Living Room Budget Redo

A couple of years ago, I found a photo of My Perfect Living Room. Before I saw it, I didn’t know I had a Perfect Living Room, but I’m pretty sure I actually gasped when I saw the photo.

The striped couches! The incredible architectural barnwood ceiling and doors! Sisal rug over wood flooring. My signature aqua colors. Minimal accessories. The rustic, beachy, comfortable feel, oh my.

I loved this room so much that I researched it and found the name of the designer (Jill Kantelberg) and contacted her via email. She was extremely gracious, and didn’t seem to be bothered by my gushing email praising her omniscient ability to create My Perfect Living Room without even knowing I exist.  She even traded a few emails back and forth, giving me further ideas for my own real world  living room, and how to find a fabric similar to those stunning couches.

Needless to say, my 1979 builder’s tract home doesn’t have the architecture of this stunning cottage above. However, since I already decorate with a shabby beach cottage style (in my landlocked Central Texas home, go figure), there are many inspirations that I decided to take from this room.

Here’s my starting point:

There used to be a wall-to-wall bookcase behind the couch which was damaged in one of the many water incidents in this house.

You can see my hodgepodge of styles here. The boxes behind the couch aren’t there all the time, I promise. I don’t have a better pic of the “before”, so you’ll have to look past some things to see the bones – sand-colored walls, white slipcover couch, golden leather chair, turquoise linen drapes and a faux leather/wood ottoman. A far cry from My Perfect Living Room.

Everything I wanted to do needed to be done on a super tight budget. Somehow I had to bring in some barnwood to get the feel of the rustic ceiling and doors in my inspiration room.  I also needed to replace the storage that I lost from my damaged bookshelves that are now gone. I found this furniture site nearby in Temple and ordered some bookcases.

Here was my way to bring in a substantial distressed presence in the room to mimic the ceilings and doors of Jill’s room without spending a lot.

Okay, that helps bring in some interest on that wall. And ignore the fact that one of the chicken-wire doors is missing on the cabinets; it was being fixed following some damage in the installation.  Those shelves are now loaded with books.  And please also ignore the cat scratch post; it’s a permanent fixture to keep him from scratching the leather chair. You can also see the new carpet, which is a Shaw sisal lookalike with lower cost and maintenance than the textural Sisal in My Perfect Living Room photo.

I need those stripes, though, to really get the feel of that incredible room.

The amazing striped couch fabric Jill used is no longer available, so I found a similar one at at Calico Corners. Though the stripes are wider and not quite as aqua, it is a budget friendly solution with the right feel. I found a wonderful woman on Etsy to make some slipcovers for my couch pillows.

Here’s My Perfect Living Room again:

The inspiration room. Sigh.

Here’s my current living room:

Looking pretty good, don’t you agree?

The next thing that must change is my ottoman, which I’m reluctant to do. I have an emotional attachment to this one; for good reason. Long before they were being made, I envisioned an ottoman with storage underneath and soft cushioned top for putting feet on. At the time, the only thing out there were leather cushioned chunks with nothing but a solid block underneath. Wasted opportunity imho.

I searched and searched for a used oversized coffee table like this one (it has a drawer that you can’t see; great for remote controls, nail files, pens, coupons, etc) and shelves for magazines and my garden books. I cut off the legs, restained it, added casters, then took it to an upholsterer who padded and covered the top with faux leather fabric.

However, it just won’t do if I want to have my budget version of my Perfect Living Room.  There’s a great table right now at World Market that would look great, but I would no longer have my storage and a place for feet. Anyone have any suggestions? Here’s the room without any ottoman:

I’m pleased with my room; I get the feel of the expensive room for a fraction of the cost. Thanks to Jill Kantelberg for the inspiration, and to Canadian House and Home for printing it. Would love to hear your ideas to finish this room!


9/19 Update: I’m glad I waited on the coffee table purchase. World Market got in a new one (almost identical to one currently in Pottery Barn and much cheaper) that I fell in love with. I put it in my room and it made a big difference. I’m getting there, slowly but surely. I need to change my blinds and the lamp on the right and maybe get a small chest/table to go in between the two bookcases. I’m getting happier with it, though, and like that I did it on a very low budget.

beachy living room


26 thoughts on “Living Room Budget Redo

  1. I’ve always loved the way you decorated your living room but I didn’t know you were inspired by something particular. You’ve done a great job recreating it. I’d just give up the storage and get the right table, if it meets your budget. Love those bookcases.

