Living Room Cha-cha-cha-changes

There’s something about being nearly a year into living here that makes it feel like we’ve accomplished a fair amount of “evolution” over the last 357 days (not that I’m counting…). I guess it’s because living somewhere for a month isn’t really a lot of time for tweak-age, but twelve of those in a row – well, it’s enough time to get things going. Like living with a floor plan for 11 months (just to be suuuuure) and then knocking out a wall that we’ve wanted gone from day one:

It’s also enough time to make a few furniture and accessory changes as we transition from working with what we have (like random stuff carried over from our first house) and first-instinct choices to a few more thought-out decisions. Yup, these things apparently take time – at least in our experience (remember this post on that subject?). So here’s the story about a pretty sizeable three-fer tweak of epic rug, ottoman, and chair proportions.

We haven’t made any major furniture/accessory purchases since the just-moved-in phase when we got our sectional, our first rug, our bed, and our big dining room table. Then we went on a building/DIY kick for the next almost-year (making our $104 console table and our $124 wall-to-wall double desk and saving nearly 4K by laying our own stone patio and getting a ton of estimates to save 3K on our kitchen wall-opening). We’ve mostly just been picking up super inexpensive secondhand furnishings since moving in (like our $35 desk chairs, $25 dining chairs, and four secondhand kitchen cabinets for our in-progress remodel for under $100).

So after many months of building up the savings account and waiting for things that we loved to come along, it felt nice to actually buy them. And since we had some “store credit” towards Joss & Main from curating a sale with them as a side gig (more on that here), we loved that we could put that towards our living room tweaks, especially because it’s one of our most used rooms, so we’ll definitely notice and appreciate it. But now onto what we tweaked and why…

For the last almost-year we have loved our fluffy green shag rug (it was great for a wiggly crawling baby and a wobbly toddler – and was so thick and inviting that many an adult found themselves sitting/lying on the floor). But there are a few issues that have popped up as Clara has grown.

# 1. Let’s just say that finding milk dripped and goldfish or cheerios crushed into our plush rug was less than pleasing. Yes, we’re one of those casual families who doesn’t have a no-food-in-the-living-room rule (I mean, peanut butter & jelly or a bagel with cream cheese isn’t living-room approved, but dry crackers and a sippy cup of milk are). That’s just how we both grew up and we really appreciate the this-house-is-not-a-museum vibe, so we plan to keep it that way. And although vacuuming or a bit of scrubbing (for spilled milk) got ‘er done (and Burger was awesome about hunting down the occasional goldfish before we even knew it’d gone missing) the rug was still a bit higher maintenance than a lower pile one would be now that we have an energetic toddler.

#2. The size. In our first house both our living room and den rugs were just 5 x 8′ since the rooms there were so small. So although we knew that our new living room was much larger, somehow an 8 x 11’ rug sounded like it had to be big enough for our 25 foot long room. Well… try as we might to “adjust” to it, it always felt a little small (we’re definitely still learning how to decorate a larger space). Like our giant sectional was just baaaarely contained on the boundaries of the rug:

So when I saw this giant (10 x 14!) 100% wool rug for $599 (down from $798) on Joss & Main I got excited. And nervous. That’s not exactly peanuts around here. But it’s a huge rug – and rugs that size that we like are usually 1-2K (which made me fake ugly-cry on at least three occasions). It almost felt impossible to find something extra large, low pile, and our style that didn’t end in three zeros. So $599 started to sound pretty good. At least good enough to contemplate for a little while.

After mulling it over for a few hours, I decided to show John to see what he thought (we have a full agreement agreement, so we don’t buy anything that we don’t both love). That way if he nixed it I could just close the window and stop thinking about it. But when I went to show it to John, he had it up on his screen (he also gets Joss & Main alerts and had clicked on that rug and left it open on his computer to “talk to me about it” a little later). Crazy, huh? We were both secretly mulling over the same rug. It was meant to be. So we gritted our teeth and put in our order. I’m not going to say that we didn’t have sweaty palms, but we went for it.

Since we’d been temporarily using a too-small placeholder-ottoman that didn’t have storage which used to reside in our first bedroom as a side table, we also found ourselves pining after this big tufted leather storage ottoman. Again, it’s not exactly a cheap addition to the room. At all. But nearly fourteen cubic feet of additional hidden storage was a huge draw (it’s almost 3 x 3 x 1.5 with an easy-open hinged top). Of course we also appreciated that it’s a correctly-sized counterpart to our giant sectional (as opposed to looking like a too-small donut hole) and that it isn’t hard and pointy for little toddler heads (but can be used for serving food & drinks with the addition of a nice big tray). Yup, she’s versatile. And we never could have sprung for it at 900 beans, but at over $500 off… well…

And then somehow this $169 chair (down from$339) said “how you doin’?”…

…which was especially convenient since the parson’s chair that we purchased for $70 from Target about four years ago was looking a little rough due to tons of use which led to one side of the faux-leather cracking so it looked like this:

So we waited patiently at the door for everything to arrive, pausing only to eat, sleep, change the baby, work on the kitchen, and blog. When everything arrived pretty much at the same time, it was sorta like Christmas. Literally, it kind of was (we declared these items to be our Christmas gifts to each other for last year, this year, and next year). Psst- pardon the rug wiggles, we still need to get a rug pad. And as for the art swap, I meant to blog about that a while back. It’s actually extra burlap-ish fabric that I used instead of the colorful paper. I love that it has more texture and doesn’t compete with the bright pillows and accessories.

