Maybe Matilda: Living Room Tour + Gallery Wall Tips

Monday, February 11, 2013

Living Room Tour + Gallery Wall Tips

Remember how 6ish months ago, we bought our first home? And although it had great ‘bones’ and tons of potential, it was a bit of a mess when we moved in? (If you’d like, you can revisit the ‘before’ tour HERE.) Certainly not terrible, not much demolition involved, but very bland, very boring, very neglected and abused by previous owners, and very dirty and disgusting.

Well, we’ve worked hard, as I’m sure I’ve made abundantly clear by my near-constant complaining about it, but we really got burned out a few months in and have mostly taken the winter off from home renovations. And although I’ve had all sorts of great intentions to post in-progress and after pictures, there is no after in sight, not to mention that it’s rarely to never clean enough for an unembarrassing in-progress picture.

But I figured I’d put on my big girl panties and tidy up one room today so I could start a proper tour. (I’d like you to know that besides the typical household/toddler clutter, I found two cars, one firetruck, and one Christmas countdown block hidden in the couch. Like, wedged into cushions and under pillows. My son is a scavenger and a packrat and displays many early hoarder warning signs.) To start out my house tour, I picked the room that is seen the most by outsiders anyway and is thusly the most finished room in the house. Gotta impress the neighbors, duh.

Blue + Green Living Room by maybe matilda

I wanted to keep this room kind of soft and subtle, but still welcoming and cozy. So hopefully the above picture made you think, “My, that room is soft and subtle, but I’m really getting some welcoming and cozy vibes.”

The rug makes the occasional appearance in Instagram pictures, and I almost always get a question about it. You can find it HERE on Overstock. It is actually an outdoor rug, which I was a little worried about—would it feel scratchy or uncomfortable or plasticky or something? But no, I’ve been very happy with it. It seems that outdoor rugs are much more affordable than most indoor ones, but it’s plenty soft and comfortable for bare feet inside. It definitely isn’t fluffy like some indoor rugs—it’s a tight, dense weave—but I have zero complaints and wouldn’t hesitate to buy it again.

I sewed the pillows on the couch and chairs, and just yesterday picked up two new pillows for under $10 each at Ross to toss on the window seat.

Cozy Windowseat

And although no one ever sits and reads there, I made sure to set a book out to make sure you picture me serenely reading and pondering while snow falls gently outside, maybe sipping hot cocoa with a dog sleeping at my feet. This has never happened. But it makes for a nice mental scene, doesn’t it?

And as long as it’s clean and straightened up in here, I really enjoy the view as I come down the stairs in the morning. I love the blue and green accents, and I love how they look against the silvery wall color. I like how the natural accents (like the wicker chairs and burlap lampshades and twiggy vignette on the side table) keep it looking kind of cozy and homey and comfortable.

Blue, Green, Gray living room

Now, I always seem to get comments from friends and visitors on the photo gallery wall (which secretly thrills me to no end, because I feel like a really good gallery wall can be kind of hard to achieve). So, I’ll give you a few details on it.

Photo Gallery Wall by maybe matilda

I spent lots of time looking up and comparing different gallery walls, and here’s what I decided my preferences are:

1. I like gallery walls to be more or less symmetrical. Not perfect, and not a grid, but I do like them to have a sense of order and shape and symmetry. (For instance, on mine, it is roughly rectangular instead of a big frame blob; the edges are more or less straight/grid-like; and the frames meet and connect pretty well without any big gaps or spaces between, or random frame outliers that don’t fit in and make sense with the overall shape.)

2. I like the frames to be close together. I see a lot of gallery walls with bigger spaces between the frames—personally, I think anything more than, say, 3 inches makes it look kind of haphazard and unplanned.

3. I like the pictures to have a theme—same/similar frames, same/similar photo coloring (like all black and white shots, or all prints from the same photo session, or at least photos with similar colors/editing). I purposely planned our outfits in these pictures to match the d├ęcor, and tossed in coordinating scrapbook papers in two frames for a little subtle variety and texture.

4. I think they should be hung low on the wall. A decorating pet peeve of mine is when art/photos/mirrors/etc. are hung too high on a wall. Who wants to have to crane their neck and tip their head back to look at your family pictures? Have you ever been in a house with photos or art hung just a few inches from the ceiling? I have, and I’ve got to say, I think that looks a bit silly. Art has no business being almost at the roofline. According to my interior designer mom, wall art should be hung at eye level.

Here is my gallery wall setup:

Photo Gallery Wall Setup by maybe matilda

All the frames are Virserum frames from Ikea—I purchased them months ago, so I could be remembering wrong, but I think that I spent something like $70 for all of the frames. You really can’t beat Ikea’s frame prices.

