Deals in our living room: Part 1

When we moved from a one bedroom apartment to a four bedroom semi-detached house, we knew there would be many items we’d need to purchase to make our house feel like a home…. cozy, lived-in, our style.

We started with a white Ikea Ektorp couch, a rocking chair, a black metal side table and our tv + stand – which filled our apartment living room but seemed sparse in our new home’s living room. But since our living room wasn’t the only room we had to fill – we still had the dining room, guest bedroom, and office to contend with – we had to do it on the CHEAP!

So I’m devoting my 2nd post to the deals from our living room… since it is one of favourite rooms in the house thus far and doing it on a dime just makes me love it even more!

First, here’s the before – taken on the day  of our home inspection:

We loved the light from the windows and the fact that it had a fireplace. It is hard to tell from this photo, with the wall painted white, but we also loved the large baseboards, and the faux-crown moulding (it is just a piece of wood trim place about 6″ below the ceiling). It is also a decent-sized space – about 11x16ft.

Now I wish I had the hind-sight of taking a photo of just our apartment furniture in this space, to show how sparse it felt… but alas, I didn’t know in November 2010 that I’d want to blog about it! So here it is today, in all it’s work-in-progress-glory!

I call it a work-in-progress because there are still some more major changes we’d like to make, including refinishing the hardwood floors, and building built-in shelves on either side of the fireplace. But for now, let’s focus on the DEALS!

Overall, I want the room to feel light, sunny, natural, and cheery. And as my blog’s name might suggest… beachy! So when shopping for items for the living room, I always kept an eye open for something that would fit in perfectly at a beach house… but without going overboard with a theme (painting fish on the wall, for example!).

In the photo below, I’ve started with some of the larger items in the room. A good place to start, ’cause that’s also how I began piecing everything together…. larger furniture items first, smaller decor touches after.

So here’s the rundown:

a) Ikea Ektorp Sofa: We had this sofa from our apartment. It is such a great “starter-sofa”, ’cause the price is great (you could even try buying it 2nd hand on Craigslist or Kijij), and the whole couch cover is removable and washable… otherwise I would never put my feet up on a white couch! We just toss the cover in the wash with a bit of stain-remover and bleach every 3 months or so, and voila!… sparkly new again.

b) Two Ikea Ektorp Chairs: Although we already owned the Ektorp sofa, I scoured Craigslist, Kijiji, HomeSense and all the big department stores to find 2 chairs that would complement our white sofa without being the same. But after the best deal I could find for chairs I liked was about $400 each (so $800 total!), I decided to hold off and wait for a better deal to come up. Low and behold, the weekend we moved into our house, Ikea was having a “buy one, get the 2nd half off” sale on all their living room furniture. The white Ektorp chairs were $250 each, so 2 would cost $375… and when we ran it through at the cash, they came to $350. Needless to say, we didn’t ask questions! Two sofa chairs for $350… can’t be beat!

c) HomeSense leather ottomans: Our chincy wood coffee table from the apartment just wasn’t cutting it in the larger living room, so we decided to look for a larger piece. I was torn between a glass coffee table that would be large but give the space an airy feel, and an upholstered ottoman that would be comfy to put my feet up when watching tv. We decided on the upholstered ottoman (living rooms are for LIVING, afterall), but then search high and low and couldn’t find anything large enough under $1000 (gulp!). I debated saving up for it (but just couldn’t justify it!) or having it made (turns out that can be more costly), and then on a trip to Home Outfitters came across these 36″ square leather ottomans for $120 each. One wouldn’t be big enough but two pushed together (36″x72″) would definitely be big enough… $240 later, they are sitting in our living room!

d) Ikea TV stand: I have to admit, I don’t remember how much I paid for it. I think it is the Leksvik line, and since I purchased it when I first moved into my apartment, and was on a budget, I can’t imagine having spent more than $100 on it. The drawer underneath serves us well for hiding living room stuff that isn’t “pretty” to have on display (DVDs, CDs, extra TV cords, etc) and the shelf is a perfect size for our DVD/surround sound system and our digital cable box, so we saw no need to replace it. At least until we install built-in shelves on the opposite wall… more on that down the road.

