It was only a few short months ago that I posted a tour of this home and announced we were placing an offer. I had a couple of friends say they were surprised. It didn’t seem like a good fit. Not much character. Kind of weird in ways. But here we are, and I’m excited to finally share the outcome of my vision for this living room space! And I feel like it might make a lot more sense now.
We had missed out on a home with a sunken conversation pit in front of a lava rock fireplace, so every home I viewed after that one could never measure up. I realized I needed to get really creative about what could be done to a space, instead of trying to find another house with something as awesome as a conversation pit. (That one was probably a once-in-a-lifetime find for my budget!) Though our current home was built in the ’80s, I wanted to bring some mid-century flair to the living room (which is technically sunken, since you take a step down into the space), but not so much that it felt at odds with the rest of the home, or the home’s character. I was able to achieve the loungey vibe that I love about a conversation pit by transforming the brick fireplace into a tall stone feature element, and building out the hearth to extend the entire length of the wall.
You can read all about the process of making over the fireplace wall on my post from earlier this week, but I’ll sum it up for you here too. I actually didn’t do any demo on the fireplace wall (besides removing the mantle and carpet). Instead, I chose to cover up the brick with an affordable manufactured stone veneer product called Cultured Stone by Boral. I wanted a warm neutral stone with some variety in its mix, adding textural interest and even pattern to such a starkly bright white room. So I selected the Old Country Fieldstone in the Summit Peak colorway and hired my friend, mason Jeremy Miller, to install it for me. He installed a moisture barrier over the drywall above the fireplace, mounted metal lath to that, and then covered the whole area with mortar to make an even surface for mounting the cultured stone veneer. I think out of all the changes we’ve made to our home so far, this has been the best decision! Such a big bang for the buck.
On the newly extended hearth, I chose to use Ardex Feather Finish in white, which is a concrete material meant to be applied as a skim coat or floor underlayment. I chose not to use the manufactured stone material on the face of the hearth because it would stick out beyond the upper lip of the hearth, which I would then have to build out to maintain any kind of dimensional overhang, and that just seemed like too much work for something I wasn’t even sure was the best choice. So I decided on the white Ardex because it has a natural material vibe, but it wouldn’t add any visual or physical bulk like stone would. I’m glad I chose to make the hearth bright and white, as it looks streamlined and fades nicely into the floor and walls, allowing the stone wall to be the focal point of the room.
Of course another huge change for this space was the new wall color and flooring materials. Paint is the least expensive way to change a space, and while I do love a cozy darker color in the right application, I just wasn’t feeling it for in here. Because of the angles of the ceiling and soffits in here, choosing a color that contrasted with the ceiling was making the space feel angular and tense. Painting the walls with Benjamin Moore’s Super White now makes the ceiling feel like its soaring, and blurs the line between where the wall ends and the ceiling begins.
The bright space of the living room is enhanced by natural light coming from two skylights and a window I’ve visually enlarged with four stack-back curtain panels, but it also benefits from a lot of light pouring in from the adjacent sunroom. The sunroom is one of two ways we can access our back deck, but that door hasn’t gotten any play since we’ve moved into the house. Maybe one day it’ll see more action when we add a dog to our family, in which case I’ll probably add a large rug to the sunroom as well.
You can check out more of the sunroom details over at my blog, and see how I built the channel-tufted storage banquette on this post here at A Beautiful Mess. It’s a bright little space where my houseplants are really happy, and I love that the view into the sunroom contributes a touch of greenery to our living room. I’m considering moving my big ficus into the living room this spring, but we’ll see what my heart tells me!
It’s difficult for me to nail down a description of the decor style for our home, but if I could sum it up, I’d probably say our home is a mix of mid-century modern, ’70s boho, and ’80s transitional—with a touch of Bauhaus and Scandinavian influences. I steer towards earthy neutrals with lots of texture and bold style, but I like to add a pop of color where it counts— like with our gorgeous yellow Welles sectional from Joybird.
I’m actually in the process of swapping out this sofa for a larger L-shaped sectional from Joybird, but I’m either sticking with yellow or choosing an adobe orange velvet. We decided on the swap because we wanted more seating in here since we host a lot of parties, book groups, and movie nights in this space.
I love the mix of old/new and high/low that fills this space. I wanted our new home to feel sophisticated, but also cozy and inviting. Of course, as with any home, this space will always be a work in progress. But it feels good to finally be finished with the big projects in here and to be able to call this space “done” (for now)!
If you have any questions about my design process or about the materials or products, I’ll be checking into the comments below to reply to everyone. I did add a link list at the end of this post to help you track down any products, or to disappoint you in the event the piece you love is vintage! Ah, vintage. Such a heartbreaker, eh?
Thanks for taking a peek into my home! It’s a joy to finally be able to share it with you. – Mandi
Living Room Materials and Product Sources:
Wall paint: Benjamin Moore’s Super White
Fireplace stone: Boral Cultured Stone Old Country Fieldstone in Summit Peak
Flooring: Lumber Liquidators engineered bamboo
White Ardex: eBay
Large area rug: Lulu & Georgia
Sofa: Welles sectional from Joybird
Glass side table: All Modern
Coffee Table: Chairish
White chairs: 1st Dibs
White side table between chairs: LexMod
Credenza: vintage Broyhill Brasilia from Main St. Modern in Canton, Ohio
Black swing-arm wall sconce: Hayneedle
Curtain rods: IKEA
Hearth cushions: Deal Genius
Sunroom wicker chair: vintage from Main St. Modern in Canton, Ohio
Sunroom table: Lexmod
Sunroom rug: Amazon
Sunroom wall planters: West Elm
Watercolor Louise Brooks portrait on credenza: original from German artist Galerie Minimal on Etsy
Large neutral art created by my girls
Decorative trays: Home Goods
Vases, floor lamps, bar cart, photobooth panel, yellow op art, and little girl portrait are vintage.