Thursday, November 10, 2011

Our Home Tour: The Living Room

living room decorating ideas

Our living room at CDLV is small, and because we use our adjoining sunroom as a "family room" of sorts, the living room remains a formal space with casual decor. I'd like to tell you that I spend hours of my week lounging in one of these chairs with a French Martini (pineapple juice, vodka, and Chambord - it's delicious!) and my favorite book, or lazily sprawled on the sofa deep in thought ... but it's simply not true.

Nor do we live with fresh flowers everyday, (these are here because of the photoshoot), and most of the time you'll find a lazy black cat named Salem deep in thought on that sofa for me! Yes, this is quite possibly the least used of the rooms at CDLV.

living room decorating ideas

The living room sits right smack dab in the middle of the dining room and sunroom, and opens up to the foyer and staircase. Because of my large brick fireplace, I have no wall space - which requires a floating seating arrangement, balanced by my Ikea Ektorp Loveseat, slipcovered in Linen by the amazing slipcover company Comfort Works.

living room decorating ideas

I can't say enough good things about Comfort Works. I wasn't sure that I'd like the Ikea sofa, nor did I think that I'd keep it for longer than it took to come up with the money to upholster the much nicer knole sofa I had in the garage (now in the sunroom). But once I got this linen slipcover from Comfort Works, I fell in love with that Ikea sofa, and it's here to stay.

If you've ever thought about buying an Ikea Ektorp series piece, don't hesitate. Not only was it extremely easy for me to transport from Canada, and put together (alone), it is surprisingly sturdy, and very comfortable. And if some of Ikea's own Ektorp slips don't tickle your fancy, check out Comfort Works. They have so many choices, even leather - yes, REAL leather - and you can have a great sofa, at a fantastic sofa, be the perfect fit for any room.

comfort works ikea slipcovers
Some of these pictures were taken with a tripod. I finally dug mine out of the pile in the basement, and I wonder if you can notice the difference? Let me know.

Weighting either side of the sofa are the leather chairs we bought in Texas. We have 4 of them, and as I'm sure you've seen, they get moved around pretty frequently. I've thought several times that I would buy another Ektorp loveseat and flank the fireplace instead, but I don't have any storage space for these chairs - and it wouldn't go any further to our using the room any more frequently - so I'll save that money for now.

The coffee table is an old luggage cart from the Cincinnati Railroad. It's stamped 33 and has a great little tag on the left end that gives it even more charm.

living room decorating ideas old luggage train cart coffee table

I got the cart for free. A friend of ours had just bought a flower shop in Buffalo, and the adjoining building had tons of stuff that he allowed me to dig through. I found this cart, and a great ladder. For a while I left the cart as is - then Restoration Hardware, Ballard Designs, Wisteria, and several other catalog companies started selling them, and I moved ours to the basement. Then, when I was at the Philadelphia Restoration Hardware, I saw a great cart with a glass top instead of the wood plank, and it had me back here tearing the planks off of this bad boy.

The glass is from a coffee table that we didn't bring from Texas, although we did pack the glass. I don't know how that happened, but I'm sure it had something to do with space. All in all, I love the new look of the table, and I know from the reveal I did of the table here, that a lot of you do, too!

Phil Michael Trading Company Garden Stool

My large blue and white garden stool came from Phil Michael Trading Company. I love their stuff, and when I saw this beautiful stool, I had to have it. If you're looking for one - check them out. They also have very nice accessories for any room!

The zebra rug was an Ebay find. The listing did say that the rug had some small problems that would be easily fixed by someone with access to a taxidermy studio. I thought I'd give it a try, and won the bid at $300. When I got the rug, it had more than small problems. The tail had been torn off, the rug had a 3" L-shaped tear in the center, and the area near the missing tail needed to be mended and backed so that it would stop peeling off. Now, the rug is probably about 50 years old, and given that it's been a rug for 50 years you can't expect perfection.

I love the rug, and I know that some people hate them, and think it's terrible that they're so prevalent in interior design today ... I understand where you're coming from - I do. But, I love them.

Oh, P.S., can you spot Salem the Cat in the picture above?
small living room interior design ideas
One chair has a simple antique brass directoire table for the occasional drink during a party, and the other chair has this great stepping stool I got for free! I know you're thinking so much stuff I get for free! LOL! I wasn't sure at first what I was going to do with this stool - but being super sturdy, I couldn't pass it up. I brought it back here, and held onto it for a while, before deciding that it made a fabulous library ladder of sorts.

It's styled with tons of my favorite design books, my two favorite Chinese stone parrots, and an old bread bowl filled with mercury glass beads.
small living room decorating ideas
The coffee table is styled so simply. I used two books, flowers, and my Ethiopian prayer beads, along with this great salt lamp candle holder. I love these salt lamps, and I had been looking all over for one just like this, when low and behold, my local grocery store had them for the Holidays. A score at $7.99, don't you think?
small living room design decorating ideas
I made the ottoman in front of the fireplace out of the same Calico Corners fabric that I slipcovered the secretary chair in. It's finished with a french welt, and makes another great curl up spot for the cat. The basket story has already been told, but many of you didn't know that along with the stripes I painted CDLV (Casa de la Vanderdogan - the name of our home) and 423 (our anniversary 4/23) to mimic the old laundry baskets that are oh so expensive.

