My living room went through quite a few iterations before it reached a point I was truly happy with. Mostly because my design desires and my design budget rarely matched up in my first "fixer" home, and I was constantly trying to make things work because I could afford them, not necessarily because they were my first choice.
But also partly because it can take some time (and some mistakes) to really learn what you like and don't like, need and don't need, want and don't want. I mean that both in a design sense and in a life-in-general sense ... but I that's a whole different post! :)
So I made mistakes (like hanging weird celery green curtains just because I found the high quality linen panels on clearance from Pottery Barn, never mind that they were totally the wrong color for my space and my taste.) To be perfectly honest, my design tastes are not at all static and I hope they never will be. They're continually evolving as I gain exposure to new things and continue to refine and train my eye the longer I work in this business. Every single project I take on is a learning experience, and my own pet projects are no exception.
So if you recall from my remodel recap, this is what we started out with when the house was purchased. Grungy tile floors, small windows, bad shiny walls, seriously ugly fixtures, vertical blinds, and almost no natural light.
The biggest transformations came from unearthing the original wood floors that were trapped beneath all that ugly tile, and installing new (larger) wood windows. (I shared my tip for sourcing discounted doors and windows from the "boneyard" in this post.) We painted the walls soft grey in a flat finish...remember, glossy finishes are reserved for furniture and molding only.
Yes, that's the exact same room view. Crazy, right? We demo'd a living room wall and added a wide arch leading from the living room to the dining room, letting a ton of natural light flood in from our new dining room french doors.
I would say that one of the main lessons to take from this space is the balance of color, contrast, and temperature. It evolved through some trial and error, but I eventually settled on a very muted palette of grey, white, and black, with accents of rust and cognac here and there to warm the cool palette.
Want an example of another mistake I made? I originally bought this brown wool rug (back before these lattice and geometric patterns were completely played out) and it didn't provide nearly enough contrast against the brown wood floors or the charcoal grey sofa. Everything was just one dark bleh in terms of color and contrast. I lived with it for at least a year before finally changing to the grey zig zag rug above which was a vast improvement (it's no longer carried by West Elm, but I'll link similar rugs in the sources below.)
Lesson learned? That CONTRAST is such a major factor in a room! With a few exceptions in very neutral, intentionally monochromatic spaces, you really have to consider not just the color palette, but also the contrast palette of a room. You can't choose a rug without taking into account how it will stand out against the color of the floor. Is there enough contrast between the furniture and the walls, the walls and the curtains, the furniture and the rug, the rug and the floors?
I always try to create a tv wall that doesn't highlight the big black box but rather frames it attractively with other interesting visuals. A gallery wall of art works well, but in this case I had my carpenters build these simple wood display shelves, and the asymmetry of the arrangement works to demote the tv from "front and center" status (obviously the screen is normally unobstructed ... we placed the ram sculpture there for the photos.)
The curtains are simple white linen Ikea panels that I customized with a bit of black trim ... more on that DIY here.
The sofas are my own design (my new online custom furniture site is launching soon, but for now you can see some of it here), and just about everything else is vintage or DIY, so the rest of this post reads half like a DIY art tutorial, and half like a shopping list for my favorite LA hunting grounds.
I DIY "dipped" the legs of my little entry key table in gold paint and loved the result!
The vintage leopard stool was spray painted with Rustoleum Heirloom White (a really nice satin finish bone white that I use a lot) and covered with a fabric from Michael Levine downtown.
The Rothko print is a poster bought online and framed in a thrift store frame (one of my favorite framing tricks.)
The two black and white architectural prints are a vintage find from this totally weird place in the valley called Hotel Surplus ... it's a giant warehouse that buys enormous lots of old furniture and decor when a hotel remodels. A lot of it is either crap or beat to crap ... but then you'll stumble upon some brass fretwork patio chairs and be all like what, what!? (I don't know that I'll ever recover from the fact that I passed on these. I don't know what I was thinking. They haunt me still.)
I made the black and white abstract painting and the geometric art above the key table...I don't call myself an artist per se, but I see no harm in dabbling!
This metal and marble sculpture was found at TINI on Fairfax (clever acronym for This Is Not Ikea.) Great spot for weird and cool accessories and shelf filler. Art too.
The black and white floating ovals in the corner is a DIY that I lifted directly from Alexander Calder, inspired by the Veranda image below. In this case imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. (I wrote a whole post about creating your own affordable wall art ... I don't think it's a crime ... have at it people!)
The whale in the corner of the living room is a print by Jen Lobo once sold at Urban Outfitters. They still sell a similar print here.
And remember how I was talking about the balance of color and contrast in a space? This room would be falling really flat without that amazing vintage cognac leather chair that I scored on Craigslist. I trolled for it for weeks and weeks before it turned up, but I kept the faith, because I knew that this room need that exact color and texture to warm up all the grey and white. Contrast!
(all photos by Bethany Nauert)
See this house featured on Domaine Home too!
Links for the rest of the house tour:
nitty gritty remodel // kitchen // dining room // bath //
nursery // bedroom // patio // my design studio)
sofas and throw pillows: Rosa Beltran Design
leather chair: vintage by Westnofa, found on Craigslist
coffee table: vintage from Pepe's on Sunset
ceiling light: vintage from Sunset Bazaar
faux bamboo brass lamp w/ black shade: vintage from the Rose Bowl Flea Market
leather handled tote: Nate Berkus for Target (no longer sold)
metal accordion side table: Urban Outfitters
rug: West Elm (no longer sold but see similar here, here and here)
fiddleleaf fig plant: Kobata Growers in the wholesale flower mart downtown
art: pretty much all DIY or thrifted (read more above)
picture lights: from Ikea and spray painted brass (discontinued but see similar here and here)
entry key table: thrifted and DIY dipped here
white tv console: vintage from Pepe's on Sunset (I painted it a bone white that I custom blended from various leftover paints)
glass door display cabinet: vintage from Pepe's on Sunset
large fretwork mirror: overstock.com (no longer available)
curtains: Ikea Aina in white
window hardware: DIY (explained in my dining room post)
white obelisk lamps: vintage from Sunset Bazaar (I did a DIY on them here)
cane entry bench: vintage and DIY'd