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A Jess’ Living Room MOTO Update: We’ve Got A Lot To Talk About – Successes And A Possible Mistake

I promise this was supposed to be my MOTO that didn’t take a year and half (and IT WON’T) but my optimistic 4-month plan has come and gone…and left well, forever. The initial culprits were the crazy shipping delays and boy there have been a lot of them. And now I am in the process of getting an exciting custom thing made but I figured it was high time for an update. I’ve got a lot of thoughts, ideas, and fun developments (but also at least one sorta mistake). I am sure I have said this before but historically I don’t like to do MOTO updates where anything is “given away”. Maybe it’s the showbiz gal that’s still in me that wants as much “shock and awe” as possible. But process is what we do here. I’d like to think that’s what makes us special and keeps everyone connected to our reveals and especially our MOTOs. So baby, buckle up. We’ve got stuff to talk about.

But let’s go back for a little refresh since it’s been a minute…

The Layout Agony

This was my first big hurdle considering I couldn’t really plan everything until my layout was locked in. While I LOVE having a fireplace and a turret window, this particular layout isn’t an easy one if you also need it to function as an office. These were the three most doable options:

And here is the one I picked (option two) PLUS the sofa of my dreams:

This was right after it was delivered and it was a game-changer from that moment and here’s why. First off, the back is lower than my old white sofa which really opened up the space. I was shocked. When you look at the older photos, the white sofa kinda looked too big. This seems wild because this new beaut is almost a foot wider and feels perfect. Point being, definitely consider the height when buying a sofa for visual openness. Oh and for those who are tall or have tall people in their lives that are wondering if they can comfortably sit on this sofa I had it “tall person approved”. When my friend saw my sofa, he said, “well it looks nice but I hate low back sofas. I’m always too tall so they are pretty uncomfortable”. But when he actually sat on it he quickly changed his opinion because of its deep cushion. That made all the difference to him. Basically, it’s an incredible sofa and I fall asleep on it a lot because it’s like the size of a twin bed. The second reason why this particular sofa lady was such a game-changer is the color balanced my not-so-pretty brown fireplace. Aside from the heart-stopping moment when I saw it on the Lulu and Georgia site, having it in the space makes my fireplace’s color look less terrible! Do I magically love the fireplace color now? No. BUT, the white sofa really made it stand out in not a great way. It was like a magic trick. So really this sofa is a peacemaker in my home. And speaking of my fireplace let’s chat about that next…

The Fireplace Fiasco

please ignore the styling

Where we last left off, my DIY dream was to cover my fireplace. DIY Dad (Les Bunge, the legend) was on the job. I gave him measurements, he pre-cut the wood at his house, and down in his beloved airstream he came to Pasadena (seriously that airstream is his actual pride and joy. My brother and I are a distant memory now).

But then, after testing it out (and him accusing me of not telling about some part of the fireplace’s structure), he deemed my dreams impossible without it looking really weird in the end. Les Bunge is a yes man so while I, of course, tried to prove him wrong… he was in fact right.

There was just too big of a gap for the look I wanted because of how far the mantle jutted out. And while I’m not someone who gives up easily on an idea, when it’s not’s working you’ve got to pivot.

So what’s the plan now? Well, I’m seeing if just tiling inside and on the hearth (on plywood so damage to the fireplace) could work. I really love the idea of dark blue zellige tile so stay tuned.

The Window Treatment Conundrum

This is what my nook used to look like. I still needed a desk and I was coming to terms with the fact that white curtains looked very blah in this space. If not white, what color?! I still wanted the space to feel peaceful but also warm and inviting. Enter my then existential pink curtain crisis question.

Guess who decided to get over herself and her silly biases? These truly gorgeous curtains and a single curved rod were graciously made by Decorview. I won’t gush quite yet about what an incredible experience it was (I’ll save that for the reveal) but my lord am I in love. And to Lisa, who commented that her mom read somewhere that pink curtains mimic the light babies see when they’re in the womb and would be calming, was right. My “womb room” is both calming and is making a bold design choice. Win-win.

