My Living Room from Move-in to Today / by Alaina Kaczmarski


I know anyone who follows along on Instagram regularly sees changes happening in our home and you're probably thinking "Whyyyyyy?!? Didn't you just get a different coffee table?! CRAZY GIRL. Stop being so crazy!" 

First off. Fair enough. But second, I thought I'd let you in on the process from move in to where we are today and why the changes took place... because if you recall the glory days of Live Creating Yourself, I did this before/after shiz all the time (see here and here)... and let me tell you. These posts take FO-EVUH to produce! Digging up all those old pics and what not. So enjoy. Then can we discuss how wildly different my style is in just a few short years?! I feel like I'm looking at my childhood bedroom. Mind. blown.

Let's start from the beginning. So, last June.

JUNE - OCT 2015:
Settling in... brought over what I had from the last apartment.

Above are photos of our living room the day we moved in last June and how we kept it the first few months... as soon as the movers left and I saw those three key pieces of furniture–the sofa, the long black coffee table, and my thrift store dresser–and I knew it wasn't quite working with the space. But I didn't know how to fix it at the time... figured we needed to live with it for a bit.

Fortunately that little corner w/ the gilt mirror and gallery wall came together immediately. The area with the media stand changed the most (you'll see that transition in photos down below).

I love the look of this black PB coffee table, but it was too long for this room. It made getting to and from the couch a pain. So that table has been repurposed and now lives by the window.

OCT - DEC 2015: 
painted. tried a smaller coffee table. switched the fiddle leaf for a christmas tree!

So out went the black coffee table and in came this itty bitty coffee table I got using Joss and Main credit (it was around $100–see similar here).

And pause for shock. It was too small. We eat every other meal in the living room and this was not cutting it.

And if you look really really hard, you'll notice the room got painted from the before photos. It's much lighter than the grey it was, but it's still kind of grey. I was actually going for white. But either the paint didn't entirely cover up the color under it or I'm an idiot and failed to choose actual WHITE paint. 

Overall though I loved how our home looked at Christmas. The tree made it quite magical. :) By this point I had plans for a larger rug–it really irked me how this cut a few feet too short–but the rug I wanted and now have was on back order for months. The patience paid off, you'll see below.

DEC 2015:
finally find the perfect sized coffee table!

Third time's a charm, right?! Enter our third coffee table, just in time for Christmas! A true Goldilocks that was JUST right for the room. A classic white Bungalow 5 piece from Kathy Kuo Home.

JAN - FEB 2016:
a new media stand and changed out art above the sofa. tried mantis sconce.

I had been looking for a new media stand from the moment we moved in, and I was finding NOTHING I liked. It all looked the same. Or industrial. Or was the wrong size. Or was way too expensive. Seriously nothing I found would work.

Until I came up with an idea.

I had always loved this piece in Michelle Adams' homes... she used it in her dining room and living room, but never as a TV stand, and I thought it would fit the bill. It offered great storage, it was the perfect size for the wall, it was a classic design that I'd love for years. And the best part, I hadn't seen anything similar as a TV stand in other homes. Wanted something different! Plus I thought my idea for a gallery wall a la Alison Cayne's dining room would look great around it!

I reached out to my friend Meg of MegMade Inc. who specializes in refinishing furniture here in Chicago (but delivers everywhere!) and asked if she had scouted anything like it recently. She immediately wrote me back with a photo of this piece in its natural wood that hadn't been painted yet. Too good to be true. I said, "White, please!" A few weeks later this was delivered. And I was in love.

MARCH 2016:
change out overhead lighting

Ok so.... I wasn't supposed to change out my ceiling fan. But we renewed the lease another year so I figured what the hell... I put the old fan back up before we move. No one's hurt.

I knew the ceilings were not high enough for a crystal chandelier (again, like Alison Cayne's place) so I went with a similarly glam option from West Elm (which I just saw sold out... noooo! I also love this style and this style!). It gave the room that extra something and it's a little Downton so naturally Danny loves it too.


The TV stand wall. My Everest.

This was a challenge because as I mentioned above, finding a TV stand I liked that fit in this space was tricky. And to be honest, I was emotionally attached to that little thrift store dresser I had bought for $45 and made over with a couple cans of spray paint when I was 24 and didn't have two nickels to rub together (see the full before/after here). But the decision was made when one of the knobs started rotting out and it become a real pain in the arse to open and close the drawers. Then one of the knobs just broke off entirely and I couldn't fix it. 

I actually gave it to Meg in hopes her team could salvage it and send it off to a new home. It was a bittersweet moment. Fortunately I had an awesome upgrade. Even the delivery guys laughed at how significant the improvement was. Hah

I worked with Artfully Walls on the gallery wall–they have so many great contemporary art options and mix of mediums. I love the moody florals and the bust sketch. Plus they have a cool app that allows you to virtually place the art you're choosing in your room. Very helpful!


So that brings us to today!! Most recent updates include the new rug finally arrived!! A patchwork hide from Rugs USA (inspired by the patchwork hide rug Juley Le owns and I then put in my client's house and I absolutely love). And I switched out the lamp on the marble table for something more substantial. I didn't like how the long narrow shape of the column lamp mirrored the shape of the table base. So I went with a trusty Robert Abbey gourd from LampsPlus.

I would loooove to add curtains because I love the soft look of them but I cannot bring myself to cover up that beautiful wood trim around the windows. If any of you have tips on how to go about doing that without hiding the trim, let me know!

So that's that! Hopefully this was helpful! And also know, doing this is actually kind of sorta part of my job so while it might seem like a lot, it had to get done. And I spend way more time at home than the average person since I work here. Alone. I really wanted it to be a place I enjoy being.

Keep in mind the rest of the place is coming together much more slowly... the bedroom for example, looks almost exactly how it has since we moved in and I don't like it all that much. And the "office" is a perpetual holding cell for stuff we are getting rid of, don't have a place for yet, or god knows what else (anyone who follows me on snapchat can attest to that).

But priorities. Focus on one room at time. Don't stress if changes you make don't work like you hoped (look to stores with great return policies or local stores that will let you borrow things for 24 hours). Or if you don't have the budget for the piece you really want. It'll all come together in time...