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What Happens When You Design Your Living Room and Then MOVE?? You Make It Work… Albie’s New Living Room Round One!

Fun Fact: over the summer I decided to give our 2 bedroom condo a long overdue living room refresh with my friends over at Apt2B (hey Arlyn!). I’d danced around dealing with our living room for way too long — all because I didn’t like the paint. I know…I know… #renterwoes. This was the one area of our apartment we weren’t allowed to paint, so rather than take my own advice and design for where I was, I did close to nothing… just some light styling. 

A few months ago — long before the house we just bought was on my radar — I talked all about how I had a change of heart to ultimately design around the paint colors. You can read that original design plan here. But this wasn’t about the paint as much it was about the apartment. After fumbling a few of our first purchases when we moved to Washington, I began to rethink my shopping strategy — if I was decorating for the first time — and knew that all of my major shopping decisions needed to be for the present and the future. 

I went into the living room design plan with this is mind: whatever we get now has to work for our next home…little did I know how immediate that next home would be! 

Here was the initial design plan for the condo:

first of many design mood boards before finalizing the living room design

I wanted pieces that were well made, possessed a timeless aesthetic, and had overall staying power. I didn’t want anything that we could possibly be sick of and/or destroy in less than 5 years. So to make sure this happened, I partnered with one of my fav e-tailers to bring my design ideas to life, finalize the details, and proceeded to wait. 

2020 Wouldn’t Be 2020 With Delays And Pivots… Am I Right!?

The order was finalized 08-20-20 — yep, 4 whole months ago! — and I was warned about production and delivery delays, especially for the sofa, so I’d mentally prepared to get my pieces in November. Then September came…then October…then we moved! I like to joke that I had enough time to buy a whole house waiting for COVID-induced delays, but it’s not exactly untrue. I was able to easily update my shipping address — about as easy as it was to shop for the living room in the first place — and when it was time to schedule delivery, everything was already set. 

If I’d known we were going to move, naturally I would have visualized the pieces I’d already chosen — and confirmed —  in our new home. While the catalyst for the refresh was to work with our apartment’s paint colors, it wasn’t the only deciding factor. 

Condo Living Room Design Round 2:

the nearly final design mood board for the living room pre-move

Choosing the sofa upholstery was about the fabric type & silhouette, as much as it was about the color. Knowing we wanted velvet, narrowed down our pool of choices — choices that I wanted to work with any paint color, in any space. The sofa fabric — Cloud Velvet — is one that I knew will work in nearly any space, almost like a neutral… just a little bit more fun. I wanted fun… not just functional, ya know!? 

I wanted a design that was “parent-friendly” — see what I did there? — honoring both of our preferred aesthetics, but that could also withstand our sometimes messy lifestyle. The performance velvet option was a no-brainer — I actually wrote all about why velvet is an upholstery all-star a few months back so you should go read that — but choosing the color, when Apt2B offers so many, wasn’t easy. So, why Cloud? It’s not too light, not too dark. After weeks of it hanging on the living room wall of the apartment, it was my Goldilocks color; and it even stood up to my coffee, water, wine, and juice spill tests. I knew if it could work there, it could work in any space. Plus we wanted something that wasn’t a traditional neutral so a win all the way around. 

So all that being said, in an effort to make our pre-move purchases work, here is how the living room in our new home turned out:

Sofa | Magazine Holder | Coffee Table | Black Tray | Wall Mirror

The peripheral pieces were chosen for their utilitarian purposes, as well as for their beauty — the accent seating featuring an upholstered cushion and metal & wood frame would make for the perfect quiet corner, the leather & metal magazine holder perfect for firewood logs in the winter and maybe actual magazines the rest of the year.

Accent Chair | Pillow | Ottoman | Sheepskin | Tiebacks

Then the storage cocktail table with the beautiful wood top would house bedding for the sofa bed (did I mention the sofa is actually a sleeper…because it is).

Then a bench & mirror combination together would create a faux entryway situation since we didn’t (and still don’t) have a foyer. 

Sofa | Bench | Sheepskin | Basket

What Does Everything Add Up To? 

It adds up to a design that translates to any space… any home… like it did for me. 

Once I confirmed the move — and we had legit bought the house — I had very few tweaks to make to the designs… all except now going for a larger size rug (woot woot!) from Lulu & Georgia for the perfect rug on rug…on carpet throuple (don’t worry…we’ll be talking about that later in another post!).

