Kitchen Sneak Peak

GUYS AND GALS! We are almost there with our kitchen. Just some finishing touches, colorful accessories and we get to close the book on our year long kitchen remodel. I will have an in depth blog post for you coming soon once I hit up Marhsall’s and Home Goods and find some pretty colorful accents […]

finding furniture for an odd shaped living room

Finding Furniture For An Odd Shaped Living Room

I recently posted a picture on Facebook of one side of our living room.

Facebook screenshot of picture

It got a bunch of likes and I had a few people ask me some different things about the picture: “I want to see more!”

“Is that a formal living room?”

“Where’s the TV?” This one was my favorite.

I had kind of a hard time explaining that no, it’s not a formal living room, it’s just the formal part of our living room and we didn’t really know what to do with and that’s just kind of how it turned out! So I figured I’d do a post that would give some updates on our living room progress and talk about how we ended up with a formal section of our living room.

So our house is basically a big square. The stairs are in the back, and there is a half bath in the middle of the downstairs that separates all of the rooms (living room, dining room, foyer, laundry/mudroom, kitchen and sunroom. Our living room is the largest room and is essentially the whole right side of the bottom floor. So it’s really long and narrow. Here’s a rough blueprint of the downstairs for reference – definitely not to scale as it was create by yours truly. 🙂

Downstairs Blueprint
Downstairs Blueprint (not exact)


We also had to decide what type of couch to buy. We both wanted a sectional, but most that we wanted would have been too wide for the space. After some careful measuring and several trips to different furniture stores we found something versatile enough at Ashley Furniture – it was a combination of a couch with a chaise and a love-seat that essentially create the same feel as a sectional would. Below is the layout that we ended up going with which includes some future improvements (like the built-ins around the fireplace and the french doors to the sunroom).

Living Room Layout
Living Room Layout

And here are some actual pictures of the living room right now, to give you an idea of what the layout looks like in real life!

Living Room Layout
The view from the sunroom.


Home Made Coffee Table
The coffee table that Goodman’s dad MADE us from heart pine.


Living Room View from Dining Room
View from the dining room

The thing I’m most excited about are the built-ins around the fireplace. Right now we have a little temporary bookshelf that houses all of the tech stuff – playstation, tv box, wifi box, movies, etc. But, we plan to bump the fireplace out into the room a little bit (and into this century) and put some shallow built-ins on both sides.

But here’s how it looks right now. I think it’s the most sad little fireplace and floating mantle you ever did see:

Unfinished Fireplace
The hot mess that is currently our fireplace and entertainment center.

The update we are currently working on is adding french doors between the living room and the sunroom. If you follow me on instagram (@anaspiringabode) you might have seen that I scored I very old pair of french doors on Craigslist a few weeks ago from one of Richmond’s historic districts, Bellevue. I’m so excited about the charm they are going to add, and about being able to keep the dogs in the sunroom when we have company over! I think it will really change the way the whole space feels.

Unfinished Doors
French doors will be behind this love seat leading into the sunroom soon!


And, one of my favorite little nooks in our living room is the space we designated for our doggies. I hung three 8×10″ pictures from our engagement shoot into large matted frames and underneath lay their living room beds.

Doggie Area
Little Doggie Nook to the left of the “formal” part of our living room.

The smaller blue one is SUPPOSED to be for June (our little GSP) but Wyatt (our chocolate lab) likes to squeeze himself in there. It’s really funny! He just wants to be cuddled.

Wyatt in the bed
Wyatt in June’s little bed.


SO!  That’s how we decided to handle the challenge that was our odd shaped living room! I think that it works pretty well! Every inch of space is being used for something, and the furniture is all pretty functional. I can’t wait to put the final touches on! I’ll be sure to update once we get the french doors and built-ins finished!

Picking the Perfect Paint Color

Picking the Perfect Paint: Lessons Learned

Picking a paint color, and the whole process of painting isn’t really that easy. For me, it’s probably the most stressful.

First of all, in the store it’s next to impossible to be able to know what those colors will look like in your house in non-flourescent lighting. So, I  used to always end up taking 50 paint swatches home and then getting overwhelmed. It ends up being the process of elimination instead of falling in love with any one specific color.

The other thing is, it’s impossible to know how the color is going to make the room feel and how it’s going to look on all of the different angles and in different areas of light without actually painting the whole dang room. Which leads me to the point of this blog post. I believe I’ve found the shortest way to picking the perfect paint. It’s worked for me at least! Here are the five lessons, and how I came to learn them (the hard way).

Lesson 1: DO NOT Rely on the Name of the Paint Color.

