Neutral Living Room Makeover

In my previous post I ended with a drab photo my mother sent me from some kids she knows on facebook. I may have been too harsh (naaah) and decided it would be better as a post all its own! Let’s imagine everything I’m about to say to you actually happened.

Haley and her fiance Josh recently purchased a home in Tennessee. Through the glorious wonders of the internet, they stumbled across my work and asked me to help them spruce up their living room. They just couldn’t seem to pull it together themselves.

They sent me this picture of some newly acquired furniture and decor. Guys, I can’t. And I told them so.

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I could tell Haley and Josh were trying but really missing the mark. From the rug, to the matching sofas (which isn’t a bad thing but why do you need a sofa and a love seat in 2016? in such a small room?), to that clock (just no), to the too many matchy matchy pillows.

It’s obvious the couple was going for chic but not understanding you can mix in so many more colors and textures and still have a neutral space!!

I asked Haley to pull some images off Pinterest of her ideal dream room and together this is what we came up with:

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You wouldn’t know it at ALL from looking at their current design situation that they like a mix of 50s-70s, with a mix of woods, metallics, and heavyweight fabrics.. We decided we needed

  • A new sofa, Danish design, narrow arms,
  • A large ornate floor mirror,
  • 2 vintage chairs (to replace the loveseat),
  • A new square coffee table,
  • A more natural looking media center, more mid century,
  • A shag rug, still black,
  • A fun chandelier

The couple allowed me to lead the way, suggesting vintage pieces I know and love so much. There was no way to use anything they’d previously purchased. So out with the old and in with the new!

This is what I came up with!

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No room of mine would be complete without an animal. The sheep is a vintage ottoman! I need that for my own house!

I jokingly said “Guys, you already love drab paint colors, why not go all the way and paint your walls charcoal?” I mean…  So glad they loved the idea and decided they would go for it!  That paint color was killing me. What is that? No thank you. Please stop accepting all builder grade paint choices people. Paint your walls when you move in. Say no to “greige”. Nothing goes with this awful paint color. Look how sickly their furniture looks in there. Pitiful. I would know. As an apartment dweller I’ve seen this color time and time again. It is the literal worst.

Anyway, I really love dark charcoal rooms and light furniture. The dark walls make everything else POP.  Sunlight from windows doesn’t hurt.

So we’ve got a saffron sofa in a crepe linen. So nice. The luxury of this sofa is it’s a sleeper! So they can pull it out while they watch tv or have guests over. Sha-bang! Its Danish styling is just what we were after, slim square arms, boxy shape, skinny legs. This is not a crazy leap from what they started with. It’s still low to the ground and still boxy in shape (I was inspired to suggest this style because of the original sofas arms).

They told me they really liked their original black and white rug, so I made sure to stay within that color scheme. This cotton jute rug will be soft underfoot, and the graphic motif will give the room added interest. There’s grays, blacks, browns, and creams in the rug…plenty of neutral colors!

Needing an authentic vintage piece, I found 2 1970s cube chairs from a newly favorited Instagram source, Again & Again. The cube shape echos the boxiness and narrow arms of our sofa. The gray stripes from the upholstery pick up the grays and whites/creams in the rug. I liked the walnut base, adding a natural wood layer to our room.

I also found the marble coffee table through Again & Again. I chose a marble top Saarinen tulip table and vintage Italian arc lamp with marble base to sit by the sofa. Marble is fancypants and white always adds brightness. Especially since we have dark walls now. I forget who said something about layering on the white. Do you know? The arc lamp adds to our sexy 60s-70s vibe.  Aren’t they so fun?

Speaking of lighting, I originally thought about something celestial like this, but ended up with a Brutalist flush mount to replace what they already had. I haven’t really decided if I like that trend/style of chandelier. I think a lot of people that use them in their homes are using them in the wrong way — too small. If you have a gigantor room, you don’t want a chandelier the size of a light bulb sticking out from the ceiling. Just my 2 cents.

Anyway, love the Brutalist style. This adds texture through sculpture and keeps with our mid-century style, but not in a cheesy way. With a room as small as Haley and Josh’s, I think a flush mount is all we need.

