I just had to go back in the archives to check when I first launched the design plan for the conversation room. I also had to check to see my anticipated completion date at the time I shared — FYI. (yikes), it was July 2020 and October 2020, turned January 2021. Obviously not the most timely or expedited project but today — we finally have the full conversation room reveal!
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*NOTE: A full list of room sources and details can be found at the bottom of this post.
Goals for the Conversation Room
In case you didn’t see back when I shared the launch of the makeover (see that HERE), I noted that the formal living room — the space to the left of the entry — was one of those spots in our home that just wasn’t used that often. But, it’s also one of the first things you see upon entering our home and is visible from almost everywhere. Until recently, it had an array of collected furniture and decor — even my sofas from college. So, it was time to give it a little love and make it better blend with the rest of our home. Still “collected” but more intentional. I didn’t want to formalize the formal living room, and instead named it the “conversation room” with a goal of turning it into a casual — but still “dressed” — space. Our family room/great room/living room (in the center of our home) now has constant play so I’m hoping by creating a structured but comfortable place, that we’ll get more use for adult time, guests, etc. than we have in the past. These were the goals I had listed in the initial post that I wanted to accomplish:
- Welcoming and attractive, comfortable and inviting as a visible, prominent space in the house — but livable.
- Earthy, classic style with some timeless and some transitional furnishings. I gravitate toward an eclectic mix but want it to look cohesive and intentional.
- Consider smart space planning that won’t impede access to the guest bedroom.
- Bring in more “special moments”, memories, and odes to our family to personalize the space.
I’ll be going through the entire room but I THINK — I think I accomplished those.
Conversation Room: Before & After
We’ll get into more details in a bit but I know the most fun parts of room makeovers are the photos ;). So, let’s get to it! Here’s a look back at what the former “formal living room” looked like before from our front door…
And here’s a glimpse of what it looks like from the entry today!
Sources: Chandelier | Sconces (similar) | Rug (8 x 10) | Bird Art Print Pair | Coffee Table | Black Carved Tray | Wooden Beads | Cane Arm Chair | Lumbar Pillow | Faux Olive Tree | Framed Landscape Canvas | Black Ceramic Vase | White Stoneware Vase | Plant Basket (similar)
Here’s what the space looked like shortly after we moved in — circa 2015. A too-small rug, furniture and accents that I “made work”, a fun starburst gallery wall (that I really did love but doesn’t fit the aesthetic of our home). I still remember purchasing those black end tables from K-Mart before my sophomore year of college — I continued to keep those cheap little pieces with me from VA to AL to three moves in Georgia! Basically, I’ve always tried to work with what I have, until the time was right to pivot.
And then a few years later, while we worked through other priority rooms in the house, this room stayed mostly the same but with some rearranged furniture…
Then in mid 2020, I was finally ready to “do” this room. Nothing crazy but I wanted it to better reflect our style and represent the rest of our home. Fast forward to today, and here’s the conversation room!
Sources: Chandelier | Sconces (similar) | Rug (8 x 10)| Bird Art Print Pair | Coffee Table | Black Carved Tray | Wooden Beads | Coffee Table Seagrass Planter (similar)| Cane Arm Chair | Lumbar Pillow | Faux Olive Tree | Olive Tree Pot (large) | Framed Landscape Canvas | Black Ceramic Vase | White Stoneware Vase | Loveseat | Green Belgian Flax Linen Pillow Covers | Curtain Rod | Curtain Rings | Curtains — Linen Weave Vanilla Bean (enter code KELLEY for an extra 5% off lowest sale price) | Black End Table | Large Cement Vase | Smaller Cement Vase
It’s casual and comfortable but with some structure, eclectic and collected, and I made incorporating things I love the priority. As soon as this room started coming together, I knew that it was time to update the dining room (just across the entry from the conversation room). If you missed it, I shared the before and after reveal of that space HERE. There’s a lot that’s similar but there’s a lot that’s changed… let’s break it all down.
