I figured it was about time to show you the updated living room and dining room. One of the first posts I made on this blog showed our living/dining room area and how I was adding color to the house. I have done a little more tweaking in there since then. I added more turquoise to the room to aid the flow from the kitchen (which has turquoise-y blue walls) through the hallway between the rooms. One of the hardest things to do in the main part of the house was to decide where certain wall colors should stop since we have such an open, circular flow to that area of the house. My solution was to take one color from each room and work it into the next room somehow. Thus the turquoise.

As you can see, I brought the wall color from the kitchen all the way through the hall so it can be seen in the living/dining room.

I painted part of the divider/planter turquoise (at the top and the back wall of it) to inject the turquoise throughout the room. We also added deep teal throw pillows and FLOR carpet tiles (toy poodle style in teal) for some contrast to the light wall colors and furniture. I find that I like rooms most when they have a range of light and dark values and a variety of color saturation mixed throughout them. (By the way, those are my Christmas cards displayed on the planter.)

See how the turquoise and teal are sprinkled throughout the room? I love it! It ads more depth to the room. Leo loves it too…which is why he insisted he must be in the photos. Did you notice the built in shelves in the dining area? Remember they used to have doors on them? This is where the title of today’s post “Believe in your shelf” comes into play. See, one of the reasons we bought this house was because we loved the original details that were preserved. The last thing I want to do is ruin those details so that the house doesn’t give off that 1960’s coolness vibe that we fell for on the house hunt. However, there is something to be said about improving upon the design and usability of the house. Which is my dilemma.

Remember what the room looked like when we toured the house?

See the built in cabinet on the right side of the picture? It is a very cool original feature of the house, but it is also a lot of wood all in one chunk (I’m not a fan of that much, remember the den?) and I also like to be able to display some of my glasses, vases and dishes for visual interest. What’s a girl to do?

Adding a display hutch seems like it would be overkill. There is already an entire wall of storage in the built in cabinet. If I put another cabinet on the back wall, I think the space would look too cluttered. Plus then I have to find the elusive 1960’s awesome hutch that I can afford and transport to my house. Not so easy! My other option was to modify the built in, which it what I decided to do.

First I removed the doors and hinges on the upper cabinets. Because there was a slight lip at the bottom of these cabinets, and they were up high enough to display glassware on, I decided this would be the part of the unit to modify. Then I removed the shelves from the cabinet and patched the holes where the hinges were with wood putty, let it dry and gave it a quick sand and wipe down to remove any dust or dirt on the surface. After that I primed the entire inside of the shelf area (I neglected to take a photo of this step, but it looked something like what I did to the shelf in the den:

Then it was time to pick a color or colors to paint the inner area of the shelf. First I thought a nice crisp white would be perfect, but upon thinking about it for a while, I decided it would be more interesting to tie in the green from the living/dining room and the turquoise from the kitchen into the shelves.

The backs of the shelf area are the turquoise and the bottom, top and sides are the same green as the walls in the living/dinning room. I was hemming and hawing about painting the shelves, but decided that leaving them wood would a) tie them into the built in better, and b) be easier to keep looking good since there wasn’t any paint to chip. Speaking about chipping paint, I coated the entire painted area of the shelves with two coats of safecoat acrylacq which is an eco friendly, low odor varnish (a good idea for varnishing pieces that you can’t take outside!) I let the whole shebang dry for about a week (to make sure the paint and varnish had cured) and then put the shelves back in. (Note: I removed one shelf from each side to make the shelf area seem more airy and open)

Then all that was left was to load up the shelves and admire the transformation!

Not too shabby if I do say so myself! I knew if I believed in my shelf….I mean self, I would make the right decision. Just injecting a little bit of color made a huge difference to me. I no longer see that built in as a huge hunk of wood that needs to be totally painted to spruce it up. Now it has become a piece of furniture (that happily doesn’t suck up any floor space!)

And while we’re at it, lets see the rest of the dining room space as it is today…

Notice the “new” light fixture? That was actually from my childhood home in Pennsylvania! My parents retired and moved south for better weather and when they put their house on the market, they replaced the light fixture with something more modern and gave me the old one, which looks fabulous in my dining room! The carpet is made of more FLOR tiles (which I had from my last house) and then there is the table and chairs…

Like most of my furniture, they are vintage and they were quite a bit of work to get a hold of. I love the Saarinen tulip table and chairs, but I do not love the price tag that comes with them. So I was left with the option of buying a cheaper reproduction, or a vintage reproduction. I always say, “they don’t make things like they used to” so I decided it would be better to track down a vintage set. First I found this Burke set on craigslist (I believe I paid $500 for it) as seen in my old house:

This was great except for two things…I really wanted a total tulip bottomed set (chairs and table) and the chairs in this set were not in good condition (which means either they were broken, breaking, or welded so they wouldn’t swivel any more.) I decided to keep looking for tulip chairs to go with the set.

About 6 months later, I won a set of three armless tulip chairs on ebay ($150 delivered) and recovered them with some yellow fabric (since the original fabric was not in good shape at all)

Around the same time, I also found four tulip chairs with arms on ebay (which I bid for and won) that were local and I could go pick up myself (these were $150 as well). The bad thing about these chairs was that someone had painted them yellow, two different times. The paint was chipping off pretty badly, but the chairs themselves were in good condition. It took me about a year an a half to strip all the yellow paint off of the chairs, recondition the fiberglass seats (using a product called Penetrol as well as a polish for fiberglass bathtubs that I found at home depot) and I spray painted the bases of the chairs myself (though someday I would love to have them professionally painted at an auto shop!) Finally I had my set of chairs!

The table is a Burke (that I know for sure since the people who sold me the first set were the original owners of the set, the chairs with arms are stamped with FiberForm, and the armless chairs are unmarked, but the bases are identical to the FiberForm chairs, so I believe they might also be FiberForm. Last week Pam from Retro Renovation (a blog I absolutely love!) described her own battle to find and restore a similar set of tulip chairs and a table. From what I can tell, her chairs look just like mine…perhaps they are FiberForm?

Anyway, continuing on…

My next feat to accomplish in the living/dining room is to figure out what to put on the large expanses of wall at the end of the dining table and the other long orange wall by the tv!

My mother-in-law got me a starburst clock for my birthday that I put on this wall, but I am not sure if I should hang a bunch of art in a grouping, make one large painting for the wall, or collect a bunch of objects to hang there….either way it will be a while until they are filled.

So there you have it…the story of my living/dining room up to present day as well as what I still need to work on (filling blank walls, putting something in the planter/divider). To close, I will leave you with a shot of some of the great light I get in the afternoon in this part of the house. Ahhhh…so nice!

Note: All of the new photographs in this post were taken with a tripod and I paid much more attention to composition and light, what do you think? Better?


3 thoughts on “BELIEVE IN YOUR SHELF

  1. Hi, I know you don’t know me but I work with Jim and I have been following the progress of your home improvement projects..I would just like to tell you that you and Jim are doing a “Fantastic” job. This place is a real show stopper. It it truly beautiful….Great Job!!

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