Design on a Centime – La Salle de Sejour (The Living Room)

Oct 13, 2009 | Parisienne Farmhouse Design | 24 comments

A view from the staircase. A riot of color. Cozy and hopefully, a little chic too.
Here we go again.
About 5 years ago I decided to give my “style” a name, especially since at the time I was doing a lot more design and furniture painting for clients.Parisienne Farmhouse
“Pied-á-Terre to Maison des Pierres Chic”

I loved that style name then, in fact I shouted out when the thought plopped into my mind and I love it now. This room is about 4 years in the making and definitely falls under: “Parisienne Farmhouse”. We have been in this house for about seven years and about four years ago I had finally scrapped everything we had started with and began to head in the direction of the photos you will see below.

There was not a specific room in a magazine or book that inspired me, instead with our living room I went with colors that I love. I wanted it to be cozy and inviting, a little funky, a little formal and then a little ratty too with chipped and worn furniture. People walk in and are surprised at my decision to paint and hang bright blue crystals from my chandelier and the splashes of orange and a bright green couch also surprise.
This is where I am “at” right now. Though my heart completely flip flops at the “Gustavian Swedish” meets “Tailored Monochromatic Versailles” but I am not ready to scrap this room and start over. (King Gustav reigned in Sweden while Marie Antoinette reigned at Versailles and the two styles I think compliment each other quite well). I am not quite sure what to do with my love for those two looks. Sure I could remove the paprika colored toile curtains and slipcover all my furniture with drop clothes for an affordable start…but I can’t bring myself to do it yet.
I have decided to keep my eyes open for the next couple years and if affordable pieces come along that can gently take the room in that direction I am open to that and would be thrilled to start adding those beautiful muted grays, blues, creams and off whites. But like I said, I am nowhere near that look right now. I love everything in this room (except my horrible curtain rods and hardware and lack of rug…I think a neutral sisal would look sa-weet!).
As always, these “Design on a Centime” posts are meant to inspire. But, I post them ever so humbly. There is so much design talent on the internet – one could easily be intimidated into never sharing…
We live on a VERY modest budget and in the last 18 months there has been ‘nil budget for design. Still, there is no excuse for ugly, dull, boring homes these days. We live in an age with a resale shop and garage sale on every corner. You do however, have to have patience if you are going to design on a centime (dime) and sometimes you have to set your pride aside as a room sits partly bare as you wait to hit the jackpot. And let me tell you, you never know when you will hit the jackpot.
Vintage/Shabby Chic/Antique/Parisienne Farmhouse/Cottage…all these styles, when done with care are very economical in that you can 99.9% of the time get your money back and most of the time you can make more when you turn around and sell a particular item. These kind of furnishings acru in value and for the most part do not depreciate. On the other hand, walk into your typical furniture store be it high end or one of those horrible “no payments til 2099” stores, buy a living room set and put it out on your garage sale four years later and you are going to loose money…a lot of money.
I am repeating text from other design posts but I am very blessed in that Joel and I are on the same page as far as our furnishings go. We are not big “loungers.” I get no pressure to have a big sofa or sectionals. As the family grows that may change – it’s a smaller room by today’s standards (high 200’s or 300ish square feet) and a sectional would ruin it. Our king size bed meets our sectional/family snuggle area needs anyways!
These are not the best photos – chickens running around and me with a runny nose. But I hope you find a bit of inspiration. I will, as requested post prices (and location found) to show you that you really can design an entire room for probably the cost of a new furniture store sofa!
Et voila…

Oh, I would commit highway robbery for a real fireplace. This one however, I found at the wonderful Amish Auction Shipshewana in Indiana. The auctioneer saw me coming a mile away and started the bidding way to high but I did get it for $75.
The mirror I found around the corner at a junk shop, it is delightfully corroding, $30. The frame on the floor brings in the orangey, coral thing I have going on again and I found it at a garage sale for $5. I love that little robins egg blue dresser thingy – We found it one morning at a local park’s antique sale for $25. It stores a hoard of Gourmet and French Maison et Decor magazines.

