Quite a few people have asked to see pictures of our house – before and after.

And while I LOOOOVE our little house, there are parts of me that are hesitant to bring it public.

Like, when you do that you really make yourself vulnerable.

What if people don’t like my style and think it’s cheezy? Wonder what I think I am, posting pictures of our house? Like, if I post pictures I must think it’s cute but what will people think of that? And, what if people think I’m shallow and self-absorbed if I do a little house tour? What if they don’t like my projects and don’t like me?

But, for the sake of my friends who have asked, and because this house has been such a blessing from the Lord, and an incredible gift to us, I want to share it. Our four years in a rental house where we could not do anything to fix it up was all part of God’s plan, teaching me to be content, and now, everything feels like such a HUGE gift! I am so much more grateful for this house because of having lived somewhere for several years where my hands felt tied. So how can I *not* share what God gave us and what my husband did an amazing job restoring?

Perhaps I should give a little background as to why I love to take time in my home…

Back before I ever got married, I made a list of things that I want my home to be like one day. This is one of them from my
Mission Statement 2003:

“… I have a heart to create a “heaven on earth” for my family: be for my husband the “home of his heart”; wholeheartedly love my husband and support him; love my children; create an atmosphere that promotes intimacy with God and a hunger to grow and learn; prepare my children for their destinies…”

“… I have a desire to serve others in an atmosphere of beauty in my home…”

And I would tell my newly-married husband five years ago that I want him to come home to his throne. :)

So that is why I do what I do in my home… This is not for everyone, but this is for me personally.


Little House Fun Facts:

– Was built in 1906, so it’s a little over a hundred years old.  Just what Husband and I both LOVE!

-This house was a foreclosure when we bought it. TERRIBLE condition, and thus had been on the market for quite a while.

– Ben bought the house when I was out of state for two weeks, so I never saw it beforehand. He told me about it, of course, but I had to trust his judgment! This is the 3rd house in 2 different states we’ve lived in since we’re married, and I didn’t see any of them before we rented or bought them.

-1300 square foot is what the contract said the house size was. Very small. But I think they forgot to add the room in the back, which would add another 300 sq. ft., but still keeping the size around 1600 square foot.

-hardwood floors throughout the whole house, except tile in the laundry room which we added.

– 5 fireplaces. Yes, five. That is not a typo. One would be fun. Five? Well, it sure looks cute, but it’s been challenging for me to decorate all five without them looking the same, and like I ran out of ideas (which I did).

– 2 bedroom house, and we added a stairway with the intent of adding 1-2 more bedrooms upstairs sometime in the distant future.

-Ben worked for 3 months straight on this house, restoring it, replacing floors, tearing out walls, fixing it up… Can you say ‘genius’?? His work is incredible…

-I have a laundry room INSIDE my house!! Haven’t had that for four years! Excitement reigns!

So that gives you a little bit of background into the house.


The room I’ll show you today is the living room. You walk in the front door and this is the room you come to.


Tiny room, tiny doorways, very closed-in feeling. I was seriously
depressed for 3 days
after I saw this place and realized what we were in for!!

the way it looked when I first saw it. the dead of winter and freeeeeezing cold.

Christmas 2009 577

February 2010 158

January-February 2010 064

March 2010 004


Tore out the bookcase,
tore out the fireplace insert then made the fireplace workable,
tore out two walls,
added the wood beams,
tore off the old brick on the fireplace and had new antique brick installed,
added crown molding,
refinished wood floors…
Still waiting on the fireplace mantel! :)

Before & After 035

new brick on the fireplace

Before & After 074

Ben tore out the wall with the tiny doorway and opened it up, added the beams, I freehanded the verse. I used this font, because I love serving my Jesus and having Him as my Life, and don’t want it to look like a formal, cold  thing!

Before & After 057

looking into the dining room, no peeking!

Before & After 058

by the front door – purse holder, key-catcher…

Before & After 036


Before & After 072

When I get started on something, I kind of become a broken record. Here are some

Silhouettes: Take Two

Making pillows this time. Used my same pattern from before on black fabric.

Before & After 002

After it was cut out, I “painted” all the edges with clear nail polish so they wouldn’t fray. There’s probably some “real” stuff to use, but hey, this is what we used to use on pantyhose and it worked to stop runners! Ha!

