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Home Takes Time - Our 3 Year Journey to A More Comfortable and Stylish Living Room
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Home Takes Time - Our 3 Year Journey to A More Comfortable and Stylish Living Room

Backstory - Where We Started

This post contains product affiliate links. We may receive a commission if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links.  Wallplanks partner #sticktoyourstyle

We moved into our current house in the summer of 2020 with a 21 month old and a 7 month old after a house hunt that had dragged on for nearly a year.  This house was not our dream home, but it was adequate and more importantly it was our first and only accepted offer after many rejections.

Our boys - under 2 when we moved

Our boys were so little when we moved!

Our 1958 modest ranch did have some charm, which had been on our list of must haves.  But after moving in we became homesick for our last house - where we had invested in masonry repair, a bathroom remodel and painted and improved nearly every room. In our old 1940s Tudor, charm was seen throughout the home from its crown molding, the arched doorways, to the original ornate door hardware along with skeleton keys.  Our current house needed significant work to feel "a little more like home". (Yes, that's where the name for what is now our business came from!)

Old tudor house

Photo of Our 1940s Tudor

Our new house could have been described as a time capsule, owned by the same family for nearly 50 years.  It had original carpeting, except for a 1980s-90s update to the living room.  But that "updated" living room was one of the spaces that bothered us the most.  We are going to focus in our living room transformation in this post.  Let us know in the comments if you would like to see more of what we have done to our home in a continuation of this series.

The living room had heavy drapes, blue carpet, with baby blue paint that wasn't applied evenly on the walls, a blue and pink wallpaper border, and one full wall of wallpaper around the built-in curio cabinet.  At some point the whole house was outfitted with baseboard heaters and then later many of the baseboard heaters were abandoned.  In the living room the baseboard heaters needed to be taken out and replaced with trim.

Before Living room

Dining Before

Living room/Dining room Before we moved in

The wallpaper seemed to be an effort to cover the walls' past blemishes in one fell swoop.  The bright spots in the room, were actually the light fixtures.  There was an orb swag light fixture that hung in one corner and a chandelier in the dining area.    


I wanted desperately to take the wallpaper down when we moved in and began in the foyer only to discover that it wasn't as easy as I was hoping.  My husband, Jeff, advised that it would be best to wait on pulling down the wallpaper in the living room until we had time and a plan for what we wanted to change.  It actually took 2 years before we fully tackled the walls in the living room.

before living and dining

In this picture our kids have grown and our living room has not progressed much

Before we made any changes to the walls, we focused on finding furniture for the unique, wide shape of the room.  Our living room has a dining area included in the space - which makes the room a wide rectangle.

Tip: Sometimes before you make major changes to your space - it helps to live in it a little while so that you can identify what changes would improve the space based on how you have been using it

Finding the Right Furniture

First we made due with the beige Ashley furniture that had been a Craigslist find used in our mother-in-law suite Airbnb at the old house.  As we became more and more interested in mid century modern style, we tried out two more different couch arrangements:  a hot pink sectional that provided a lot of seating, but Jeff and his parents were happy to see go, and a rare find of a Brown Saltman modular set.  The Brown Saltman was very nice looking, but we felt it needed at least one more section to fill our wide space and we couldn't nap on it due to the way the supports of the sofa were made.

Beige Ashley Furniture

Winter 2020 - Using our former Airbnb furniture

September 2021 - Hot Pink Sectional

Summer 2022 Brown Saltman

September 2022 - Brown Saltman Modular Sofa

In February 2023, Jeff sourced a daybed set with striped pillows and a very streamlined look, that could be placed in an L-shaped formation.  We brought it into the living room for pictures to be used to promote it as something we would sell at the upcoming OMG Vintage Market.  But after we sat in it and saw it paired with a groovy lamp planter, we knew it was a keeper.  Stay tuned for a post about choosing the new upholstery for this set.  This was actually a longer part of the process.

We received our reupholstered daybeds the same day that we picked up a switchblade Lane coffee table from the refinisher that we had earmarked for the living room months before.  We think they pair well together with the Founders end tables we purchased to originally pair with the Brown Saltman set.

Daybeds original

February 2023 - Daybeds in Original Upholstery

Current living room

Our current living room (need to center artwork, but happy!)

Tip:  It's okay if you need to try out different arrangements or pieces for your space.  Buying vintage helps this to be less expensive than purchasing new, where shipping and long wait times are often involved.  Plus, vintage items can increase in their resale value over time!