You also might have noticed that utterly spectacular desk…

The DREAM Desk

TA-DA. Finding this desk felt like a magic trick I somehow performed but have no idea how I did it. But more accurately Crate & Barrel simply has my heart and what they have been designing is truly so beautiful. So not only is this chic and textured, it’s stupidly functional (yes, Jess has a functional piece of furniture). Let’s break it down:

1. It’s a desk that doesn’t read: DESK when you first look at it. This was important to me since it’s such a main piece in the space.
2. Both sides independently twist from the center so I can have them angled, straight, or nested together. This means it can also work as a skinny dining table if I want to have a dinner party!
3. IT HAS STORAGE. The center is a full-on cabinet. Oh but if I don’t want to see the cabinet door for some reason I can twist it around to the back.

When Emily first saw it her exact words were, “This is an Editorial Director’s desk!” and honestly I feel very lucky and powerful every time I sit at this desk. A massive upgrade from the folding table to say the least.

A DIY Desk Chair Challenge

Welcome to my pending DIY desk chair project. My current chair is from our old studio and while I completely appreciate getting to use it, it’s kinda falling apart and the materials mixed with everything else in the space (ie pink curtains, crystal chandelier) are making the space feel glam which really isn’t my personal style. So when I was visiting my cousin up north we went thrift shopping and each bought one of these chairs for only $15!! In its current state, I am not a fan. BUT, the wheels are great and roll super smooth. And, it’s wide so I can sit criss-cross and I like the cane. My plan is massive surgery to make it look more modern but if I totally mess it up then I can use the wheels on a different chair. And again how could I pass it up for $15?!

A Rug Burn(ing) Question

Y’all I am having a time finding the perfect rug. I love love love my checkered rug but I think the pattern scale is too small. So not finding the right patterned rug, I thought I would go for “big texture” which is why you see that cream natural flokati shag rug. The rug itself is great, very pretty, was under $400 for at 6’x9′ on Etsy but I am having some buyer’s remorse for it in this space. I was trying to avoid having the space feel too “cold and modern”, so I thought this would really help. Maybe a thick rug pad would do something but honestly, I think it’s just not it. Maybe it would be great in my bedroom (where the checkered rug currently is) or maybe I can make some of my money back by selling it to a good home where it would thrive. IDK. Stay tuned on that too. I am, however, pretty pumped about those little art pieces:)

I’ve Still Got Secret Plans

Did you think I’d give it all away?! Never:) I have something really amazing (at least I think so) planned for this wall. Just know that this will be the very definition of a “statement wall”… and that sconce will be replaced.

So that’s where I am at. Lots of moving pieces and beautiful decor are being sourced to make it feel as comfortable yet inspiring to me as my last home. The style of this apartment building is definitely leading the charge but I’m determined to make it feel like me.

Love you, mean it.


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104 thoughts on “A Jess’ Living Room MOTO Update: We’ve Got A Lot To Talk About – Successes And A Possible Mistake

  1. Love the desk, it’s perfection. The pink drapes are beautiful. The sofa does look great in here. Can’t wait to see the finished room

  2. Oh, I love the desk! I wish we had C&B here. I think you’re right that the rugs aren’t right though – the white fluffy one with the brown sofa isn’t right, and the patterned one doesn’t go either. That curved curtain rail is amazing and really plays up the lovely curve of the turret! Have you looked into tile paint for the fireplace, or is it too risky in terms of getting it off again later? If you can’t sort it, I’d put a small sheepskin or prayer rug over the hearth, stack the coffee table books in the fireplace, hang some long bushy plants from the mantelpiece, and put a tall vase/sculpture/jar on the hearth on the right hand side, and I bet you could more or less hide it!

    1. O man! I wish you had them too. They are killing it these days. But totally on the rugs and I don’t think I can paint since it’s rental but I’ll think of something. Thank you for all of your suggestions xx

  3. Sorry never comment on this blog but the fire place plan is an absolute eyesore why wouldn’t you simply improve upon what’s there instead of hiding it behind plywood. Drapes are so tidy looking love them.

      1. I love the fireplace! I would so work with it and just style it beautifully. The brown-ish sofa does really pull it together.

