How My Living Room Decor Has Evolved

Ideas on how to decorate a living room while allowing it to change and evolve over time to fit your life and personal style.

When I think back to how the room used to look, I realize just how much the room has evolved to make it fit the setting of the house and my personal style of decorating.

I liked everything I did in the room over the years and don’t regret anything. The longer we lived in the house, the more I could see just what the room needed. The decor became more in tune with what is most important in the room… the view out the sliding glass doors to the lake.

The Living Room – BEFORE

living room before - previous owners decor

If you have been a long time reader, you may remember how the living room looked when we first saw the house with our real estate agent. Here is a photo of the room with the previous owners furnishings.

Once we moved in, I started removing and updating right away. The process has been ongoing ever since. One that I enjoy and will never be done doing as life changes, so must the spaces we live in.

Fixer upper house wall demolition

The first big change was removing the wall with a pocket door between the kitchen and living room.

Fixer upper lake house living room

We removed it with the help of a contractor.

Opening a wall in an old house

It took some time, but was worth the effort.

With the wall removed, the view to the lake was doubled from both the kitchen and living room.

After this everything else we have done in the room, we have done ourselves to save money.

Brick wall with wood book shelves

On the opposite side of the room, we covered up this brick wall with…

Airstone Fireplace makeover

…white vertical paneling. We also built a stone fireplace using a product called AirStone.

The mantel is from the top of a dining room hutch that was in our previous house. We no longer had a place for it and nobody wanted it so we had to break it apart, but saved the top to use as a mantel.

How to install vertical wood plan paneling over a brick wall.
Wall Color: SW Pure White

I wasn’t sure yet what style of furniture I wanted for the room, so we brought the outdoor furniture into the room until we bought new furniture a piece at a time.

How to care for white slipcovers

On the long wall is the only place for the sofa. I have always had a slipcovered sofa. This one was a tie-on slipcover over a navy blue sofa from our previous house.

Living room furniture arranging ideas

I bought a new console table and placed it behind the sofa. It gave me a surface for a much needed lamp and decorative accessories.

Clock on wall in blue and white decorated living room

Eventually I bought a new Rolled Arm Slipcovered Sofa from Pottery Barn, made an oversize Fixer Upper Wall Clock and began to change the decorative accessories out every season. Blue pillows means it’s summer. :-)

Getting The Hardwood Floor Refinished

Orange toned wood floor with oil-based polyurethane before getting refinished with the Bona Hardwood Floor Refinishing System

When the hardwood floor was refinished is when I began to like the room. Up until this point, I always felt no matter what I added to the room, the orange floor always stuck out.

living room decorated for fall

The only time the floor looked OK was in the fall when I added fall colors to the room.

Dining area in kitchen

The new grey floor stain made a huge difference. I finally felt I could do what I really wanted decor wise and not have to deal with the orange wood-tone anymore.

Large white washed basket with a faux fern in it in a living room.

How My Living Room Looks Now

Faux barnwood paneled wall in living room with photo gallery, white sofa with green pillows and seagrass rug.

Sofa | Console Table | Rug | Barnwood Panels | Frames | Coffee Table | Pillows

My house is on a point lot with the lake on 3 sides and tall pines all over our property. With nature all around us, I wanted the living room to reflect that so the two felt seamless. About a year ago I came up with a name for the decorating style of my living room.

I call the style, White and Woodsy. It is a little bit traditional, not quite rustic, but has a nod to it. It’s casual and laid back, but overall has a bit of polish and uniformity.

After going back and forth on ways to make the clock pop and add more of a cozy feel to the room, I chose to accent these two walls with Barnwood paneling instead of painting them a color.

Adding it made the room come together instantly. I wouldn’t want it everywhere, but as an accent it works well.

January decorating ideas for living rooms. Rustic and cozy corner.

Wall Clock | Lamp

It is cozy, yet bright and cheery. Cozy is more than a look, cozy is a feeling and I wanted it for this room.

