My Columbus Day Living Room Refresh all started with my grandmother’s table and a library book.

I painted the table a few months ago to match my house. I really liked it tucked in between my two living room chairs, but decided a mirror would look better behind it than the airport artwork currently on the wall.

mylivingroom I found the perfect mirror in my travels, painted it to match the table … and then leaned it against the living room wall waiting to hang it.

Sounds like a simple task, right? Just hang a mirror.

But then I would have to find a spot for the artwork …

… which meant grouping it with other similar artwork currently scattered around the room …

… which meant plugging holes in the wall where the other artwork was hanging now …

… which meant then we would need to paint over the patches …

… which meant I really wasn’t crazy about the gray walls to start with so …

… why don’t we just paint the whole room white while we’re at it?

* * *

(You may be thinking … Courtney, the room IS white. It is actually light gray. It just looks white in that picture.)

(You may also be thinking … Good grief, girl! No wonder you never get anything done around your house!)

* * *

Here’s where the library book comes in.

bookI recently checked out a book called What Color is Your Slipcover? by Denny Daikeler, an interior designer and interfaith minister.

At first glance, those seem like two disparate career paths, but she blends them together nicely with the belief that your home is a sacred place and should be designed to support your family in the activities—and the life—you enjoy.

Our home right now feels cluttered and unfinished with a mile-long list of projects we will get around to doing “some day”.

We just haven’t gotten around to it … yet.

If that sounds familiar, I recommend this book as a great way to refocus your priorities and help you get started. She has an entire chapter dedicated to dealing with huge life changes as they relate to your home.

* * *

DSC_0032We took Denny Daikeler’s advice and made a list of everything that we wanted to do in the living room. We did a lot of work in here when we first moved in and it was “almost” finished.

This wasn’t a major re-do, just a focused “refresh.” Our list seemed do-able and inexpensive. We were confident we could get it completed during the three-day Columbus Day weekend—and still have time to visit the open house at our neighborhood fire station.

* * *

Here’s what we did:

We started with the walls, FINALLY patching the holes above the windows where we removed outdated window treatments when we moved here—5 YEARS AGO!  I didn’t even notice the holes anymore because we have been living with them for so long.

We chose Behr’s Ultra-Pure White, as white-white of a white paint as you can get. I always thought white walls were boring. They would look too sterile, like a hospital waiting room. I thought the gray walls that came with the house were neutral and pretty and went well with my décor. They did, but I learned something unexpected from one of the exercises in Daikeler’s book:

I really like white walls!

I didn’t realize this right away. I’ve been clipping photos from magazines and collecting them in a big notebook as Daikeler suggests. She says not to overthink this exercise: Just flip through the pages, clip whatever appeals to you and then analyze your notebook later. My notebook is loaded with photos of beautiful rooms—all painted white—with lots of splashes of rich color coming through in the furniture, rugs and accessories.

Not one of these rooms looked like a hospital waiting room.

I had already painted a pink accent wall in the living room, pulling the color from a set of artwork I collected when I worked at the airport. We grouped all three of the airport prints together on one white wall—and I really like how it looks. We also put the Halloween decorations back up!

airport artwork

We hung the mirror. (Woo hoo!) And we added blinds to the windows.

mirror after

Then I noticed my curtains no longer look white against the white-white walls. Against the gray walls, they looked crisp, but now they look kind of dingy—even after washing them. When I find the perfect new pair of curtains, I will swap them.

I would also like to find a little table to go next to this chair so we hung the artwork here with that in mind. Something else to be on the lookout for in my travels.


This weekend I also worked on my display cabinets. We bought them at Ikea a few years ago because the room needed a few pieces with height and heft to anchor the pink wall with my dark blue sofa.

living room1

I love our display cabinets—and (most of) the stuff in them—but they had become a dumping ground for stuff I didn’t know what else to do with. I took everything out and washed it. Then I rearranged to display only items we truly love, truly use and/or truly make a statement about who we are as a family right now.

That last part is important. Daikeler spends a lot of time in her book discussing why it is important to declutter and only keep things that work for your life right now! 

  • Don’t keep things you don’t love just because you inherited them from a beloved family member.
  • Don’t keep things you don’t love just because they were given to you as a gift.
  • Don’t keep things you don’t love now just because you really loved them 10 years ago.

This part was tricky because, let’s face it, sometimes it is hard to get rid of stuff. But I did—starting with anything broken, scratched or chipped (that part was easy)—and getting tougher about things that just don’t need to be here anymore. In the end, I’m really happy with how the cabinets look and with each item displayed in there.

I mixed vintage and new, higher-end items with flea market finds, objects from G’s side of the family and mine. Some objects have special meaning to us, some things we like just because we like them. None of it really goes together, but everything in here tells a story and makes me happy.

So in a way, it all goes together perfectly.




I think it took longer to get the display cabinets “just right” than it did to paint the walls. I stepped back to look at it and told G I thought it was done.

“I think it needs one more thing,” G said.


“A beer mug!” he joked.

G was stationed in Germany and brought back a collection of beer mugs. They are all down in our basement, but he is always trying to weasel a few upstairs.

I thought about it for a second and then surprised him by saying OK. German beer mugs aren’t my thing, but what the heck? They make G happy.

“Really?” he said. “I have a blue and white one that might actually look good in here. It’s a fancy one. I’ll go get it!”

Here it is … hanging out next to a miniature tea set that was part of my grandmother’s collection.


I think they go together perfectly.

~ Courtney

Do you have something in your house that you don’t really love anymore, but you keep it because somebody gave it to you? Tell me about it in the comments section! I would love to hear your story.

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