Operation Year of Organization: Living Room Reveal

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You guys. I can’t believe we’ve already arrived at reveal time! I’m so excited to show you the organizational changes I’ve implemented in our living room this month and am even more so to see what you all have done in yours!

At the beginning of this month, our living room lacked functionality. It was a dumping ground for shoes, mail, school papers and other odds and ends, and at the end of the day, it felt more like a place where we dropped all of our stuff as we passed through instead of a place we lived in. I wanted to create a space that not only hosted a spot for every item, but eliminated the ability for extra “dropping” to keep the organization going for years to come. Using spare pieces I had around the house, some great free finds, and a few store-bought items, I created a living room space that is not only organized but is fully functional for our family. The added bonus was how beautiful it turned out!

So without further ado…my new, improved and fully organized LIVING ROOM!

Before I go revealing the new space, why don’t we take a peek back at the “before” pictures:

Lackluster, a buffet that served as a “catch-all”, shoes and electronics randomly placed, and no storage for things like books and photos.



Doesn’t that look so much better?! Honestly, I can’t tell you how weird it is having this room finished. Seriously. It makes me super giddy because we finished remodeling and moved back in, in August of 2013, and this is the first room that has any pictures or decor hanging on the walls! So while it’s wonderfully refreshing to see, it’s also totally weird and going to take some getting used to the lack of bare walls. I should also mention that while some photos reflect a neon orange, it’s more of a harvesty orange. I would’ve loved to paint this room while I was at it since I’ve been itching to go neutral on the walls since about 3 months after painting loads of color on our interior walls, but alas it doesn’t work in the budget for the time being. So, pretty things go on the walls, and I ignore the color. Ha!

One of my concerning areas for this room was the lack of “hidden” space for the electronics. We have a PS4, PS3, 3 laptops and the Dish receiver plus all of the remotes, controllers, and cords that go with them. Before, the Playstations and receiver sat on a teeny tiny table (that was actually a nightstand), and they were constantly collecting dust and being an eyesore. And those laptops? They always ended up on the living room floor or couch. Ugh. I needed a way to nicely store these items while still maintaining easy access since they’re used daily, and I also wanted something stylish.

I mentioned last week in my Tips for Your Living Room post that I’d picked up this gem for free off of a local buy/sell/trade page on Facebook.


We took the stereo and record equipment out (it didn’t work anyway), laid some board down to cover the holes, made the left side of the lid open for more usability, and gave it a paint job. The result:

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A cabinet that is both stylish and functional. And the best part is that it was FREE! I love great finds like that! I had a sample paint can on hand and used the baking soda recipe I found here to make a chalk paint that worked wonderfully. I didn’t have to sand anything, and I was able to use my craft paint brush to get a distressed look without having to actually do any distressing. I finished it off with gold spray paint on the handles and front pieces, and I just love the finished product!

The Dish receiver is stored in the bottom portion behind the gold painted fabric which allows just enough signal from the remote to the receiver to work as though it were out in the open. We keep the laptops and gaming systems and their components in the top of the cabinet where we can have easy access to the pieces. The cabinet also works great for hiding the cables we used to stare at annoyingly!

During the “construction” phase of this room, Brandon used a hole saw to drill a hole behind the tv and one behind the cabinet to hide the remaining cords that ran from the tv to the boxes. Now, we have no visible cords, and it feels so much cleaner not having all those electronics in our faces every day. I love when you can have a room that boasts fully functional pieces (like electronics, tvs, refrigerators) but doesn’t look like it to guests!


I’m a total lover of books. I read as often and frequently as I can, and I’m a total sucker for books in a series. I have several sets of series but didn’t have a place for them. Adding floating shelves the the room created space for me to do just that. Not only could I have my favorite sets close at hand, I also had ample space to add some decor that’s been taking up space in boxes in my basement for years!

We discussed numerous options when it came to the shelves for this space. We went back and forth between floating shelves and slab of wood shelves with black exposed mounting hardware. I’m so happy we ended up going with the floating shelves! I really think they pulled off the living room much better than the other option would have.

We went to our local Home Depot to pick up the lumber for the project. When we were finishing our house remodel, we needed lumber for the window sills in our home. That’s where we fell in love with Poplar. We loved the light color of it, it wasn’t as thick and bulky, and the grain wasn’t too overbearing like other wood types can be. We wanted to make sure that we weren’t just loading our walls down with weight from the shelves themselves let alone what would be on them, and Poplar was just the right choice for that. We bought these 1″ x 8″ boards and cut them to size. The price point on Poplar is really great for sticking to a budget, too! We kept the 8″ width for the shelves and cut the sides/front pieces to 5″. Originally, we had talked about doing a 6″ shelf, and I can’t tell you how much I would have regretted that. Not only do these 8″ width shelves provide ample room, but THEY PROVIDE AMPLE ROOM. I can’t say it enough! I’d rather have a bit extra space than things sticking off the front of the shelves. Once the shelves were complete, I stained them with some stain I had on hand, and they transformed into just what we had pictured.

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Believe me when I say, we cut it down to the wire on this room! We were racing the clock Sunday to not only finalize all the pieces, but everything was built on Sunday as well! I really have to give it to Brandon. He took my ideas and ran with them and worked so hard to create the space that I was dreaming up in my head. He gritted his teeth on the more “farmhouse” looking items that aren’t necessarily his taste and forged ahead to make sure I had just what I needed and wanted. He built these beautiful floating shelves, and they really make the space so much more inviting! I literally have spent the last two days just walking into this room and staring at them.