        1. Sorry but that brown sofa is just not great! I thot it was a super old one and she was going to reveal an actual awesome sofa 😥 my mistake! Glad you like it tho 😊

    1. Hah, I absolutely adore the fireplace! And love the juxtaposition of the old spanish/”Spanifornia” style– with the fireplace and the crystal chandelier –with the more modern furniture. Very British! (Oh Behave!) Reminds me of some of the beautiful homes and flats in Design Files (Australian) and Living Etc. (British).
      I suspect that may not be the look that Jess is going for, but I totally would personally. Fresh paint–maybe a hip saturated hue– awesome quirky art, sculptures, and a mix of vintage and modern, with a really cool vintage rug? Perfection, with that couch and desk as well. Love the drapes and the curtain rod, but in my fantasy version of the room, probably a different color? I would actually base the entire room around the fireplace–fill it with cool ferns–style it with art, sculptures, and candles on top. It is the soul of the room.

      1. Boy! do i ever agree! I probably would paint the wall one of the sunset colors, again w/o really knowing what Jess is going for. But O! leave that beautiful fireplace alone. The pink curtains and desk are perfection!

      1. Hey Jess, did you consider having your dad build a 3D box in the same profile to slide over the fireplace instead of just using a piece of plywood to cover up the front? That way it would look like a simple modern (removable) fireplace that you could tile or paint to your heart’s desire.
        Anyhoo, the curved curtain rod, drapery treatment and desk are killer! Excited to see it all come to life.

  4. If the DIY fireplace cover doesn’t work out, a William Morris wallpaper with lots of rich greens would take that fireplace straight back to a set out of Howard’s End… could be very moody and wonderful.

    1. I do love a William Morris wallpaper but I think that might be a little too much pattern for how I want the space to feel. Thank you for the suggestion though! Always good to consider everything:)

  5. Great post! Reminds me of the design agony series, which I loved. I think the velvet and shag as textures are maybe competing for attention? I love the checkered shag rug but agree that the size of the pattern is a little noisy in this space… What about a wide, broken stripe flatweave in a low-contrast (like beige on cream) colorway? Or maybe the same checkered pattern, just bigger? Hm.

    I also think that the room is begging for some Jess-approved color to balance out the pink and brown, like the cornflower blue of the piece second from the top in the series of hanging prints(?). I wouldn’t have guessed the new-old chair for this space and am curious to see how it ties in! Anyway, maybe this is all moot given your plans for the big wall… Fun stuff!

    1. Thank you and agree about the rugs! Also, you totally nailed it because that cornflower blue is definitely coming in more. It will all look much more balanced and welcoming once the decor is in<3

  6. JESS, what a delight to find myself mentioned the blog! You made my morning 🙂 I am so happy you like your pink curtains, they look lovely!! I actually also have currently have pink curtains (again, guess my mum really was onto something) I am pretty obsessed with – I love how the light looks when it shines through them – and a very similarly toned sofa, so we’re kind of twinning 😉 Your living room pieces are all so gorgeous (omg that desk!!) I am totally looking forward to your reveal, big drumroll and all!

  7. this is suuuuuuuch a great space! okay, let’s go:

    1. that chandelier is to die for.
    2. love the pink curtains. pink forever! and they look great with the chandelier. pink + crystals = a girl’s best friend 🙂 Oh, and i love how they fit all nice and pleated between windows.
    3. one large rounded curtain rod. looks soooo amazing.
    4. that. desk. omg. i want one. that is such a power desk. but curvy. its a boss babe desk for sure.
    5. the couch is nice. i wouldn’t have normally lean towards a brown couch, but i actually like it. it reminds me of the 12′ vintage brown couch my friend and i had in college. ahhhh memories.
    6. i like the checked rug. the flokati is nice. i think switch so the flokati is in the bedroom. it will feel like a dream cloud.
    7. the fireplace conundrum……hmmmmmmmm……..can your dad box it in on the inside to cover the gap?
    8. the statement wall….i must know! is it a wall of bookshelves?!

    can’t wait to see the finished product.

  8. I am so excited for the reveal because I have a very similar couch! I bought mine second hand from a show house, and it is crazy high end and I love the shape and style and comfort. The only hesitation I had when I bought it is that it is that exact colour of brown you have in your living room, and I have grown to love it. I’m really looking forward to seeing what you do with the rest of the space.

