Living room makeover with light and color

Getting enough light into the main floor of our home has always been a problem. We live in the woods and our downstairs windows are shadowed by porches on three sides. Also, I’m not sure why, but the contractor who built our home never installed any ceiling lights in the living room. Floor and table lamps provide our only source of light at night. My husband has even complained that the lack of light may be giving him headaches. (Or could it be two cranky kids whining for snacks before dinner? Hmmm.) 😉
Our plans are to someday add recessed lights in the living room ceiling. But since we have a two-story home, that project will likely be complicated. In the meantime, I discovered a quick, easy and inexpensive way to add more light in the space without tearing holes in the ceiling or calling an electrician.
GE-Reveal-halogen-bulb-packagesI recently picked up enough GE reveal® halogen bulbs to replace all the light bulbs in our living room lamps. These bulbs are designed to filter the dull, yellow rays of traditional soft white bulbs and illuminate your home with clean, beautiful light. GE reveal® bulbs claim to make colors and patterns pop, enhance the look of wood grains, and make whites appear whiter.
So I switched out all the light bulbs in our dark, dingy living room with GE reveal® bulbs and I was pleasantly surprised at the results. Check out the comparison photos I took below. The light bulb on the left was a CFL that was in our lamp before. The one on the right is the GE reveal® halogen bulb I replaced it with. (No photo enhancements were done to either picture.)
GE-Reveal-transformationI replaced a total of five bulbs in our living room. My husband commented when he got home from work that it seemed brighter in there and that the lighting looked more natural, and less “yellow-ish.” I especially love how these bulbs light up the special reading nook in the living room, where I get to snuggle our toddler every day. 

In addition to my quick and easy lighting makeover, I decided to add pops of blue in the living room to balance and “cool” the yellow and brown tones of our wood flooring and living room walls. I typically like to keep my furniture, walls and flooring neutral and then add color through the decorations. This allows me to completely change the look of a room without a lot of hassle and without spending a lot of money. For example, I incorporated blue into the living room through my rug, pillows, artwork and throw blanket.


Can you spy my Pottery Barn knockoff DIY birch candles on the mantel? Find out how to make your own here.

Living-room-blue-decorations Living-room-decorations-fireplace-2014

I can’t believe how much difference changing out my light bulbs and incorporating an accent color make in this room.


I added my DIY driftwood candleholder to our side table. This is one of my all-time-favorite thrifty projects. Check out how to make your own here.

Driftwood-candleholder-and-lamp Picture-display-in-living-room

Now let’s take a stroll down memory lane and see what my living room looked like before the light and color makeover.


And, just for fun, here are some photos of the way before, back a couple of years ago.

BEFORE living-room-spring BEFORE Fall-mantel-environmental BEFORE new lights and blues Neutral-living-room

What a difference a few, small changes can make in a room! In the comments below, tell me what you want to reveal in your home with GE reveal® lighting for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card to complete your own #100reveal.

Sweepstakes Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion using #100reveal; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

3. Blog about this promotion using #100reveal, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry. 

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 1/19/2015 – 3/1/2015.

Be sure to visit the GE reveal® Lighting brand page on where you can read other bloggers’ posts!


Special thanks to GE reveal® and BlogHer for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions – and sweat equity – are 100 percent mine. 

Holiday home tour

Today I thought I’d share some of the Christmas decorations we’ve got going on around here. Believe it or not, this is the first year we’ve added a live tree to the decor, which makes a total of three trees in our house right now. Whew! However, one is in our daughter’s bedroom and that space is not fit for pictures, so you won’t see it featured in this holiday home tour. 😉

I’ll start with our dining room. I decided to go with primarily red, green and gold accents.


I really wanted to incorporate some plaid napkins this year. I got the ones you see in the pictures online from World Market (with a 10 percent off coupon). Plaid seems to be having a moment right now.


I went with a traditional look in the dining room, which means I also tried to incorporate some traditional treats for dinner guests, including this bowl of mixed nuts.


Every year, I have a vision of what I want the main rooms in our house to look like for the holidays, based on inspiration I see in magazines and online. Of course, the vision in my head is often not how things turn out. But at least the basic idea is achieved, hopefully. I’m calling this year’s dining room “Chevy Chase Traditional” because it reminds me of decorations you might see in his home in that movie. Would you agree?