This is one of my least favorite parts of the room. I do love the table on a table thing but the photographs need to be redone (Amélie is NOT well represented). The black table was $5 at a garage sale the first year we were married, it really is a rickety piece of junk but it’s cute and holds Shakespeare’s entire works, a birthday gift from Joel a few years ago. The larger table underneath is just another 1970’s yucky thing from an estate sale in town. It has two marble inserts and was $25. I painted it a couple different layers and then antiqued it.
The candlesticks are from Paris,  circa 1910. They must be from a church because they are three sided with each member of the holy family on each side. I used to have these wonderful, funky, yellow and white candles in them. But alas, things do get broken when you have small children. I got them from a friend (Kerry!) whose taste is beyond amazing).

This cabinet holds the TV we don’t watch (except NASCAR). I got it for $50 at a barn sale down the road, it’s been stripped but I actually like the finish as is for now. We were told it’s from a nearby home that was done in a castle theme – thus the cool “coat of arms” on the from. We took the back off so the TV would have room.

The moulding in this room used to be purple. That is the best way to describe it. You know that reddish/purple color that some women get their hair done in? That color that is NOT found in nature? Yeah, that one. Well, I had found the wall color and done the walls and was totally smitten when I inquired to hubby if I could dry brush the trim. He said, God bless him, “Go for it.”
Much of it is not original to the house in this room anyways, I mean look at the seam – you DON’T cut crown moulding like THAT! Duh. I love the uniformity of trim that matches the walls and it is showing up slowly but surely in the other room of our home.
I found the young QEII plate at a gift shop for $14, 13 years ago and Joel bought me the Queen Mary plate for my birthday – it’s so old – how cool is it???

This old hutch was a 1970’s nightmare when I found it at the same barn sale two years ago. It was brown and speckled like 70’s wooden furniture is and it was missing the glass in one door so I got a deal – HA! I would have taken the glass out anyways, the thing that sold me (for $80) was the little chicken wire. My inspiration for the painting of it was that Veranda magazine from a few years ago. You know, that to-die-for edition with the Belgian Chateau.

If I could I would panel then entire room and paint it like those lovely paneled walls but for now was thrilled to have figured out how to get that look. A mon avis, (in my opinion) this cabinet looks like something straight out of a container shipped over from France. In fact – back when Aidan took French lessons (read: the economic good old days) his French teacher came over (native) and freaked out cause her parents have an old cabinet in their home that she insisted looked just like this one. I was beaming.
The turquoise table on the left would also fall under the “Farmhouse” aspect of P.F. in that it is chipping and not hardly worth a thing – I found it down the street at a garage sale for $5. The Eiffel Tower usually resides in my garden but has been inside for the last year for a little Anthropologie flair. I decorate it with greens, peacock feathers and ornaments for Christmas.
The Parisian water colors have been gathered for the last 10 years for Chicagoland antique stores.


This little hutch, well, it’s veneer is chipping and no matter what skeleton key I try I can’t get it open but do love it. The burled wood and shape add a sense of formality. Last year I painted a friends kitchen cabinets as she was closing her Chicago boutique – she let me pick a truckload of stuff to barter and despite its condition, I could not resist this sweet little piece. Someday I will find the right key and it will serve a much needed storage function.

These lamps were also part of the barter. I had had the orange lampshades from a garage sale sitting FOR YEARS in a closet and then for my birthday last year mom gave me a pile of orange tassels… et voila. A little hot glue and the lampshades could finally serve a purpose. One seems to be painted gold on the inside and I NEVER remember to paint the other one to match.
As you know from my bedroom post, I love naked statues – what can I say? I only have a couple, it’s a bit odd I know, but I love them. And I LOVE Venus de Milo. When I went to the Louvre years ago I was on a mission: La Jaconde (Mona Lisa), Victoire de Samothrace (Winged Victory) and Venus de Milo. This miniature is an vintage museum gift shoppe reproduction. It was in Mom’s old store forever until it finally became mine.