  9. Your fireplace in it’s current state is absolutely lovely. I wouldn’t change a thing with it. Between the turret and the fireplace your apartment has some lovely vintage details. I think your finished design will look much better if you bring in the contemporary glam via your furnishings and allow that to juxtapose with the details of the space than to fight what is already there.

  10. My two cents — What a great space, and I LOVE your new sofa– the color, shape, everything! Can’t wait to see the final reveal of your home.
    The pink drapes are great. They look perfect, really classic, on those curving windows. I also like the checked rug and wonder how it might look with something softer layered on top. Maybe a plain cowhide or a smaller flokati.
    Honestly, I don’t hate the fireplace. I’d just remove all extraneous items on/around it, as it has a slightly busy design already. Then I might add a stack of pretty logs, and set an inviting-looking bench in front of the hearth.

  11. I love the fireplace as is, but I am on board w navy accent tiles.
    Wondering if you’ll select a rug with some navy in it?

  12. I don’t hate the fireplace either. I really love the structure and shape, the tile isn’t great but I actually l like the color balanced with pink if you bring more pink over there. And funny question but have you actually tried sitting in your chair at the desk? Armchairs tend to be too low for desk sitting so you might want to double check before you go to all that work.

    1. The chair height is definitely a hesitation I have. I’m still looking at other chairs but figured an extremely detailed DIY would be fun (she says as she shakes her head at herself) hah

  13. The pink drapes look AMAZING and I am obsessed with that curved curtain rod! It’s so smart and such an elegant solution – so simple, but so unique? Curves!

  14. The fireplace is incredible. I love historical details like that — but there are many tile people in Pasadena who specialize in just CLEANING old tile. I can send you the link if interested (I’m in a Spanish Colonial Revival architecture group on FB) but my guess it would bring the color up to a lighter cream. Maybe that will bother you less and still keep the vibe!

    1. I agree— I think cleaning the fireplace would make a huge difference. I think it’s beautiful and a good clean might make it more in line with your aesthetic. Love this MOTO update and the direction things are heading:)

    2. That is so sweet of you and I would love a link! That would be GREAT if that could work. But I think this is faux aged tile so I’m not sure if it can be helped:/

    3. To piggyback on Alison’s idea, have you considered changing the grout color on the outside of the fireplace to a lighter one? Something closer to the color of the grout/mortar of the interior bricks or your wall color? You can tell your landlord that you just gave it a *thorough* cleaning.

  15. Those windows with those curtains!!!💗💗💗 Gorgeous!

    I like the checked rug. It looked plush and cozy. If you stay with the flokati, it’s gonna read GLAM for sure.

    The desssssssk!!!! While it’s a bit too 90s for my aesthetic, it works sooo well in the curved room. Plus, it’s immensely functional and versatile!! You’re on a winner there.

    Oopsie: title “…and A possible mistake” no S, bc singluar (not plural). Just sayin’ coz it’s in the title (and yes, I’m aware that I’m the queen of typos).

    I’m secretly glad the fireplace thing didn’t work out. It was waaay too 90s and worked against the archictecture.
    Won’t dark blue tiles be even darker than what’s there??? I like the original tiles. Can’t you lighten/btighten the room in other ways???😉

    I’ve been hanging out to see what’s happening with this, thanks! 😊

  16. I love your fireplace. Have you ever watched Restored with Brett Waterman? He’s a preservationist and his show has helped me appreciate the older features in my own house, and he would absolutely love that fireplace. It might help you see it in a new light.

    1. No, I haven’t but I will! And it’s not that I don’t appreciate the fireplace, I do! But I’m 99% it’s faux aged tile which is why I don’t feel bad about changing it up a little (and of course not causing any harm:))

    2. The only home design/renovation show I actually LOVE. He does such a great job! So many people destroy period features to put in trendy touches that end up making a place soulless.

  17. It’s going to be fabulous! Love the desk and drapes, too. Not a brown fan, but I’m sure you’re going to make the whole thing work together beautifully. The fireplace certainly is a challenge, but you’ve already overcome a few challenges in this space!

