Living Room Before
When we first visited our 130 year old home to purchase it, neither I nor my husband could remember after we left – that there was a living room. There actually was, but it was so dark and seemingly small that we walked by it on the way upstairs – and only took a quick peak at it.
It was wallpapered in a lovely deep burgundy colour, that made me think of red wine (I’m easily distracted, or maybe I was just thirsty). It was a very warm room, but it had lots of tears in the wallpaper and holes in the walls.
The dark walls and dark floor made the room look smaller than it is. It had old bay windows with aluminum blinds permanently down – as the room is very near the sidewalks outside. We are on a corner lot popular with dog walkers. The picture above uses a bit of photo-trickery as the living room is much more narrow than the picture conveys – the coffee table was cool, but a definite shin-whacker.
I did love the funky decor and deep burgundy walls – but it was dark and depressing, and we kept the blinds closed because of all the people looking in the windows. This was a room for our home from university kids to lay in all day when they were first home for pandemic lockdown! (Electronic devices everywhere).
Old houses often have asbestos hiding around the heating devices, in the plaster and in the floors. Before we did any renovations, we had an inspection of the visible areas of our house by an asbestos specialist. We also had him take samples of the walls in each room. We were given the all-clear to scrape the walls in the living room.
Wallpaper Removal and Painting
So at the very beginning of this pandemic I tore down the wallpaper, and painted the whole room offwhite (using leftover mixed paint – as we couldn’t buy paint during our pandemic lockdown), even though our four adult children had come home and were laying all around the house. The link to that story is here. I thought at the time I might re-paint the room later when we could buy paint – but my paint mix seems to be staying for now.
Over the past pandemic year my husband has replaced the ceiling fan, installed new blinds, and fixed and painted the jagged trim and installed quarter round. I also put down an area rug, and painted the fireplace and radiators and things are looking good, I think!
The Ceiling Fan
Some people dislike ceiling fans and turn their noses up at them, – and it’s true, sometimes they are unattractive, dated, maybe even dusty and often wobbly. It’s just that there are some places where you REALLY need a ceiling fan. I wanted our living room to look traditional and somewhat formal, but I really NEEDED the ceiling fan for air circulation in the summer. We have two large air conditioning units that support the whole house, but as our house is air ductless, we need the extra air movement here and there.
(Being free of air ducts does NOT prevent the air duct cleaning telemarketers from calling though).
There are some really neat looking ceiling fans these days, so we set to work shopping for something that looks old, but not too imposing, and has a light. We found this one at Home Depot online.
I actually thought it would be neat to have one that looks like a formal chandelier but could only find really glamorous modern chandelier fans. We gave up on that idea and opted for this fan because it looked kind of vintage – my son said it was “steampunk”. I took that to be positive, (not knowing what that was) so I’ll go with that.
My husband was able to assemble and install the fan on his own. There was a fair bit of assembly, but it was straightforward. Installation wasn’t too awkward, as there was a method provided to hang it on the ceiling while he connected the wires (only two hands and a ladder required – and a few screwdrivers). Two people on a ladder wouldn’t go well in our house.
The ceiling fan is operated by a remote control, as well as the existing light switch on the wall. It had an option at installation (as I remember it) to allow access by other radiofrequency devices. We said yes to that of course.
Every once in a while the light mysteriously turns off at about 9pm. We joke that it’s haunted – or turned off by our psychic abilities – but we are pretty sure the neighbours across the road have a similar light or remote. I’m hoping that our remote occasionally turns their lights on and off as well!
Painting the Radiators
Earlier in the year, I painted the radiators throughout the house. They all work (bonus – and knock on wood), but were in matte colours with lots of cat hair stuck to them and who knows what else. I painted them in a high gloss white paint – after a considerable amount of scrubbing – and they still look good now. The thick gloss paint makes them much easier to clean and they look fresh. The story about painting radiators is here.
Hardwood Floor and Area Rug
The hardwood floor had been covered by an area rug for a few decades, and was in good condition – although old house curvy in some areas.
I would have left the floor uncovered, but I put down a rug from my mother’s house that I couldn’t bear to part with. It makes the room look brighter. The real estate agent had tossed the rug into my mother’s garage when she staged the house and it was suggested that “1800gotjunk” should take it. (I thought not!)
Bottom-up Top-Down Cordless Blinds
One major issue with this room is maintaining privacy, while letting in the sunlight. We live on a really nice corner, near a river, and I love to plant flowers in my garden. There are many people that like to walk their dogs, especially during this pandemic. What else is there to do?
There are some lovely condos and apartments down the hill from us, and the walkers do a circuit up the hill, along our street and back down the hill again. It’s nice to talk to people as they go by – but we know more dog names in our neighbourhood than we do people names.
However, when I’m in my PJs watching TV, the neighbours also like to stand and wave hello at me through the windows. We had old aluminum blinds that cover the whole window – but when they are down, you can’t see the sunlight, flowers or blue sky.
We also wanted to go with cordless blinds throughout the house. Even though we have only adult children these days – there’s that one young person that always fidgets with gadgetry!
We came across blinds online that can pull down – and sit midway on the windows. This works well for us – we get sunlight and can see the tree-tops and greenery – and the dog-walkers can’t see us. (The blinds were from Blinds.ca).
The blinds came in sizes that fit the width and lengths of our windows – and were not difficult to install. We hung them inside the window frames, and although it did take some time – the project was do-able with some basic tools and “fiddling”.
This fireplace is quite large for the room size. The mantle is 6 feet up – and the fireplace juts into the small room because it has a large woodburning insert. The slate tiles with dark grouting had bothered me for a little while, and then late one night I went over the edge and painted the tiles. The story is here.
Finally, we moved some things around and my husband applied quarter-round to fill in the gaps around the existing 10 inch baseboards. We are pleased with the room now – and even though it may feel a little too white and bright now, I find it to be a happier place!