What We Changed
Before we get into the changes, let’s chat about what stayed the same. Minus a lot of the metals, the colors are actually pretty dang similar! Aside from the warm neutrals, I planned a lot around the black French casement cabinet I already had. I’ve always really liked that piece and wanted to make it a focal point in the room. This was a favorite RH Outlet find years ago but I believe RH still carries it.
Sources: Curtains — Linen Weave Vanilla Bean (enter code KELLEY for an extra 5% off lowest sale price) | Curtain Rod | Curtain Rings | Loveseat | Large Terracotta Urn | Water Hyacinth Storage Trunk | Cane Arm Chair | Lumbar Pillow | Faux Olive Tree
It isn’t a large room and while the tall cabinet was the only furniture I used from the previous room, I was able to incorporate several accessories, accents and smaller pieces I’ve collected over the years.
So what took so long? Here’s what changed…
Honestly, the walls don’t look that different. While still a greige, we painted the walls in Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray — the warm, pale neutral I love that I also used in the kitchen and breakfast nook (see those reveals HERE). I didn’t want to go lighter at the time because the trim is SW Creamy and I wanted the trim to still look brighter than the wall color. The room has columns — also in Creamy like the rest of the trim in the main part of the house — and I couldn’t paint those without doing the rest of the trim throughout the main house. Funny story, the rest of the main part of the house is actually getting painted next week. After putting it off for a while, we’re finally going for it. So, while in the end it looks like I could have gone white in here, I still like the warmth the Edgecomb Gray gives and it’s still lighter, without the violet hues the former color had a tendency to read.
Sources: Chandelier | Sconces (similar) | Rug (8 x 10)| Bird Art Print Pair | Coffee Table | Black Carved Tray | Wooden Beads | Coffee Table Seagrass Planter (similar)| Cane Arm Chair | Lumbar Pillow | Faux Olive Tree | Olive Tree Pot (large) | Loveseat | Green Belgian Flax Linen Pillow Covers | Curtain Rod | Curtain Rings | Curtains — Linen Weave Vanilla Bean (enter code KELLEY for an extra 5% off lowest sale price) | Large Cement Vase | Smaller Cement Vase | Water Hyacinth Storage Trunk
The ceiling is the biggest change to the space. I wanted to have an architectural “statement”, but different from my typical wall treatments. I’ve never been big on the more farmhouse-style shiplap but love a good, clean plank. Instead of concentrating on the walls, I installed a planked ceiling with faux beams and then slathered it all in Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black! When I say “I”, just note – I mean “contractor” haha. (I wish I had those skills but I can only give instruction 😉 ).
Sources: Curtains — Linen Weave Vanilla Bean (enter code KELLEY for an extra 5% off lowest sale price) | Curtain Rod | Curtain Rings | Loveseat | Large Terracotta Urn | Water Hyacinth Storage Trunk | Cane Arm Chair | Lumbar Pillow | Faux Olive Tree | Olive Tree Plant Pot
Aside from the overall aesthetics, the biggest non-negotiable work-around in the room was sticking to a clean layout with easy access to the French doors. Behind those doors is our guest bedroom (you can find that reveal HERE) and keeping easy access without navigating around/squeezing past furniture did constrain the size of furnishings as well as the layout of the room. I also wanted to keep the black casement cabinet centered on the back wall. My initial plan was to have two smaller accent chairs but after taking measurements, it would have been too cramped. The loveseat situated to the left with a small coffee table and a corner chair left a clear, wide path to access the guest bedroom.
Sources: Chandelier | Sconces (similar) | Rug (8 x 10)| Bird Print Pair | Coffee Table | Black Carved Tray | Wooden Beads | Coffee Table Seagrass Planter (similar)| Cane Arm Chair | Lumbar Pillow | Faux Olive Tree | Olive Tree Pot (11″) | Black Ceramic Vase (small) | Large Cement Vase | Smaller Cement Vase | Large Gold Picture Frame | Small Gold Picture Frame | Water Hyacinth Storage Trunk
Previously, there was no overhead lighting in this space and we relied solely on lamp lighting . We had electrical run not just for an overhead fixture, but also installed wall sconces, and put them both on dimmers. With the decor and furnishings of the room being on the more casual side, the lighting was an opportunity to dress up the space a little more. The simple, more modern milkglass sconces (HERE) were inexpensive but they’re currently showing as unavailable. THESE are incredibly similar, come in four finishes, and are even less expensive than the budget friendly sconces I purchased. The only noticeable difference is that while mine have an oblong glass shape, THESE are more round. I opted against a library/art/swing arm style and instead went for sconces that would be more purposed for lighting the room.