  18. Jess, the desk is beautiful! I did take a look on the CB page because I was interested in it and there is a review saying that the grasscloth was discolored because it was next to a window. The rep reply is ” Our care instructions for this product state to limit exposure to direct UV or sunlight.” I just want to make sure you aware of the UV limitation and placement.

    1. It seems it is only problematic with the grasscloth version, not the other two wooden version.

      1. That looks like the grasscloth one 🙁
        I’ve been eyeing that desk as well and at this point given the reviews I would definitely opt for one of the non-grasscloth versions, if only for longevity’s sake.

    2. O thank you for that tip! I usually have the curtains shut when the sun is blaring in but I will be extra careful<3

  19. I agree the Flokati rug doesn’t work, and I think something with more color (to mediate between the browns of the couch and the fireplace) and maybe slightly more “traditional” might help. I *really* like the vintage chair and see your vision for it. In that vein, I feel strongly that you should leave the fireplace as is! The apartment has such beautiful details, as others mentioned, and I don’t think “forcing” it to look more Scandinavian / contemporary with a plywood-tile contraption is ever going to look that good. In a post awhile back you listed Studio Shamshiri and Reath Design as two of the firms you would want to design your home in an ideal world. I could really imagine that––with the right juxtaposition of colors and textures––that same fireplace could look amazing in one of their designs!

  20. The curtains are already a major improvement. I feel like the rug – while nice – is also going to throw you in a more “glam” direction. So maybe sell and replace it if that’s not what you’re looking for.

    I’m guessing the fireplace is decorative and non-functional. If so, maybe there is a temporary decal option you can explore to change the color?

  21. Elegant! Smart! Motos are my absolute favorite and this one does not disappoint. I’ve been wondering about that curved window space and looking forward to the reveal. Thanks for the progress report. It’s very instructive and useful. Love everything about it!

  22. OMG! I almost bought that desk! That design was perfect for my space as well and I agonized but in the end looked at the reviews and decided the grasscloth was just not going to stand up to me and my two kids and two cats. Would love to hear more about it’s durability and quality when you do the big reveal!

    1. With kids and cats, I would probably go for the all-wood option. I LOVE the grasscloth but it’s a little delicate.

  23. OMG! The desk! A magic trick indeed! It was made for you!
    A story about fireplaces:
    When we first moved to our house 30+ years ago we deemed the black painted brick and the reclaimed vintage telephone pole mantel an eyesore, and something we would change asap. The only time I really liked it was at the holidays when the chunky mantel held up piled on greenery and we could nail decorations into it. Then I liked it even more as we began to accent our mid-century/industrial look with other black accents in the room. And then when I found some art that perfectly echoed the colors. Then I got busy and distracted. Now the house is on the market for sale and everyone loves the uniqueness of the fireplace. I’ll miss it. The point is I think you can play up the quirkiness and your sofa is a first start. I would style it sculpturally, like an art installation. Plus with that desk in the room, whose going to notice the fireplace?

    1. Very good points! I might leave it to the end to make the best decision because decor really can change everything:)

  24. Love those curtains! I’m curious why you decided on a desk rather than a round table with a leaf for your window work area and then storage on what are likely built in shelves on your long wall. Thanks!

    1. Also… Make a paste out of vinegar and baking soda and see if a scrub brush can clean your fireplace. It’s not so bad! Add some plants and you’ll be good to go!

    2. I honestly hadn’t made a decision either way until I saw this desk and knew it would be perfect.

  25. Loving everything, Jess! That desk! Perfection, especially for that space. You’re a genius. But we’re all dying waiting for your statement wall! Don’t make us wait too long 🙂

  26. first cup of coffee (read: the Editor part of my brain is still waking up ; ):

    the rug conundrum: My gut says the loved-by-all checkered rug scale is only ‘too small’ because the space needs another layer to connect to -maybe a patterned swivel accent chair for instance? or a low bench-style coffee table upholstered in a favorite, really special textile that bridges the scale gap that currently exists…?

    also: that sofa -OMG… Love, love, LOVE!!! <3 <3 <3
    (I know you haven’t actually asked for ‘advise’ perse` but, my eye is wondering what it feels like when you pull the sofa off the wall a bit -maybe switching the coffee table to the other arm…?)

    those lovely curtains: I painted my bedroom ceiling pink (walls chalkboard black ; ) but at the last minute poured a lot of white in to dilute the pink -so much so that the ‘womb glow’ is more of a suggestion of nostalgia rather than a tangible, in the moment experience BUT after this pink curtain reveal, I will be looking for the original paint and repainting my ceiling definitively PINK! thank you…

    that DESK: holy smokes! soooooOOO gosh darn good! ooph -just sensational…
    stylish, functional, -REBELLIOUS! Perfect.