Moving on to our living room, I went for more of a natural, rustic look.


This is the room with the live tree. Gosh, a real tree is a lot of work!


The mantel includes my DIY wooden tag ornaments as well as my Pottery Barn knockoff DIY birch candles and eBay snowshoes.

Flocked-mini-Christmas-tree Birch-candles-on-mantel Snowshoes-on-mantel Wooden-reindeer Santa-and-sign

If you’re interested in where I got any of the other mantel decorations, I have a detailed post here.

We displayed our Christmas village on the TV stand in the living room.


My favorite decoration by far is the tiny nativity set I got while on a mission trip to Guatemala.


In the kitchen, I try to keep the counters pretty clear so there’s plenty of room for holiday baking. 🙂 I focus mainly on decorating the area above the cabinets.




I try to dress the staircase because it’s the first thing people see when they walk into our home. I’m still in awe of what a difference my poor-man’s wainscoting makes in our entryway.


Speaking of thrifty transformations, it still makes me smile every time I look at our front door. It is amazing what some paint and hardware can do!


For details and jaw-dropping before and after photos of our front door redo, click here.

Before I go, I want to remind you that Duluth Trading Co. is giving away $200 worth of gift cards on the blog right now! To get your paws on one of them, hurry over and enter to win here.

Happy holiday decorating!

Christmas mantel decorations (plus ‘big’ news)

I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving break. We were able to visit family and friends in Michigan, my husband’s home state (Go Blue), which is always a treat. Sometimes it is good to take a break from the normal, don’t you think? Although I’ve found it can be tough to get back in the groove of things. 😉

Today I thought I’d share my Christmas mantel decorations with you. I’ve got a whole lot of decorating still to do (sigh), but at least this area is finished. Here’s a peek at the whole enchilada:


I definitely had a theme I was going for this year, which I’ve dubbed “rustic elegant.” I wanted the mantel to feel cozy and woodsy, but also sparkly and bright. Oh, and of course everything had to be budget-friendly.

The snowshoes were the most expensive purchase.


They cost a total of about $60 on eBay. I’ve been eyeing them literally for years, so I finally just sucked it up and bought them. Part of the reason I was OK with the $60 is because I know they can be used as decorations all winter long, not just at Christmastime.

I bought the fabric “Peace on Earth” print for $15 on clearance at HomeGoods.

I DIYed the faux birch candles about two weeks ago.


You can read all about how to knock off your own version of Pottery Barn’s birch candles here.


I fell in love with these fur stockings at Target. Once I touched them in the store, I was hooked. I think they were $13 apiece. Since we had our son two years ago, we’ve been one stocking short. So this was my opportunity to justify buying a matching set. 😉 We usually put up a stocking for our dog, Howie, too. But since I didn’t want to pay another $13 for a dog’s stocking, I decided to just use one of our old stockings and hang it up on a cabinet in the kitchen above Howie’s food and water bowls. 🙂 I dressed up the fur stockings with a few snowflake ornaments I had on hand.


For the tiny tree, I wanted to give it a flocked look, so I added some spray faux snow and fake cobwebs left over from my Halloween decorations. The wooden tags were extras I didn’t use in my Thanksgiving tablescape. I brush-painted them with gold craft paint, used a permanent black marker for the words, and hung them with pieces of twine.


I picked up this cute wooden reindeer years ago from a supermarket, of all places. I like to fill him with poinsettias every year. These flowers came from Sam’s Club.


My mother-in-law gave me the woodland Santa. I added some height by standing him on a wooden bowl turned upside-down. The gold sign came from the Dollar Tree years ago.

Everything else dressing the mantel is stuff I already had from Christmases past.


Have you decorated your mantel for the holidays yet?

Before I go, I wanted to give you some “big” news. Remember the BLACK+DECKER Your Big Finish campaign I participated in recently?

Well, my hallway molding project will actually be featured on a Times Square billboard! I consider that pretty “big” news. 😉


Now, in all fairness, many other folks’ projects will be featured there, too. In fact, your project could appear on a Times Square billboard! So if you’ve recently finished a DIY project and your family members haven’t given you the props you deserve, enter your project in the BLACK+DECKER Your Big Finish Home Renovation Contest. You could see yourself on a billboard and win $10,000. Find out more here.

Later this week, I’ll be back with more Christmas decorations and a few free holiday printables.