Okinawa – Living Room
Inspiration. This room and the adjoining Dining Room were an absolute labor of love. It all started with the fabric. I encountered the red/white/blue stripes and red/white polka dots in a small Japanese department store. Not knowing what I was going to make or how I was going to make it, I bought as much as I could of both prints (this is a trend with me – I buy fabric first and figure out what to do with it second!). I also bought 5 meters (yes, metric!) of the coordinating red and blue solids. After completing my first few projects, I realized my color scheme was very “flat” and needed something else. I re-visted the fabric store and found the green stripe and green flower. Although from the same fabric line, I was very conflicted about bringing the green fabric to my palate. It turned out to be the best move I ever made! Green became the dominant color and everything just came together one project a time.
Paint. In Japanese home improvement stores, you can’t mix paint to the specific color you want. Instead, they have an array of pre-mixed colors and you just pick the best match. On a whim, we purchased this “gumby” green paint, as well as apple red. We painted the bottom half of the room with the green, then painted the top half with the green cut in half with white. We added the “chair rail” with red paint to clean up the separation. To hang the flower paintings, we masked out the three white squares before painting and left them blank.
Art. These are sophisticated “paint-by-numbers” by XXX. I used the patterns but changed the colors to match my color scheme. These canvases hung on simple nails – no frames required!
Bookcases. Another favorite detail was using fabric along the backs of the bookcases. These shelves didn’t have back panels, so I simply hung cut fabric with Velcro around all four sides.
Couch. Both the couch and chair were “issued” furniture from military base housing. I actually set to work slipcovering them pretty much as soon as I learned to sew a straight line! I bought a pattern, but quickly learned that it wouldn’t work for the dimensions of my couch. Not to be defeated, I decided to proceed without a pattern and simply measured, drew, and cut. This began my habit of sewing without patterns. To date, I’d still rather make something up as I go along instead of use a pattern! I started with the cushions, teaching myself how to do a 3D box, then worked on one section of the sofa at a time. The sewing was sloppy, some places have double seems, and the cover had to be significantly “tucked” in in some spots; but they made a HUGE difference in the room, and it was a big confidence booster for me. I realized that I really could make whatever I needed/wanted…all with a little diligence and creativity.
|Here’s a close-up of the slipcovered couch and chair. The sewing is rough and these got a lot of wear, but boy did they make a difference in the look of the room! This picture is (obviously) before we painted!|
Pillows. The pillows throughout the room came one at a time. As I found cute pictures
to copy that inspired me, I’d set to work using fabric, ribbon, buttons, piping, bias tape, and whatever else I could find. In addition to my fabrics, I also used some store bought pillows and a napkin that matched perfectly!
Tables. Both the side table and the coffee table were garden benches that I bought out in a Japanese market. I wasn’t sure how I’d use them, but they were already painted my blue color so I bought them right up. These worked perfectly because we could split them apart as needed for tv dinners, guests, and games.
Baskets. These metal baskets cost more than they should have, but I just loved the size and shape of them so I bought 3. I made the liners with a lot of trial and error. They were the pefect size for holding DVDs (left) and magazines (right). The trickiest part was making a slit in the linter for the handle to come through. I essentially made a huge button hole! Not sure if that’s the best way to do it, but I improvise in my sewing – A LOT! I think about what I need and what I know how to do and just make it work
Art. Simple IKEA mirrors attached with wall mounting tape and hanging glass vases completed the wall above the tv. Silk flowers hung in the vases.
Hutch. This hutch was a beaten-up baby changing station that I bought in the “damaged” section of a Japanese furniture store. I cleaned it up and swapped out the pink basket liners with my striped fabric. These liners are super simple – just 4 sides of a cube – you don’t even need to line it. We eventually got rid of the hutch, but the baskets are so huge, you’ll see them in every house we’ve had since (just with different liners!).
Chalkboard. I bought this at a craft store and spray painted the frame red. This became the perfect message station with the hutch, phone, and chalkboard all together!
One of the biggest “hobbies” of wives stationed in Okinawa is to buy furniture, and I was no exception. Over the three years we lived in this apartment, our rooms took on many different looks. By the end of our tour, the Living Room looked like this:
What’s New? Tall bookcase in the back left corner replaced the desk. Baskets from the hutch, a new antique tea set, and other boxes and bins decorated the shelves. Another slipcovered chair was added to the back corner. The standing candelabras were added as decorative (not functional!) touches!
What’s New? The garden bench, porcelain garden stools (I fell in LOVE with the blue one!), and decorative planters were added to create a garden “landscape” in the front corner. Our cheep, white entertainment hutch was replaced with this Chinese antique hutch.
What I Learned Decorating This Room.
- Trust my instinct in incorporating new colors and patterns
- Bright paint colors make a “shoebox” home unique; however, bright colors limit the ability to decorate for other seasons/holidays
- Don’t rush – this room evolved one project at a time. It couldn’t have been conceived and made overnight. The joy came from making one small change at a time
See You Soon!