    DIY Dad aka Les Bunge, the Legend: I ADORE your father/daughter collaborations! The creative problem-solving aspect, your process commentary : ) but also, the final outcome is always exceptional (actually, I wish there were more details about the making of the peg wall in your recent -and incredible!- Patio Reveal. I think those collaborative DIY projects -the wraparound apartment bench, dining nook area + countertop transformation! as well as the upcoming projects for this reveal- could become entire, separate posts on the blog…? hint, hint -nudge, nudge ; )

    Truly, madly, deeply: Looking forward to the fireplace solution aaaand the secret statement wall reveals!

    and lastly, YES! these Process Posts (especially but-not-confined-to MOTO’s) are part of the Style by Emily Henderson/EHD magic: By sharing your experience behind-the-pink-curtain, the inherent uncertainties that exist in designing a space are exposed. Any wrestling with a paint color/sofa style/backsplash decision we may have experienced, -normalized! And as it goes with most things, understanding and accepting ‘what IS’ can help one overcome inertia, create a bit of momentum & can eventually lead to, -empowerment. Really! This is the place where/when I learned to give myself permission to fully immerse -and then bob along & float in- the PROCESS of designing in my own spaces. I am grateful as I am endlessly entertained and inspired when designing at/for/with my home -a cheerfully expressive, slightly rough around the edges, experimental & playful, yet enveloping & comforting comingling of pattern, texture & color that I hope will continue to expand and contract as I do…

    In fact, Thank You! to the ENTIRE community here under the umbrella of Emily Henderson -a lovely space to visit and connect and be inspired…

  27. The curtains look so good!! I was wondering if you went with the pink, and wow, what a great decision. That desk is absolutely perfect.

    PS I don’t hate the fireplace. I think with the right styling, it could look lovely.

  28. Just one more person popping in to say that I love the fireplace as-is!
    I love old-ish houses and apartments and I think this fireplace is so fun. Don’t wallpaper it or paint it, it’s cute!!

    1. (Also was pleasantly surprised to love a brown sofa! Can’t wait to see everything all done!)

  29. Yes please to copious process posts on all MOTOs and designs! It won’t take away from the awe over the finished spaces, we’ll just be that much more invested and impressed. Can’t wait to see this room after seeing your dreamy balcony, friend’s bedroom, and patio design work!

  30. Ooh,one more thought on the fireplace. We lived in a 1920s California Spanish, and the entire fireplace surround had been painted? Or plastered ? White. Would have to be fireproof, and landlord would have to agree, but that could be a solve if, like you said, the tiles are faux aged and not super special quality wise. But maybe a cleaning, as others mentioned, might bring out their glory. Ooh also, a mirror on mantel layered with your art? Might draw eye up and away and double the light/romance of any taper candles in front of it. Ooh la la! Can’t wait to see the finish!!!

  31. Possibly the only person not to love the fireplace but even so I reckon you can make it work as is. Having said that, if your Dad’s patio skills are anything to go by it would have looked amazing! I don’t really know how to describe this suggestion but here goes – from what I can see the shape of the hearth is made up of five separate ‘panels’ (the base, two sides and two at the back). If you replicate those panels in ply, nail/glue them together and then nail what is now effectively a faux hearth-shaped-box to the back of the fire surround (the sheet of ply your dad is holding in the pictures), there would be no more gap. I think. Just a suggestion!

    Also, I think your chair has oodles of potential. I imagine it painted blue-black with fabric like Kelly Wearstler’s ‘district’ in ‘claret’…busy but not busy and could tie your curtains/couch/art together without being matchy matchy. Has a very similar vibe to Goyte’s music video too!

