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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2 thoughts on “Neutral Living Room Makeover

  1. Both room layouts and design look awesome. Great idea to switch out the dresser for the console. Your room has a hip vibe, would love to see an actual photo of the completed room. I’m sure Josh and Haley are glad they consulted with you. Love that lamb ottoman.

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