Living Room Update: Let There Be Light!

When I last left off blogging about the living room, we had just added the giant lighthouse painting to the wall above the sofa, and were considering what else we could do to bring more light and balance to that side of the room. A few developments have happened since then, as the photo below shows — we added a big “console table” of sorts behind the sofa, and brought in a couple of typical table lamps for some much-needed light:

Sofa Console Shelf

I put “console table” in quotes above because it isn’t exactly a table, but rather a cheap 1 x 10 foot piece of wood that I sanded, stained, and mounted to the wall using some standard shelf brackets drilled into the studs. It’s quite sturdy, and it seemed like a good solution since the setup of the room means that there’s no way you can see it from the sides to know that it’s a hollow sham underneath.

The lamps themselves were found on Craigslist, a matching set for $20 — which seemed like a pretty good price for two large-ish ceramic lamps in good condition. They shades they originally came with were a little old and grungy-looking though, so we ended up replacing those with new ones from Lowe’s, which added about $15 onto the price of each lamp.

As far as the style of the lamps, they’re a sandy color with sort of a marble-y pattern and gold stripes. They seem to fit in well enough with the room, though I’m not sure I’m 100% in love with their look — in person the texture has a tendency to look dull and dingy for some reason. Here’s a closeup of the base of one of the lamps:

Ceramic Lamp Closeup

But on the plus side, at only $25 apiece it wouldn’t feel like the end of the world if we decide to give them some kind of makeover down the road — maybe painting them in a fresh color or pattern? — or even replacing them with something else entirely.

For now, though, the difference they’ve made in the living room is huge — it feels so much brighter and warmer and homier in there now. For a fun before and after, here’s the living room as it looked in the last update about it:

The painting as seen in our living room.

And here’s what it looks like now* with the lamps:

Sectional Sofa with Lamps & Painting

* Confession: A lot of tidying happened before snapping the above photo. For a more realistic glimpse of the amount of toys and whatnot that usually clutter the living room, check out this post.

Overall this room has come a long way, but at the same time, there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Here’s the tentative to-do list for the living room:

  • Finish decorating the walls – While the lamps made a nice difference, the current arrangement still feels weirdly like it’s missing something — and not just due to the empty wall to the left. Right now I’m thinking maybe move the painting to the empty wall, and put some kind of organic / asymmetrical arrangement between the lamps? And maybe either paint some kind of accent wall, or if we’re feeling really ambitious, try out something like this project to add some texture and interest.
  • Find a better rug – Currently we’ve got a pale-colored tone-on-tone one in there, and while it’s really nice to have some kind of rug for Lillian to play on and whatnot, it doesn’t feel like the right size (it’s a 5×8 rug and just barely fills up the rectangle space made by the sectional sofa). Plus the color (or lack thereof) just feels a bit off in the room. And it has a way of easily looking dirty due to its paleness (which we only realized after living with it for a while). Overall it seems like something bigger and darker would be a nice upgrade for this space.
  • Sit on the sofa cushions more evenly – This one’s kind of silly, but you can see in the progression of photos above how the rightmost cushion just keeps getting saggier and saggier due to someone always sitting there while the middle ones go unused. Unfortunately the cushions aren’t removable to just switch them, so it will take a lot of hard sitting work to fix this problem. (Or maybe just a few carefully-placed throw pillows.)

So anyway, that’s the story of what’s been going on with the living room lately, and some thoughts on what might be nice to do to it down the road. Do any of the decorating gurus out there have any ideas or suggestions for this room going forward? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!



  1. I think it looks nice with the addition of the lamps. You got a really good deal on those. I think a nice framed family portrait of you all would like nice on that empty wall. I do think that a larger and a slightly darker rug would be nice there. With Lillian playing on it, I would defintiely make it a bit darker. You could probably add a few more throw pillows to the sofa, but I don’t think it looks bad at all. :) Love all of you!!