So we’ve got marble and fabric, we need some wood! I went to West Elm for their console. They can put their tv on it or whatever they please. Just not that hideous clock (sorry, not sorry.) I think the hole in the middle would be great with books, or some sort of collection. If I had my way tv would not exist in any room. But I know that isn’t reality for the majority of American homes.

Lastly, I thought we needed something light in color and still something wooden/natural to occupy space opposite our cubes. I found this amazing Frank Gehry chair and ottoman on Knoll. Perfection.

I thought I was done but then I remembered we needed our mirror. I tried options behind the sofa but ultimately realized the space wasn’t balanced. I didn’t want 2 matching side tables for this room, so the other side of the sofa was empty.  I found a French Baroque floor mirror on Etsy. Now we’re set!!

This room is ready for major sexy party fun vibe let’s hang out all day and night times! And it’s neutral but still so interesting! So much texture and fun stuff to look at. Not just 2 boring sofas, blah blah blah.

All the pillows are from Mitchell Gold. The pillows in the chairs tie in the rug and the pillows on the sofa pull from the rug and the chairs. The fur lumbar is just a bit of fun and for added texture.

Major Players: Sofa, cube chairs, marble coffee table (2), 8×10 rug, floor mirror,  Frank Gehry chairwooden console

The Details:Sheep ottoman, white vase, brown vase, black and yellow vase,  arc lamp, Saarinen tulip side table (Calacatta satin), graphic pillows, circle applique pillow, black pillows, fur lumbar, ram bowl, mannequin head, Brutalist light fixture

Haley and Josh said we love this room! How much is all this?! Is this within budget? Let’s do it!! And I said, oh this room, without paint, is roughly $31, 075. I just wanted to pull a bunch of fun stuff and make you sad! Muhahaha.

But then I pulled a Property Brothers or whatever and gave them a similar room within their $5,000 budget.

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I found a very similar Danish style sofa at CB2, in the color sunflower. Similar to saffron. It’s a little more orange than green but I think it works. Orange is very 70s! The downside here? No sleeper.

I looked for cube chairs but couldn’t find anything comparable to our Again & Again chairs.  There were 2 identical chairs on Etsy but in a red floral pattern. We don’t have money for reupholstery. Skip it! And really we need a vintage item and they’re just so good! So we decided that $850 was a steal and went for the chairs. So happy we did that! They make the room for me. I linked some alternatives below but I’m really not in love with those choices. You don’t want every single piece to be up on skinny mcm legs.

I checked out the Nashville craigslist and right there for $75 was a gold floor mirror. Sure it’s not as ornate as French Baroque, but it’s $75, it’s within budget, and I think it’ll work just fine for these cats.

We got a much cheaper marble inspired tulip table ($188) and a fun arc lamp with large marble base ($256). Still maintaining our pricey marble look but with affordable pieces.

I wasn’t able to find a cotton jute with a fun pattern like the Anthropologie rug (for a good price!) but I did find this black one with great texture on Overstock for $354. The colors are black and browns.

After trying MANY white coffee table solutions, faux marble and other materials, I finally found this marble table on Chairish. Woohoo! I wanted to stay as close to the shape of the pricier option as possible. Atleast it’s a square? Ha! And marble! That was important. Nothing else looked right.

I really couldn’t find a console in reclaimed wood to fit the budget that didn’t look like industrial junk. I hate that look. Definitely not with our mid century-70s mood. So I found this dresser. When you can’t find a console/credenza, look for a dresser or top-opening storage chest. They’re always cheaper! However, it makes the room a little more casual/approachable.  Just depends on what style you’re really going for. Haley and Josh aren’t as froo froo as $31,000 and were okay with the trendy look of the classic MCM chest.

Finding the right wooden piece for the Frank Gehry chair was really hard. Like really really hard. I’m still not convinced I chose correctly. This chair puts us over budget with its $850 price tag. We’ll just have to hope the seller accepts a lower offer. I have linked to some cheaper alternatives.

The brass light fixture is similar in shape but not in the Brutalist style that is so shapely and cool. But this one is mid-century and also reminds me of the 70s. So it still fits with what we’re going for.

