In a few months we will be coming up on our second year anniversary of buying this house. Maybe it’s mom brain, maybe it’s the pandemic, but it has been an absolute blur. Unlike the first time we bought a house, we’ve had to contend with supply chain issues, more expensive materials, and the fact that we have a toddler. All things that make renovating a house a little more challenging. That said, we’re slowly but surely chipping away at house projects and we finally have a living room that feels like a space we want to spend time in. Here’s how we created our Vermont living room.
Where We Started (Before)
These are photos from the day we got the keys to the house. Looking at these makes me realize how much we’ve actually have done in the space. The living room had popcorn ceilings (as did the hallway and kitchen). The floors had an old poly stain and the trim, paint and fixtures were dated and in need of repair. Here’s how we tackled the renovation in this space (in the following order):
Living Room Renovation
- Refinish Hardwood Floors: Sand and finish with hardwax oil (see here for same process we followed in RI house)
- Remove and replace all trim (new trim installed after beadboard)
- Remove and replace old bar sink
- Remove top part of built-ins surrounding fireplace and replace with open shelving, replace countertops with butcherblock
- Install beadboard ceiling to cover popcorn
- Install beadboard fireplace surround and hooks
- Install beadboard along entry wall and hooks
- Prime and paint ceiling, walls and trim
- Replace door knobs
- Replace fireplace lighting
Living Room Design
You may have heard me mention the phrase “Nordic New England” when describing the overall design style of this house. Ranch houses typically have very basic construction and architectural details. The layout of this house is actually fairly similar to the one in Rhode Island, though slightly smaller and the floor plan is less open. That has presented some challenges, but we’ve been able to make it work for us, and hope to eventually add on in the future. The living room is quite small and the front door also opens into the space, so we had to create a faux entryway as well. While it’s not a huge room, we’ve managed to maximize the space to make it comfortable and cozy. With a mix of antiques, some modern furniture pieces, wood accents, white and beige paint colors, and lots of artwork it’s that mix of Nordic and New England style we were going for.
The Fireplace and Built-Ins
The original fireplace had a tile surround with dated lighting and two built-in cabinets on either side. We wanted to cover up the tile and streamline that space with beadboard. The stove is gas which allowed us to do this (if it were a wood-burning fireplace we would not have been able to do wood trim so close to the stove). Craig removed the old lighting and we replaced it with two black sconces. Under the mantle, Craig used these maple peg racks from Container Store cutting off the ends to join them together with no seam. He removed the cabinets and installed beadboard on the upper part of the wall. We then used butcher block slabs to cut shelves (12 inches deep) for both sides. We also replaced the wet bar with a matte black sink and faucet and installed new butcher block countertops. The bottom cabinets got new knobs and paint. Eventually we will cover the tile on the bottom part of the fireplace with plaster.
The furniture and layout
When we came to view the house for inspection, the layout of the room was quite different, with a couch facing the fireplace and a smaller opening to the kitchen. We tried that for the first few months, but felt like it made the space feel smaller. We wanted to be able to have a few different seating options and really liked the idea of two deep and comfortable chairs facing a sofa.
I am a huge fan of Sixpenny and really wanted the Gabriel chairs for the space. The original sofa we purchased for the living room (Elias) ended up looking too big, so we moved it to our finished basement (it looks great there) and got the Gabriel sofa in Black Pepper to match the chairs for the living room. I absolutely love how it looks tied in with the Lulu & Georgia Aerwyna wool rug (8×10) and antique coffee table. It’s comfortable and cozy but doesn’t take up too much space and makes the room feel bigger.
We found this great bench with storage at an unfinished furniture store nearby to use as a side table. We haven’t decided how to finish it but we will either use hardwax oil or paint. The marble top side table is a piece we had in Rhode Island that I decided to bring up to Vermont. For all decor and furniture details scroll to the bottom of post.
This winter Craig converted a room in the basement to a mudroom and it looks amazing. I will share details soon. However, we still need a place to put coats and accessories when we walk in. This Pottery Barn bench and the hooks are a great solution. Craig used the same Container Store maple peg racks, cutting off the ends to join them without a seam and using some caulk to smooth any gaps. He used beadboard paneling on the wall, caulked the gaps and then primed and painted it. The paint color here is Clare Paint in Beigeing. The trim is Clare Paint in Timeless.
ceiling, trim and beadboard
The ceilings in the hallway, kitchen and living room were covered in a popcorn finish. Instead of trying to remove it, we decided to go right over. Craig used 5/16 in. x 4 x 8 ft. pine board panels on the ceiling and walls (fireplace and entryway) in the living room. On the ceiling he used a white semi-gloss paint and on the walls he used Clare Paint in Beigeing (trim paint). He installed 1×4 trim pieces on the ceiling and baseboards.
living room decor
We took our time decorating the space and I’m sure we will continue to change and add as we go along. That’s one of the things I love about creating a space you love, the design is flexible. The majority of the artwork is from antique and thrift stores. A few we bought through local artists, have received as gifts or printed our own photos. A lot of the decor items are from antique and thrift stores, some are items Craig has found over the years at various job sites in dumpsters or basements being cleared out. I love Farmhouse Pottery and the store is very close to our house (dangerous for my bank account, haha). On our mantle I have their candlesticks, a vase and wooden decor that I like to keep up year round. I use baskets to store extra blankets and dog toys (the furniture usually is covered in blankets).
As I said last week, it takes time to make a house a home! Craig started work on this house in September 2020 and we are just now getting to a place that the living room feels “complete.” We still have lots of work to do in this house but it is nice to take a step back and celebrate your achievements and hard work.
I’ve done my best to link to everything in the space below, but if you can’t find something or have questions please let me know in the comments! Can’t wait to hear what you think.
Living Room Details
- SixPenny Gabriel Chairs Black Pepper (Down Fill)
- SixPenny Gabriel Sofa 72 inch Black Pepper (Down Fill) – gifted
- Target Woven Washed Throw Pillows in Yellow and White Ceramic Table Lamp
- Farmhouse Pottery Pantry Candlesticks
- Farmhouse Pottery Milk Jug Vase
- Lulu & Georgia Aerwyna Rug 8×10 – gifted
- Black Sconce Lighting
- Round Basket
- Wicker Floor Basket
- Entryway: Pottery Barn Wade Bench (color is old); Maple Peg Rack; Wreath by Copper and Birch Vermont
- Paint colors: Walls and Trim – Clare Wall Paint in Timeless; Beadboard/Fireplace Surround – Clare Trim Paint in Beigeing
- Bar faucet and sink
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