This is a guest post from Tricia Firmaniuk, my amazing Senior Colour Designer. I so love the first photo of her dogs lounging on her sofa, haha.
My living room had been in desperate need of a refresh for a few years. My vintage sofa was looking terribly overtired. No longer charming. Straight up dingy.
It had the perfect proportions just right for our small mid century bungalow, but the nubby cream chevron texture fabric was letting go. It had impressively handled several years of my dogs spending their days lounging on it.
Mabel and Stanley snoozing on my tired vintage sofa
The cushions had zippers, and I washed the covers several times, but they weren’t coming clean anymore.
The sofa was made in the 60s or 70s. It had been recovered a few times. My plan was to do it again, but this time, in a plush performance velvet. Apparently, velvet is a great fabric for pets. It doesn’t have an exposed weave that catches fur, so it’s easy to wipe or vacuum it off.
I ordered fabric swatches from Maxwell Fabric’s Snug line of performance velvets. They were scattered all over my living room for months. So many pretty options.
My first choice was a warm apricot colour (below).
Apricot, cream and green inspiration for my living room
My second choice was a glam mauve (below). The green and white pattern is a sample of my bathroom wallpaper.
Mauve, purple and cream inspiration for my living room
But I had the hardest time making up my mind. Until I realized that what was really bothering me was if I invested in reupholstering my sofa in this gorgeous fabric, I would be tense every time my dogs got on it (which as I said, is every day, all day). And that’s a lot of tension.
Dogs on Furniture
I know that many people successfully train their dogs to stay off the sofa. For the first 6 years of her life, my senior dog, Mabel, was not “allowed” on the sofa. It backs onto our front picture window and each day when I came home from work, her cute little head would pop up (she was clearly ON THE SOFA) and she would promptly jump off as I came in the door.
She had no idea I knew haha. I caved, what was the point?
I hired a trainer recently who told me that if I wanted to keep the dogs off the sofa, I would have to confine them whenever I wasn’t watching them. And it would be challenging, she said, because the sofa is the only access they have in the house to look outside. (And for those of you wondering, my current furniture arrangement is really the only one I’ve found that works in this small space).
They are smart enough to understand. They know the have to stay off our bed. If we had a study or family room where the could be on the furniture, that would be an option, but the living room is our hard working everything room. And I want to be fair to them, they give us so much joy every day.
This is our second springer, Stanley, his first summer with us above. With two dogs lounging on the sofa all day, my sofa really is a glorified dog bed slash lookout. It gets dirty really fast.
After months and months of waffling, I did some intense searching of my decor and dog obsessed soul. I discovered that what I really wanted was a slipcovered sofa! A cover that can be washed! So I could regularly get all that dust and smell out if with a little detergent and Oxy!
When I finally got past my attachment to the idea of recovering my vintage sofa, I realized I had slipcovered sofas pinned all over my Pinterest boards.
When I made this decision, I felt completely relieved. And it unblocked my process to make some decisions for my living room. Sometimes you just need to find a way to look at a problem differently to get past it. To let go of attachments.
My Living Room Before
My living room before had some vintage charm. But honestly, I was outgrowing it and as I said, it was feeling less than fresh.
I bought that sheepskin hoping she would choose to lay on that instead haha.
In case it isn’t clear, I am a crazy dog lady. And those of you who are the same will get how decorating and dogs often seem at odds. But just because you have pets, you don’t have to live with lumpy furniture that is the colour of mud. You can still have a pretty room.
One of my favourite designers, William McLure, who has a beautiful Weimaraner, recently posted this picture on Instagram with a caption that said, “Slipcover anything that’s below three feet in height”. Well Amen.
My Dog Friendly Living Room After
So here it is! I walk into this room every morning and feel so happy! And my dogs have not become a source of irritation thanks to the slipcovered sofa.
I decided it shouldn’t an expensive investment sofa, it would be much better to have a less pricey one that wasn’t so precious. I got the Ikea Farlov. The sleeper sofa version because it’s a good idea to have extra space for guests in a small house. And because it wasn’t as long as the standard Farlov sofa, but longer than the love seat. It fits perfectly.
Living room photos by Aspen Zettel Photography
Mabel, Stanley and my mom’s papillon, Vinny, photobombed the entire photoshoot. I really didn’t mind. This is a typical day in our living room, and they’re so sweet aren’t they?
I think the sculptures really elevate the inexpensive Ikea furniture. The black and white clay and papier mache bust is by Violet Owen, and the white plaster and steel sculpture on the work table is by Susan Owen Kagan. When adding art to your room, don’t overlook 3 dimensional sculptural pieces, they add a lot of interest. Art is not only pictures on the wall.
I chose the Flodafors White slipcover because I wanted a versatile backdrop for my rotating art collection and the options were limited. The greatest thing about it is that if the cover gets badly stained and dingy in time, it’s very inexpensive to replace just the cover.
I toss a matching white blanket over it to extend the time between washings. A blanket over a slipcovered sofa looks fine, but a blanket draped over a tailored mid century sofa looks like you’re about to paint the walls or something.
The chair is the Farlov as well. Both the sofa and the chair are deep and comfy. Much more cozy than my slim vintage set was.
The colour palette was pulled from the large anchoring piece of art, also by local artist Violet Owen, in the dining room (below).
I introduced some blue accents so I could paint my retro kitchen cabinets blue (I’ll show you that soon, you can see a sliver of it here ;). I love cool blue with Magenta.
And I repeated the graphic yellow with a bright yellow wing back chair (also from Ikea). You can see my green wallpapered bathroom right from the living room.
The deep magenta pink is the main colour story here. The dining room painting suggested it, the figure’s face is a deep violet and pink. And it was a colour I hadn’t decorated with much before.
I created the tall painting on the skinny wall in the hall to help pull things together colour wise, just like I did in my recent bedroom refresh.
How much colour is enough?
Originally, I was planning to go with a simple natural fibre jute rug for some texture. Dogs can also be hard on rugs, so again, something durable and inexpensive is ideal. And I love that natural fibre rugs are biodegradable since it will have to be switched out every so often.
I put it all together and, although it was calm and pretty, I wanted a bit more colour. So I added the deep magenta pink over dyed rug layered on top (above).
Here is the living room without the pink rug (below).
When you opt for neutrals or white in your large pieces like the sofa or accent chairs, it becomes trickier to add colour in a convincing way. It can easily come across as non committal, an afterthought. A few colourful pillows and accessories in an otherwise neutral room can just look bitty, like visual noise. But it is a fine line.
A bold rug can do the trick.
What do you think? Do you prefer the room with the pink rug or without?
I like them both for different reasons. It’s good to have options.
Another variation on the theme
And speaking of options I quickly realized that I would need an extra slipcover for the sofa, one to wash and one to wear. So I opted for the Djuparp Dark Grey. It is a deep charcoal velvet, ideal in the extra muddy seasons like spring. Here it is below without the pink rug.
And here it is with:
I feel like the weight of the pink rug helps balance the heavy almost black sofa. What do you think?
Here it is again with the white cover. We had so much fun with the dogs taking these photos 🙂 They look great in pink.
My living and dining room is an L shape, so it’s a challenge to make both areas flow just as with any open concept space.
My next project will be updating the dining room. The large light fixture is bold, but it blocks the artwork from some angles, and changing out the metal farmhouse chairs is on my list.
Collaged painting in gold frame by Graham Peacock
So there you have it! I had so much fun redecorating my living room and I’d love to hear which you prefer, with or without the pink rug? The black or the white slipcover? It’s fun to be able to change up the look.
Does my colour designer know how to decorate with colour or what? Thanks Tricia for this colourful and inspiring post!