  2. oh, but what can I prop my feet on? That’s the bigger dilemma, I’ve realized. That current ottoman, though, just doesn’t work anymore now that the matching bookshelves are no longer in the room. It took seeing it in the pics here for me to really get that.

  3. I love this room! And I love your tips for the furniture and woman on Etsy. I think it’s perfect. And your ottoman really fits the bill: feet place, storage, etc. I like it just fine. Beautiful job!

  4. It’s beautiful! I love your version. We solve the feet- propping issue by having a rectangular specially designated foot pillow. When we’re not resting our feet on it (on top of our marble coffee table), it lives behind another throw pillow on the couch.

    Also, I know you can come up with some kind of creative, cool container(s)–vintage hat box?–to use for a a little storage under the coffee table, right? I really like that World Market table for that room! Cheers!

  5. Love your version of the beach cottage idea, Robin – at least as a pretty place to visit!
    We used to blame the kids, but it’s us – DH & I are not white-sofa compatible.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  6. Iris, interesting thought about the pillow on the table. That one at World Market IS pretty great, isn’t it?

    Annie, it seems I’ve always had a white couch, it’s just what I’m drawn to. And I’ve always just stripped off the cushions and tossed the covers in the wash when they get dirty from me, food, the cats, whatever. Perhaps it’s a southern thing?

  7. Nice post, Robin, and your living room looks great! I don’t mind your current ottoman, but that one from World Market does fit your vision really well. Maybe Iris’s foot pillow idea will work for you.

  8. Very nice! I came across your blog and went back to your first post. Wow, it reminds me so much of my own, even the same theme. I’ve only been blogging for a few months, but I have really learned so much by journaling online. It’s fun to share my rantings with others and it really keeps me going.

  9. God, this is incredible. I love this!!! I lvoe those cabinets!! and the stripes. you ought to look into the ikea chair Ekthorp. and i love that table from World Market – it’s soooo great, so hip. it would look fabulous! you could put your feet up on it, just put a little pillow if its too hard – beauty knows no pain. you did a great job – i love the inspiration photo. going to look up that designer.

  10. That inspiration photo is breathtaking, isn’t it? I wanted to see more of the house, so if you can do your magical research and find out more, I’d love to see it! I haven’t bought the World Market coffee table yet, and I hope I haven’t missed out. It does look good, doesn’t it?

  11. yeah, i love that table. i tried to get my daughter to buy it actually – but then i had one from a client that she took instead. ok, i had forgotten the designers name so i came back to find it! i’m hoping she has a web site!


  12. I love what you’ve done. Actually, if I were doing this room on a budget, I would find or buy a long piece ( at least 4 feet long) of old barnwood that matches your bookcase cabinets, add an old rusty brown lantern sconce to it and hang it between the cabinets. Those items can be found at flea markets at good prices sometimes. That would be a tempory fix until you can afford another cabinet to go between the two that you already have. I found you thru cotedetexas blog.

  13. omg, that’s brilliant! One of my regrets is that I bought these over the web, sight unseen. I agree that they aren’t as substantial as I’d hoped, and another problem is that the wood leaves splinters in my fingers. They are really better used outdoors on a porch, I think. So once I realized that, I didn’t want to invest more money in them. Your idea is a budget minded great idea, thanks.

  14. I had a mantle like that once. Every time I dusted it my fingers would bleed. I finally used a coat of matte finish polyurethane on it and that helped so much. Over the years it developed a most beautiful patina. Don’t know if it was from all the dusting or all the blood. 🙂 Good luck Helen

  15. That’s a Pottery Barn sofa! I actually bought it when they were selling their floor samples, so I got for 60% off-score! They still carry that style; it has the organic cotton slipcover on it. Thanks for stopping in.

  16. Hi, I just am in the process of organizing the questions and pictures for Tuesday’s Q&A, could you please post a link button on your blog, so people can link back.
    Betsy Speert

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  19. Pingback: Reaching Outside The Box and Getting a Decorating Inspiration | Cote de Texas

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