One of the first things I do in every home I go into is scan the book cases. You can learn so much about someone by scanning their book titles. Mine are a dead giveaway: Royalty, Old Hollywood, History, Historic Women, Gardening…

Though I plan to start posting on “Collections” you can’t get away from my royal souvenir collection when visiting our living room. The bell commemorates the wedding of “my” beloved princess and the cup the coronation of the queen. The taller cup in the first of these two photos is of King Edward, who abdicated to marry Mrs. Simpson.

Part of the barter. Italian, plaster and old and a good two and half feet in size. Need I say more?

This serene picture was my great gramma’s. I love this picture so much I can just stare and stare and it. It has so many layers…the scene goes back so far. If I could just transport myself there…POOF!

I do collect old Shakespeare books. I love that man and this little display is a favorite in the room for me. The ratty suitcase I got at a garage sale YEARS ago. The little picture was a gift on Mom’s birthday pile to me this year – from her living room, I have always loved it.
I also love cast iron book ends – I have two sets. One shy of a collection. Are we in agreement that three of anything makes a collection? Well, these are The Thinker and I found them for $5 at an auction 6 years ago. They make up my own self titled “classic works of art collection” – I have that Venus de Milo statue, another of Botecelli’s Venus rising from the water and these Rodin’s!
The Gone with the Wind was a gift from a friend at church years back who knew how obsessed I am with that movie. It is a first edition. A must read, oh-so-good.

My darling chickens, a little bookcase of matches (one is upside down) and more cast iron bookends. These found at that local park antique sale. $45. If there is something else I am crazy for – it’s peacocks. Actually, last year if you paid attention they became very trendy and Anthropologie ran with it. My ego was bruised… that was MY idea way before it was theirs I thought! LOL!
The books are Whittier’s poems  (the ones against slavery will move you to tears) and a Catholic prayer book I found at a Paris flea market – full of little scraps of paper, photographs and other treasures that meant something to someone long ago. Circa 1865.

Again, it was a killer morning at that antique park sale. I found this pair of alabaster based lamps WITH THE WONDERFULLY RATTY SHADES for $95. Now, $95 for two lamps was a bit of a stretch for me but they are delightful and if I was a person of means I would not have batted an eye at paying $95 for those lampshades ALONE!
The framed women is of no significance. I hate store bought, new frames – even though the room is plagued with them. I found this one the other day at a junk shop and plunked it down right here waiting for a sepia colored Amélie.

The top of the “TV” cab. Those hated frames, a decorated box with a lock of Aidan’s baby hair hiding inside and a cool, Greco-Roman looking lamp from the Salvation Army $24. There are peacock feathers (of course) in the Hagar Pottery vase arrangement.

Up close and personal: Shakespeare and the Holy Family.

There’s another peacock! A little frame/ornament from Target and above it, a $12 plate from the antique store in my Gramma’s rural mapdot town.

Not the same jackpot morning as mentioned multiple times above, but at the same park sale two years before: A 1970’s Kelly green loveseat. I painted it – I was inspired by the sofa in the Eurotrash girl‘s article in Country Living a few years back.

I painted it in a wild rush 12 hours before a Christmas party, so I did not take the time to sand it properly. It needs to be redone which is why the arms are a bit more worn than I would like them to be. It WAS in perfect condition ’til Aidan, when two years old decided to paint his nails while sitting on it. He did a great job with his nails but did get it all over the couch. I guess for $250 I can’t complain…

The piece de resistance of the entire room. The sofa that brought Anne Marie and I together! (LOL!) Craigslist … you won’t believe this…$175. It is, as wonderful as it looks and my be the nicest piece of furniture we own.

