...because home doesn't happen overnight.
07.02.14 / The Living Room

Thank you for all of the wonderful comments and encouraging words on the house tour! Seeing the before-and-after images next to each other was a little surreal even for us. Like, whoa, we actually bought that dump?! But mostly we feel happy about how much light and life are in this lil’ house now. Hopefully, you have a better understanding of the major renovations. I’d like to feature individual rooms and discuss them in more detail. First up, the living room!

HouseTweaking living room before 2

HouseTweaking living room before 1

It came to us dirty and dated but we liked the large, south-facing window and the orientation of the fireplace.

living room 2014-1

We had the aluminum window replaced with a better insulated vinyl one but we were adamant about retaining the look of the original. The center pane is fixed and the two outer panes are sliders. Whenever weather allows, the sliders are open. We salvaged the original slate windowsills throughout the home. I love the way this window frames the view behind the couch. It’s almost like a work of art and it brings in so much natural light. Plus, we enjoy watching the world go by.

For window treatments, we hung woven shades and gray linen curtains. I have a thing for natural textures so that’s where the woven shades come in and I read somewhere about hanging non-white curtains to distract from a less-than-perfect view. Just across the street is a nondescript shed painted hunter green soooo…yeah, gray curtains. The shades and curtains are functional but we leave them open 99.9% of the time. We don’t mind living in a fish bowl.

living room 2014-4

We replaced the orange shag carpet with engineered hardwood. (We’re on a concrete slab.) Installing the floors nearly did us in. We had to glue each and every plank to its neighbors and we did it all ourselves…while I was seven months pregnant. It was awful but we saved a ton of money by DIYing the install and we’re happy with the results. Although, next time (ha!) I think we’ll opt for something that’s easier to install.

We tried living with the red brick fireplace surround for over a year but we ended up painting it out in white. It really lightens up the space and it’s much easier to clean now, too. We don’t regret painting it one bit but we do feel better knowing we gave the red brick a try. We had the wood-burning fireplace converted to gas with an affordable insert we bought via craigslist.

The TV was quite the conundrum. I was all for giving it up but Steve enjoys it…along with (what I think are) unsightly surround sound speakers. The TV / surround sound setup was a complete compromise. I don’t particularly care for TV’s mounted above fireplaces but, since we removed the wall separating the living room from the kitchen, we didn’t have much of a choice. Our solution was to run the TV and speaker wires up and over to the adjacent wall and house the media components in a small cabinet. (You can see the wires via related links at the end of this post.)

living room 2014-13

To make the TV less ominous, we DIY’d a planked bump-out above the mantel that reaches all the way to the vaulted ceiling, recessed the TV within and painted the planks to match the fireplace surround. The bottom plank is removable in case we ever need to service / replace the TV. This setup appeases Steve and me. He has his fancy TV and speaker system but the wires are hidden and the TV isn’t too obnoxious. It also makes for a great architectural feature. That was a happy accident.

living room 2014-9

I’ve tried disguising the dreaded “boob speakers” with decorative mirrors hung on either side of the TV. They’ve been up for over a year but I haven’t decided if they work. We’ve tossed around ideas to make this wall even more of a focal point. Contrasting paint? Grasscloth wallpaper? Who knows what it will look like in a year!

I designed a wood box that slips over an ugly subwoofer on the floor next to the media cabinet. Are you sensing a theme?

living room 2014-7

I played around with a few different furniture arrangements before settling on the one you see. We discovered that placing the sofa in front of the window gave us more open floor space and encouraged casual conversation. Someone sitting on the sofa can easily converse with someone in the kitchen and vice versa. And the scale of the sofa fits the window so well. (I strongly suggest moving around your furniture until it feels right. No harm, no foul and it’s free!) We also switched out a large, round coffee table for a slimmer, rectangular one to better suit the space.

living room 2014-5

With such a major piece shoved up against the window / wall, it was important to “float” other pieces within the room. I positioned an oversized chair perpendicular to the sofa. Not only does this close off the conversation area, it also helps to separate the entry from the living room.