I created the gallery wall to create interest and to see the people I love the most on a daily basis.

The Fireplace

Fireplace decorated for the winter months.

I change what is on the mantel seasonally, most of the time restyling items I already own in new ways.

I looked for a long time to find comfy chairs that not only recline, but rock and swivel all around. This allows us to face the TV, the lake or swivel around to look at the fireplace.

Full Room View

Small room fall decorating ideas.

Pom Pom Ottoman Slipcovers | White Sideboard

The size of the room is 15′ x 16′. Not large, so I like to keep the furnishings minimal and cohesive.

To create a conversational grouping of furniture in the room, two chairs across from the sofa would have made the space feel cramped and the chair backs would block the view to the lake.

Instead, for more seating that visually doesn’t block the view, the pair of ottomans works perfectly. Extra and moveable seating when needed while adding to the decor.

I painted the existing ceiling fan white.

Autumn decorated living room using items from nature to create a white and woodsy look.

This wide-angle shot kind of distorts the room and makes it look larger than it is, but you can get a better overall feel for the space.

Sliding Glass Doors & TV Wall

Living room with Bona refinished floor after one year.

I semi-made the extra wide drapery panels on the sliding glass doors by sewing two pre-made panels together. The TV is on a swing arm mount so we can easily change the angle to the kitchen or living room.

Decorative Details Around the Room

Green moss globe on floor in whitewashed terracotta pot.
Large basket made into a diy end table. It sits next to a brown chair with a white throw and pillow. A floor lamp behind with a dimmable socket to adjust the light.

Basket Table | Floor Lamp

Finished Planter Now with an Aged Concrete finish.

Faux Concrete Planter

Fireplace wood storage in living room.

Firewood Storage

styling a coffee table

Coffee Table Styling

blue and green pillows on white sofa

White painted mantel with classic decor on top.

Long reclaimed wood planter with dried hydrangeas on white mantel.

Seasonal Changes

One reason I like neutral walls and seating is that I can easily change out the decorative accessories to seasonal colors and not worry about having things match or coordinate. No matter what color I place in the room, it goes. No set color scheme to have to work with.

summer decorated living room
Christmas decorated living room using red and plaid.
Living room decorated for fall using brown and green color scheme.
Floor to ceiling built in DIY plate rack wall

The view from the kitchen to the living room. My latest project was creating this plate rack wall. It provides a nice transition between the two rooms.

White spray painted planter filled with white hydrangeas on coffee table

I know that was a lot of photos, but they tell the story of how the room has evolved over 5 years we have lived in the house.

9 grid gallery wall in living room with grasscloth wallpaper remnant photo frame mats.

The room will never be done as I enjoy changing the decor seasonally and whenI tire of something. I also know that my life and tastes may change, so will this room.

Easy to make fireplace cover for living room

Do you like to change things up in your living room for the seasons or as your tastes and circumstances change?

3 images of living room decorated with white and green, Text says Living room decorating ideas

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  1. Nice work. I like the hardwood tiles, it also look nice with the wall design.

  2. usvintagewood says:

    In 2021 and beyond, people will likely embrace segmented rooms and create a space that feels engaging for one purpose and separate from the rest of the home.

  3. Diane, I’ve followed your decorating every step of the way since you moved – can’t believe it’s been 5 years!
    Can you please tell us where you purchased that white/beige urn for the firewood kindling? I’ve been looking for a tall one like that.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lori – I bought the urn two years ago at Target. Here is the link as they still have it up on their site, but it is sadly sold out:

  4. Linda Weeks says:

    I do like changing up my living room periodically, but I’m trying not to use paint just now – everytime I get the painting stuff out, my husband says “But we just painted this room!”
    So… best regards, I’m going to go ‘shop my house’ for some more inspiration!