The Target pillows look a lot cheaper in comparison to the Mitchell Gold. Go figure. This room, as it is, with no lesser chair offers accepted, is $5,694. I really wish I could have found an affordable sheep ottoman. I think the room really needs it!! 😦

Major Players: Sofa, cube chairs (2, 3), 6×9 rug, floor mirror, coffee table (2), console/dresser (2), rattan chair, (2, 3)
The Details: Arc lamp (2, 3), tulip table, fur throw, black pillow covers, abstract pillows, gray loop applique pillow, faux fur lumbar,  light fixture, mannequin head

I can’t wait to show you the reveal!

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The sofa will stay where their old sofa was, but the cube chairs will go where that cabinet and clock was. The media console/mcm dresser will go on the far side of the room opposite the sofa. We’ll anchor everything with our rug, center our marble table between our sofa and chairs, and diagonally sit our rattan lounger. The mirror with lay against the wall on the right of the sofa, behind the chairs. The marble side table and marble arc lamp will flank the sofa. Isn’t that great!

Jk this wasn’t real. But it could be, if you scroll to the bottom, click the contact email, and let’s do business! 🙂

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Hope you enjoyed my stab at neutrals. I definitely prefer color but wanted to see if I could handle the neutrals. I wish I could have gotten a little closer to the expensive room when making the price comparison. I really like it a lot better. I would totally live in that room. Maybe if I looked harder across the internet I would have found a better rattan chair and a better reclaimed wood console. But I got tired of staring at this thing!

Would love to hear your thoughts on this neutral room.

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Imagining my next space

I’m sort of obsessed with wallpaper now. I’ve always liked it but rediscovered my interest in it when I was searching for wallpapers for Mom’s living room. It’s funny how tastes change. 5-6 years ago I really wanted a damask wallpapered bedroom with an aubergine upholstered headboard (I wouldn’t be caught dead with that now! :P). At the time I started this blog in 2014 I was really into giant floral papers and still liked touches of antiques. Now I’m way more about the geometrics and mid-century modern furniture. I do still like some of the classics though! The de Gournay Chinoiserie seems to be so fitting with the right MCM table (or a traditional table) and a well-mixed chair.

Seeing as how my next dwelling will be a rental again, I decided to check out the removable paper trend. There’s quite a lot to choose from! I ended up imaging an entire dream room in my Art of the Mix style.

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(if your browser supports it, click to enlarge)

Color color everywhere! I started with the removable wallpaper, Rapids, from Chasing Paper. It comes in 3 colorways and I knew blue was the way to go. All this time I’ve been trying to have a blue room and it hasn’t happened (Oh, I’ll just reupholster those chairs in blue. I’ll paint this room in blue…).

I’m still pretty cool with all white walls so if I were to try out removable wallpaper in a rental, I’d probably just do a focal wall like this. Wallpaper is like art on its own, an added little bit of texture. I love that. I love the big announcement of color/design in your face! I’d have to really love it to commit to the entire room. That’s the beauty of this removable stuff. You could change your room as often as you fancy! 😉

In my next apartment, I’m going to have to find a tuxedo sofa with upholstered feet. I don’t know where or how but dang it, I will have one. I love my chesterfield but it is not really the sofa dreams are made of. It’s pretty rigid with the seat cushion sewn in. I want loose cushions that I can sink into. Also, Jim is a tall guy. He would like a sofa he can stretch out on. The Milo Baughman for Thayer Coggin sofa (as shown) is plenty long enough for his 6 foot frame. You know my thoughts on buying vintage. Do it to it! The downside is shipping and paying for reupholstery. Whamp whammmp.

Those are my beloved swivel chairs. 2 laptops or so ago I had a photo saved of someone’s amazing chair. All I know is it was green and some sort of animal print. I scoured the internet last night trying to find that dang picture. I think it was of a gay man’s home. A fashion designer or an interior designer? I have no idea! But the fabric was fluffy? Like thick fur. It did not lay flat like crushed velvet. I want fluffy chairs! I don’t know where to find fabric like that. This tiger moss colored animal print is from Lee Jofa and is some $2000 a freaking yard. Uh…. I will be finding a cheaper alternative. If you pay close attention to design magazines/books you’ll notice this print everywhere. I tossed in a blue velvet pillow to tie in the wall colors.