  32. I hated the brick color of our fireplace and spent years trying to dream up something I could do with it. This fall, I decided to try some of the chalk pastels in my kids’ craft collection. It worked! I lightly drew on each brick (mixing some colors to create variation), rubbed it in with my fingers, and then dusted it off. I was able to get colors that still felt brick-appropriate but brightened the whole thing up. I’m not sure if it would work with your tiles–I think the porousness of the bricks was important–but it could be worth a try.

  33. Please don’t wait too long for the reveal. I like seeing progress in rooms. Love everything .

  34. Jess, love your plan for the room! About that fireplace – since you seem to get enough natural light, what if you went with a dark moody color on the walls – a deep blue maybe. That would make that brown fireplace fit in and be less prominent. That’s assuming you’re allowed to paint walls or paint it back before you love.

  35. I’m not usually a big fan of “brown” (especially if it tends to beige, tan, or any other “warm” version) but your fireplace is not ugly. I think what’s not working is an unfortunate contrast between the undertones of your wall paint and fireplace tiles as well as the starkness of the light/dark contrast on the grey scale. If you painted the wall by the fireplace a light cool blush it would probably look great and tie into the pink of your new curtains.

    I really liked the white curtains you had up before and didn’t expect the heavy, formal pink drapes, but I do like the one curtain rod.

    Again, going to undertones, your new sofa is a warm brown and it clashes with the cool brown of the fireplace and the cool undertones of your flooring.

    I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with that wall with the scone smack dab in the middle of the wall.

    1. I meant to say “unfortunate clashing” and not “unfortunate contrasting” in

      >unfortunate contrast between the undertones of your wall paint and
      fireplace tiles as well as the starkness of the light/dark contrast on
      the grey scale…

      1. Why in the world would someone down vote my own correction to what I meant to say?


        What kind of mean people read this blog?

  36. Love seeing this come together — looking gorgeous already. I’m not sure it’s the solution, but just for fun…if your checkered and flokati rugs had a baby, you might end up with the Huxley rug from Serena & Lily. It happens to be what we have in our living room of a similar palette, and it’s crazy comfy (lots of shedding at first, though!). Enjoy the rest of the process — can’t wait to see it, and for you to enjoy it!

  37. I love pink and brown together. The brown couch with the pink curtains for the win!! I’m picturing a vintage Persian rug in soft colors to tie the couch and curtains together. But I’m thinking a Persian may be busier than the vibe you are going for.

  38. I love the curtains and the dreamy curved windows, chandelier and sofa. Could you paint a faux lighter stone treatment to the fireplace facade? Check out Miss Mustard Seed. I know its a diffferent style, but she used a paint to mimic a light stone over her granite. Can you choose a fabric with a light pink and maybe the sofa color in a stripe or a large floral for your desk chair. Its so easy to comment when I am not deciding.
    P.S. You are so lucky to have a Dad to help you out. I cannot wait for the reveal.

      1. Wow Kelly and KJ, painting that fireplace surround turned out really cool!

        From the link to the blog post:
        “…like best about this treatment is that the finished result has variation and dimension, so even if it’s not a dead-wringer for slate, it has a natural look to it. It doesn’t look like a painted granite fireplace surround. Using the texture paint really helped, but also using milk paint, which has a matte, breathable finish completed that look. The end result is soft and natural. Milk Paint even has limestone in it, which glitters ever so slightly when the sun hits it.”

        I really like the fireplace but not the color which reads dingy, maybe painting the wall it’s on a deep, cool smokey blue would help make is disappear by reducing the contrast, yet allow the very cool shape and design to more subtly reveal itself?

        LOVE the pink drapes, the inspired desk and lovely soft sofa! Great job Jess!!
        Can’t wait for the reveal!

  39. ok, I read the comments and you can’t touch the fireplace. I would just mask it with topiaries on either side or a stack of books or something clever like that. I also think a nice plant would look nice. I think the hearth will look nice with the sofa color.

  40. Please at least change the sofa feet so the sofa looks a smidge more high end and less ” i bought this at the second hand store” !! Not loving that sofa sorry 😕

    Round rug maybe? No shag.
    Follow your instinct when it comes to the style! Don’t try to be current and trendy. Choose what makes you feel happy. Even if it’s a brown sofa 🤔
    Brown is the new gray i guess?