We also had the dining area to think about.  We were fortunate to be able to purchase a Drexel Declaration dining set from local resellers The Atomic Nest.  This set helped us decide what to do with that formerly wallpapered side of the room.  We eventually found another Drexel Declaration table that was round instead of a drop leaf, that fit our use of the space better.

Drexel Declaration set

We learned over time that we needed a desk and some storage in the living room, so we borrowed the desk that matches our son's Johnson Carper Fashion Trend bedroom set and placed it in the living room.  We also kept an American of Martinsville shelving unit to use for storage between the desk and wall mounted TV.


Another key to the space was lighting.  We eventually switched out the original swag light (now in our bedroom) with an Arthur Jacobs design for Modeline of California that we purchased from Highway Child Vintage.  She also helped us source a Modeline floor lamp (and our Modeline collection began!) In the dining area, we decided that we needed to switch out the chandelier for something more modern and that would match the vintage pendant light fixture we found for our kitchen.  We bought a fixture from My Mitzi and that small change really opened up the space and a lot of headroom!  And we can't forget the planter/lamp/room divider that we now use to screen off our living area from the view of the front door!

Planter lamp

Our unique planter lamp

Arthur Jacobs Modeline Swag

Modeline Floor Lamp

You can see our Modeline lamps in either corner of the room


We collected our artwork over time and switched pieces out as we filled in the space with furniture.  Our current artwork is mostly vintage.  We have some really unique ceramic pieces mounted on a wood frame by an Italian artist called Tamborini and placed those on either side of the curio cabinet.  By the desk we have a pair of carved monkeypod figures from the Philippines.  On our largest wall we purchased a Witco inspired piece from Modern Retrograde in Saint Louis.  We receive messages all the time requesting to purchase it - you need to check out their Etsy shop, they have so many cool designs!  Like any real mid century modern enthusiast, we have a starburst clock (that we won on an auction in a lot that included a bunch of Husker memorabilia).

Modern Retrograde art

You can purchase this artwork from Modern Retrograde!

The Wall Finishes

 Are you still reading?  Ha, I know there is a lot here, but a lot happened in the last 3 years.  When we moved to this house one of the first things we did was painting the wood paneling in our basement den.  Sacrilege, right? If you don't know, people get really angry about anyone altering original mid century features and a lot of times I see why.  But in our defense, we made this decision before we became mid century modern enthusiasts and to be honest, the basement was dank and dingy and the paint along with new carpet really improved the look (and the smell) of things down there.  So to cover over our past sins, we opted to add some of that retro paneling look back in upstairs in the living room.  But the problem was, in 2022 there were far less quality wood paneling options than in 1962.  Home Depot employees frowned at us when we asked for something that was actually real wood, finished walnut paneling.  "Don't have anything like that", they'd say. 

Would you paint this room or leave as is?

So we turned online and eventually ordered samples from Wallplanks, which makes peel and stick panels, like shiplap, but in a variety of finishes.  We chose natural walnut and Jeff applied the panels to our largest wall.  This is really what made the space feel different.  Like a completely different room than the pastel space it was before.  The walnut gave the room depth and contrast as we painted the remaining walls a glossy, clean white. We decided to use some more of the panels on the dining area side.  Initially the plan was to cover all the wallpaper with the panels, but we worried in an area of the room with no windows, it would become a cave.  So we removed the wallpaper and prepped to paint. 

Tip: Steamers are great for removing wallpaper backing! Just invest in one and leave the home remedies or fumy products behind.

Once we had the dining set, we decided to install the Wallplanks up to a chair rail height and to paint the remainder of the wall around the curio cabinet white.  Again, we felt that the planks added depth and complemented the beautiful wood in the Drexel Declaration dining set.

Jeff installing wallplanks

Drexel Declaration Set

Current view of our Drexel Declaration Set

So there you have it, the nitty gritty details of 3 years of trial and error, blood sweat and tears, nap time hustles and late night research.  And a lot of money, but actually I think we saved a lot just by buying vintage and taking our time.  

Current living room

What do you think of the transformation?

1 comment on Home Takes Time - Our 3 Year Journey to A More Comfortable and Stylish Living Room

  • Josiah Hazard
    Josiah HazardFebruary 03, 2024

    Enjoyed the article! I love the wood paneling upstairs. I would have painted the basement wood as well, personally. The last two photos look beautiful!

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