We Bought a Farmhouse

stories of renovation, home decor inspiration & sprinkles of country life

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This Year's Big Project: Plans For Our Living Room Spaces

It's the New Year, which means it's time for another huge house project. We changed our minds so many times on what we wanted to tackle next. Now that the two bathrooms and the one guest room are done, which were always our biggest priorities, everything else seemed to have the same sense of urgency. In October, we were so certain we were going to tackle our remaining two bedrooms next, one of which serves as Josh's home office. But while arranging our downstairs living spaces this past Christmas to prep them for our trees, it hit me that it was time to start renovating these spaces so that we could get them exactly how we wanted for the next  holiday season. Josh agreed because we spend most of our time downstairs in our living room, and we had kinda, sorta started them already, but never finished.

Allow me to explain.

Basically, we have two living rooms, and we spend most of our time in the one that overlooks our backyard. Here's a little (also, horrible) diagram on the layout:

We did a mini-reno in the back living room two summers ago which you can read about here. But, we never finished it off, mostly because I honestly couldn't decide what I wanted to do in here. The two living rooms are separated, but are right next to each other, sharing a double-sided wood-burning fireplace. We've gone back and forth on three different options: 

1. Opening up the rooms to make it one big one.
2. Installing french doors to adjoin them.
3. Keep them as they are. 

The main issue with keeping them as they are was, we didn't know how to utilize the front-facing room. I think in the past, it had been used as a dining room at one point, which we also considered. But I love having our dining table where it is off our kitchen. These rooms also seemed so closed off and I was determined to figure out a way to make this area more open, which encouraged them to both be used.

And, as per usual, it just hit me one morning what we needed to do. We were moving furniture around to put up our Christmas trees, which got me thinking about entertaining season, having people over, the flow of the entire downstairs, what we both used and wanted while downstairs, etc. While moving everything around, the plan came together. Our ultimate decision was to install the french doors to adjoin the rooms, and have the front-facing room as more of a conversation/reading room, and the living room as our comfortable retreat/TV/den-type room. Once I had decided on that, the entire design of the room fell into place in about 60 seconds in my head. 

This project has been three years in the making, and I'm honestly so excited, but also terrified because we'll be tackling some things we haven't done before. 

Here's everything we plan to do:

1. Install new windows in both rooms, converting the two smaller windows in the front room to one large one.
2. Rip down the plaster walls in the front room, install new drywall.
3. While walls are open, run electrical lines to install hardwired ceiling fan/light fixture and wall sconces.
4. Remove existing flooring in both rooms to expose original hardwoods, and refinish them. 
5. Install rustic ceiling beams in both rooms.
6. Refinish both fireplaces by removing the stone and exposing the brick that's underneath. Re-grout with white.
7. Tearing down the two walls that divide the rooms, and install interior french doors with transoms, 
8. Since the french doors will force us to remove the built-in bookcases, we'll be building new ones that run the entire length of the back wall in both rooms, which will also include firewood storage.
9. Install pocket doors into the entrances of each room to allow them to retain heat better in the winters, while also allowing us the option to keep them open whenever we'd like.
10. New crown molding on the ceiling, and new doorway, window and floor trim.
11. It's also very likely we'll be painting the two rooms white because I have problems.
12. New furniture for the front room. We're officially getting rid of our last remaining IKEA pieces (Ektorp sofa) that we had from our Chicago apartment days, and getting pieces that fit this room better. That alone will encourage us to sit in here (we previously didn't because, well, our TV room has a huge comfy sectional, and I always feel like I'm falling off the IKEA sofa). 

The room we were never really sure how to use to maximize functionality. 

Same room as above.

Our back living room/TV room where we spend all our time.

Same room as above.

Same room as above.

Our goal is to have both rooms complete by Thanksgiving this year so that when we start to celebrate the holiday season, our entire downstairs will be exactly how we want it, and we'll finally have the little oasis we need to relax in while working on other projects. This gives us a little over 11 months, and I know we'll need every second of it.

We've already begun demo work in the front room, and Josh has the rock removed from our fireplace on that side. I'm already so happy we've removed it because brick is just way more our jam, and I think that alone has made the biggest change. We don't think we'll open up the wall between the two rooms until Spring because there's so much to do in the front room as it is, so I'm awfully happy to have my little TV room sanctuary for a few more months. 

And so, with that, we take a deep breath and get back into it. Here's a sneak peek of the progress we've made so far with demo:


  1. Love the ideas and like you, I think Brick is better than rock!!

  2. So looking forward to following this new project, you two are inspirational! Also, when I read "rustic ceiling beams" I was like yesssssssssss.

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