Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Barb's Living Room

Our aunt has lived in her house in the Chicago suburbs for over 10 years and wanted to update her living room.  She sent us some pictures so that we could get a sense for what needed changing:

Well hello dark depressing cave. Nice to meet you.  Also, WTF is that tiny stool?

Our priorities in this room were:

1.  Addressing the horrible furniture arrangement
2.  Bringing more light into the space
3.  Re-accessorizing/staging the room
4.  Taking out some of the unnecessary furniture.  You can't tell from these pictures (or maybe you can) but this room was a furniture graveyard.

We had to get this done on a minimal budget.  We spent one day at her place, working with what she had to transform the room.  Here's what we came up with:

 Our aunt has a great art collection and a lot of solid, pretty wood pieces that we were able to use in the space.  We swapped out the small photograph over the couch for a pretty watercolor (done by our grandma).  The big white flowers added a feminine touch over the heavy sofa and brought more light into the room.

We moved the chairs to face the couch to make it a more intimate space for conversation.  This also divided up a big room into more distinct spaces.  Previously, their furniture lined the perimeter of the room, which left the purpose of the room less defined.  The new arrangement makes the room feel more pulled together.  Although "floating furniture" can feel scary, sometimes it is necessary in large spaces.  To further define the space and ground the furniture, she can always add an area rug.

We brought in the glass-top coffee table (a freebie from our grandma) to bring in a material other than wood and, again, lighten up the space.  It's hard to see in the pictures, but it also has brass it!

Because we borrowed and repurposed things that she already had, the only money we spent was on new pillows and a throw blanket.  Final cost of this mini makeover? $90.

You never need to spend a ton of money or time to make a big change in a room.  Rearranging furniture, borrowing accessories from other rooms, and thinking outside the box can bring new life into tired spaces.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Julie's Living Room: Banana Leaf Love

Did anyone else check out Nicky Hilton's dining room in InStyle? Well, we did and we adored her use of Hinson's iconic Martinique banana leaf wallpaper.  So pretty with the coral accents!

This print is so classic, despite the fact that it's as bold and colorful as it is.  We love it in Brian Atwood's Milan living room, paired with neutral black, white, and brass...

via Elle Decor this small powder room (let's be honest, we love the look of bold wallpaper in any powder room)...

via Matters of Style
...and in this entryway via House Beautiful:

Needless to say, we were thrilled when we stumbled upon this throw pillow for my (Julie) living room.  Since we can't plaster our rentals in wallpaper, throw pillows are one of the ways we bring pattern into our small spaces.  We love how it looks against the gray velvet of my couch.

Are you smitten/brave enough to go for a bold wallpaper in hour own home? If you vow to steer clear of borders (slowly dying just thinking about those), we think wallpaper is a great way to bring a little of the unexpected into any space.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sarah's Living Room: Rug Problems

I love a wool rug.  I especially love a beautiful, thick, soft, stylish wool rug.  So when I found my current living room rug, I thought I'd found true love.

You know how you're not supposed to live with someone until you're sure you want to commit to them?  Because it's really ugly to break up and then either have to continue living together or figure out how to break your lease?  Yeah, well I'm ready to kick this loser of a rug to the curb.  I'm so mad that I ever let it move in.

Here's why:

This is my leg after two minutes kneeling on the rug.  Now picture this strewn across my entire house, no matter how many times I vacuum.  I understand that wool rugs shed.  I have two other wool rugs that shed.  This rug takes shedding to unprecedented levels.  Enough is enough.

So I have begun the search for a new love.  There are so many fun trends in rugs right now that I'm not sure which way to go.  Here are some of our favorite current styles:

  • Layered rugs (we particularly adore the look of a jute or sisal rug underneath a more colorful kilim or dhurrie rug):

  • Bold patterns like chevron or stripes:

  • Natural fiber rugs (without layering):

  • Moroccan or moroccan-inspired rugs (and yes I want a striped floor now):

  • Ikat and other boho-chic rugs (did you see Solange Knowles's bedroom rug in Elle? Perfection.):

  • And traditional rugs used in unexpected ways/places:

Needless to say, I am overwhelmed by my options.  I brought up the idea of buying two rugs and layering them and Devin's head almost exploded.  Maybe after reading this post he'll start picking up what I'm putting down.

Do you have a favorite rug trend?  Opinions about what might look best in my room?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Anthropologie Vase and Ginger Jar Love

We really think that Anthropologie has some kind of force field outside of it that pulls you inside whenever you walk by.  We never have any intention of going in, but we always do.  And once we're in's on.

On our latest forced trip, I (Julie) picked up this vase:

I loved the sentiment, the size (it's pretty small-- only 7" high), and the colors.  Right now, it's on my coffee table and is filled with hypericum berries. I love the contrast of the red berries against the blue and white vase, like in this photo from Anthropologie's website:

Love.  Even though faux plants aren't my thing, I'm thinking of picking up some fake hypericum berries to keep in the vase always.  Do you love the "let them eat cake" vase? I almost picked it up for my dining room, but resisted.

The colors of the vase remind us of ginger jars.  Yes, your grandma had them in her kitchen in the 1950s, but trust us...they're making a mean comeback and we (and grandmas everywhere) are loving it.  They work with just about any decor style, from sleek and modern to traditional or coastal. They also offer a ton of versatility-- take off the lid and turn it into a vase, use smaller jars on bookshelves as book ends...lots of possibilities with these things.

via Lonny

via Little Green Notebook

via Marcus Design Blog

via Traditional Home
 We also love that designers are taking the "feel" of ginger jars and infusing this into their work.  We've seen this inspiration in lamps, fabric, and color schemes.

Inspired?  We like the idea of picking up vintage ginger jars at your local flea market, but if you want the look without the hunt, these are some options we love:

C Wonder sells both traditional ginger jars and a more modern set (both are priced really reasonably):

Bellacor has a variety of options, including this lamp:

Ethan Allen sells bowls, jars, and platters, including this stunner:

So much blue and white goodness.  We hope to score some vintage jars at the flea market this weekend for Sarah's living room.  We'll be sure to share anything we find!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Julie's Living Room: TV Wall Art Gallery

Our living room only has three walls, as it is open to our dining room.  One of these walls is taken up by windows, the other by our coach/end tables, and the other by our TV.  I wanted to do something to the wall that holds the TV, because right now it's feeling like the massive TV is a focal point in the room.

Told you so. It's bad.

I thought about adding taller bookshelves to either side of the TV stand to add some visual interest, like in this image from Lonny, but I was worried it might look cluttered in such a small room.  If we had a bigger space, I think this is definitely the route I'd go.

Instead, I'm toying with the idea of putting together a gallery to surround the TV, like in Jenny's Tribeca living room:

My hope is that the gallery will help the TV blend just a little bit.  Here's some more TV gallery wall inspiration:

Because our room already has a good amount of color, I'm hoping to keep the frames and art pretty neutral, like in this space:

Because we won't be mounting the TV in our rental, I'll need to layer some frames behind the TV like in Jenny's living room. I've started collecting some frames we have around the house, and am planning to pick up some of my favorite cheap frames this weekend.

I love the Ikea Ribba frames, as they come in a variety of sizes/finishes...

...and Target's Room Essentials frame (as seen in my DIY bathroom art).

The plan is to feature a mix of photography, DIY, and vintage flea market finds.  I'm excited to get started!

Do you have any creative solutions for designing around your TV?

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