From what I understand, the shelves themselves are pretty stinkin’ easy to build. I wouldn’t know personally, however. While I wanted to test my hand at woodworking with this month’s organizational challenge, Brandon insisted he couldn’t afford the medical bills when I start chopping off my limbs. Where’s that crying, laughing emoji when I need it?! He’s totally right. I cut up my hand pretty bad just scratching the surface of the drawer pulls for the media cabinet with a wire brush. I’m not much use around power tools at the moment, so I gladly let him build this month since he was willing! Next month, I’m going all in and getting my hands dirty with some power tools!

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To go along with that gorgeous display of floating shelves, I put together a gallery wall. I have been dying to create one of these for so long, but never thought I had what it took. Trust me when I say if you’re feeling ill-equipped to put one together for yourself, DON’T! As in, don’t think you can’t do it! It did take a lot of pre-planning on paper, but I couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out, and it showed me that I do actually have what it takes. So guess what that means? GALLERY WALLS FOR ALL THE ROOMS! Ha! (I’ve already told myself to not go overboard on the whole gallery wall thing. We’ll see how that works out.)


You see what’s in that corner over there? That’s right! It’s a blanket ladder!

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I can’t tell you how utterly giddy I was when Brandon finished making this. Seriously. It was like I got a new puppy or something (that was already potty trained and didn’t chew on shoes and didn’t bark at the mailman). Ya know. That giddy.

I have had this blanket ladder pinned on my Pinterest board for over a year (or more!), and I was adamant that I needed it in the living room. We did away with the buffet table I had kept in the room, and that’s where I stored our blankets – along with every other paper and piece of junk that entered the house. I’m always freezing cold, even in the summer – hello thyroid disease! – so having blankets in the room I spend the most time in is a must. I also wanted them to be easily accessible and visible for guests when they come over. Generally, guests won’t say something if they’re uncomfortable, but if the blankets are out in the open in a free-for-the-taking set up, they’re more likely to partake. This blanket ladder handles all of those items perfectly. We picked up the 2×4’s for this project from The Home Depot as well. Because we had so much dark wood on the same wall in the floating shelves, I really wanted to keep this ladder light and fresh. A clear coat on the natural wood does that perfectly!

Now for my baby…

A couple of weeks ago, I came home with this 2′ x 12′ sheet of corrugated steel we picked up from, you guessed it, The Home Depot and laid it up against this wall in the living room where it remained until this past Sunday when dreams became reality.

One of the biggest problem areas in our living room is the collection of shoes that tends to build every day. It’s the first room you walk in when you come into the house, so naturally, that’s where everything gets shed. I needed a way to store the shoes out of sight while not having to create a mudroom in any of our other spaces in the house.

I had a vision of a bench with storage underneath, the corrugated steel for a backing with hooks to hang coats and bags, and a shelf on top.

At the end of the day Sunday, with no budget remaining and little time remaining, Brandon and I went down to the basement to take an inventory. I had some pallets and had seen a shoe storage bench made from two pallets cut in half and stacked, but none of my pallets were exact matches.

I truly believe that some of our best ideas come from sheer necessity and lack of funds. Like Tim Gunn says, I had a “Make It Work” moment. Looking around the basement determined that bench was going to get done come hell or high water, I spotted an old chest of drawers that I’d brought down there months ago with the plan to refinish and sell. We didn’t need it, it was taking up space, and it wasn’t the most attractive piece.

***Light bulb!***

I ran the idea by Brandon to see if what I was thinking would actually work, and he confirmed. That dresser was off to be reincarnated.

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The top of the dresser along with the first 2 1/2 drawers were cut off. The half drawer serves as feet for the piece, and the two drawers for shoe storage. The top of the dresser makes a perfect bench, and at 18″ tall, it’s the ideal height.

We had a couple of 4×6’s left over from our porch build, and those went to frame out the sides. I especially love the mantle shelf because, while we didn’t save anything else from our house when we gutted, we did save the mantle. We cut it down to size and secured it to the wall studs. Behind the steel, we secured a cut-to-size osb board to the wall studs. The steel was cut into two, 6′ pieces and overlayed to size – screwing into the osb board to secure. Black coat hooks were attached through the steel, and what we ended up with was a perfect addition to our space that keeps the feeling of the room without screaming “I belong in a mudroom!”

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You want to hear something crazy? I hated this piece before it was painted! HATED IT. I kept thinking to myself, how on earth am I going to make this work? Keep in mind, I had the color of the mantle, mixed with the color of the 4×6’s, mixed with the orange-y stain of the dresser. Put together like that, it. was. hideous. But, once I got it painted, I couldn’t even picture the awful contraption it had been before. It really transformed!

I painted the dresser and side pieces to match and tie in with the media cabinet with the homemade chalk paint, and the hardware was already gold so it worked out perfectly. My favorite part is how the corrugated steel came together so nicely with the other pieces. It’s very Industrial Farmhouse, and that’s just my style!

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And that shoe storage is just what I was looking for! The kids love being able to have their shoes in the living room and think the drawer storage is pretty awesome.


All-in-all, this room turned into a functional and lovely space. I eliminated any pieces (eh hem buffet table) that would only allow me to build my clutter back up, kept furniture pieces minimal, and brought everything up off the floor to maximize my space.

Now I want to see your organized living room! Starting next Monday, January 25th, I’ll be hosting a Linky Party where you can share your “After” photos. At the end of the week, the Linky party will close, and I’ll randomly pick a winner that will receive a gift card to The Home Depot courtesy of store #2205 to help you get ahead on next month’s organization challenge!

So make sure to get those living rooms finished up, organized, and come back here next week to share your “After” photos! I can’t wait to see how you’ve implemented organizational ways into your space!

***While The Home Depot is sponsoring the giveaway each month by providing the gift cards, all opinions are my own. Although I shopped there for the items for this challenge, I did so out of choice, not because they are sponsoring the giveaway.***

4 thoughts on “Operation Year of Organization: Living Room Reveal

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