e) Fireplace screen: I love having a fireplace in our living room… although we have yet to light a fire, it still adds a cozy element I think. But the inside of the fireplace isn’t exactly sparkly new, so we wanted a fireplace screen to cover it up. A quick search online turned up very little in the way of non-brass fireplace screens and it started to look like I’d need to spend a couple hundred dollars at least to get anything beyond a very basic rectangular screen. It then occured to me to look for a 2nd hand one and THIS beauty turned up on Kijiji! For a measly $30, I was carrying it home (ok, I took a taxi) and I think the antiqued white finish is a perfect fit!

f) Flat screen TV: I’m no electronics guru, and was unwilling to shell out big dough for a TV. When I moved into my apartment, I checked out Future Shop for sales and while in store, came across this Insignia brand 37″ TV for somewhere between $500-600. Not too bad. The sales person then helpfully pointed out that they had one in an opened box, which meant a discount… total price: $399. Four years later, it still works great!

g) Paint (Benjamin Moore, Gristmill Gray): Hands-down one of the cheapest upgrades to a room is paint (I sound like a host on an HGTV show!). Our white walls just weren’t cutting it, and we wanted to warm the space up a bit. Ironically, this $67 was no deal… you can buy a gallon of paint for cheaper at Home Depot, Rona, Lowe’s, etc. But I’d heard such great things about the Benjamin Moore Aura paint so I figured it was worth the splurge. With only 2 coats needed, I was happy we did, and have bought only Benjamin Moore paint for our house since (dining room, master bedroom, guest bedroom, office, basement bathroom, hallway, front door… wow! We’ve done a lot of painting!). And as you can see, we left the “faux-crown moulding” white to make it stood out even more.

h) White trim paint: As our “Before” photo shows, details of the fireplace were painted black and that just wasn’t our taste. For ~$50, we picked up a gallon of white trim paint (also Benjamin Moore), since there was a lot of white trim around the house that needed to be touched up. This was by far, one of the best changes to the living room… the fireplace looks much more classic contemporary. (See photo above)

i) Round Mirror: We’ve had quite the roller-coaster ride with our over-the-mantel mirrors since we moved in. It’s a long story – which I’ll get around to telling eventually – but ends with having had 3 different mirrors in that spot within a 6 month period. THIS mirror however, is my favourite! I found this beauty at Home Sense (in my opinion, the best place to find cheap but unique mirrors) and it was on clearance for $59! The white-washed branch frame was so perfect for this space, and I love that it is round when all the other big pieces in the room are more angular. This mirror has now survived the last 5 months, and I think it is here to stay!

So there you have it (for now)… the deals on the big items in our living room! For anyone keeping track, the money out of our pocket adds up to:

– Ektorp sofa ($429) and chairs ($350) from Ikea
– Two leather ottomans ($240) from Home Outfitters
– Paint for walls ($67) and white trim paint (~$50)
– TV stand (~$100) and TV (~$399)
– Fireplace screen ($30)
– Mirror over the mantel ($60)
GRAND TOTAL (so far): $1725

That is certainly not chump change (I think that’s the first time I’ve ever used that expression), but considering we could have spent that on just a sofa, or some fancy TV, I think that amounts to a great deal! And considering we already owned the sofa, TV stand and TV when we moved in, we only forked over $797 for our new living room. Not bad!

And here it is again, just ’cause it makes me happy!

But the deals don’t end there… in Part 2, I’ll share all the smaller details in the room, including how we incorporated some cool “global” finds from our travels without it looking too wacky… I hope! Stay tuned…

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About lakmac

I'm a Canadian girl with a latino husband, a new home and a love of the beach, despite the fact that we live nowhere near the ocean. What makes me different than the thousands of other blogs out there that talk about decorating their first home? I haven't figured that out yet... For now, I plan to talk about our plans to decorate, save money, make money, travel, and have a good time.

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