Home interior decor How our sitting room has changed & why interior magazines lie

How our sitting room has changed & why interior magazines lie

by Clare Mansell
How our sitting room has changed & why interior magazines lie

Yesterday someone posted in one of the Facebook groups I’m a member of and asked why all sitting rooms in interiors magazines appear to lack curtains and televisions. “How can people possibly live like that?”

As the owner of a house that was featured in a magazine looking just as bare and unlived in I feel duty bound to try and answer the question and shatter some myths. It’s also a good time to show you what our sitting room looks like 18 months after we finished work. So, first a reminder, here’s what our house looked like when it appeared in Self Build & Design magazine in December 2014…

why interiors magazines lie

The journalist who contacted us was keen to get her “exclusive” and wanted the photos taken literally days after the builders had left. No time to unpack boxes or settle in!

Lets take a closer look at this picture and examine the ways things have changed…


  1. The TV is just out of shot here, entirely deliberately. We were saving up for a bit of furniture to put it on, so it was standing on a rather unattractive 99p plywood unit I bought on eBay
  2.  A wood burner with no wood? That black box on the right contained our welcome pack of wood from the retailer. The wood basket and the wood hadn’t been bought yet!
  3. We’ve now painted this wall and hung a picture here
  4. Why no curtains? Well my mum was very kindly making them for us and the sitting room ones were low on the list of priorities behind bedrooms
  5. Our Eames chair is one of our nicest bits of furniture so it was put here to be in the shot, it now lives in the sun room behind
  6. This rather horrid looking pine coffee table had just been bought on eBay. I’ve now painted and waxed it.
  7. This sofabed served as our “spare bed” when we were renovating the house, it’s now been moved to the study and a different sofa has taken its place
  8.  A Flokati rug under a coffee table, what world were living in? It’s been moved away from children’s snacks and glasses of red wine
  9. We inherited this table from my parents where it had been made to fit a space in their house. Everyone walked into that pointy corner, so we cut it off.

And here’s our sitting room eighteen months later, looking a whole lot more cosy, although the TV is still just out of shot… I promise you we do have one! Something else has changed too. I no longer have a wide angle lens, so you’ll have to make do with an iPhone shot…


  1. Oh my goodness real life has crept into our house! There’s a baby chair in shot! Don’t worry we don’t have the fire lit when the baby is in it!
  2. That chair has now been moved to a spot in our kitchen where it actually gets sat in and the sofa has been swapped
  3. The coffee table makeover is now complete – thank you Annie Sloan!
  4. If you are wondering what the heck this is, it’s a quilt ladder. Are you telling me all homes don’t have one?
  5. The Flokati rug is edging closer to the door! As soon as spring is here we are actually going to wash it and retire it to our bedroom, they aren’t brilliant in high traffic areas.
  6. We’ve chopped the corner off this table and there’s more evidence of real life in the form of Lego!

Our house (like everyone’s I think?) will always be an ongoing project. The only place where it exists as a ‘finished’ job is the fantasy world of magazines!

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Dawn & Bean January 14, 2016 - 1:21 pm

I love this post! It appeals to my nosey side 😉 Thanks for sharing.

Stephs Two Girls January 14, 2016 - 3:38 pm

Brilliant, thanks for the honest look at this! That coffee table is gorgeous, wish I could steal that 🙂

Carie @ Space for the Butterflies January 14, 2016 - 7:26 pm

Oh that’s so funny, nothing’s ever quite as it seems! And it does look wonderfully cosy in the now version 🙂

Katie @mummydaddyme January 14, 2016 - 9:38 pm

I loved this post Clare, so interesting and loved hearing about your living room. I love interior magazines. Our bathroom featured in one once, but it is was quite true to life. x

karen January 14, 2016 - 10:19 pm

Love this Clare, Your living room looks gorgeous and very welcoming x

Pamela | Life With Munchers January 14, 2016 - 10:26 pm

Ah, you have dispelled the myth! Reading this has made me so desperate to finish ours! x

Maria (one tiny leap) January 14, 2016 - 11:45 pm

Great post Claire! I love learning about how things work ‘backstage’ and this was a great glimpse to interior design magazines 🙂 Thank you for sharing your lovely home x


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