New Year, New Living Room

I am starting 2018 off with a living room refresh! The winter weather has coaxed my husband and I into spending more time by the fireplace in our front room, which means more time staring at the adjacent living room. While the living room is functional as-is, I’ve learned a lot about my personal style through designing the last few years, and I’m feeling a bit restless and eager to be bolder in my own space. This is the perfect room to incorporate changes that reflect this evolution.

Here is a current photo of the room. 


The major mistake I made in this room was never having a design plan for it. The only update I knew I wanted to make, initially, was painting the walls white to match the front sitting room so it feels more like one, big room. 

The room is small (11 feet x 11.5 feet) so when we first moved in we did invest in a perfect-sized sectional couch from Robin Bruce (found here) to help maximize seating. The splurge is one I’m glad we made. Four years later the couch still looks great and is just as comfortable. The higher back and down-wrapped cushions support long sitting sessions (movie night anyone?) and the slipcover means I can throw dirty cushions into the washing machine.

The one thing I wish the sofa did have was a longer, more minimal bench seat cushion, to give it a more streamlined and modern look. Unfortunately, despite endless searching, I could not find an option that fit our specific dimensions and budget. And while I love a modern sofa, Andrew is a huge advocate for comfort. The couch we chose in the end has been perfectly cozy for the room, which we spend a ton of time in. 

DESIGN TIP: I highly recommend investing in a high-end (the best you can afford), neutral sofa that will stand the test of time, hold up to use, and outlast trends. It is easier to add style to a room with affordable accessories that you can change out as your tastes evolve, than having to replace a large item, like your couch.

Here are my design challenges for this space:

LR Proposed Changes.jpg
  1. Lack of contrast: A cream sofa against white walls with natural linen curtains and a white chandelier shade = boring. Adding contrast will add much-needed sophistication.
  2. Lack of texture: There is so much fabric in this room! A slipcovered sofa with a skirt, long curtains behind the sofa, a fabric shade on the light fixture and decorative pillows - it’s all just too much. 
  3. Trendy decor: There is nothing wrong with rustic, industrial style (I love it in the right setting). This coffee table was my attempt at incorporating the trend into our space. Unfortunately, there isn't anything else even remotely rustic industrial anywhere in our home and our home is a 1939 bungalow. I’ll admit the purchase was more an afterthought than an intentional addition to the space. I'd love to find a unique coffee table that will also add personality.
  4. Limited changes: My long-term vision for this room is to make it an office when we completely renovate our home, so I won’t be making any structural changes.

The plan:

  1. Incorporate modern touches: One of my personal design preferences is adding vintage accents to new, modern homes to help create a feeling of history, and adding modern accents to update older homes. Because our 1930’s bungalow already has a ton of character, I want to replace our bland light fixtures with something modern and sleek, to add contrast.
  2. Add personality: I plan to purchase a better fitting coffee table and side chair that will simultaneously add personality. I am also open to replacing the rug (or getting ours professional cleaned), whichever works best with the new design.
  3. Update window treatments: These sheer, linen IKEA curtains are closed most of the time because they are a pain to open (I actually have to stand on the couch to open and close them). It’s a shame because this room gets the best light in the house and we aren’t currently taking advantage of that. I'd love to replace the curtains with something more functional that also shows off the wonderful wood window trim. I mean, why cover that up?! Maybe a fabric or textured roman shade that adds coziness or perhaps even some pattern. 
  4. Accessorize: Nothing beats real, original art. I’d like to include more of it to elevate the room. Buying art is also a great way to support the creative community which I am a huge advocate of. 


  • $1400 - light-filtering roman window treatments to let in light while also providing privacy
  • $500 - coffee table
  • $350 - statement chair
  • $350 - accent pillows
  • $400 - new light fixture
  • $500 - frame current art / new art

TOTAL: $3500

While I’d prefer to get the budget down to $2500, I want to allow myself some room in case I find some truly unique pieces. Plus, I’ve learned that great design does often cost more money - especially if you are buying something that is custom. At this point, I’d prefer to invest in fewer, high-quality items that are built to last.

What do you think of my design plan? Do you have a room you want to refresh this year?

XO Carly