One thing I know for sure, besides that I must have the tuxedo sofa, is I’ve finally realized what kind of coffee table I need!  BURL WOOD! Oh my god. Look how amazing that is. AHHHHHHH. This one is French 1940s Art Deco. A cute little platform. Perfect for all the clutter in my life. 😛

Something I’d like to incorporate into my next home, should space allow, is the slipper chair. I chose these because of their shape, to compliment the upholstered feet of the tuxedo. I colorized them purple to bring out the purple in the rug and in the wallpaper. A little lumbar pillow would be necessary.

Also, I think it’s important to note that this room would still need to be functional without the wallpaper. Purple and yellow are complimentary colors. Purple isn’t too far off from red and we know red and green are complimentary. And blue and yellow are dear friends. At first glance one might be overwhelmed looking at this room but I think once you look around you see that I did put a great deal of thought into my choices.

I like to splatter elements of black and brass around the room. Here we have a black planter for our cactus, black books, and a black plant stand for Buddha. Brass elements include Lassie (I don’t have one of those but I do have a brass poodle!), the task lamps by the sofa, and the tripod lamp between the slipper chairs.

One thing I’ve picked up from the McGrath ladies and Jeffrey Bilhuber, is the use of tiny little lamps by the sofa. I really kind of love that!! I’m not sure if that’s a carry over from Billy Baldwin (both of them heavily influenced by his work).BB def had thing for the tuxedo!

For newness and modern fun, and because I’ve always been leaning towards acrylic coffee tables, I chose acrylic side tables.

I started to do a gallery wall but in all honesty I’m not really a fan. I don’t have a large collection of art so I don’t want to even bother faking it. I’d rather buy key pieces like the tuxedo and the burl wood coffee table and fill in the art gaps later! I do however have the lady and the mirrors are from Target. A cheap fix! Do I like it? I’d have to see it in a real space.

So, removable paper– very doable.
Rug, got it.
Credenza, already mine.
Chairs, mine. Just need that fabric!
Animal decor, I got worlds of that.
Pillows, easy to find.
Target tripod, already mine.
Plants, no worries there. I don’t have the Euphorbia cactus but I got the fiddle!

Need tuxedo sofa, burl wood table, acrylic end tables, 2 Target round mirrors, and 2 task lamps to make this room a reality.

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So, all of these sofas are sold out except for #2 from Jan Showers. But you can get an idea of what to look for! I believe all the burl wood tables are for sale!

Sofa 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Table 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
The Details: Rapids wallpaper, Target mirror, acrylic side table, adjustable pharmacy floor lamp, large black planter, antique rug, brass collie, plant stand (imagined black), Target brass tripod lamp, blue velvet lumbar pillows, Kuba cloth pillows,  lion, horse, similar swivel chairs (mmm, same dingy pink as mine!), slipper chairs 

What are your thoughts on this colorful Art of the Mix? I’m so heavily inspired by so many designers…so many are represented in what I do. I’m eager to move out of this garage and into a space of my own so I can start decorating again!!

 

a confession/ Tiny spaces; a vignette

Oh my gosh, you guys. I apologize for the lack of content. I want to be transparent on this blog like so many wonderful bloggers that I admire but then I don’t want to break my lovely little veil of internet anonymity. I will say that this has been a very rough year for me. I briefly posted that I left my graphic design job in December 2015. 2015 was ultimately the worst year of my life! I received devastating health news February 2015 that I am still processing. It has not been easy. Then the majority of this year I have been unemployed and dealing with depression and anxiety. I ultimately had to move in with my mother in another city, thus my lack of personal home posts. And why I was focusing so much on her space. It was very difficult living with my mother at 31. I haven’t lived with her in 13 years! Our relationship definitely felt the strain after 6 months. I sought healing but only felt worse being in my childhood home, isolated and jobless.

