Thursday, July 23, 2015

Home: The Living Room (Before and After)

Hello! Today, I'm popping in to bring you for a tour of our living room. It's really the heart of the home, and is where the boys do most of their playing and doodling, and is often in a whole big mess! It's pretty interesting to see how the living room has changed after almost ten years of living in our home. Here's how it looked like when we first moved in:

Then, we had no kids, and were in love with the look of dark wood. Most of our furniture was deep brown, and in retrospect I think it was a little overwhelming! Since there were no little hands to mess with our stuff, our CDs and DVDs were stuffed helter-skelter in random boxes and stored in our TV bench. 

After the arrival of the kids, we slowly started making changes to the room. First, the toys appeared, so we had to add toy storage, and kid friendly furniture. The boys started ransacking the TV bench, so we felt the need for more storage where we could store our CDs and DVDs out of reach. And after a few years of changing this, and removing this and adding that, here's how our living room looks today, as you enter our home:

Now let me clarify before I bring you for a tour: the living room is not the first room you see when you enter our home. We have an access corridor (which we converted into a learning corner), and upon stepping into home you'll be greeted with our blackboard wall and the dining room. Our layout is unique, because we opted to hack a wall, and sacrifice a bedroom to open up the living-dining area. The initial layout was awkward, and made the living space dark and stuffy, so we felt giving up that bedroom was worth it. So our living room was actually carved out from a bedroom!

We are not fond of built-in furniture, but decided to get wall-mounted Besta units from Ikea as these were cheaper than getting a contractor to build cabinets from scratch. We matched those with more Besta units at the bottom. I admit I went a little nuts, and filled up the rest of the wall space with all sorts of wall art:

Artwork by artist Azisa Noor, whom we commissioned to do three paintings featuring our family in different dreamy landscapes. We printed and framed these in Ribba frames.

Home poster from IKEA (but I think they no longer stock this poster), large globe from a Belgium flea market, small globe from Typo, and wood artwork from Gracesmiths.

The Besta units are fantastic storage! The wall mounted units keep all our DVDs and CDs safe from little itchy fingers. I also store some of the kids' smaller manipulatives out of reach in Glis boxes, which fit perfectly on the narrow shelves. 

The lower Besta units are used to store the kids' toys, while the drawers are used to store their DVDs and CDs, so that they can access them easily. This cupboard is used to store all their building materials:

We hunted around for awhile before finding the perfect boxes for the unit:
Daiso shoe boxes! The boys can easily see what are inside the boxes,
and each shelf can hold exactly 3 boxes. 

We also displayed other artwork that we picked up on our travels (two of my fav buys when overseas: artwork and magnets!), as well as some of the boys' artwork (the wooden letters were decorated by the boys using washi tape). Next to the TV bench is the boys' Duktig play kitchen, which they use almost everyday:

I love how durable the kitchen is. This has withstood many years of play, and has cooked an uncountable number of strange meals. 

We brightened up the kitchen using MT washi tape, as well as a tea towel. 

On the side near the window is our Trofast unit, which holds more toys. 

The lower shelves hold their toy vehicles, while the bins hold Duplo. 

This child-sized typewriter was a vintage one that I scored when we visited the UK.
The cash register is a Duktig one, again from IKEA.

A few years back, Junior J decided to draw on our old sofa with oil pastels, and we never really got the stains out. So two years back, we opted to buy a new Kivik sofa

We used to have framed photos taken during our New Zealand honeymoon hanging on the wall over the sofa (you can see the photos here). However, we needed space for a big world map, so we replaced those pictures with this large world map. We had our contractor build a ledge behind the sofa, which we use to hold our library books and current reads:

This set of Svalsta nesting tables is our most recent addition to the room. We used to use a kid's table, but swopped it out for this pair of tables. I love how we can push the smaller table under the larger one when it is not in use, and how it does not have any sharp edges. 

The tables are great for all sorts of activities: building lego, holding tea parties, and drawing monsters and dinosaurs. 

The boys use wooden stools, carved in the shape of different animals.
We picked these up when traveling in Malaysia. 

The smaller table is great since it's slightly lower, so it's the perfect height for baby J!

I love how this room has grown along with our family, and I think this whiter, brighter look suits our home much more. What do you think? 

Whatever the case, I think this room is going to hold plenty of good memories as the years pass! 

PS: This post is part of a series of collaborative posts with IKEA. We were given a gift card to purchase some of the aforementioned items in this post, and no monetary compensation was received. All opinions are my own.


  1. More storage is always the best way to keep the house looking neat and tidy. Great idea with the wall mounted Besta and I want a tepee tent in my living room too!

  2. We have similar owl chairs from Malaysia too (I'd wanted to say stools but owl stools just sounded wrong). :)
    And right after your post, you know that the shoe boxes from daiso will be sold out right? Heh.

    1. Your comment on "owl stools" made me laugh so hard! :)

  3. Love how cosy this house looks! :)

  4. This is such a warm and beautiful space! LOVE those painting pieces by the boys, they are beautiful! And this post is really inspiring- feel the urge to organise my living room too;)! Ha!!!

  5. Hehe Jus it's the same for us. Darkfurniture before kids, light furniture and white walls after!!

  6. So neat even though there's plenty of stuff!! Thumbs up! Love how easy it is for the kids to reach their stuff and yet put away too! Great job, Jus!

  7. Lovely space! I really like the ledge for books it displays the books so beautifully!

  8. Loving the way you arrange everything and the clever use of the IKEA stuff

  9. Nice! Makes me want to redo our house also! But it's been only 4 years. LOL.

  10. So lovely!! And the colours and little items you have just add so much character, esp when displayed as you did here!

  11. The new colour scheme makes the living room warm and cosy. You have a beautiful space that caters to the whole family. Makes me feel that it is high time I organize my living room too! (And no organization attempt can be complete without a trip to Ikea :p ) May I know where you got the lovely tent from? Thanks, Yvonne

    1. Hi Yvonne, thanks for the compliments! :) The tent was from Cotton On Kids, which we purchased when it was on offer. However, I don't think they stock it anymore, but you could check periodically to see if they have new tents in the future?

    2. Thanks! I will check out Cotton on kids next time. Didn't know they sold things other than clothing!

  12. Hello!
    What a lovely post! I'm just wondering what is the wooden floor that you have in your living room? Was it part of the renovation?

    1. Anon: Hi there, thanks for dropping by! Yes that was part of the reno done as we initially kept the flooring from our previous owner, and that was starting to pop out. It's laminate by Evorich (google them), the laminate is of good quality and water does not seep through unlike the older types, so you don't get warping!

  13. Love the tepee tent! Did u did it?

  14. Hello! Can I check with you how do you put up all the photo frames? Do u drill holes or just use blue tac ?

    1. Hi! We used the 3M velcro tape, because those can be removed easily. For the larger frames we drilled holes, because they are much heavier.

    2. Hi! We used the 3M velcro tape, because those can be removed easily. For the larger frames we drilled holes, because they are much heavier.



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