  41. I hated that warm cumin brown a year ago…. Couldn’t stand it. Now I love it! I can’t stop buying accessories in that colour. Fashion is a fickle mistress, hey?

  42. I love the pink curtains, curved curtain rod and the way they emphasize the curve of the turret. Well done. Congrats on finding the floorplan, sofa and desk – so much progress. You are so lucky to have a father who helps with construction projects, especially when they don’t work out!

    I like the exterior of the fireplace – it’s of the same period as the turret, neutral and the grout matches the tile, which is easier on the eye. Basically, I like the part of the fp that you tried to hide! I think the problem is the part of the fp that you did not try to hide – the interior with its larger tiles, different and poorly laid out tile pattern and bright grout that emphasizes that tile pattern. I would hide the interior mish-mash of the fp, maybe with plaster, or paint, or a plywood liner painted to match the other tiles, or anything that obscures that terrible tiling job!

  43. Hi Jess, love you and your dad. Can you send him my way? We will feed him meals in the airstream trailer. I’ve got a bunch of projects…. 😉 Ok, I’m firmly in the make lemonade camp… I love the idea of the surround that plays on modern art— because you can’t actually “make architecture” and have it look like it belongs… gotta ‘play’ with it,,, kinda ‘wink’ at it, you know??? I like the idea of the plywood painted with a one inch black line along all plane intersects (will give you a 1920’s vibe)— paint the plywood how you like; plaster it white? Then on the sides, use the space on both the left and right, to make built in shelves for books, bric a brac, dvds / records, what not. I think it will be functional, artsy— and not trying too hard to blend in as a piece of “architecture”. For this reason, I wouldn’t bother with tiles. Either more plywood with shelves in the firebox, or style with booze, plants or fake led candles. My art rendering below pretty iffy on skills, but hope idea gets across. the intersects photo is from a Roy Lichtenstein sculpture of a house, just so you know what I mean by intersects…

  44. Love the curtains !
    Fireplace – Light, black, and green to punch that grey into place, strong sculptural forms to make it all look deliberate . I’d put mirrors- all sizes and shapes – and maybe some larger disco balls – in the fireplace insert, then put hanging plants – pothos, etc on the front of the mantle to hang over. You ( or your dad ) could DIY some tall chunky matte black wood art obelisk objects out of scraps, Lousie Nevelson style, and sprinkle them among the mirrors to add contrast and depth. Lean a large mirror on the back of the mantle, dangling plants – pothos, etc on the front of the mantle to hang over, tall orchids either side. Unless you plan a TV over the fireplace? Seems like the place a TV would want to to live.. Light, black, and green to punch that grey into place, strong sculptural forms to make it all look deliberate .
    Rug for sofa – I’d do a large Nichols/ Persian/ Kilim rug, probably 2 for 2 zones, but then again I always want to do a large Nichols/ Persian/ Kilim rug LOL. I’d paint that chair matte black and throw a sheepskin on it.. Id put prisms and baby disco balls in the windows to activate the space with light …

  45. I think covering the fireplace is a huge mistake. No, it’s not pretty, but work it! It balances beautifully with the sofa. The problem is that it stands out too much (because the walls are so light). Paint the walls Pigeon by Farrow & Ball (Please note: that’s based on what I see on my monitor; I don’t actually pick paint color this way.) A paint closer in value to the fireplace would minimize the contrast and play on the moodiness potential of both fireplace and sofa. (Ernest Hemingway is looking on, fondly.)

    The drapes would look gorgeous framed by Pigeon as well. The throw on the arm on the sofa does wonderful things for it! I don’t mind the deep, fluffy, light rug at all, and it would look even better with the Pigeon walls.

    I can’t wait to see the finished product!

  46. I LOVE the pink drapes, the inspired desk and lovely soft sofa! Great job Jess!!

    I really like the fireplace but not the color which reads dingy, maybe painting the wall it’s on a deep, cool smoky blue would help make is disappear by reducing the contrast, yet allow the very cool shape and design to more subtly reveal itself?

    Can’t wait for the reveal!

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