Posted by: mick | August 6, 2012

Living Room Upgrades

Buying a house had been my biggest dream for years before we were able to make it  happen, which meant that, upon moving in, my head was full of ideas for decorating.  Unfortunately, I’ve still been unable to find a full-time position since we moved out here, so any really big projects like fencing in the yard or doing a full kitchen overhaul will have to wait for a while longer.  Instead of letting that get to me, I decided to do a few, relatively inexpensive upgrades this summer to inspire me and make me smile.

First, I decided to tackle a sunburst mirror for over the mantel.  After perusing Pinterest, I decided I liked this style best from the House of Fifty blog and got to work.  I was able to find a four-pack of circular mirrors from Target, and I selected the best one.  Then, I bought two big bunches of sticks in the floral section of Michael’s.  I decided to use the biggest mirror in the pack, which is about 9.5 inches in diameter, and measured the space above the mantel to figure out how long the sticks should be.

My mirror was a little different from the one in the tutorial in that the frame doesn’t have a flat rim; it comes to a really narrow point, so I had to glue my sticks to the back.  I got my pruning shears out, held bunches of sticks at a time against a yard stick, and clipped all of the sticks to 16.5 inches.  (The tutorial suggests varying lengths, but I did mine all of the same.)

I then put an X in painter’s tape on the back of the mirror, used the next smaller mirror to draw a circle on the back about 1 inch in from the rim as a guide, and glued my sticks in quadrants.  It took forever (Hello, Murder She Wrote marathon!), but it looked pretty cool when I was done.  I then rigged up some cardboard and painter’s tape to cover the mirror, primed it with some spray primer in the garage, and did several thin coats of yellow glossy spray paint on each side.  Ta Da!

I also painted the andirons and fire screen with matte black high heat spray paint, which I think helps them to blend in a lot better.  Lovely mantel update!

When we moved in, my mom gave us her old living room furniture, which was wonderful.  The couch is the best place for napping, but we didn’t love the light yellow color.  So, a few weeks ago I spent a whole day dyeing the sofa dark grey.  I used Jaquard i-dye in Pearl Gray, and since the entire sofa has a removable cover, it was relatively easy if time-consuming.  I used the recommended stovetop directions for all of the cushion covers, but ended up having to use the washing machine for the giant body of the sofa.  The results are okay; I’m going to buy more dye and run the body back through, eventually, to try to get a more even result.  The grey blanket is to protect the sofa from pittie and puggle fur.

Then, this past weekend, my in-laws came down and brought us their old sofa (which we put in the basement, so it’s starting to look like a real room!), and this giant chair and a half.  It’s not the type of chair I’d ever pick out for our room, but now that we have it, I never want to give it up.  It’s so comfy!  Perfect for knitting and kitty/puppy cuddles.  I’d love to attempt a slip cover for it and the ottoman to help it match the room better, but that’s further down the road.  J and I are quite lucky in the parent department.  (Also, check out the puggle photo bomb.)

I’m also thinking we need a new rug; something brighter/more modern, maybe?  What do you think?  Have you been doing any summer upgrades lately?



  1. This is so AWESOME!! It looks so professional and expensive, up there over the mantle. And that chair — ooh, I’d love a living room big enough for a giant chair. With adorable photo bomber, of course.

  2. The mirror looks perfect over the fireplace! I really love the colors together. Your house looks so comfy! We also have a hand-me-down chair that is too comfortable to get rid of. It’s a salmon color that doesn’t go with the house at all, but like I said… soooo comfy.

  3. Would you mind sharing the specifics on the paint used on your mantel? I really love the finish! Thank you, Erin

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