. With the piano, it could be fun and swanky hangout room. I can’t wait to see the “after” photos of everything – Enjoy decorating!

  • I’m getting so excited to see the final product of everything! I know her house is going to be so gorgeous!


  • I love this slow reveal of your house pre Elsie & Jeremy. It is, admittedly, the oddest style I’ve ever seen. All carpets and butteryellow walls? Yikes. The bones of the house look amazing though, and I cannot wait to see all the beautiful redecorating you guys are doing. Best of luck and happy holidays.

  • I’m in love with those ceilings, and the wonderful windows! So excited how it’s going to look in the end!

  • So much potential! I know what you mean about decorating some spaces slowly. For me, I can take my time when I know I’ll be in the house for a while. It’s so fun to do it that way.

  • Piano is one of those things I scoffed at as a child (didn’t want lessons, etc.), and now as an adult I think it is one of the most beautiful instruments/skills to have. (If I only had that time machine…) but what a gift for him to play it often. Also, I agree about the room, some pictures make it look large and others tiny. Maybe because of light, camera angles, or magic? 🙂 Can’t wait to see the ‘After’s.

  • Giant piano keys wall art – abstractish. The thought that came to mind when looking at the space and designing around the piano. 😉

  • I feel like you guys have posted this 3 separate times. At least it’s coming up in my feedly as such.

  • I love these posts and can’t wait for the “after” versions! So excited! Also, wow, you must’ve felt weird in such a huge house at first!

  • I say bookcases on either side of that doorway as opposed to chairs or something. I love bookcases that frame a doorway and it looks likes you could totally go all the way around that space!!! Can’t wait to see your afters! So exciting!!!!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.