A shag rug layered over sisal defines the living room part of the main living space and gives the kids a soft place to romp. Bringing in the cloud-like rug upped the comfort factor 1000%. It’s where everyone wants to be.

entry 2014

We don’t have a true entryway or foyer. The front door opens up into the living room. The small area behind the chair acts as our “entry.” Peg hooks give guests a place to hang their coats and the bench is a great spot for stashing deliveries until we open them.

living room 2014-3

The front door is original but it was in sad shape when we bought the house. The previous homeowner had added numerous locks and light-blocking, privacy screens to ward off strangers. The only problem was it warded off everyone. In fact, we couldn’t use the front door (we normally enter through the garage or mudroom) for over a year after our move-in date. Our UPS man made deliveries through the window! Eventually, we rebuilt the door jam and rehabbed the door.

The old door was in such disrepair that at one point we considered getting rid of it and starting from scratch. We’re so glad we didn’t! It’s one of our favorite original features – albeit all gussied up.

living room 2014-8

To bring down the height of the wall near the entry and balance out the TV wall on the opposite side of the living room, we installed simple DIY shelving. I display decorative items on the higher shelves safe from our toddler’s reach and use kid-friendly baskets on the bottom shelf for easy storage. And, bonus!, this shelving unit hides yet another pair of surround sound speakers.

So that’s the gist of the inner workings of the living room. As far as aesthetics, I really wanted this room to ooze comfort and coziness. We hang out here. We watch movies here. We read here. The kids play and wrestle here. We have family dance parties here. We entertain here. A lot of life happens here so the room didn’t need to be brightly colored or overly patterned. I feel like the room gets enough personality from its inhabitants. Did I mention we have three rowdy kids? This isn’t one of those look-don’t-touch living rooms. (I detest those.)

living room 2014-12

living room 2014-10

living room 2014-6

living room 2014-11

I’m drawn to neutrals, cozy textures, a mix of wood tones, leather upholstery, vintage & tribal patterns and hits of black and gold so those run rampant. But everything is kid-friendly. On movie night, the kids use the zig zag poufs as bean bags and they’re never without a stockpile of pillows and blankets.

I hope you enjoyed this BIG tour of our little living room ;)

Resources of note:

wall paint – Benjamin Moore tapestry beige
trim, ceiling, fireplace, TV wall, interior door paint – Benjamin Moore white dove
exterior door paint – Behr evening hush
flooring – Jasper engineered hardwood handscraped birch in Texas Brown via Build Direct
entryset – Emtek
peg hooks – West Elm
woven bench – Target
black & white bull photography print – Minted
string art – DIY
tripod floor lamp – Target, spray painted gold
wall shelves – Lowe’s, DIY
sisal rug in entry – NaturalAreaRugs
gold clip-on lamp – Land of Nod
wood sculptures – Ballard Designs
woven baskets – HomeGoods
porcelain glove form – vintage
black & white vase – HomeGoods
vintage kantha on back of chair – ebay
oversized chair – Thrive Furniture’s Taylor chair in expectation grey, blonde stain
large sisal with gray border – Overstock
Keno Moroccan shag rug – RugsUSA
basket next to chair – Target
scalloped wood side table – Grandin Road outlet
patterned pillow on chair – Crate & Barrel
leather pouf – Joss & Main
leather sofa – Soho leather sofa by Elements Fine Home Furnishings (google for the best price)
fringed blankets – Target
sheepskin – Ikea
kilim pillow covers – vintage, etsy (try Sheepsroad or YASTK shops)
light gray squiggle pillow – HomeGoods
slat bench / coffee table – Overstock
gray curtains – West Elm
curtain rod – Amazon
curtain rings – Meijer
woven shades – petite rustique from Overstock
wood bowl on coffee table – Target
shed antler – ebay
various decor books – Amazon
brass-bottomed vase – Target (it’s actually a toothbrush holder)
zig zag floor poufs – West Elm
media cabinet – West Elm (I added vintage brass knobs)
gold task lamp – Target
“Generations” photography print – Steven L. Miller photography (custom gold frame from JoAnn’s)
faux roe deer antlers – One Kings Lane
gas fireplace insert – craigslist
tongue and groove planks – Home Emporium
Monrovian star mirrors – Joss & Main
ceiling fans – Barn Light Electric Co.