I was so excited that we got this into the photo of the living room during the photo shoot. It's really one of my favorite pieces in this room. Another of my favoite pieces is the secretary I got at an auction for just $225.

small living room decorating ideas
The secretary is actually a secretaire, since it doesn't have storage above, and is English - carved in Oak, but stained with a Jacobean stain. It's been in our foyer, our dining room, on the Nate Berkus Show, and now our living room. The chair is an old dining room chair I slipcovered, and the whole corner is anchored by this giant pub sign from London that Scott bought for me in Ohio.

small living room decorating design ideas
The secretaire is styled with the cross bottles I made, a small french mirror, and some old rusted metal door pulley wheels on top - and a host of other items in the cubby's below. The silver books you see are actually sterling silver bound Torah. I've got coral and antlers, tree moss from Austin, Texas, and our little Mexian santos that's been in every room of the house. I actually should post his journey around CDLV. It's quite humorous.
formal living room design decorating
And a larger open view - looking into the dining room. We use both of these rooms in tandem. We serve cocktails in the living room, and have the hour d'ouvers there, and then have dinner in the dining room, and desert and coffee back in the living room. The flow is excellent, and though we've been looking for another place to call home - we can't find anything that flows as nicely.

So, there you have it! The living room, and the way it relates to the rest of the rooms in the house. Up next, the foyer - and if you're interested in some of my cross bottles for your home, check out the website here:

Click on the photo to be automatically redirected


  1. OMG Artie!! Your living room is absolutely stunning.....just divine! It was so much fun seeing how all the rooms relate to one another and flow too. Everything looks so amazing,I can hardly wait to see the foyer!!!!!!

    PS. Love the basket in the fireplace too!

  2. Delightfully divine, dahling!

  3. Artie your space is FAB... off to read your basket story. I must have missed that!

  4. It looks fabulous Artie. love the ottoman and sofa. Very nice to see how the rooms relate. You have that creative gene and it shows in all you do.

  5. Great post Artie! The second picture is my how the shades of brown relate throughout your rooms. Looking from the makes the diningroom even more important. LOVE it!

  6. Gorge. I can't believe you got your zebra hide for $300. That's a steal! Gorgeous.


  7. Really beautiful Artie.

    That photo looking into the dining room really helps me understand why you made the decorating decisions you did in that room. Really beautiful.

  8. Absolutely beautiful. I love the secretary and all its accoutrement.


  9. Wow.

    Artie, you really know how to work the room. I love everything, and yes, your pictures do seem to be a bit more focused. But they're always good, so I just assumed you were using a tripod always.

    Anyway, gotta run, but great job.


  10. Artie.. this is simply fabulous.. I love the intimacy that you created in the space. My husband and I are both in love with the buffet in the dining room and so the hunt is on! Any crosses left? Your home is lovely and personal and welcoming. Love every nook and cranny! xo marlis

  11. Just have such a flair for displaying all of your treasures! I also love the basket in the fireplace - very unique idea. Beautiful home!

  12. I absolutely love the coffee table on wheels... Can I come over and steal it???

    I love vintage pieces.. you've done a great job with many of them :) Enjoying your blog.

    Please come check mine out if you get a chance:


  13. Oh Artie, I get so excited when I see a new "house tour" post! The living room has always been one of my favorite rooms. I adore that Cart made coffee table!!!! My hubby collects trains (we have an entire ROOM set up) so would LOVE one of these. The fact that you got it for free is wonderful!!!!

  14. How do you deal with the cushion stuffing themselves? We have ektorp chairs and after taking the slipcovers off to wash a couple of times the inside cushion lining tore and the stuffing was all broken up anyway. What to do? I had a foam cushion made but now I can't get it out of the slipcover...

  15. Artie,
    This turned out great. I really like what you ended up doing with the fireplace. The basket was the perfect solution. I can't believe how many freaking doors you have in that house!

  16. I love the living room and all the special, unique items you have in it, and the way it flows with the rest of the rooms. I never heard of a salt lamo, but it is lovely and I can imagine the candle glow looks great though it. Beautiful, Artie.

  17. This personal tour of your home is why I follow you! Thanks for was worth the wait.♥♫

  18. How exquisite, warm and most importantly, inviting, your living room looks.

    It makes me want to visit for a glass of wine and good conversation.

    There is nothing like a home that feels like a sanctuary.

    Well done.


  19. Loving these tours Artie! I feel like I've been to your home!

  20. beautiful are a gift from the decor gods!! :)

    you do have a lot of doors.

    xo terri

  21. i just read one of your "you might also like" features. i cannot believe you are 29. are you kidding? too talented and wise for 29.


    xo terri

  22. You're so talented, and I have enjoyed seeing the various changes you've made to your elegant home. Just beautiful.

  23. Nice treasures...pulled together perfectly! Your dripping in talent Artie!
    If that little Mexican santos and Clive could only talk right?...
    Thanks for a wonderful tour...

  24. Take a bow Artieben. The spaces are spectacular and ever so homey.
    Perfectly done my good Sir.
    Hugs -Brenda-

  25. WOW. Such a beautiful home. Thank you for taking us on a tour!