This giant thing was in a client’s garage. I was painting, of all things, a palm tree in her teenage daughters room when we got to talking about our homes. I mentioned my chandelier collection and she mentioned she had one in the garage that was her aunts, it wasn’t her style but she wanted it to go to a good home. She asked if I would take $50 off her mural bill. BONJOUR?
You bet I would and did! I painted the crystals blue with glass paint just for the fun of it.

The paint job I am most proud of.

When my friend’s shop was up and running I painted a ton of furniture for her. and every time I would drop off a load I would, I am afraid to say, covet these Louis XV chairs. The yellow is the exact color of the living room ceiling and at the time I had NO pieces of furniture like them. They were from an antique shop in Paris, so she was told, and they were priced $1200.00 for the pair. Hefty I know, but she was down on Lincoln and Belmont and could often get away with prices like that. They never sold, so apparently, not often enough and we bartered them for some of my painted pieces – and NOT for $1200 worth either.
The footstool is from a junk shop in town, $8 (we have a ton of junk shops) and I covered it with my beloved paprika colored toile and some of that orange tassel from Mom.

Everything in our home is very linear. Our living room alone had, at the time of this purchase, three doorway or passage ways and 6 windows (Joel has thankfully, since walled up a doorway that stood where the teal hutch is now). I so badly wanted a ROUND coffee table. I walked into a family friend’s shop one morning as she was unpacking this rattan glass topped table and without thinking said, “I’ll take it.” It was $150. Aidan recently broke the glass by throwing a ball at the chandelier, then a crystal fell and cracked it. So yes, that is packing tape you see. We have yet to replace it.
The peacock tin is a gift from Joel as we perused a junk shop one morning ($12) and the stack of books underneath is from the Marché aux Puces de Vanves in Paris. They are about the old masters. 6 Euro. The basked is my Ravinia picnic basket – I love a woven basket like that under my glitzy chandelier.

So there it is. A tour of our living room. Every in process, ever changing…ever with my son riding his tricyle thru it and Princess Pants chasing after him on the tractor. Serpentining the furniture.

Ever full of love (and soon to hold a baby swing!!!).
Thank you for your time!
Other photo credits: Veranda magazine and Country Living.


  1. Anne Marie

    how much is your decorating book? I don’t see it here for sale? hhhmmm… must have sold out….because I keep searching for ‘Parisienne Farmhouse’ with that picture of Amelie’s couch as the cover photo, but alas! I have not found it!!

    please forward me the 2nd edition right off!

  2. Anne Marie

    my house is SO dull now…..sorry – busy rearranging everything now………..

  3. Kasey

    i would commit highway robbery also for a real fireplace…but alas..mine is like yours…
    p.s. anne marie emailed me and said you live close to me.
    love your blog.

  4. Stella's Apron Strings

    How Beautiful! I’m completely inspired. I love “YOUR” touch of the peacock feathers here and there. I agree vintage photo frames (and lamp shades) are so nice compared to the store bought ones. In past posts I always wondered where you found the blue crystals for your chandelier… Painted~clever! 🙂 PS. I always enjoy you mothering posts too!

  5. Berlin Deluxxe

    Like you, I sometimes get these change of style pangs in my head, but I know deep inside I’d hate myself if I acted out on it 🙂
    I remember when I was married to my ex, I lived in a sterile, West Elm and CB2 filled house. Now I finally have the warm little home I’ve always wanted filled with love and things that are pleasing to my eyes, and that is what truly differs a house from a home. 🙂

  6. Bonjour Madame

    I love your design on a centime posts! Where do I start? I think the colors are so perfect and it’s original. I think that is what makes it so interesting. You have layers of colors and they all work together beautifully, but it’s still unexpected. I’ve never seen this much originality in design and totally agree with Anne Marie, that you should have a design book. There are so few books out there that show you how to decorate this well on a budget and evolved over time. Love it!

