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House Tour: The Great Room

I'd meant to put this post up last week, but my Friday got a bit hectic between getting things together for my mother's 60th birthday party on Saturday night (more to come on that) and getting my dachshund to the vet for her annual check-up. In any case, this week we'll take a quick tour of my "great room". I live in a two-story patio home in which the primary living space (located on the second floor) is very open. Indeed, the entryway up to the second floor kitchen, dining room and living room is really all one continuous space. While I enjoy the open floor plan and easy flow of this house, large spaces like this can be difficult to decorate since they really have to relate well to each other. My dining room walls (of which I really only have 2) can't be bright purple if my living room is swathed in neutrals. My second issue with this space was that the living room itself is very large and without proper furniture placement, would result in a lot of wasted space either in the center of the room or, if I floated the furniture in the center of the room, around the sides. Either way you go -- the island of furniture or the island of space -- it can get pretty awkward. In short, I struggled (and still do) to make this space to coordinate without being matchy-matchy, to feel comfortably full without feeling cluttered.

Above is a shot of the two-story entryway from the top of the stairs. The photographs (all landscapes) are ones I took on our trips to Banff, Alberta (our honeymoon), and two separate trips to Hawai'i (to The Big Island and Kauai, respectively). I'm not really a photographer, but I enjoy it and I like having personal art around the house that isn't just pictures of Dave and I (which can start to feel a bit egomanical). In July Dave and I are going to London and then up to Scotland and I'm hoping to get some great shots of the City as well as the Highlands to go up here later this year to help fill out this massive wall. We'll also be repainting the entire floor (sans the bedrooms) later this spring in a slightly deeper beige. You can't tell from these pictures, but the contractor's paint is starting to look really beat up.

Here are two shots of the "dining room" (it's really just a dining nook). I love that runner -- we scored it at a great price at a rug store that was going out of business. I'm pretty sure that (in Houston at least) an oriental rug store goes out of business just about weekly, and it can definitely pay off big to swing by whenever you see one of those liquidation sales going on. I got the large painting at Storehouse before they went bankrupt. The table and chairs are by Kathy Ireland and I reupholstered the chairs in Marimekko's Tuuli fabric. The bowl on the table was a wedding gift from Crate&Barrel. The grass blinds are from Budget Blinds (which I highly recommend). The light fixture came with the house. I'm not over the moon about it, but it's nice enough and I don't think it's worth investing in a proper chandelier since this really isn't our "forever" house.

When you walk upstairs from the front door, the first thing you see is the kitchen, which happily pretty much came this way. I love the large stainless hood over the island -- very dramatic. The one thing we did add to this space (besides all the stuff on the counters, of course) was the backsplash. The kitchen just had drywall behind the counters, so about a year ago we decided to spice things up with some tiny marble subway tiles (which we scored locally). I love them because they do such a nice job of blending in the black countertops with the cherry wood. Dave actually picked them out and he's still very proud of his designer moment. We ended up hiring a guy to come out and tile the wall for us for a few hundred bucks, but if you have a wet saw (or can rent one), you can save on the labor costs by doing it yourself. Watching him, it didn't look too bad, so maybe I'll give it a go next time I need to do some tile work. Here's a close-up of the backsplash:

The kitchen looks out over the living room, which is mammoth in size but does sport some nice architectural detailing with the sloped ceiling and woodwork. I particularly love the french doors (which open out on to teenie tiny balconies, but no matter):

The x benches are from Ballard Designs (see my earlier post on them here). The rug is Romanian actually and was a hand-me-down from my mother. The colors (brown, cream, gold and apple green) became the inspiration for the color palette in the room. The white sectional is the Pearce 2-piece sectional from Pottery Barn (which we found for 1/3 the price at PB's outlet in San Marcos). Although I like the white sofa, it's been a pain to keep looking decent, particularly with 3 pets and I'm not sure I'd recommend it to anyone with children, pets or husbands to like to eat/drink on the couch. The leather ottoman was a score from The Dump (a great resource if you're in TX, VA or PA). The lamps were wedding gifts from Crate&Barrel and the scroll work on the wall was a wedding gift as well (from Pottery Barn).

Above is a view of the bar area that looks into the kitchen. The bar stools are from Crate&Barrel as is the Lyric bar table (no longer available). Posters were cheapies I scored eBay and were intended to be temporary "filler" until I found "real" art I preferred. Almost two years later, they're still up, and I'm still looking.

The fireplace (that we've never used). We've actually had a lot of trouble finding ceramic logs that fit (it's a pretty small hearth). Perhaps next year we'll get our act together so we can enjoy it from time to time. Candlesticks are from West Elm (many seasons ago), the print is from ZGallerie and the wooden statutes are gifts from Nigeria from a family friend.

My bird salt/pepper shakers from Jonathan Adler. They're honestly not super functional as shakers (the holes on top are too big and then tend to topple over a lot), but I like them as little sculptures for my bar table.

I love my throw pillows. From left to right: silk pillow by Thomas Paul (no longer available, but I found mine on eBay at a steep discount a few months ago -- Bluefly is also a good source for Thomas Paul pillows at a good price), silk striped pillow from ZGallerie (again, no longer available) and Big Sur Lime small pillows by Jonathan Adler (currently on sale).

I got this vintage brass and teak star burst clock off Etsy from RetroClassics, but I've seen very similar items (like this one) on eBay for under $50.

Pictures of my adorable niece and nephew share shelf space with my West Elm mushrooms and college books.

Well, that just about concludes a tour of my house. If you missed it, you can catch tours of my master bedroom and study here and here, respectively. Our house is actually a 3-bedroom, but the guest room is pretty unexciting at the moment. I'm planning on painting it later this spring and we're inheriting some cool bedroom furniture from my parents when they move early this summer ,so I'll work up a little before and after (always fun) once we get everything in order then.

And of course, if anyone out there in blogland would like to share some pictures of their house, apartment, condo or igloo, just drop me a line at averillh1(at)gmail(dot)com and I'd love to share them. As I've said before, I really enjoy seeing how people really live (and decorate) in their homes. It's way more inspirational than flipping through high-end shelter magazines with their often (while beautiful) stark and unattainable spaces -- don't you think? Besides, with domnio gone, we're going to need to start taking up the slack and inspiring each other.

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