  5. Franki Parde says:

    I enjoyed this immensely!! So much like our daughter’s home next door they are refurbishing…yes, 3 sides a lake, too. Luv the mantle DIY!!! We do ALL the work ourselves..franki

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Franki – my fellow DIYer. :-) – DIYing may seem like a chore sometimes, but I love when you DIY, you get to design and improve things just the way you envision, plus for a whole lot less than hiring a contractor.

  6. I love the room now, especially the CHRISTMAS picture! Lol, that one makes my heart sing, Diane. I had forgotten the previous owners decorating style… really did not belong in that house. It was more appropriate for your previous house! I immediately thought how uncomfortable it would feel being inside in a very traditional room and looking outside at all that nature. Like two worlds colliding. Your home, regardless of its location, has always been comfortable looking. Thank you for sharing all these pictures again!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sharon – I agree. When we first moved in, I removed the large and ornate drapery rods and custom made workroom drapes from every room and donated them. They would be perfect for a classic traditional home – just way too formal for the house. I love to decorate, but casual and comfy will always be part of my style. Hope you have a nice weekend.

  7. I love this recap, and everything about your home and blog. Its not really my style but I have gotten so many good ideas from your DIY’s . Keep up the good ideas, and good work! Thank you

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Teri – This is what I love to hear. :-) I love to share and love it even more when what I do inspires readers to create something in their own style.

  8. How beautiful – the before and after pictures are amazing. My daughter-in-law (North Carolina) just did similar above the fireplace. The oversized clock and some horizontal ship lap all in white. The had a home built in Waxhaw, NC.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Jane – I love white-faced Roman numeral clocks. Something about them just speaks to me. I bet your DIL’s new home is dreamy. I know I would love it from your description.

  9. Love your space! We wanted to do an air stone wall, but sadly haven’t been able to find it in stores since we moved 2 years ago. Tha KS for sharing your room.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lisa – I used AirStone in my previous house too. It is a great product. I bought it at Lowes. Have you contacted the company to see where it is sold near you? Here is their contact info:

  10. I too, have been watching since before your move to the LAKE. Thank you for the review. I enjoyed it so much. PS where did you find the swivel chairs?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Laura –

      I searched for some time for the chairs. Ed is always happy with how I decorate the house, but he wanted really comfy recliners – so I gave in. IT was a good decision as the chairs are where everyone likes to sit. I started my search for pretty upholstered ones, but none were very comfortable. When I would find a chair, I would have Ed try them out for comfort until I found the ones we bought.

      Here is a link to the chair:

      There is a list of options you can add to most of the companies recliners. We opted for the rocker and swivel base.

  11. Connie McGhee says:

    I’m sure you must have told us at the time but who is the manufacturer of your swivel recliner chairs?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Connie –

      The swivel recliners are made by Southern Motion. Here is a link to the chairs I have:

      The company has many recliners that you can add the swivel option.

  12. Hi Dianne! I feel the same as Tiffanie when reading your posts. She is right it does feel like if we were next to each other chatting. Sometimes over a cup of coffee or tea! ??
    You’re home is beautiful! You’re so talented and creative! So many amazing ideas! Thank you so much for sharing your passion with us!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Eilana – Thank you so much for taking the time to leave me such a nice compliment. XO I truly enjoy sharing what I do and feel blessed that I have been able to use the blog as a way to do it.

  13. It’s been fun watching your home change over the years, Diane! Although I don’t copy your ideas, you definitely inspire me, so thank you!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Karen – That is what I love to hear. If we all copied and had the same things, the world would be a pretty boring place. I love seeing personal style reign and am happy that I can help to inspire it in others.

  14. Hi Diane, I so enjoy reading your posts! You have such a coversational, friendly, writing style–it sounds like you’re just chatting with us. And you explain your ideas and processes so simply and clearly. Above and beyond the specific items and decor you choose, I feel like any reader can enjoy and learn how to go about styling their home in creative, affordable and beautiful ways. Thanks for sharing your beautiful home with us!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Tiffanie – Thank you for such a nice compliment. XO

      I truly appreciate it. A few of my friends that have known me for years, often tell me that when they read my blog, it is like I am with them chatting just as if we were hanging out together. I embrace that as I don’t try to be anything but myself.