I am back home in Birmingham now, living with my boyfriend again. We broke up in 2015 after the health news created some tension in our relationship. I moved into a house on my own. Remember my bungalow? It was hard living by myself. I couldn’t keep up with the house maintenance, the lawn, the pest control, by myself. I was really really stressed at work. To the tune of losing 25 lbs and a good chunk of my hair falling out. My news in combination with my work stress nearly destroyed me. I just wanted to lie down and die. Just be dead until this sadness passed. But life doesn’t work like that. Life seemed meaningless and sitting in a windowless cubicle was literal agony. So I quit! I quit. I lived off my 401k a while. I moved. I drowned in my depression pretty much up until 2 weeks ago. My boyfriend has been there for me every step of the way, as a friend and as a mate. He and I are much better now, committed to each other. Moving away definitely made me realize a lot about what I needed out of life to have some semblance of happiness. One of those things is him. I am tired of being sad. Nearly 2 years is long enough!  So what if I can’t have children (yeaah, I was diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Insufficiency with translocated chromosomes for a likelihood of miscarriage)? I am alive. I have my parents. My family. Jim. Jim’s family. Friends. I am still capable of achieving the goal of being a stylist, right? 😀

For now, I’m staying in his garage apartment. Here’s a little styling for ya! When I say little, I mean like…vignette little.

Don’t worry, Jim said I could embarrass him all across the interworld with this photo…

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Before I even knew I was moving back, I came to visit and tidy up his space! You can see my bags/shoes on the dining chairs. He had them in the middle of the room. I still don’t understand why old dining chairs were up there but whatever. That was the only thing I moved before snapping these photos. Granted he and his brother mostly used this garage apartment for bottling their homebrew, he clearly was sleeping up here from time to time. It was NOT an environment I wanted to sleep in nor a room I wanted to spend time in!   A lot of trash everywhere, dirt and grime, dirty clothes, and all around a layer of man funk covering each and every surface.

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With nothing to decorate with but the contents within the room, I moved the dresser from below the window to along the wall. The kilim rug is so good and colorful. I found an old patterned shirt in the closet and wrapped it around the ottoman to add a little more color to the space. I put the 2 dining chairs together and slapped a blanket and pillow on it and called it a sofa! The guys were so messy, that Matisse print was hiding behind the dresser. Matisse should always be displayed! It just so happened to be night time and the nearest visible plant life was a pine tree. I put it in a beer bottle for a masculine touch.

Jim was all smiles when he saw the cleaned up space. Yay!

Then a week later I moved in. All my furniture is still at Mom’s so I could only bring some accessories to make it homey for myself. I brought 2 chairs…and well, here, you’ll see:

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I can’t tell you how much I miss my vintage credenza! Gah that thing is like my pride and joy. This old kids dresser doesn’t compare. But I knew my yellow chair and brass chair with white arm pads would pair well (I know, this is an outside chair but so what?).

I love all the colors!! The rug, the chairs, the white in the dresser, the greens and blues in the art, and then the plants. Gah, it just works so well. Then there’s the touches of brass in the candlesticks,the legs of the Target tripod, the brass elephant, and the chair. Lil bling bling! There’s texture in the leather ottoman, the nubby white and yellow pillow on the brass chair, the velvet on the vintage yellow chair, the grain of the side table.

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Chloe approves! The side table is decked out with Buddha and the cutest brass elephant I ever did see. I got that Buddha for $2 from a friend at a flea and he’s been with me in every apartment for years and years and years. Move after move after move. Where I go, Buddha goes.

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There are pops of orange balanced by pops of black. I’ve come to find that one of my favorite things is to make a not so great situation as good as you can in that moment. To work with what you’ve got. Like what I did with Mom’s living room.

I only brought 3 of my little animal friends, 6 styling books, 1 piece of art, 2 chairs, and 1 rug (not shown). I am h-u-r-t-i-n-g for all my friends! but soon enough they’ll be back in bham too! 🙂

I hope my plants continue to grow here. The backroom at Mom’s house, where my room is now, does not receive much sunlight. My plant Bergita that I’ve had for 3 years bit the dust. I loved her. Oh, Bergita. If Fiddle dies I will be so mad! But anyway, I sit in the yellow chair and put my feet up. For little ol’ me it’s not too shabby. For giant ol’ Jim it’s a lil cramped. Here’s to hoping 2017 means a job I enjoy, financial stability once again, and much needed happiness.

 

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(please don’t encourage me to adopt or tell me everything happens for a reason. i’ve heard it all before and it doesn’t help. i know everyone means well but it doesn’t help my broken heart when you want a biological child of your own with your loved one)