Falling in Like with Our Sitting Room

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Since moving into our home a little over a year ago, we’ve debated what to do with the awkward little room off of our entryway.  I deemed this room the “sitting room” (though we don’t actually do much sitting here), because that had a nicer ring to it than the “wasted space room”.  It’s too small to use as a proper living or dining room, and since it’s the first thing you see when you enter the house, we’d rather not use it for an office or playroom (i.e. anything likely to greet you with a collection of clutter when you first step through the door).  We need to give the room a dedicated purpose, but I just haven’t loved anything we’ve tried in the space yet.  This past weekend, though, I decided to give the space an early Valentine’s Day treatment, and I think I may have finally stumbled upon a solution to this decorating dilemma that I love like very much.

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I decided to use some of my favorite leather-bound books as a backdrop for some V-Day themed decor, and the more I arranged and rearranged the shelves of our little vintage cabinet, the more I liked the idea of using this space as a home library – a cozy (electronic-free) corner of the house to sit and read, enjoy a quiet cup of coffee, and showcase my dear collection of leather-bound classics.  The books you see here are just a small part of a larger collection, so I can envision us eventually replacing the small cabinet with a much larger bookshelf or custom built-ins.  I think we’ll live with the current setup for a while to see if the home library might be the winning solution for our awkward little space, but for now, I am very much in like with the idea.

Here are the details on the current setup, including a quick tutorial on how I made the chalkboard using a reclaimed vintage door:

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For starters, this room is very much a work in progress.  The wall color, carpeting, and window treatments were the previous owners’ choosing, and they are on our list to be updated.  Until then, we’re trying to make the most out of the bland-on-bland color palette.  At the center of the room is a vintage glass-doored cabinet, a $40 Craigslist find that JC and I repaired and then refinished with distressed layers of cottage white and elephant gray paint.  This little piece holds a special place in my heart, since it’s the first DIY project that JC and I worked on together.  That being said, it makes a fitting centerpiece for my V-Day inspired arrangement.

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My goal was to fill the shelves with items that were sentimental or love-inspired without going overboard.  I wanted to give a nod to the holiday without venturing into full-on Hallmark mode.  (It’s a fine line sometimes).  I started by arranging small groupings of books along the shelves.  At first I used only red books but felt I needed some contrast to keep the arrangement from looking too formal (a little maroon leather and gold gilding goes a long way).  I then filled in the remaining space with photos and other decorative items including a pretty soap dish I found to hold chalk and our DIY “date jar” (more details on that another time).  Along the front of the cabinet, I secured two ribbons and used mini clothespins to hang some sweet family photos.

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I brought in a club chair to flank the cabinet, along with a gray storage ottoman to house some less display-worthy books and magazines.  I accented the chair with a pink and gray pillow, a cozy throw blanket, and a couple stuffed animals for a sweet touch.  I can’t wait to have a quiet morning free, so I can cuddle up here with a good book!

Behind the chair and resting against the wall is a chalkboard I made using a vintage reclaimed door I picked up from a local resale shop for $20.  The quote – “Love actually is all around” – is from the movie Love Actually, which is one of our all-time favorites.

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Before painting the door, I gave it a very thorough cleaning, making sure to knock off any chipped or loose paint, so my chalkboard surface would be nice and smooth.  If the door had layers of glossy paint or a very uneven finish, I would have chosen to do more prep work, but because it had a smooth, matte finish, I didn’t feel the need to sand or prime it.  I used Krylon low odor chalkboard paint, so as you can see in the photos above, I was able to paint right in my living room with the door cracked for ventilation.  (It’s freezing this time of year in the Northeast, so I try to avoid working outside or in the garage at all costs!)  Because the inset panels of my door had a nice defined edge, I was able to easily cut in the outside border of paint without the assistance of painter’s tape (bonus!).  Once the outside border was painted, I went back and filled in the center space.  As you can see above, the first coat was very thin.  I ended up needing three coats of chalkboard paint to get the coverage I wanted, making sure to let the paint dry thoroughly between coats.  Remember, your end result will be much more durable if you do several thin coats rather than one thick coat.  Once the final coat was dry, the chalkboard was ready to use – no need to do a seal coat with chalkboard paint (double bonus!).

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I found the above chalk pastels at Target, and they worked really well on my painted chalkboard surface.  I made sure to test the chalk out in an inconspicuous corner to make sure it would erase.  Don’t forget this step!  You don’t want to go to all of the trouble of painting your chalkboard only to have to paint it again, because your chalk won’t wipe off!

I think my first chalkboard design came out ok, but it took me so much time to freehand my lettering.  I have a whole new level of appreciation for my school teachers who were able to write so legibly on the chalkboards day in and day out – it’s not easy!

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The source of the quote, Love Actually, is all about the different types of love to be found – romantic love, the love of a father for a child, the love of a longtime friend – and that felt like the perfect expression for our home and our little family unit made up of me, my boyfriend (and longtime best friend) JC, and his daughter A.

We are still learning to love our house, room by room, as we make it our own.  Some rooms were love at first site, and some, like our little sitting room, we have grown to like more and more over time, with a little trial and error and lot of patience.  The fun is in the process, though, and we couldn’t be happier to be living under this roof – quirky rooms and all – together.

Wishing all of you a love-filled season, from our home to yours.

Xoxo Meg

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