I always like seeing before and afters and real-life examples of blank rooms that are designed from scratch, so I thought it’d be fun today to show a reader’s home and how my e-design decorating process works to bring your ideas and dreams to life.
Thank you, Anna, who graciously sent photos of her home and was willing to share them with you on the Internet :)
She, her husband, and 3 young kids under 5 are renovating their home. So far, they’ve demoed their kitchen and took down the wall separating the kitchen from the living room so now it’s all open concept with a vaulted ceiling. They are an active family with a ton going on, so they need durable, practical furniture and decor.
However, the open concept has made it difficult for Anna to know where to place furniture and how to create a floor plan that works for them along with the challenge of knowing what furniture to get. With one big room, the rooms all flow together so the furniture and decor need to work together and compliment each other so it feels like a cohesive space. Otherwise, your home will quickly turn into a hodgepodge of furniture that do not work well together and each room will feel disjointed, like it’s own individual space.
Anna also came to me wanting advice on lighting. Right now, her husband hates the “little balls” hanging down from the ceiling. They took down a couple of the ball light fixtures in the front entrance, but now they’re left with just the light bulbs and she is overwhelmed with picking out new lighting since she is unsure what size or style would work in the space.
Here is what Anna’s home looks like right now in the midst of their kitchen renovation. It’s a beautiful open blank slake with lots of natural night (you know that’s my favorite). I can totally relate to how she’s feeling as she is anxious to organize and furnish their living room so they can have some place to relax as a family with all that’s going on.
Anna put in new wood-like floors in a stone grey color, they painted the kitchen cabinets dark grey, walls are white, and the wood railings and trim are dark wood. When it comes to her style, Anna doesn’t just like one thing or one particular style, but she loves all things shiny, metal, sparkly, fur and an overall light, airy and uncluttered space.
Here is a photo she sent as inspiration, so you can definitely see her love for white and airy. Definitely something we can achieve in her home!
The Design Plan
As I began brainstorming ideas, the first thing I noticed when looking at photos of Anna’s home and the inspiration photos, is the amount of warm tones in the inspiration photo compared to her home. Anna has lots of grey in her home, from the kitchen cabinets to the accent chairs and the cool grey-tone floors. But the inspiration photo uses lots of warm tones like the warm wood floors, cream sofa, and brown leather accents.
In order to achieve a similar look as the inspo photo, we really want to make sure the selected furniture and accessories incorporate lots of texture and warmth along with warm toned colors that work with grey.
For Anna’s living room and dining room design plan, we’re tackling:
This is the design board rendering I created for Anna’s dining and living room. It really only takes a few key pieces to turn a space into a really fun, welcoming place you are excited to hang out in. It still reflects the open and airy vibe Anna was going for, while selecting pieces that tie in nicely with the grey floors ad dark wood accents.
Let’s jump into my thought process on my design selections and how I chose furniture and decor!
Shop the Look:
First, let’s talk layout and developing a floor plan. The space needs to function as both a living room and dining room, so it’s important to define the two spaces. It’s easy for an open concept space to feel like just one oversized room, but it’s much harder to furnish a huge area and it functions better when there are smaller defined conversation areas. Because the rooms are connected, they need to play off each other so it feels cohesive and international, and not like a disruption when you go from the dining area to living area.
The couch is a good physical divider from the dining room and living room. I’d leave the dining table where Anna currently has it, and position the TV along the wall near the entrance, parallel to the couch. This layout breaks up the room into two conversation areas while still allowing for traffic flow.
Anna was starting from scratch as she furnished her living room and was in the market for a new durable couch that can withstand 3 busy, young kids. A sectional is a great option not only because of the layout of her living room, but it also offers lots of seating for their family. As far as durability, leather is your best friend. I chose a large brown leather sectional because it’s big enough for family movie night and can easily be wiped clean and will last for years.
Then for a coffee table, I went with a round shape and open bottom so it doesn’t feel heavy and boxy since we want to keep a light and open feeling. The TV will sit along the wall opposite the couch, so I chose a dark wood media center that repeats the dark brown color of the couch and distributes it evenly throughout the room so it feels balanced.
There are a whole lot of cool greys going on right now in Anna’s home, but if you look at her inspiration picture, there are lots of warm colors. She wants the light and airy vibe so her white walls work, but we need to bring in some warmth using accessories so it feels warm and inviting, especially during the winter months when it’s freezing outside. The trick to adding warmth when sticking to a fairly neutral color palette is through texture. Lots of layers with things like pillows and even rugs with a variety of textures go a long way to add some interest and dimension.
Lighting is overwhelming because it can be expensive and there are typically lots of light fixtures needed, especially in large open concept spaces. I wrote an entire blog post about how to pick the right light fixture size and style for your home. In an open concept area, you want lighting to flow and feel carefully selected, rather than totally mis-matched from the dining room to the living room. This was one of the topics that Anna struggled with most. Her husband disliked the hanging “balls” from the ceiling in the kitchen, but she was unsure what light fixture to get as replacement. In open concept spaces, I usually suggest recessed lighting and a combination of overhead lighting such as a chandelier or pendant and accent lights like a floor lamp. Recessed lights are commonly used in open concepts because they add light without requiring lots of pendants. All the hanging ball fixtures feel like overkill in the kitchen. I’d recommend Anna replace the hanging balls with recessed can lights in the kitchen, and then get a new chandelier to hang above the dining room table that fits her style a little better, an then use an arched lamp as accent lighting in the living area.
The key here is lots of plants! Plants fill space and bring life and organic texture into the space, which is exactly what we need. I added a fiddle leaf fig tree next to the media center and a smaller plant to sit on the other side. Since layers are essential for a warm, initing space, I used faux fur pillows, a textured tassel pillow, a fur throw and layered 2 rugs. Anna has a pretty vintage style rug with a beige-y undertone already that would work great. I paired that with a natural seagrass rug and it instantly warms up the space without competing with the grey floors. With the TV sitting next to several windows, window treatments are a must to prevent glare and to also provide some privacy. I added floor to ceiling drapes in white on all the living room windows to stick with the light and airy vibe. The final layer of accessories I incorporated are things like vases, trays, and other objects. Anna loves all things sparkly and shiny, so I used brass metal accents to play it up and give the space a little something special.
Hopefully you liked this example of how to decorate a mid-century modern living room and turn it into a cozy, airy retreat!
What do you think of the before and after? What’s your biggest struggle with decorating your home right now?