When we moved in, we started the painting in our living room. It was the biggest room and we figured it’d be best to paint before the couches were delivered. I knew I wanted a soft, modern, light gray. Unfortunately, during a quick trip to Lowes, I rushed into purchasing two gallons of Contemporary Gray by Sherwin Williams….

I thought, great! Someone knew exactly what I wanted: a contemporary light gray (which is exactly what it looked like in the store). I purchased the two gallons in satin (another mistake which I’ll get to in a minute) and thought I was on a roll (no pun intended) leaving the store having made the first decision for the design of our house.

So, on that cold December night, Goodman and I painted the entire living room, we cut in without tape, applied two coats and at around 2am we retired to bed – which at the time was a mattress on the floor in the middle of our master bedroom.

We woke up in the morning and went downstairs and I about fell to my knees and cried (I’m exaggerating but you get the picture). It was not what we were going for, and we’d spent so much time on it the night before.

Lesson 2: Consider All Times of Day

Seriously, it was like light blue/periwinkle/gray. It was like a mood ring on all of the different walls. Because we had to keep rolling with renovations to get our house in living order, we had to keep it like that for almost 6 months! Some people said that they really liked it – but I really did not and that’s all that matters.

You can see the vast difference in this photo below. The cutting in that I did around the trim and window in this picture is the Mindful Gray that we ended up going with. The wall color is the Contemporary Gray freakin’ blue.


So,  my second piece of advice is to paint a significant spot, or maybe even a couple of different spots in the room you will be painting with your paint sample to really see how it will look at the different angles. Then, wait an entire day so that you can see the color in the daylight and at night time to be sure you like the way that it looks in all lighting situations before committing to the paint purchase.

Lesson 3: Consider the Contrast

What color is your couch? What are the other colors that you plan on having in your living room, dining room, etc. It’s important to remember the context in which you are going to see the paint color. If you have dark/medium couches and accents of teal in your living room like we do, the gray needs to have brown or white undertones not to look blue like our first paint color turned out.What color is your trim? What about your floors? Consider all of these things.

To be sure I was making the right choice this time, I got a bunch of samples and threw all of them up on the wall in several spots where the light was different. Including this spot where it was semi-dark and close to our trim, dark gray couches and where you could compare to the gray that was on our island in the kitchen. (This was also while we were doing the floors much darker)

Paint Samples on Wall


Lesson 4: Consult Pinterest

Pinterest Screenshot - Picking the Perfect paint color

As a user experience architect, I should have known to do my research and find out which paint colors had become popular for their pretty color on Pinterest. Use the knowledge and experience of others! Chances are that people have probably wanted the same kind of look and feel that you have, and there are lots of professional interior designers on Pinterest giving out this FREE advice – take it! After the living room, I started to do this and I think it’s really paid off.

Because of Pinterest I found the perfect navy for our dining room, a great dark gray for our downstairs half bath, and a refreshing teal color for our guest bedroom and laundry/mudroom. I also found the solution to our living room – covering it up with Mindful Gray by Sherwin Williams. The full story and before and after of our living room colors is coming to the blog soon!

Lesson 5: Do Your Research on Appropriate Sheen

Cabinets do not look good in a flat white. You may not have ever noticed this but for your entire life most all of the cabinets you’ve ever encountered have probably been mostly shiny. Because of this, when you see cabinets that aren’t shiny it looks really weird.

The same goes for some rooms. Most rooms that contain some sort of water (i.e. kitchens, bathrooms, etc.) have a little bit of sheen to their finish. That’s because the more gloss you have, the easier they are to wipe clean. Stick with an satin sheen or higher for those rooms.

Bedrooms look much better in a flat or eggshell finish – it makes them feel very soft. and they will likely not get as much wear and tear as rooms like kitchen and bathrooms – making it okay that they aren’t as easy to clean.

If you have an old house that has a lot of imperfections in the walls you don’t want to go with something that has a high sheen – it will make all of those scratches and dents stick out like a little shiny sore thumb – Stick with flat. We made this mistake with our dining room! But, because the color is a dark navy it’s much harder to notice.

Lessons Learned

So, if you do all of those things, you are bound to make a great paint choice! It’s been working so far and I’ve taken my own advice in choosing the paint colors to fix some of the mistakes we made along the way to learning these lessons.

Here’s a sneak peak of the finished living room with the new Mindful Gray!

Living Room Color - Mindful Grey


I hope these help you! Let me know what paint projects you have going on.

I’ll be doing another post soon on the things that you should and shouldn’t spend more mulah on when it comes to paint and some tips and tricks to finishing a paint job like a pro. Stay tuned!