The chandelier (HERE) has traditional elements with a more streamlined, modern shape — it was so easy to work with in terms of coordination — and I intentionally veered away from sconces with fabric shades so I wouldn’t have to think about them matching. Because there was no electrical in this room, it wasn’t that difficult for our contractor to make it happen but lots of cuts did have to be made. Now, I can dim the sconces (the pair are on one dimmer) or the overhead fixture (on another dimmer) independently of one another — the conversation room can be as well let or ambient as we want and I love that!
The Furniture (& the Accessories)…
While most of the furniture is new, it all has a more curated, collected feel. I wrote a post on mixing and matching bedroom furniture in THIS post and I may do a similar post soon, more geared towards living room furniture. As I mentioned before, this smaller space required smaller scale pieces to allow for easy passage and THIS cane back side chair was one of the first furnishings I decided on. It’s been out of stock for a while but it’s now back! It’s currently just over $300 and ships free 😉 The woven cushion has both lighter and darker thread tones, making it easy to coordinate with other upholstered furniture pieces and fabrics in the room.
I love THIS little window pane lumbar pillow so much, I actually have some going in the living room, too. It’s essentially made up of the most perfect neutrals to coordinate with almost any other color/patterned throw pillows. I wanted to add something but didn’t want to totally conceal the chair’s cane back detail so this little 14″x20″ lumbar worked perfectly. Note: it is on final sale and will be discontinued when stock runs out!
The piece I was most excited about wast THIS PB York Slope Arm loveseat. It has down blend wrapped cushions and I went for the Crypton Performance Everydaylinen in Oatmeal for the upholstery fabric. This is the same fabric my mom chose for her living room sofa and it is the most perfect neutral! It’s still light enough to brighten the space but dark enough to conceal regular wear/light discolorations. I have been so happy with my other PB performance fabric pieces, this one was a no-brainer for me (see my living room reveal with sofas in ivory performance fabric HERE, and a PB sofa comparison HERE — it contains a few styles we considered but not the York). And as far as comfort goes, it’s pretty safe to say that I love this loveseat so much, I’m pretty confident I would want our primary sofas to be this style, also. It comes in tons of fabric options, arm options (this is the slope arm), seat options (we chose the two-cushion over the bench style), and it even comes in different depths. Because we aren’t tall and this space is intended for sitting rather than lounging, I wanted something in a standard depth. We tested this sofa in-store and it was an easy and quick “yes” for us. After the furnishings were installed, I think we could have gone for a full-sized sofa but the loveseat works well. Check out all the options for this piece HERE.
Throughout the space, you’ll see lots of organic, natural and textured accents like THIS large terracotta jar urn. These vases and urns have been some of the most versatile and more used accessory investments I’ve made for our home. I always have them displayed in rooms and they’re some of the few pieces that never make it to the basement for a storage break 😉
For the side table, I wanted to tie in more black and I wanted something smaller so it wouldn’t overpower the loveseat. THIS end table is solid wood, well built and heavy. It comes in a natural wood finish, too HERE.
Because of its size, I didn’t want a lamp to overpower the space. I originally ordered THIS lamp but once it arrived and I lived with it for a while, as much as I loved it, it just seemed too small in that spot. I turned to Amazon and ordered THIS lamp for a fraction of the price (24″ and only $63, plus free shipping!) and love how it looks in person. I like how the glossier finish of the ceramic contrasts with some of the more rustic, organic elements of the room. You can find the table lamp HERE.
