Living Room Update

When we moved to the cottage the end wall of the living room featured built-in bookcases. For some there couldn't be anything better than a wall of built-ins.  For someone like me, who enjoys moving things around, also lacks a collection of books, the built-ins proposed problems. Being stationary the preventing me from being able to move furniture in the space, they took up 20" of depth in the room.  The built-ins being on the wall opposite of the front door, they were the focus upon entering the cottage.  I tried dressing them a few times, the over all look was too busy for me.  I felt they looked like a display wall in a retail shop. 

Apologies for the quality of the photo...I have few photos of the problematic built-ins. 

Constructed around the window, the sill and trim were modified to make way for a shelf.  Additionally, along one side of the room there had been wallpaper with a wainscot and chair rail.  A section of the trim along that wall had been removed when the built-ins were constructed.  Finally, the floors in the room had been refinished after the built-ins were constructed.  Removing the bookcases from the wall would involve reconstruction of the new window sill, new trim along the wall with the old wainscot and somehow blending the floor original finish hidden beneath the bookcases with the refinished dark walnut stain.  I was determined. 

Jr. and I spent one day, removing the built-in bookcases, while being careful not to damage the wall too much.  Afterward, I filled nail holes then sanded the wall. Painted the wall in BM. White Dove and the window frame black.  The room instantly felt larger.

Mr. GDC stepped in and built a new window sill across the bottom of the window.  I sanded the finish on the flooring, then feathered in dark walnut stain to blend the floor. 

After considering various options for the trim along the wainscot wall, I decided upon creating a shallow shelf.  I thought the shelf could serve as a nice place to sit art, while paying tribute to the  cottage designer's original plan of wallpaper on the upper wall paired with a wainscot. We chose to use a 1x4 for the shelf portion of the trim, 1/4 round across the top and bottom to complete the design.  

The end result turned out well.  I think it is a unique element to the room and is respectful of the original 1950's design.  

I happened upon a local estate sale and found treasure. A clay bust planter of woman and a John Richards designer table lamp. 

I adore her, she was sitting outdoors allowing her to gain patina. I think she looks a bit like a Santos. 

The lamp has an olive green interior silk shade and outer sheer gold silk shade. The urn base is gold with olive green, the paint is crackled. I like the paint finish imperfection, it provides a juxtaposition to the delicate silk double shade.   

I knew I wanted to place chest upon the wall, to flank the window. The chest would be great for storage and add interest to the back wall of the room.  A trip downtown to a local resale shop; "The Corner Store" resulted in the perfect chests.  One a large, vintage Bombay style chest, made by Century Furniture.  The second a late 1800's petite English chest featuring Burlwood and clean lines.  The deep rich walnut stain, English style hardware and similar feet shared by the two chest tie them together. 

Once home I chose to place the larger Bombay chest on the left side of the window, the petite antique chest on the right so it could be seen as you open the front door.  A pair of  silver plate candlestick lamps we created years ago from floor candlesticks, provide height and symmetry to the wall. 

I sewed a double width pair of check drapery panels to soften the wall. Repeating the same drapery hardware as the other three windows in the living room. This pair of drapes was my first experience sewing with a mischievous cat in the house! He burrowed his way between the check fabric and lining, pounced and pulled the fabric into a comfy bed - 

With a lot of patience and some perseverance..... 

It will take some time to locate additional pieces; art, accessories, maybe a jute rug. Searching for treasures is one of my favorite things to do.  Someday I hope to address the ceiling and lighting, maybe install French lanterns, or a wooden chandelier over the dining table.  I'm scheming for French doors to be installed someday to replace the window behind the dining table. I plan to sew a pillow ticking slip cover for the daybed cushion and make new pillow covers. Creating a room is a process. I prefer to layer it a step at a time. For the moment, I am pleased with the progress.

I'll be back soon with a mini holiday home tour at the cottage...  
Until next time, wishing you all the best - 


  1. Good job! I like bookshelves, too, but not in a dining area. Surfaces for serving food occasionally are much more useful. With our bunch, your new chests would be dessert center during family get- togethers! Great score on the chests by the way. That is a beautiful window in your dining area but I love your idea for French doors. Looking forward to more posts . You have a very unique house and I'm enjoying being a spectator to your journey.

    1. Thank you Claire. It is a unique house. The dining window is beginning to bow, we hope to save it and use it elsewhere. The goal are black iron frame French doors to match the windows. The doors will provide access to the backyard. The only backyard access now is in sunroom that we are using as a bedroom. It's a process - a project at a time.


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