In case you’re interested in seeing how this room has evolved, a few living room-related posts:

FURNITURE

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2011/12/14/we-bought-a-sofa-or-couch/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/02/13/she-loves-me-she-loves-me-not-hey-girl/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/04/23/rearranging/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/11/06/media-cabinet-switcharoo/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/03/19/its-just-a-really-awesome-chair/

DECOR

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/03/27/one-coffee-table-three-ways/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/05/13/puppies-rainbows/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/10/10/layers-in-the-living-room/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/10/11/a-light-for-the-living-room-shelves/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/12/18/steven-l-miller-photography/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/12/23/a-little-bit-of-christmas/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/03/25/diy-undercover-subwoofer/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/04/08/diy-brass-string-hanging-art/

DIY SHELVES

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/08/01/library-day/

TV WALL

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2011/10/20/the-not-so-in-your-face-tv-plan/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/08/20/honest-mondays-surround-sound/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/11/26/planking-the-tv-wall/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/12/09/the-tv-wall-is-built/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/12/19/tv-wall-afters/

ENTRY

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/11/01/front-door-update/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/04/24/my-front-entry-part-i/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/04/25/my-front-entry-part-ii/

Thanks for reading!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

55 Comments

02.July.2014

Just curious about your shag rug. I’ve admired it every time I see your living room (which I love everything about…come decorate mine please!). I have been on the lookout for a rug for ages. My husband wants something soft because he gets down on the floor and wrestles with the kids on it. I need a pretty large one (mine right now is 10×14 and really needs to be larger). any suggestions on where to look for one? I look at Home Goods when I go, but that’s not often with 4 kids under 6. Any suggestions?

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replied on July 2nd, 2014

I’ve had good luck finding rugs online at Overstock and RugsUSA. You may want to consider having a custom carpet rug cut and bound if you aren’t able to find anything in the size you need.

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02.July.2014

I’ve always thought your living room was gorgeous, but just seeing those before shots again really makes it truly obvious of your vision, talent, and dedication! Congratulations once again on the amazing transformation.

http://jax-and-jewels.blogspot.com

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02.July.2014

Thanks for the tour… I am definitely obsessed with your living room. I love every.single.view…

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Wow- I love the transformation! It is so bright, fresh and inviting. I particularly love how you tried to work with the natural characteristics of the house and white washed the brick rather than just covering it!!

Kudos and thanks for sharing,
Jenna
http://pizzigatidesigns.tumblr.com/

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02.July.2014

all of this is so so so great. i keep staring to decide what elements i love most to incorporate in my living room, but unfortunately it’s all of them. ;) just to give my two cents — i love the tv wall as it is. but then again, if you changed it, i’d probably love it like everything else.

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02.July.2014

I must have missed it, how did that great, high ceiling come to be?

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replied on July 2nd, 2014

Vaulting the ceiling in the main living space was a major renovation that I featured in the general house tour. There’s a link to that tour at the beginning of this post. At the end of the house tour post, please find links related to the vaulted ceiling. If you have any questions about it, just ask!

I think the ceiling is our favorite feature. It makes the space feel so much bigger and brighter without changing the original footprint of the house.

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02.July.2014

What everyone else said…LOVE!

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02.July.2014

I am so encouraged by your mortgage free living. I too am trying to achieve this with three kids. How much square feet is your house? I am worried about buying a house too small to accomplish this mortgage free goal.

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replied on July 4th, 2014

It’s roughly 1,600 sq ft.

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This is a really beautiful transformation. I like that you lived with certain elements for a while before changing them – I find that’s often an important step before deciding how you will use the room or arrange things. I usually have to let things “marinate” in my head for a while before coming up with a good aesthetic/functional balance.

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02.July.2014

Did you ever find a permanent fix for that corner of the sisal rug that kept turning up? None of the photographs was at quite the right angle to tell.

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02.July.2014

You may have the only over-the-fireplace TV that I really like Dana. It really works. As for everything else, so nice – stylish and comfortable, my favorite combo.

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02.July.2014

Your talent really shines in this room. Well, actually, every room. Inspiring!

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Your living room is one of my very favorites! I’ve been eyeing that sofa on Wayfair since you first posted about it. Do you still love it??

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replied on July 4th, 2014

Yes! It has held up so well to jumping kids and lazy evenings. I have noticed the back cushions (they’re attached) slouching a bit but I fluff them back to life every once in a while. I like a slouchy sofa!