      When I wrote my book, Instant Decorating back in the 1990’s, my editor from the publisher, BHG told me I wasn’t a writer. I told her that I write in a way that feels right for me. A few years later she told me that the book was their top seller in the craft/decorating niche. It taught me that I didn’t have to fit a mold to be successful, just be true to myself. :-)

  15. Karen Simon Peterson says:

    Diane, I’ve been reading your blog since before you moved to the lake house. I loved your previous home and I, also, love what you’ve done with this one. The latest iteration of the living room is lovely. The only thing I don’t like are the outdoor ottomans. I know they really come in handy when the family visits, but if you took them away for every day, you could easily bring them back. I think they make the room look very crowded. Yours was the first blog I ever subscribed to and o matter what you decide I’ll still be a loyal reader.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Karen – Thanks for being such a long time and loyal reader. :-) That is the best thing a blogger can hear. XO I love the ottomans, especially since I added the pom-pom covers and have used them for years. I do move them out of the room when they are not needed – that is why I love them so much – so versatile and easy to move and store. Usually for blog photos, I put them in the room to show ways to create a seating area in a small space.

  16. Diane, love your living room . Two questions: Did you refinish your floors or hire it out? If you did them can you do a post on the process?
    Where did you purchase your drapes that you semi DIY’d with sewing the panels together.
    Thank you for your responses.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Mary –

      I didn’t refinish the floors in my living room and kitchen. I used a Bona Certified Contractor. I wrote a series of 3 posts about the process. You can start it here:

      For the drapes – I bought them at Target a few years ago. I also bought sheers to line them. Both are no longer sold, but you could use any standard drape and do what I did. I have a full – tutorial on how I made them. You can find that here:

  17. LaRue Grantham says:

    I love the way you decorated with the barn wood as a vocal point. It really makes your room look stylish and cozy!!! Beautiful!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thank you so much LaRue. :-)

  18. Your style is so perfect for the location, Diane. I love it all!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Terry – It took me some time to figure it out, but I am very happy with how it has evolved.

  19. I love your home! It looks cozy and inviting. And I love that a lot of your decorating is using and updating things you already have. I like to do that very same thing, and have been for a very long time.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Kelly – It is my favorite kind of decorating – reusing and repurposing. Kindred spirits. xo

  20. Love every single thing about your living room…except that dark paneling on 2 walls…the removal of wall between living room and kitchen a great idea, and the fireplace surround and the white board wall are so fresh-looking. But again: that dark paneling! Just my uneducated opinion!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Be Sul – I went back and forth between painting a dark color on the walls or adding the wood look. They needed accent. It is not for everyone, even me, if you read the post about it, it was never my style. But living in a natural setting, it feels right for the space.

  21. Such a BEAUTIFUL home! I love your refinished floors and hope to do the same to my orange floors?. Can you tell me what product was used to achieve this beautiful color?

    1. Carla from Kansas says:

      She has blog posts on redoing the floors. She used Bono refinishing. The posts are great.

      1. Thank you so much❤️

  22. Katherine says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed seeing this transformation! Wow! I’ll be back again and again to study all this so when I can finally go shopping! Can’t wait!

  23. Warm, inviting and so very comfortable looking. Inspiring me as I rethink a living room do over. Thanks for the tour Diane…
    Love your new picture, you look beautiful and quite chic!

  24. Hi Diane! I enjoyed seeing your living room pictures/refreshes through the years. I think your current style is just perfect for your life by the lake. I like to change my mantle decor seasonally too. You’re very talented!

  25. Your home is beautiful! Can’t wait to see more to inspire me……..