    Your 70’s cabinet that you painted is completely looking like a real antique. You did a wonderful job. The Kelly green sofa has stolen my heart. I love that color. Once again, I’m blown away. Thanks for the tour!

  7. Farmgirl Cyn

    Sadly, the photos do not do it justice. I count myself blessed to have been at your home numerous times, and the hospitality and fellowship are even better than the decor.
    I love these posts, as I think they inspire and give hope to the decorating challenged! Truly design on a centime.joya

  8. Belle

    Ohhh, Angela! I wouldn’t change the style of your living room AT Tall! It’s very cozy, chic & oh so classic French with a bit of Gustavian in there of course! The first time I saw a picture of your living room, I wished my husband would let me replace the 1980s burgundy leather sofas we have! Instead I am improvising to achieve a vintage look.

    I used to read & buy royalty magazines when I was a teenager! I was an Anglophile.

    My parents gave me a first edition book of Gone With The Wind also, as a birthday or Christmas gift. I have yet to read it though!

    I think I’ll go finish antiquing that modern black photo frame….

  9. English Cottage in Georgia

    I love your living room. Your drapes are on the top item of my “envy this room” list. It is romantic and charming.
    As for the dropcloth decor. While painting and using dropcloths, I fell in love with the color and texture. I decided I wanted upholstery with the dropcloths, until I googled and saw how many people were using them. I do not like being one of many or a follower (even though the idea originated for me with me).

  10. Thistle Cove Farm

    Love your fabulous style! BTW, you should trademark the name.

  11. Old Centennial Farmhouse

    Goodness…I tell you, you have a gift, like your mom, for this beautiful style, and I read your post yesterday on google reader, but couldn’t wait to log on to the p.c. to say how much I enjoyed all your pictures and the stories of finding all your goodies. You have made your house so wonderful without being like a museum…very liveable and homey but so interesting! I love it all and had to all my sister to make sure she looked in here to see the beauty! (And, if you should ever tire of the little blue table, PLEASE remember it would have a good home here, and its mate is waiting!) *Ü* Thanks for taking and uploading all the pics so we could “tour”!

  12. Ann at eightacresofeden

    Thank you for visiting my blog today and signing up to follow! I have only looked at your first few posts and I know I am going to love your blog – I love your style. It reminds me of my neighbour’s farmhouse – a million dollar architecturally designed ‘bar’ located on a riverside in the green valley in which we reside. Her home was decorated in the French style – absolutely beautiful. She used to invite me over for afternoon tea and take me on tours through her home as we shared a passion for homemaking (she is a grandmother and a doctor’s wife) She has now moved and I miss her friendship and visiting her home.
    I have spent most of today creating a second blog just for Christmas called Christmas at Eden – do come over and visit and I will be back to visit you soon!

  13. Ann at eightacresofeden

    Oops I missed the n off barn – it is meant to be barn not bar! btw – this home featured in Vogue’s decorating magazine once!

  14. Jenn@Spejory

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. Jenn@Spejory

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. Parisienne Farmgirl

    Jane, I will email you how to find the other design posts and put it here – all of them should be under the coin on my side bar that says “Design on a Centime” – I will double check to make sure it’s working.
    Thank you so much for your kind, encouraging words!

  17. Manic Mom

    You have such a Beautiful Home! Now I’m going to take a look at my book case. I’m gonna see what it says about me….I’m scared! HAHAHAHA

  18. Counting Your Blessings

    It’s taken me a couple years to define my style but a few months ago it poured over me like rain… Romantic Farmstyle. You can imagine how I love that I’ve found you. Thanks for sharing your home. It’s lovely!

    Blessings…(again)… Polly



  1. French Farmhouse Christmas - Parisienne Farmgirl - […] three other posts you may enjoy on the living room/dining room area of the Parisienne Farmhouse. 1. 2. 3.…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Search Posts

Blog Categories

Archives by Date