As a note, you can get Capri Blue candles (including this matte black Volcano candle) for 20% off this weekend HERE. I switched the matte black lid that came on this one with a gold top from a different Capri Blue candle. I use the full set that this snuffer comes with (on Amazon HERE), but singled it out for this small table.
Because we were using a loveseat for our main seating — and also because the black cabinet is centered in the room — I searched for a smaller rectangle coffee table in a classic, wooden finish. I am so pleased with the one we selected (HERE). Again, traditional but with a chunkier base and clean lines — perfect to marry the traditional and more modern elements of the room to bring a transitional, collected feel.
Sources: Coffee Table | Carved Wooden Bowl | Wooden Beads | Coffee Table Seagrass Planter (similar) | Coffee Table Book: Live Beautiful by Athena Calderone | Coffee Table Book: Made for Living: Collected Interiors for All Sorts of Styles, by Amber Lewis | Coffee Table Book: Great Houses of the South by Laurie Ossman
I topped it with three new — and now favorite — coffee table books…
- Live Beautiful by Athena Calderone
- Made for Living: Collected Interiors for All Sorts of Styles, by Amber Lewis
- Great Houses of the South by Laurie Ossman
along with accessories I already had in my arsenal. THIS strand of wood bead garland is one of my favorite, most versatile accessories for table tops and shelves. If I’m stumped, these are always a go-to! You can find them on Amazon for just over $13 HERE.
The most fun and unexpected piece in the conversation room is — without a doubt — my antique secretary desk. I don’t have much (i.e. any) experience in scoring cool secondhand finds but I had it in my mind that I wanted to find a classic secretary desk for this spot. When I searched FB marketplace, I lucked out and located this pretty piece about an hour from where I live. It still had its original placard and was built in NYC in the 1800s; given its age and fantastic deal of $100, I can’t believe the condition it was in.
I actually purchased it specifically to refinish and I kept putting it off. After a while, I realized I really liked the finish it already had. So then, I decided to update the hardware. When that arrived and I tested some new pulls, I realized I actually already liked the hardware, too haha. So – I decided to keep my sweet little $100 antique just as she was. The only thing I did do was take a Tibet Almond Stick to some of the visible scratches and nicks across the surface and legs. I’ve shared a video of that process, in action, in Instagram stories (see that video HERE) and I’m so thankful one of my mom’s movers shared the secret of this waxy little scratch repair stick! It goes on clear and you wipe it off with a clean towel; while it won’t make deep gouges disappear, it does wonders for most imperfections across all finishes we’ve tried it on. You can find it HERE.
I purchased THIS pretty art above the desk several years ago and never really landed on a place to hang it — this was another piece (along with the black cabinet) that I wanted to make sure I was able to incorporate into the conversation room.
The Window Treatments
A small change that made a major difference was switching our curtain panels to dramatic custom drapes. You just can’t get that kind of width and fullness with standard, pre-made window treatments. I have some inexpensive panels in our home that have been great, but until I experienced THESE pleated drapes (mine are in Linen Weave Vanilla Bean), I didn’t know how good curtains could be. I started in one room and over time, have added them in several rooms throughout the house. Most recently, I hung them in our dining room, also (you can see those in the reveal HERE) — which has the window positioned on the same wall as this window in the conversation room. If you are interested in seeing what they’re all about, I’d suggest trying one room — your most special/formal/loved room — and see what a difference they make. Right now, Select Blinds is offering an additional 5% off their lowest sale price if you use code KELLEY at checkout HERE.
Sources: Curtains — Linen Weave Vanilla Bean (enter code KELLEY for an extra 5% off lowest sale price) | Curtain Rod | Curtain Rings | Loveseat | Large Terracotta Urn | Water Hyacinth Storage Trunk | Cane Arm Chair | Lumbar Pillow | Faux Olive Tree | Coffee Table Seagrass Planter (similar)
I use THESE inexpensive curtain rings that have eyelet hols that work perfectly with the metal hooks on the black of the pleated drapes. I have them in black and brass and both colors have been awesome. While similar to the much less expensive Amazon curtain rod I used in the dining room (HERE), they were out of the size I needed at the time for the conversation room. I installed THIS rod which is a bit more, but I became a big fan of — I will be comparing the Amazon rod and the West Elm rod (below) in a future post!