Coffee Table | Faux Cow Hide | Black and White Striped Rug

But Albie…that’s a lot of layering.

Yeah…I can hear some of you wondering why I would do one rug — much less two — on carpet. First things first…I  believe in the power of layering. It allows you to play with color, pattern, and texture in a way that can tell a visually compelling story. As someone who subscribes to hygge inspired design, I am always looking for ways to incorporate coziness & warmth into my home, but in a way that is chic, not overdone. Knowing that the carpet would eventually be gone, I refused to let it dictate any of my decisions. But even if we didn’t have plans to rip it up, rugs define & ground spaces. I would never just put furniture in a room without the clear delineation that is provided by a rug. Why the second rug? 

Another important word: contrast

The contrasting black and white provides a subtle drama, and the juxtaposition of the irregular shade hide rug on the “straight” lines of the tasseled rug is a visual treat. Separately, these rugs are awesome but together… it’s like a hygge burrito for your feet. To be fair, if I used the larger rug on the reverse side — yep, it’s reversible! — the entire vibe would be different & I’d likely rethink layering in the hide rug; but the combination also positions the sofa to really stand out as the only “colorful” piece in the space without competing with the wood tones threaded throughout the design details.

Keep in mind, I chose these pieces while living in our condo…for our condo. I used Apt2B’s AR feature to confirm the sofa could & would fit the way I anticipated and the rest of the pieces all fell into place, just the way I wanted!

Now that we’ve settled in, after a long wait, everything arrived and The Hygge Ranch — the name I’ve dubbed the house thanks to help from Sherry (Young House Love) — now has its first fully furnished room. 

Is it complete? More like complete-ish. There are some more finishing touches I plan to implement over time, not to mention some more substantial changes like removing the carpet, dealing with the popcorn ceiling, updating the window treatments, adding lighting, and painting…of course!

Being able to prioritize and discern the pace of the living room is rejecting “project pressure” at it’s finest, especially since we had very ambitious plans to paint and have the carpet ripped out prior to moving in. Talk about a design deferred, but also a blessing in disguise. Seeing the space now, from what the owner’s had, to being unfurnished for nearly a month, to what I was able to pull off in 24 hours — legit, we photographed the day after delivery — makes me appreciate these humble beginnings even more. It gives me a pure lens to see the space through and I look forward to the eventual evolution of the design in the space. But more than anything, if I did nothing else here, we actually really love it as it stands and my hygge-loving heart is pleased. 

Question: When you’re shopping for your big furniture pieces, are you thinking long-game, investment pieces that will serve you in multiple homes or do you find yourself tending to your immediate needs & current space? No wrong answers, but as someone who has done it both ways, I am even more thankful for having thought ahead on this one.

*Design by Albie K. Buabeng
**Photos by Ellie Lillstrom

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Michelle
4 months ago

Albie, I love your sofa choice and those multi-colored draperies from your Condo Living Room Design Round 2. Do you mind sharing the source for the draperies? Thanks!

Albie
4 months ago
Reply to  Michelle

thank you Michelle! they’re from Amazon 🙂

Michelle
4 months ago
Reply to  Albie

Found them! Thanks so much for responding. Have a wonderful holiday!

4 months ago

A very dreamy design! That sofa color is absolutely celestial – perfect choice.

Kristin
4 months ago

Lovely! That couch is gorgeous.

Jessica
4 months ago

Wow, great job making a design that still works for the new space!!

Any chance we can get the source for that teeny side table next to the couch?

Albie
4 months ago
Reply to  Jessica

thanks Jessica! it was a homegoods find 🙂

Kate
4 months ago

Love all the texture, and the coffee table is divine!

Meredith
4 months ago

Hygge burrito is my new favorite phrase. Gorgeous mix of pieces!!

amanda
4 months ago

It looks beautiful! I am so with you on velvet – we have a naughty cat, so we can’t get anything with a woven texture or she’ll rip it to shreds (from experience). I just bought the ikea farlov sofa in olive green velvet (which is a neutral color for me – like your blue for you) and it was one of those statement AND investment type purchases. I hope we have it for a very long time!

