Not My Grandma’s Living Room

How did this happen?

Since the move, I have been ruminating on a few key concepts and truths about my decorating tendencies.

1. Most of the interiors I love have a mix of modern and traditional, new and antique.

2. Most of the interiors I pine after have white walls and exceptional furnishings with pops of modern color.

3. My living room is beginning to look like my Grandma’s.

To sum it up, my home does not reflect the aesthetic I gravitate toward in magazines and design books. I feel like my house looks like an old lady lives in it! I was lamenting about this to my very understanding husband, and he quipped, “Well, then don’t use your Grandmother’s furniture!” OUCH! It kind of hurt when he said it, but once it sunk in, I realized he was right. So, how did I arrive at this design moment?

I have inherited some great pieces from my Grandma, which I love. Additionally, I spend my days, and my money, scouring antique shops for unique and vintage wares. I hardly ever buy something new or modern. It’s no wonder I’ve landed on a look that is a bit on the fussy side. Don’t misunderstand me, I do not want to simply rid myself of these old-fashioned and traditional pieces, but I must look for ways to mix in a modern sensibility and a more youthful vitality.

I have noticed that in design mags and books most of the rooms and homes that are painted white contain really amazing, expensive and fantastic antiques and modern furniture and art. With pieces that grand, you really don’t need a paint color to make them pop, they stand on their own. I do not own many pieces of that caliber. So, against a white backdrop, like in our previous house, my furniture doesn’t sing. I can’t go the easy, breezy white walled route. I’ve got to use color on the walls to add another dimension of design.

These are my initial thoughts on infusing my old stuff with a more modern vibe, within the framework of a small budget:

My wall color choices, must not blend with my old-fashioned furnishings, but rather function as a modern foil. Hues with a bit of gray in them always feel more current and less sweet. I don’t however, want the house to feel drab and depressing. I’m still playing with paint swatches, but I’m coming close to making some decisions.

Another way I can modernize is through fabric.  I’ve used a lot of damask and floral themed prints in the past, and it’s time to replace them with ikats, stripes and chevrons. Pillow covers, lamp shades, foot stools and curtains can all be updated fairly easily and relatively inexpensively. Thus, I am on the look out for fabulous fabric deals.

I also want to paint some of the wood pieces something a bit more flashy. I’m thinking of poppy/persimmon red-orange, deep slate gray and rich peacock-blue.

The lighting. Modern looking lamps and fixtures would go a long way to lend an updates look. Unfortunately, that is not in the budget at this time. There are lots of ways to refresh what I’ve already got, using spray paint and fabric. I think I will make those decisions last.

Phew!!! The above might seem like a lot of small tasks, but they are not inconsequential. Altogether each of these little changes will take my existing furnishings from feeling stuck in a previous time period, to being trend-forward. Watch as I transform my home’s old soul into one refreshed and rejuvenated!


  1. Hi there, I often feel the same way about my design aesthetic. It’s easy to let budget take over your purchase decisions. I have been very happy with my pale gray walls (on two floors). I love the idea of painting the wood furniture and recovering pillows. If you can swing it, I think the wing back chair would look amazing in a bright modern print. Sometimes you only need one statement piece. Goodluck.

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