Before & After 006

Glued it with fabric glue to white pillows I had already made.

Once again, slay me, oh, slay me!

Olivia’s silhouette

Before & After 039

Zoe’s silhouette.
The frames I had before and come from Walmart – $3 each. They’re plastic, but when you group them it hides the cheap look. :)

Before & After 055

Canvas Mats: Take Two

See, I kind of get stuck on something and can’t leave.

16×20 stretched canvas – 2 pack at Walmart for $9. These aren’t the greatest quality, because the staples show on the sides rather than being stapled on the underside. But they worked for what I needed them for.

Before & After 007

I painted the sides and on the top a certain width to make my “framed” look. And covered up the staples to where you don’t see them.

Before & After 010

And glued 12 x 15 pictures on top… Cheap frames for such big pictures! Gives it a “drama!” look with the big black edges.

These three pictures are compliments of Claudia Barkman Photography. :)

Before & After 051

I LOOOOVE this poster. I saw it in a magazine and ordered it on Etsy. Isn’t it perfect for a mother with two young children?! There is a cool story behind the poster too, has to do with Britain during WWII and posting these signs all over to keep their citizens from worrying about invasion.

Before & After 054

These numbered pillows inspiration comes from THIS talented woman… She’s just got creativity flowing out of her veins,  I tell you.

Before & After 052

I like the red pop of color against a mostly neutral room. “That really makes a statement!” Husband said. Yes it does! This mom-who-is-sometimes-frazzled needs a statement like that to grab me all day long. :)

Before & After 053

Outdoor greenery brought it. A little hard to decorate this without the mantel in place.

Before & After 049

One of the doorways that got opened up and wall removed.

Before & After 045

So, that’s the living room! Once again,


Christmas 2009 577



Bamboo curtain rods are cut from our old backyard.

Before & After 068

Those silhouettes of my daughters flanking the fireplace just are too much for me… okay, okay, enough already! I’ll try to not bring more silhouettes to you in the future! :)

Before & After 056

Rug comes from Craigslist, which comes from Pottery Barn. WHY someone would sell these to buy Persian rugs is beyond my comprehension…

Before & After 062
And that’s the living room.

Cheers if you stuck with me. I didn’t think there would be so many things to even show about the living room!

But didn’t my husband do a PHENOMENAL job?!

I think he’s incredible!



48 thoughts on “Living Room {before and after}

  1. fruitloops115

    i get to leave the first comment?!?! I know there will be many!! I got the shivers looking at these pictures–there are sooo many fun things and you pulled it all together so well!!
    Love the silouette pillows. I was JUST looking at a new West Elm Catalogue and they have the exact same thing for sale–uh let’s see: $34 for the cover And these are so personal!! Reminds me, I reallly really want to do something with Abbi’s.
    LOVE the floors, and the rug (love craigslist too!) and what you’ve done with all your pictueres. and loooove the entry way key idea! Fabulous.

  2. embracingbeauty

    Clarita, I’m so glad you posted some pictures. I’ve been wanting to see some ever since I heard the house was almost finished and you guys were moving in. I got to hear from both sides of the family how the house was coming along. :) I remember when your husband bought the house while you were up here in PA.
    I think you did an amazing job using all of your creative ideas and brainstorms! I love the different textures you used. I really like the purse holder/key-catcher area. I think everyone needs some place like that in their home. You did a great job of making something that could house a lot of clutter (like my “key-catcher” area in my house sometimes), look very classy! Can’t wait to see the other rooms! (I actually got a sneak preview from Beth after she came back from the South the other weekend.) ;)

  3. dilafila

    i love it. its perfect. i get the feeling your gonna show us more rooms later and i’m super excited to see your house bit by bit. and i don’t get tired of the silhouettes. there just too cute.

  4. baileyandme

    ok, you have creativity flowing out of YOUR veins. :)
    i just wanna come SIT in your living room! i love the natural, eclectic, and funky feel!!!!!
    i see that “keep calm” sign on etsy and blogs too and love it so much. i do not own it though.
    i especially love the shot with the purse shelf and the last one where you can see the hardwood entering the room… sillouette pillows. drooling…

  5. clearlyhis

    Oh be still my beating heart!  The beauty you are creating in your home is absolutely breathtaking!  ….and it  also conveys your “mission statement” so well.  I love the warm family feeling I see when I look at all those gorgeous pictures of your little fam!  It’s all so tasteful and inviting…. wish I lived close!  