Albie
4 months ago
Reply to  amanda

Love that!!! And sounds gorgeous 💚

Kate
4 months ago

Always think ahead… since I also plan to move, def do not buy temporary stuff. Anyway, it should be extremely important to think about EVERYTHING sustainably..

Rusty
4 months ago
Reply to  Kate

Yes!
What it’s made from.
Where it’s made… this stuff is important. We should be investigating this from everything we eat, drink, furnish with, put on our bodies … everything!

StephanieZ
4 months ago
Reply to  Rusty

100% agree with you. People are consuming so mindlessly. First shop vintage because then you aren’t adding to the dearth of items out there. If you can’t find it vintage then buy from a maker that pays a living wages and uses sustainable items… goes for furniture and clothing. For food, shop local. Most places have smaller farmers markets where locals sell their homegrown foods. Mine matches food stamps too so look for that.

Patricia
4 months ago

Key word for life in 2020 … PIVOT! And you did it brilliantly by the way. Looking forward to more thoughtful posts like this.

Rusty
4 months ago

I love the co,our of your sofa! I prefer sofas on legs, but love the single base cushion on yours.
The layered rugs kinda make the carpet invisible.
Very Niiiice!

Brigitte
4 months ago

Love the blue velvet sofa! It looks dreamy. Have you decided what color you will paint your walls? A matching blue?

Albie
4 months ago
Reply to  Brigitte

Thank you! we’re likely going to go cool with a grey tone but the current color doesn’t bother me nearly as much as as I thought it would so we’ll live with it for a while & prioritize other projects

Beth
4 months ago

Man, can I relate. This same exact scenario happened to us!

We ordered a sofa in February for our rented house, and then SURPRISE! we bought a house and moved in the 6 months it took to arrive.

The sofa in the new house is just…fine. It’s too expensive of a purchase to get rid of so we’re making it work in the new space with some creative use of space. In our case, the dimensions are so small with our new vaulted ceilings and very open living room.

We’ve basically used visual tricks like framing the space with a bookshelf, using a rug to create a “zone” and hanging wall are strategically to help it look less dwarfed.

Lesson learned! Wish I had read this months ago!

Albie
4 months ago
Reply to  Beth

Congrats!!!! It sounds like you’ve done a pretty stellar job with your pivoting & using different design hacks to make it work tho 🙂

4 months ago

Love it! Though I *maybe* had a bit of a sneak peek into this process 😉 Wonderful working with you Albie then seeing my worlds collide with this reveal here. LOVE YOU ALL! :*

Albie
4 months ago
Reply to  Arlyn

Just a teensy peek lol

Lea
4 months ago

Love it Albie! Congratulations!!!

Heather
4 months ago

Can you share the source of the desk in the mood board? Looks like it didn’t make it into your final design. Any reason? Thanks

Albie
4 months ago
Reply to  Heather

The original mood board was based on the apt, so at the time my desk would’ve been in the living room — the first of many pivots. It’s now in our study. I bought it 3 or 4 years ago so I’ll have to find out where you can get it from now.

Rachel
4 months ago

Omgggggg those baskets on the wall with the clock beside the other art is just sooooo aesthetically pleasing. Love it.

Lisa
4 months ago

I think longevity is important- for you and the next owner! We live on a rural island, so thrifting part is the game here. People will sometimes barge big items here, either new or heirloom from family- the rest you figure out over time. My vintage chairs were my friends grandma’s along with a cute ottoman- barged from California, but their home couldn’t hold everything. We have a mix of heirloom and handmade that suits our DIY house. Last winter solstice, we came home from a carpenter friends party with a lovely handmade bench, because he made 5 extra benches for party seating and gave several away to the friends who stayed to tidy!

Sally
4 months ago

Very, very hard to read this blog lately with all the ads and moving, flashing parts. I’m an occasional visitor but would come more often if it was an easier, more serene experience.
It also seems to cause the page to crash and reload (and I don’t have any internet problems). Letting you know as others may think the same thing but just give up and leave rather than let you know why.
I know times are tough and this is a business, but it may be counterproductive to business in the long run if others, like me in two seconds, simply give up because it’s too difficult. Reading a blog should be a pleasant, enjoyable experience not an obstacle course.

Heidi
4 months ago

That new house before had me feeling dreadful, but now it’s so lovely. I love non-neutral sofas.

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