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02.July.2014

I want your living room. It’s just so cozy and stylish at the same time! Something I’m desperately trying in my own home. I need to know though, what is your secret to keeping that rug white? I have a husband who works outside all day and a dog and I have the hardest time keeping it clean. It’s officially stained darker where there isn’t any furnature and I can’t figure out how to keep it white. Any tips?

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02.July.2014

so i’m totally going to order the rug in your living room. my woods floors are currently bare and i just can’t handle it anymore! your taste is amazing. thanks for taking the time to source your pieces. quick question though…the keno shag on rugsusa looks a bit different to me than the one in your room? did they change the pattern slightly? there is another rug on their website that looked more similar to yours however. i have a baby that doesn’t sleep so my eyes could totally be playing tricks on me :) just wanted to double check i get the EXACT one you have because i love it that much! thanks again.

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replied on July 4th, 2014

The Keno is the one! I think it looks different because on the RugsUSA site it shows a view from above but in my living room you never see it from that angle.

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02.July.2014

Hi there, where did you find your large replacement window that essentially matches the style of the original?? I love the look of horizontal lines but have not been able to find vinyl windows that look that way. Thank you — and you have a beautiful, relaxed home.

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replied on July 4th, 2014

The window is from Window Depot.

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03.July.2014

What an amazing transformation!!

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03.July.2014

Love, love, love. That is all! Xx

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03.July.2014

Curious about tv angle… When we tried to put ours up higher than eye level the pic was terrible. Plus hard on neck…just wondering what you did different because you seem pleased with it.

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replied on July 4th, 2014

The TV is mounted on a bracket that allows us to change the angle of the flatscreen. We have it leaning forward a little – you can’t really tell from the pics. We also have the main furniture placed so that we’re about 14′ – 17′ away from the screen when viewing. That allows for a less severe neck angle. Again, ideally, I wouldn’t want the TV above the fireplace but it works.

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Love getting into the details. Great storage solutions and love how you’ve hidden the tv. So great!

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03.July.2014

The difference between the before and after is stunning. You have created a warm, welcoming home. I love the ceiling best, but the painted brick fireplace and planking are wonderful, too. Looking forward to seeing the completed bathroom.

Since you mentioned hanging the mirrors to try to camouflage the “boob speakers”, I hope you don’t mind my two cents. I wonder if it would help to raise the mirrors by a foot or so to draw the eye up and away from the “boob speakers” instead of drawing attention to them by hanging them right next to each other. Just a thought. Hope you don’t mind.

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replied on July 4th, 2014

Not at all! I appreciate constructive criticism.

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04.July.2014

It looks great, but if I may offer some constructive criticism, some of your ‘after’ shots are way too blown out and difficult to look at.

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replied on July 4th, 2014

Good to know. I hurriedly snapped these on my kids’ last day of school while Mabrey was napping when I realized I wouldn’t have a clean house for the next three months. Ha! It was super sunny that day and this room receives so much natural light from the large window and skylights in the kitchen. Probably should have paid more attention to my ISO. I’m still learning!

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05.July.2014

Love your aesthetic! So when you guys bought the house did you know you could vault the ceiling in the LR or did you have a contractor look at it first and I’m guessing this was a pretty major expense? Would love to learn more on this process. Thanks!

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replied on July 6th, 2014

I talked a little about the vaulted ceiling in the main house tour post. See it here…

http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/06/24/house-tour-then-now/

There are links at the end of the post that discuss the ceiling in more detail. I wrote up a post all about the vaulted ceiling earlier this year. It includes pricing. You can see it here…

http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/02/24/what-it-took-to-vault-the-ceiling/

Of course, vaulting the ceiling made a major difference in the living room. It gives it a completely different vibe. I didn’t rehash the details in this post just because I’ve discussed them before but I hope you find the links helpful.

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05.July.2014

I was wondering if you have ever looked into getting a design degree? I am a stay at home mom also and am interested in taking courses online in the design field but don’t know enough about the field to know which schools are best. Do you have any suggestions?

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we can see before and after, the difference is incredible, the decoration and the paintings give to the room more volume, more light, this living room is very beautiful, the style is a perfect mixing with old and modern, congratulations for this job and to share with us.