    I really missed you at the FFE!  But, understand how it is when things just don’t come together and you have to give up something like that.  Come next time! =)

    Thanks for sharing these pics with us….and I’m looking forward to more!  You don’t need to be one bit afraid!!!  Your heart for God and beauty is so incredibly breathtaking!  Hugs!

  6. loaine

    Your husband did a great job and you did an awesome job decorating!Love the silhouettes!My first grade teacher made a silhouette of me.I wish I would still have it……..

  7. appalolly

    I LOVED this…and I’m not even that much into interior design or decorating.
    But I would say you have done a VERY fabulous job and you just shouldn’t worry what anyone might think about it…its beautiful!

  8. maryjunemiller

    Why would you worry about sharing this?? It’s absolutely breathtaking! I love it – all of it! Would love to come sit in it!!
    Thanks bunches for sharing – I’m inspired once again – Mj

  9. Elizabethmarie_1

    ADORABLE!!!  I love when people show pictures of their homes. I’m glad you did, thanks for sharing, and I hope you show us the rest of the house! =)  I really like the fireplace, and all the pillows you made. It looks so cozy! 

  10. singingrachel

    I can really relate to being scared to share such things…. but I totally love when other people do.  The comment about not being able to sleep because of the creativity flowing… um, i understand.   I wished you lived closer because I could learn so much from you.

    That room is calling, “come in and sit a spell.”  And I’d love too.

  11. forty_watt_bulb

    Gorgeous! You certainly have a touch, and I also love the red poster. Makes me want to come visit the Georgian cottage turned palace. :) I can only imagine the desserts that the Barkman girls will enjoy in this room! (Ervina joined us for dinner the other night when I was in PA, and filled us in on the love of all-things-desserts)

  12. cupajava

    love it!!! im sure you are sooo excited to be living in the cozy little house after all the hard working evenings!!!!!!  It looks wonderful. I love the 3 big pictures above the fireplace!!-good job Claudia!!! enjoy your new home!! (cant wait for more pictures of the rest of the house!! ) 

  13. idreamovtravel

    Love it! Love it! Love it!! Your living room is so warm and inviting; I think you’ve accomplished your mission statement very well!! Please, show us more! I feel inspired by your decor!

  14. justcallmeM

    You two make a great team!!! :) It’s amazing see the before and after! And I just may steal your kitchen some day! I think it’s my favorite of your rooms!!! :) Thanks for sharing.

  15. redladybug18

    wow you’ve been busy and looks like lots of hard work! I love your decorating. You’ve done an amazing job!
    I saw that poster awhile back and loved it as well. :)

  16. smilesbymiles

    Amazing. Just amazing!!! Yes, Ben did a great job, but so did you! I love the purse / key catcher and the silhouette pillows and the canvas frames above the fireplace and well, I guess just about everything! But, oh, don’t torment me by saying, no peeking! I just want to walk through the rest of the house now, too! Oh, and way to go on free-writing the verse above your mantel! That’s awesome.

  17. dreamstillcometrue

    “I’m not sure how it will be seeing your new house because I’m kinda attached to the other.” “Oh, trust me, you won’t be after you see this one.” How right you were, dear sister, how right you were. :) If I may say, I say you’ve accomplished your home mission statement beautifully. From the first moment I stepped in the door, your house was so lovely and cozy and inviting… I want to come back right now. The black and white photos from our little shoot on the islands add SO much. It’s all so wonderful, I really have no words besides love love love. :)

  18. deansgal

    wow, beautiful decorating.  i long for my house to look that good.  and, i ADORE your silhouette creations…i might be copying that one sometime in the future:)

  19. JakeandJanelle

    i’m finally “caught up” on your blog.  i know how it goes, there are weeks & months where there is barely time to breathe, (so it seems), let alone check in on other peoples lives and “keep up” with my own blog!!  it was great to “be” with you again, as this is what it feels like after entering your world.  the renovations are GRAND and your husband is AMAZING!!  isn’t it so wonderful, watching something come out of nothing!  Beauty from “ashes” in a way!! 

    will you be in PA at all this Summer/Fall?  If so, PLEASE let me know so we can spend an afternoon together.

