Before & After: Our Living Room Transformation

If there is one thing I’ve learned as lover of interior design while on a student budget, it’s that even the most problematic rooms can be beautiful if put your mind to it.

Our living room is a perfect example of this.

For starters, the room is painted a shade of grey with a hint of lilac which looks quite nice in my bedroom, but tends to make the room feel darker than it is. The only window in the room is at the far end of the long and unusual layout. There is a window in the dining room that faces towards the living room, but it looks onto our neighbour’s wall and doesn’t bring in much light. While this would be fine if the main sitting part of the room wouldΒ fit nicely on the window side, this is not the case. There are too many openings and things on the wall (like the heat pump and electrical box) to arrange the TV and couch without blocking off important areas of the house like say.. the front entrance way. Meaning the couch, TV and everything else sort of needs to be pushed into the deep corners of the space. To make matters worse, there is an ugly (for lack of a better word) fireplace that is brown and red brick, off centre and completely useless. Get the picture? Does it sound pretty to you? If you said no, you would be correct.

(Photo by: Rowan Morrissy)
(Photo by: Rowan Morrissy)

Adam and I have spent hours talking about which wall we’d tear down and how we’d make the space brighter but the reality is, it isn’t our house and we can’t make drastic changes. The picture above is a snapshot taken at the beginning of March. You can see that while we did our best with the space, it still looks dark instead of fresh. Annnnnd yes, I am aware that a couple of frames in the gallery wall are empty but sometimes real life isn’t as picture perfect as House & Home (pun intended).

The couch and chair are extremely comfortable but would not have been my first choice. I do like the overall shape, but the suede always looks ruffled and the caramel colour doesn’t compliment the lilac-grey walls. But they are in perfect condition and we found them on kijiji for $150! As a student, I can’t complain. We found the coffee table and rug on the side of the road, and the black IKEA side table and TV stand/shelves belonged to Adam’s sister. I think we did pretty well considering everything is second hand!

Fast forward a few months and welcome to our new and improved living room! It’s not perfect by any means and I still have some DIY’s to put together and some pillows to buy (I can’t wait to get rid of the grey ones) but it is progress! It is crazy what an afternoon of furniture moving and a new rug and some pretty accessories can do to brighten up a space.

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I think introducing the black and white through the rug and throw blanket bring some much needed contrast to the previous brown on brown on brown situation that we had going. The combination of the couch, carpet, floors and fireplace was so dark and gloomy. Although on a budget I can’t go out and buy a new couch, or rip down walls or that horrible fire place, I can move furniture around and do my best to make an unfortunate space feel pretty temporarily.

(Photo by: Rowan Morrissy)
(Photo by: Rowan Morrissy)

Here are a few details up close. I found it was easier to choose my camera settings for close up images instead of doing a full pan of the room because of the dark lighting and my lack of studio lights. These pictures were taken at the brightest time of the day and yet the room still looks pretty dark… Sighh Welcome to my world.

Adam picked this candle out, and I love how it looks and smells (Photo by: Rowan Morrissy).
Adam picked this candle out, and I love how it looks and smells. (Photo by: Rowan Morrissy)
My antique market tin globe is a welcome pop of colour on the dark bookcase (Photo by: Rowan Morrissy).
One of my favourite antique market finds is this tin globe that is a welcome pop of colour on the dark bookcase. (Photo by: Rowan Morrissy)
I love the detail on this tray. It adds texture and interest to our coffee table (Photo by: Rowan Morrissy).
I love the detail on this tray. It adds texture and interest to our coffee smooth table. (Photo by: Rowan Morrissy)
Colourful coffee table books are a great way to ground a space and make it look interesting (Photo by: Rowan Morrissy).
Colourful coffee table books are a great way to ground a space and make it look interesting. I love taking the covers off of books and letting the binding show instead. (Photo by: Rowan Morrissy)

I still have a few things to sort out with all of my thrift store finds, but I wanted to get this post out to show that even students can comfortably live in a stylish home while on budget. Kijiji finds and hand-me-downs can be beautiful!

What struggles do you face with your home? Tell me in the comments down below how you deal with bad lighting and awkward layouts!

Sincerely, Rowan

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