    • Thanks! We always love a good Craigslist deal, and some family portraits might be a nice way to keep things from getting too formal and impersonal in here. I think you’re right that a bigger darker rug would be an improvement in multiple ways, both visually and being better suited for a toddler to play on (and make toddler messes!) Thanks for reading and commenting, and love you all right back! :)

  2. Good Job! The console “table” is really cool, and so clever to have thought of it. I like the idea of something asymmetrical on the wall, though the picture is nice, and does show a bit of movement. Another thought would be to have some of your beautiful photographs enlarged to poster size and framed. I like the pallet wall in your link, but it may be a little too rustic for your house. You might want to consider painting that wall a slightly darker color, or even another soft shade. If you find another rug you could pick up one of the colors in that. I think your LR looks really terrific now!

    • Thanks, glad you like the console “table” in all it’s secretly hollow glory! Some poster-sized prints might be a good fit for the room, and a nice way to balance the huge size of the painting. The pallet wall does have a very rustic look, which I like a lot, but you might be right about how well it fits with our house (I can imagine it being hard to get it to “go” with the style of the fireplace, etc.) A painted accent wall with a different rug might be the next best thing — thanks for the suggestions!

  3. Sarah, you’re so crafty! I love the sham console table, it’s the perfect place for those lamps; the extra light draws attention to that wonderful painting! :D I like Julie’s idea of a family portrait; maybe you could do some kind of funky/asymmetrical display focused around it? I do think the painting should stay where it is (personal opinion) because the other wall looks shorter, and a bigger painting on a smaller wall makes the room seem smaller (or so I’ve read somewhere or other). I LOVE that DIY wall you linked to, but I worry it might be too dark for your living room. I also agree with you that a new rug would be nice; perhaps you could find a multicolored one with darker shades of brown/blue/& red in the pattern/swirls. Then you could get lots of throw pillows to match, and pick up other colors in the rug (if there are more). I say brown/blue/& red because I think it might help make the painting pop more. The brown will tie in beautifully with the coloring of the painting, a dark red will make the oranges of the painting seem brighter and lighter, and the blue would be a nice contrast to the oranges, while bringing in a bit of extra color to the room. Anyway, those are my suggestions, feel free to own or discard them however you choose! I think you’re doing a FANTASTIC job of decorating without our ideas though, hee hee!! You’re one super-talented mama!! ^_^ Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks Rachel! Yeah, I didn’t even notice how shadowy it was before, but the lamps make a world of difference lighting up and drawing attention to the painting. And that’s an interesting point about the possibility of making the room look bigger or smaller depending on which wall the painting is on — I should probably research these kinds of effects before doing anything rash! I love the idea of a rug with swirls of darker colors, and especially the possibility of working in some shades of blue or red — I think it would be great to find some other colors to complement the painting instead of keeping everything brown or neutral. It’ll be interesting to see what we can find and where we’ll eventually go with all of this. Thanks for reading and for the suggestions!

    • Haha, thanks Tammi! The shelf does seem to be working out well as a solution in this space, both for holding the lamps and giving us a place to stash our random clutter while sitting on the sofa (also tidied to hide the evidence before snapping the photo, hehe ;) Thanks for dropping by!

  4. I’m with Rachel on the pallet wall looking too dark for your situation – love the shelf and lamps, they make your sectional look made for the room, rather than “doctor’s waiting room” purely functional. I think the painting should stay where it is, as well, but you might want to try your asymmetrical bit on the small wall, perhaps something branchy or a driftwood sculpture. Maybe even 3 different length shelves to match your couch one, staggered in some way, and holding vases of cut or dried flowers? Also I think some sort of irregularly mixed-color rug would bring out the painting colors as suggested, without being too formal or distracting, with the bonus that those NEVER show dirt, LOL! Can you tell I hate housework?

    • Yeah, the more I think about it the more it seems like something like the pallet wall might not be the best fit for the room, although it might be fun to mockup some Photoshopped versions to try to simulate how it might look. I like the staggered shelf idea! I was just thinking how we don’t have enough places to put our various little miscellaneous decorative objects. And, LOL, the more dirt-resistant the rug, the better, in my book — hopefully we can find a good one like that! Thanks for the comment and suggestions! :)

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