    Bread is out of the oven and I’m thinking of you….and my feet are crumb free by the way!! 

    Love from 128.

  20. Anonymous

    Ok, I am seriously in love with your living room! I know exactly what you mean about being nervous about posting pictures of your house. I feel that way every single time I post on my blog, but it’s so much fun sharing your creativity and getting ideas from other people’s homes. Love, love, love everything about your room! I’m sure the rest of your house is just as cozy and beautiful. Please keep sharing! :)

  21. Jabber_wock

    It’s beautiful. You did a wonderful job. I’m so happy for you that you have your own place now to “cuddle and boss and love” as L. M. Montgomery put it. Happy homemaking!

  22. mel5680

    Beautiful as always!  I love to see before/after pictures! The “Be Calm” is my FAVORITE!! I want one of these!   What kind of glue did you use to glue photos to canvas (my new favorite)?  And the no mantel look is not so bad. . . I rather like it! Wishing I could come  walk through your house in person. . . someday I will! Someday I want to start a cool design blog too- you inspire me!! ( must. make. time. )  Looking forward to the rest of your room makeover reveals!

  23. myall4christ81

    I am SOOO impressed. Thank you for sharing! Makes me want to own my own house…maybe someday. In the mean time, I am trying to be thankful for my small apartment. At least I have a roof over my head, right? :)

  24. luckymullets

    I hope its ok for people you don’t know to take a house tour, too, because I enjoyed the tour. You did such a great job with the soft natural colors and textures and the patina of the timber, old brick, and pillar in the corner I love! We live in a little 100-yr. old southern house so i can relate to the initially daunting but satisfying task of restoring a house.

  25. lifeisadance

    @fruitloops115 – Really, West Elm has silhouette pillows right now?! Guess they’re coming in. I thought I thunk up something brand new. =D

    @clearlyhis – I missed seeing you too. You were one person I was looking forward to connecting with again!

    @singingrachel – We should just brainstorm together. :)

    @idreamovtravel – You’re so encouraging! Thank you!

    @smilesbymiles – You’ve built, we’ve remodeled – a lot of similarities. Thanks for appreciating. :)

    @Aimee – Is this THEE Aimee Weaver??  You don’t know how much I love your blog! :)

  26. lifeisadance

    @Jabber_wock –  love that quote from Montgomery! :)

    @mel5680 – I used rubber cement – it’s safe for photos, and I can almost easily remove the pictures and put new ones up if I want to. And yes, DO start your design blog! I know you’re just bursting with beautiful ideas!

    @myall4christ81 – that’s right! But I can relate, because I was in your shoes for 4 years! Not always easy to be content, I know!

  27. fruitloops115

    @lifeisadance – 

    don’t you love it when you are on the cutting edge of trend and don’t even realize it I just re-checked the catalogue to make sure, and yes, it’s there, but I had the price wrong, it was $29. So you still saved a bit doing it yourself
    btw, i was just looking at your couches, we had those exact same ones for the first 4 yrs. of our married life we just sold them the other month.

  28. sweetRthepromises

    I could just sit on your site and stare at your lovely living room transformation! It is so gorgeous. The colors flow together so well and I love all the personal touches- the silhouettes, canvas portraits, and handwritten wall verse.
    I’m sure your family and friends feel quite loved in your home.


    You know I love your house. ;) I wanna be just like you when/if the creative home decorating part of my brain ever develops!! I know God gives us all strengths and differing talents, but sometimes I wonder about His wisdom in distributing these things?! Did I miss something somewhere? Or maybe there’s still a goldmine waiting to be discovered. Oh. Maybe *that’s* what it is. =)

    I *loved* your visit too. Felt so refreshed, inspired, and happy for the rest of the day! And the QUIETNESS we enjoyed for just sitting and talking was a rare treat and something we probably couldn’t have PLANNED if we’d tried. It was a gift from the Lord via your mom, my husband, and a little girlie who wanted a morning nap! Yeah!! And thanks for the delicious coffee drink. I was too busy talking/listening to drink it while you were here, but afterward enjoyed each sweet drop. But then again, that’s usually how I drink my hot drinks. Drives Phil nuts! He orders his extra hot most times, while I leave mine to cool and then THOROUGHLY enjoy.