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06.July.2014

What a wonderful makeover! I love that you listed where you got everything. The entire room is fantastic, but the shelves and the way you styled them has to be my favorite.

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07.July.2014

I absolutely love this room. It still blows me away every time I see big shots of it! I’m sure you all have a security system and such but does it not worry you at all to have those curtains open 99% of the time? Even when you leave?? Maybe since we were robbed last year I feel differently but I absolutely love that you can do that (as in can handle it) hahahaha. Maybe one day.

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[…] we’re removing that wall and all it’s really the only place it can go.  I love what Dana did with their TV above the fireplace, so I imagine executing something like […]

11.July.2014

I love what you have done, we essentially are doing the exact same thing with our house in Mt pleasant SC. Construction is well underway, and the lvl beam will soon be in place. I wanted ask about your insullation. As it stands, we have 1 ac unit for the whole house. We have 6 in rafters (not sure what you have) and plan to do te same toung and groovebard you did. The standard R30 was what my contractor was thinking of using. He would have to cram it in so there would be no extra space for airflow. If i remember your post correctly, yall used spray insullation right? Can you tell me why, and how it has been for you heat wise… We are down in the south and I dont want to run into issues with having this new fabulous room, but it being hot all the time! Thanks and I will be sure to pass along some before and after photos once we are move in (maybe a month or so!

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[…] carpet no more! Between the freshly painted walls and new wood floors, this living room makeover is one for the record books. We love the neutral color palette and mix of textures that […]

[…] carpet no more! Between the freshly painted walls and new wood floors, this living room makeover is one for the record books. We love the neutral color palette and mix of textures that […]

[…] different antlers and horns in one lovely picture of Dana Miller of House*Tweaking’s living room. I love her modern spin on, well, […]

[…] via […]

11.August.2014

Hi! I loooove your living room! I have been searching for a similar rug to put on my hardwoods.

Are you happy with the way your rug is holding up? :) Any pros/cons?

Thanks!

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12.August.2014

Looks awesome. What spray paint did you use on the lamp?

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replied on August 13th, 2014

Design Master gold medal. It’s available at most craft supply stores.

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14.August.2014

Also a fan of your rug. COuld you tell me please what it is made from. Can’t decide whether wool or other material is preferable. Thanks in advance!

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Hi! I’m renovating a 1954 ranch slab in Massachusetts as we speak. The similarities are insane and it makes me so happy to see your *finished* home while I am in the middle of it. It’s like the light at the end of the tunnel. Quick question, we also have a white brick wall, and we just put down bamboo flooring. To keep the floors down, we know we have to choose some sort of baseboard infront of the brick. What did you use along the edge of your brick wall and was it different from the baseboards in the remainder of the living room?

Thanks so much
Jenna @twolittlehomes

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replied on August 20th, 2014

We ended up using quarter round along the bottom of the brick surround. It’s white. It isn’t my favorite but it was an inexpensive and easy fix.

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21.August.2014

This room is amazing! Do you remember how much the custom framing from Joann’s cost?

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replied on August 22nd, 2014

It wasn’t cheap! I had a coupon and it still cost me ~$180. Luckily, I had some birthday money burning a hole in my pocket. But it means so much to me and will always have a place in our home so it’s worth it.

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06.September.2014

Hi, weird question about the rug…Is it made out of a more flexible material that makes it possible to fold? I’m interested in purchasing it but it can’t be shipped to our address in Germany and I was hoping to get it shipped to my mom and have her fold it up and fit it into a box to ship to me. If anyone can answer my question that’d be great! Thanks!

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replied on September 8th, 2014

The rug has a flexible canvas back. I think it could be folded up for shipping. It’s pretty heavy though!

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17.September.2014

I know this was posted a couple of months ago, but I was wondering how your leather couch is holding up with the newest, furry member of your family? My husband and I are considering a leather couch, but we’re worried our cat will rip it to shreads.

Your living room looks so cozy, btw. I just want to curl up on your couch with a good book and a glass of wine.

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replied on September 17th, 2014

So far, so good. The cat has only shown an interest in curling up and napping on the couch thus far. I did buy a scratching post and lounger / scratcher and am training her to scratch only those items. We’ll see…

Come on over…bring your good book. I’ll supply the wine!

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