Progress Report: The Den

I haven’t really been working on anything too big recently, but I have been chipping away at several small projects focused mainly in the den. I am REALLY trying to get at least one room done. I need a room where I can go and not have to look at all the things that I want to do. Someplace where my brain can take a rest. While I realize that in reality this will never happen because I am indecisive and my tastes are always changing, I at least want to get as close as I can for now.

One of the bigger things that I wrapped up recently in the den is restoring one of the windows. It wasn’t in terrible condition, but the inside was painted that awful grey that is all over our house, the sash cords had been cut, and the glazing was crumbling apart on the outside. Redoing a window always takes longer than I think it will, there are at least a dozen steps, waiting for the paint to cure on one side before I flip it over to paint the other, waiting for the glazing to set before painting, etc. To add to all of this, I started it before the holiday season so there were a lot of starts and stops to the process. I finally wrapped it up last month and got it rehung. I painted the outside it the blue-black that I had decided to go with and the inside I painted black. It feels kinda trendy and I am sure in ten years I will want to go back and repaint it something else or maybe just refinish the wood, but for now, one more window done, only like 80 billion left to go.

If you saw my last post back in November you will remember that we got a new sofa for the den room. While the sofa has worked out wonderfully for improving the functionality of the room, the room still needed some work to really bring it all together.

One of the things I did was use the same black paint that I used on the window to refinish a couple pieces of furniture that I wanted to use in the room. The first of these was this long, low shelf that we found in the back of the coal room when we bought the house. It was in pretty sorry shape, but I knew as soon as I saw it that it had potential. It turns out it was just the perfect length and height to use behind the new sofa. I sanded the whole thing down, patched up any gaps in the joints, and gave it a fresh coat of black paint. It is great to set drinks on, as additional storage for books and games, and it helps anchor the sofa which is otherwise floating in the middle of the room.

I also refinished this funky little table that I had picked up for cheaps at Franklin Furniture. If you are in the area and you haven’t been there you should definitely check it out. It is chock full of cool furniture at great prices. It is mostly office furniture but I have also seen some great mid-century pieces in there as well. The piece that I got there was this rickety old wooden table with turned legs. It was painted in a rainbow of blue, orange, and yellow. There was a lot going on with it. After taking it apart and repairing some splits in the wood I decided to just paint it a solid black in order to better highlight the shape of the legs in silhouette. This table turned out perfectly for setting a lamp on in front of the window that I refinished. Speaking of the lamp. I am still excited about that lamp. It was a great score at our local Re-Store. I love its giant, fist-sized glass crystals.


Another one of the bigger projects that I wrapped up recently was completing my first reupholstering job. I probably could have made it easier on myself being my first time, but I had bought this luxuriously soft mohair velvet at a local fabric store that I really, really wanted to use (it turns out velvet can be kind to tricky to work with). For the back I decided to contrast the softness of the velvet with this fun striped fabric that I had found at the Indian Village garage sales this past summer. While in the end it didn’t turn out perfect, and I am sure I will go back and revisit it later, I am going to be nice to myself and be happy that I tried something new and saw it all the way through. I can only get better at it from here right?

chair reupholstery

My biggest regret at the Indian Village garage sales this past year was not getting these absolutely awesome mudcloth pillows that I saw there. They were so cool and so cheap (only $5 a piece). I don’t even know what I was thinking not getting them. Maybe it was because it was the first place we stopped and I was still holding my money tight. Maybe I wasn’t trusting my instincts and the voice of doubt won that round. Either way, it was a mistake and I was reminded of it every time I saw some amazing interior decked out with gorgeous mudcloth fabric (which is often now, you see it everywhere). In an effort to to sooth my regret I decided to make my own pillow covers. I ordered a couple yards of mudcloth on Etsy and picked up black linen to use on the backs. I was a little intimidated with having to sew a zipper on, but in the end I don’t know what I had been so afraid of. It wasn’t difficult at all and they turned out perfect. I also made a cover for a long rectangular pillow using the same striped fabric that I used for the back of the chair I reupholstered. I think they look great with the pink velvet pillows I already had and make the sofa look extra comfy. After learning how simple it is to make amazing, custom pillow covers I envision perfect custom pillows for ALL the rooms!


Lastly, I finished up a bit of painting in the den recently. If you see me on Facebook you may have noticed I had been spending a bit of time at Benny Moore’s. After not having the best of success with Sweet Innocence I decided to go with the light and neutral Gray Owl. I am still not entirely sure how I feel about it. The undertones seem to change a lot from day to night, feeling much more blue at night. I am also afraid that it is not dark enough. I wanted something that would give the walls a bit more of a presence than their original off-white did. If I were to go darker I would probably go with Benjamin Moore’s Eclipse, Dior Gray, or Amhurst Gray. They are much darker (maybe too dark?). For now, however, I am going to live with it for a bit. It very well may grow on me. What do you think? Is the light gray working or do you think I should go darker? I am not going to rush into anything, but you may notice me spending more time at the paint store at some point.


Now on to the stuff you are not supposed to see. I still have to come up with a solution for our TV and all the gear that goes along with it. We are currently just using wire shelves that date back to our first apartment together. That puts them at about 8 years old. I think it is time to get some real furniture to address this mess. One option I am looking at is the Stockholm TV unit from IKEA. It is a good size for the space, the walnut veneer works with the rest of the wood in the room and, probably my favorite feature, the doors slid up into the cabinet instead of hanging open. This would be great for when J is playing video games so the doors wouldn’t be hanging open and in the way. Another option I am considering is finding a nice mid-century credenza. Something perhaps like the image on the right. While this option wouldn’t have the fancy doors it sure would be nice quality and pretty! For now we are just going to wait it out a bit while I save my pennies for the perfect thing.


Quick note: I recently swapped out some of the art in the den as well and hung the pastoral print that you see in the top image. That print was originally my grandmother’s and I have loved it ever since I was a kid. I am excited to have it hanging someplace now where I and everyone else can enjoy it. Thanks Nana!

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