    Thanks for the blogs . . . I am enjoying them.

  30. foreveranoatneygirl_n2Hisown

    O MY WORD!

    why did i not see this before now???

    i have no idea how i missed this update, but let me just say one word first:


    it all looks so amazing and cozy…and i can just see my kids destroying a room like that in about 2 seconds flat! :) course, i have boys and they are a whole different breed than girls. ;O)

    i see your old porch pillar standing up against the corner wall, and i’m GREEN with envy! i’ve been on the lookout for something like that, and was just last night asking my hubs if he knows of anywhere to get architectural salvage for just such a thing….i love it!

    again, i love what you have done, and can’t wait for the next installment!

    happy monday!


  31. Hutch5

    so beautiful~

    sometimes when i see pictures of others homes i think, “Oh, i’d like a picture like that – or that’s a cool chair…” but with yours i was like, “Oh, i like that… and that.. oh, and THAT. and i REALLY like that. and that and that and that and that….”

    yeah. pretty much every single little thing! ;)

    great style and putting it all together – i like the calm, cozy feeling it puts off.. it makes me want to come over and plop on the couch and hold one of those adorable pillows in my lap while we talk and visit and laugh! :)

    thanks for sharing your inspiration~ those silhouettes bring back memories – we made those in 3rd grade and growing up my mom always had them on the wall…

    happy friday!!! <3

  32. lifeisadance

    @foreveranoatneygirl – Oh, believe me, my girls can destroy this room very quickly. :) But that’s okay, as long as it gets cleaned up before bed! That’s what “living rooms” are for, right?! :)

    I got the pillar at a local benefit auction for $20. But have you checked the Habitat Re-Store in Lancaster? I was in there often when we lived in PA (looking for things to redo our house with) and they almost always had pillars of some kind. I’ll bet you could have some luck in there. AND find other treasures while you’re in there. :) It’s kind of like a construction equivelent of an antique junk house. You might like it. :)

    @Hutch5 – You are so sweet. And I would be ever so honored if you would come and we could chat in my living room! Would love it!

  33. foreveranoatneygirl_n2Hisown

    oh yeah. i know about habitat re….LoVe that place! i keep thinking i want to check there for pillars, and have good intentions, but with everyone in tow sometimes the motivation is lacking. :) plus, since it’s not a ‘need’, it’s easier to not justify it. i’ll find one sometime… happy weekend to you!

  34. mlt10202002

    your home always inspires me!
    i had seen that poster too, and forgotten about it. i think i shall order myself one!
    and it was really good for me to read your mission statement. i need to renew my passion for all that i want to create in our home!

  35. mommamandy3Mandy

    I stumbled upon your blog on Pinterest! I must say God works in mysterious ways. I live in a small house with 2 small girls, my hubby and my dog! I’ve been feeling a little flustered lately, wanting a “bigger home”. Then I sit down, come across your adorable blog and realize that I just need to be thankful for what I have, make the most out of it and love it. I absolutely love your style and will use many of your tips!
    Thank you for making me see that you don’t need a big house! You just have to love what you have!!
    You’ve inspired me!

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      Thank you so much!! Your words are so kind, and inspired me! As you said, contentment is something that must be learned over and over! There are days when I think it would be wonderful if this house would be a bit bigger too. :) Happy Day!

  36. Sarah

    Oh my! I just found your blog and I have spent the past hour clicking and browsing and admiring your lovely home! Thank you for the encouragement, inspiration and eye candy! Blessings to you and your family-

  37. Kathlynn

    I want say your home it beautiful. I have had the big mcmansion with its everything brand new cookie cutter style and I hate it. (It was my husband’s choice). You chose to find one of a kind items and restyle them so your home is fashionable. Every item is you, not someone else’s ideas. Love it, love it, love it. When I look at your home I seem warmth and the love of that went into every detail. You have a talented husband & beautiful children. You are truly blessed by God.

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