The Personal Touch…
I didn’t want to just throw an impersonal room together — one of my goals going in to this project was to showcase sentimental and special moments through photos, family mementos, keepsakes, etc. This black cabinet is filled with nostalgia and things that mean a lot to our family — I’ll be dedicating an entire post to the contents of this cabinet soon! While the focus was to display personal items, I still brought in some more modern frames and boxes for function that would balance out all the age-old goodies.
I try to have some sort of life — even faux life 😉 — in all my rooms, but one glaringly obvious thing that was missing from this room in its prior state was a punch of green. I sprinkled in a few live plants in baskets…
a few cut limbs from the yard in lieu of flowers…
and added THIS tall, slender faux olive tree to nestle beside the black cabinet. It ships free and this weekend, you can get it on sale for $104 with code NN20! It goes perfectly in THIS 11″ concrete basket pot from Target 😉 I have other olive trees — all shorter and cost several times what this one did — and this one is probably my favorite of all.
Using a rug that actually fits the space will do wonders 😉 I originally had my eye on THIS rug for the room — it’s a rug I’ve wanted to use for years and thought this may finally be the space. Just before ordering, I found THIS rug which I also really liked, and liked it even more when I saw it would save me over $1,000 (plus, it shipped free). I ordered it in an 8’x10′ (HERE) and haven’t looked back. It’s full of warm, darker neutrals, along with lighter (ivory) and grayish blue tones and it was really easy to incorporate.
Sources: Chandelier | Sconces (similar) | Rug (8 x 10)| Bird Art Print Pair | Coffee Table | Black Carved Tray | Wooden Beads | Coffee Table Seagrass Planter (similar) | Cane Arm Chair | Lumbar Pillow | Faux Olive Tree | Tree Pot (large) | Loveseat | Belgian Flax Linen Pillow Covers | Black End Table | Large Cement Vase | Smaller Cement Vase | Large Gold Picture Frame | Small Gold Picture Frame
I’m so happy with how this little room turned out — granted, it took almost a year, but it’s so nice to have both of my front rooms complete and clean at the same time! I’ll be sharing more details on this room from the ceiling to the cabinet details to curtain rod comparisons soon. Next up — the master bathroom (among other flood room revamps, haha) and the playroom. Subscribe to emails at the bottom of the post to catch all the latest on new projects and makeovers and check out my room reveal gallery HERE to see the result of all other room makeovers.
ROOM SOURCES & DETAILS
Paint: Walls: Edgecomb Gray by Benjamin Moore | Ceiling: Tricorn Black by Sherwin Williams
Flooring: Nottaway Hickory in Weathered Saddle
Furniture: Loveseat (slope arm; Performance Everydaylinen by Crypton in Oatmeal) | Coffee Table | Black End Table | Cane Arm Chair | Black Casement Cabinet – Restoration Hardware | Secretary Desk – antique (similar 1) (similar 2)
Decorative Accents: Rug (8×10′)| Water Hyacinth Storage Trunk | Green Belgian Flax Linen Pillow Covers | Window Pane Lumbar Pillow | Faux Olive Tree | Olive Tree Plant Pot (Large) | Natural and Black Plant Basket (similar) | Large Terracotta Urn | Natural Plant Basket (similar)
Coffee Table Items: Carved Wooden Tray (medium) | Wood and Resin Coasters | Wooden Beads | Coffee Table Seagrass Planter (similar) | Coffee Table Book: Live Beautiful by Athena Calderone | Coffee Table Book: Made for Living: Collected Interiors for All Sorts of Styles, by Amber Lewis | Coffee Table Book: Great Houses of the South by Laurie Ossman
Walls & Windows: Curtains — Linen Weave Vanilla Bean (enter code KELLEY for an extra 5% off lowest sale price) | Curtain Rod | Curtain Rings | Bird Art Print Pair | Framed Landscape Canvas | Scallop Gold Leaf Mirror