Now, just for before and after purposes, and because it makes me so happy to know that we made this house not look like this anymore, here’s the living room when we moved in:

living room before

Very bland, very boring, very carpeted (do you see the windowseat on the far left? Even it was carpeted!), and, although this photo is not a scratch-n-sniff so you’ll just have to take my word for it, very stinky. I think our changes are a definite improvement. And check out the view through the front door when we bought the house:

entry view before

Compared to the view from the front door today:

Bright and cozy entryway

Much better.

For other home progress posts, you can check out the kitchen renovation and the staircase makeover. And I’ll work on getting the rest of the house in presentable condition.


  1. Wow, it looks awesome! I absolutely love the flooring you put in. And umm, why in the world would you carpet a windowseat??? Very strange! I love what you have done, it definitely does look soft and subtle, yet welcoming and cozy! :)

  2. Looking good lady. The book was an extremely nice touch. I'm going to have to take notes from this post!!

    Your patterned rug is making me feel okay about my newest rug adventure!

  3. i love it! and yes that rug is amazing, im off to search for one:)

  4. What a beautiful makeover! Wow! The colors are so calming and welcoming. I do love the windowseat - its my favorite (well, the rug too). I'm in the makeover process here (slowly) with my tiny living room. Time to get movin!

  5. I love your soft and subtle, but still welcoming and cozy living room. I'm really digging the window seat. And way to be with the opened book. Opened books or magazines give movement to photos-- something I learned in the Haven photography session. You're practically a professional without any formal training.

    In closing, I hope you like my home office gallery wall because I definitely went against some of your preferences. But maybe my gallery wall will change your mind.

  6. It looks very pretty (in a welcoming, cozy sort of way)! I think you guys have done a great job. The window seat looks awesome. Next time I come over, I want to see you perched there with your hot chocolate and book.(And Forrest on the other end with his phone would be a nice touch, too.)

  7. Looking fantastic - what a transformation!!

  8. Your front room is gorgeous - I esp. love the side table area and the rug! The view from the front door is very enticing. Even though it's slow-going, it looks like when it's all done it'll be a gorgeous home!

  9. Love it! Apparently I have similar tastes for a gallery wall. Right now we have 3 photos hanging in our living room that I love...they go together because they are all sepia tone with black frames. But I want to update it, and put current family photos in it...but I struggle with the thought of buying new frames and getting different colored prints so they all match. One of them though, I can't change. It's antiqued picture of the temple, which I really still want to include...but I don't want a whole wall of antiqued pictures!! Gah. So I sit and think about it occasionally and do nothing. Any suggestions?

  10. Super cute...I loooove that window seat! :)

  11. I'm totally jealous of your ability to get photos up onto the wall! Our wedding photos are still on the flash drive (and we got married in July 2011!).

    P.S. Thanks for the great crocheted heart tutorial! I am using them as valentine gifts for my second grade nuggets.

    Jordan @ Let Them Eat Paste

  12. Wow what a huge improvement! I really love this room. I want to know the secret of keeping the plant alive, because I killed one just like that a few months ago.

    I can also totally see you on that window ledge reading. I bet it's great in the summer!

  13. Oh my goodness that room! I absolutely love the pillows and the rug and the pictures! So beautiful! :)

  14. Love it! And crazy that they had carpet on the window seat. I love how you refinished it. And, something random, for some reason I was picturing your console in your dining room when you've posted pictures of it in the past. Even though I've seen the pictures of your dining room. Funny how you can imagine up a house you've never actually been in, huh?

  15. You have done a great job with the house and don't worry about taking a break from the renovations. I feel like I get energized in waves to do home improvements, and when the wave is done, it's done. I also agree with you about hanging pictures but my husband and I have had to figure out what "eye level" actually means since he is a full foot taller than me!

  16. Beautiful! I think my favorite part of the gallery wall is how you put some matching patterned paper in as well. What a neat idea! I've got plans for a gallery wall soon, I may just have to copy a tad. :)

  17. This room is perfect! It's so bright and cheery. I think my favorites have to be the rug and the window seat, although the pillows are super cute... and the gallery wall is a nice touch, too. I guess I just love it all. ;) Thanks for the tips on the gallery wall, by the way. I have everything to make one in our bedroom, but now to find the motivation to put it together!

  18. So pretty! Loving the "after" fo sho! (:

  19. That room is quite soft and subtle. But also so welcoming!!

    Truly though, I love it. You have a touch. And I need you to come to my house and help me with a gallery wall. I'm not patient enough and they never come out right.

  20. I think I just wrote this on a different post, but I really love how your living room came together. Seriously jealous of that window seat! =) I love the rug too, it pulls all the colors together so well. Nice job!

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