Spending that kind of money on a rug and ottoman was definitely not a drop in the bucket for cheap-os like us. Heck even $169 for a chair isn’t usually our MO (we’re no strangers to spending $20-35 on thrift store or craigslist chairs). But it did feel nice to add up the sale savings ($199 + $521 + $170 = a whopping $890!). And more importantly, since we’ve worked our buns off to DIY so many projects over the last 11 months it meant that we were able to save a pretty nice chunk of change, so our bank account was thankfully just fine with the living room spree (we don’t like to buy anything we can’t immediately pay off – more on that here).

Of course we’re hoping to reuse the old round ottoman and the old living room rug in other still-evolving spaces (you know we’re use-what-you-got fans) and we might even try slipcovering the faux-leather chair in some fun fabric for another spot as well. So we’ll have to keep you posted on those cha-cha-cha-changes too. Of course we still have about a million other working-with-what-we-have items going on, like the wrong sized rug in the office, a too-small TV and media cabinet in the living room (we hope to build a nice media center to balance out our chunky distressed console table) along with many completely-missing elements (like a large buffet/console table with art and a rug in the entryway off of the dining area and an entire playroom and sunroom that have yet to be tackled along with all of our bathrooms). But we’ll get there someday.

Knowing that our first house took us 4.5 years to complete is a great comfort to us, because it takes away the we-want-it-all-done-now pressure. These things take time. But we’re feeling really good with our one-year-in progress (see a lot of that here). How about you? Do you have a “magic number” of months or years after living somewhere when you finally start to feel more settled and “evolved” (after feeling around in the dark for a few months while you get your bearings)?

Psst- To anyone looking to purchase the rug, ottoman, or chair – Joss and Main has flash sales (only lasting a few days) so of course by the time we got this stuff in the mail and took pics they weren’t for sale anymore. But lots of their stuff can be found on (though it’s not usually as heavily discounted over there) or you can get on Joss & Main’s mailing list here (that’s an instant invite, so you don’t have to wait). Hope it helps!


  1. Leigh Anne says

    Seriously beyond gorgeous! Those tweaks really brighten up the space and make it look even more plush. Really nice work!

  2. Lauren says

    I LOVE IT SO SO MUCH! It looks ABSOLUTELY amazing! GREAT choices. I’m so impressed and happy for you guys. SCOREZO!

  3. Lindsey d. says

    Gotta say I’m glad Kermit’s gone. I’m all for a pop of color, but he made me green and not with envy. I’m guessing he’ll show up in the playroom one day?

  4. Sarah says

    Duh-rool!! I am in LOVE with that ottoman and that is a fantastic price. The rug fits SO much better and brightens the space right up…and I love the color of that chair….everything looks beautiful. I absolutely love living room tweaks and updates, since that’s where we spend most of our time also. Now you just need a new TV console – get out the kreg jig, John! haha.

  5. says

    Everything seriously looks amazing!!! What an awesome improvement!
    Rugs are so hard to bite the bullet on – so expensive and so tough to see in person – but everything ties wonderfully :)
    Congrats and merry early Christmas!
    PS – we too just bit the bullet on a great rug. Day 15 or so our pooch christened it with barfed up breakfast – do you have a good all natural spot cleaner you use?

    • says

      Oh man, so sorry about that! We have some sort of eco spray that we got from Petco about four years ago (Burger’s pretty good about pottying outside so we haven’t used it much) so I’m not sure they still make it. It has an orange on the container and is all natural. Maybe it’s called Citrus-something? Hope it helps!


    • says

      Try Nature’s Miracle. It at PetSmart and it’s an enzyme cleaner with no nasty chemicals. I think it’s in an red and white spray bottle.

    • says

      I foster dogs occasionally so my – always some shade of cream or white – rugs get more than their fair share of “christening”!

      After picking up everything I can with a clean towel, I use plain vinegar. Works every time!

  6. says

    I didn’t think you could improve much on your lovely, cheerful living room, but clearly I was wrong! It looks amazing :)
    That dining chair is just gorgeous!

  7. Brandi @ His Shabby Her Chic says

    It looks terrific! I was sad at first since I loved everything so much before, but what you have now is so great! It makes the room look bigger too!

  8. Ann L says

    The living room looks AWESOME. So much more well-balanced than before and the green rub is DA BOMB. ;) I also really like the little side-tabley round white thing next to the couch. I don’t recall seeing that before—HomeGoods? I’ve seen something similar in there recently, only in metallic.

    • says

      That’s stolen from the guest room (it used to live between two chairs in there, so I just brought it in). It’s originally from HomeGoods though! Snagged for $29 I think!


  9. Sara says

    Love the changes! We just got a plushy rug for our family room similar to yours but cream colored. We love it, but I started having a bit of buyers remorse after a niece spilled sparkling cranberry on it at Thanksgiving! Thankfully we got it clean, but the juice got down between those high pile pieces and took a while to soak up. Live and learn right? :)

    • says

      Aw man, so sorry! It’s definitely a live and learn thing! But don’t beat yourself up about it, it happens to everyone! Thank goodness decorating is more of a marathon than a sprint!


  10. Sarah says

    Wow, I didn’t realize how much this room could be improved until I saw the latest photos. Love all the changes!

  11. says

    No wonder you swooned over that rug! It’s b-e-a-utiful!
    It definitely brightens up the space a lot. Who would have thought that adding just a few small lighter tones like the lines in the rug, the ottoman, and the chair would make such a huge difference? LoveLoveLove it!

  12. Karen F says

    wow, what a huge difference! I LOVE everything you chose. Seriously, could you just come decorate my house already? I end up buying things and then when I see them in the room, I hate them, or they don’t go together. I think I need some inspiration ala Sue the napkin to keep me on track, or to make a mood board or something before I buy things.

    The rug reminds me a lot of the pottery barn rug from your old living room (which I loved).

    • says

      Yes! I think that’s why we were in love with it (and both of us were secretly coveting it). We seem to love rugs with geometric patterns that add color to the room!


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