It’s here! The day has finally arrived that I get to show you my home, which by the way is like reading your teenage diary in a crowded room of other writers, standing in your swimsuit. It’s scary. It’s awkward. Please love me.
That’s me. Arlyn Hernandez, Editorial Director here at EHD, smiling through the discomfort of having my photo taken (bless you, Sara—our wonderful Photography Director). Hopefully, you were here yesterday and were able to make it through my extended design sermon about the process of pulling together my living and dining rooms. Today, I’m sharing the reveal of the former, and tomorrow, the reveal of the latter. Though I’m writing this a few weeks before you read it, I promise you I didn’t sleep yesterday waiting for today. Before I get into it, all I want to convey is that I very much love these rooms, and getting to flex design muscles (cultivated from over a decade of pecking away at a keyboard writing on the subject) was SO.MUCH.FUN…and also, very hard and eye-opening. I bow down to Emily (Henderson and Bowser), Julie, Velinda, Grace, Erik…all the stylists and designers on our team that do this on the regular.
As a reminder, here’s where we started:
Good bones, furniture that once worked in another home, a rug hell-bent on depositing all the world’s lint on my collection of black pants. It still made me happy even if it looked like a consignment shop. But I knew it could be better. I knew it could be properly designed to feel more in line with the building’s 1920s narrative, plus half my furniture was now in new homes (sold prior to moving across the country from Florida to California).
Here she is. Man does this make me happy. Okay, where to start?? Well…I guess let’s begin where I began…the sofa. I mentioned this in the intro yesterday, but I wanted this sofa for three years (and a blue velvet sofa in general for twice that). When I started at Apartment Therapy as Design Editor in 2016, I had recently purchased my Crate & Barrel Lounge II (in the before photo above), and then Maxwell Ryan, AT’s CEO and founder, released this sofa that he designed for Interior Define. WHAT?!? It was basically a dream, except I had a brand new couch at home that my then-fiance Charles (now husband) and I picked out together. I moved on, assuming this would likely never happen. BUT THEN I got the chance to do a Makeover Takeover, and it was the first thing I picked out.
I didn’t move here with the intention of selling off my previous sofa, but honestly, it felt so wrong in this space. It wasn’t that cool combo of modern + antique in my 100-year-old apartment. It just felt out of place. Convincing Charles to let me get my dream sofa was an uphill battle, however. He LOVED that C&B sofa (still mourns it to this day, actually), but after many a desperate soliloquy on the subject, he caved and said he trusted me to do what I thought we needed to in here aesthetically. You see, he’s in architecture, so it’s not like he doesn’t understand design, but I couldn’t download my brain into his so he could see “the vision.” Anyway, like I said, he resolved to trust me, and after seeing the finished product, he sees the light. He proudly says to anyone who steps foot in our home “this is all her” and I’ve found out through the grapevine that he’s been peddling photos of this room and the dining room to anyone who will listen/look (so cute).
So YES, sofa. I opted for the single bench cushion (I believe it’s an upgrade in the 98″ right chaise model). It fits perfectly between the windows and sconces here. Almost like it was made for the space (::cough cough::). There were a ton more options to customize this couch that I didn’t see online, so if there’s an Interior Define store near you, I highly recommend going in. They’re SUPER helpful and walk you through everything.
The black sculptural side table was something I bought off Wayfair to put between the armchairs, but it turned out to be gigantic. A happy accident, because I didn’t have a side table next to my sofa yet, and this worked great there. It’s very heavy and stable (it’s concrete) and added a bit of modernity to some of the more traditional things in here.
Speaking of “traditional things,” oh man did I go back and forth with a rug in here. I originally dreamed of finding a huge 9×12 vintage stunner at the Rose Bowl for like…$50. That didn’t happen. After mocking up what was probably 70 options in Photoshop, I spotted this rug from Lulu and Georgia, and I love it so much. This is not remotely what I ever thought I’d get for this room, but it was a happy surprise. The pattern is a low-pile shag in a light gray, beige and blush (online it looks like there’s purple in it, but there isn’t…it’s gray). Any other color might have competed with the bright blue sofa, so this was just the perfect amount of punch.
The coffee table (a huge upgrade from the rolling cooler that was here previously) was a Black Friday score from Anthropologie. You can’t really see it here, but it has a marquetry pattern on the surfaces of the tiers, and when the light hits it, it kind of glimmers. The table was tricky because I wanted to check the following boxes: round to break up the straight lines of the sofa and other furniture, two tiers for storage, light in color to not domineer the design, and be not-too-big-not-too-small. Its 37.5″ diameter turned out to be perfect.
Oh these chairs. I had seen the original design (by Pierre Jeanneret in the 1950s) pop up over the years in luxury design projects, but then by nearly blinking, they were EVERYWHERE. I saw these at the Rose Bowl back in December (being sold new by Makers & Smiths), and I just frankly didn’t care. I loved them. There’s a funny thing that happens with trends. When something first starts becoming popular (but before it infiltrates), it’s exciting to hop on board, but then you do, and all of a sudden, you have the same thing that millions of others also have. But also…who honestly cares if you love it, right? Anyhow, I passed on the chairs that day, not wanting to spend an additional few hundred dollars just weeks before Christmas, BUT THEN I saw they were being sold at a further discount on Instagram and I scooped them up right away (after getting the A-OK from the mister…we both live here…he gets a say, too). Anyway, I love them so very much, and they were just the angular, sculptural thing I needed to edge everything up. The little wood table is from Target and very, very good.
Very quickly, that fiddle leaf fig, I got it at Costco…for $30. Not sure if they still have them, but such a score. All the rest of my plants I got either at The Sill here locally, or at Mickey Hargitay Plants in West Hollywood (such good stuff at amazing prices).
You might have spotted this through the armchairs in other photos but this is my big DIY moment in here. I think every room should have something in it that feels handmade. Something that feels personal, that was birthed in your head to leave that “stamp” that could only be yours. This is mine. It’s just 3/4″ birch plywood from Home Depot cut to size, stacked and glued. The original inspiration came from here, but my sweet Charles used his mad drafting skills (I believe he made it in Revit) to mock up a customized version for under the picture window. After several weekends of sheer how am I building this bench without any tools panic, Sara offered up her brother Shade to build it for me. Thank you, Shade! I love it. The rugged plywood is a nice juxtaposition to the “fancier” things in here like the velvet and brass. The cushion I sewed myself with a terra-cotta velvet I found at Mood (don’t look at it too closely).
Okay, time to talk art and decor.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I really wanted something above the sofa that felt like “us.” While a big piece of art would have been pretty (and another opportunity to bring in color and pattern), it felt a little devoid of personality. I wasn’t staging this room for a shoot…I was designing it to live in every day. On top of working in architecture, Charles also dabbles in photography, so we had a bunch of photos of us and our family and friends that were just sitting on our phones or his computer, likely never to see the light of day. That is until we thought to do this big 40″x40″ grid collage. I worked with Frame It Easy to build a custom-sized frame (they make it, well…easy to get frames in whatever size you need right online), then just got these 4″x4″ photos printed through Artifact Uprising that I attached in a planned grid with mounting foam squares. It’s the first thing I see when I walk through the door, and it makes my soul so happy. Seeing all the people I left on the east coast—my mom and dad, my nephews, Charles’ parents—our courthouse wedding snapshot…this right here is my heart personified in a piece of art.
The curtain decision, like everything else, was an internal battle. I so badly wanted something impactful. After I settled on a white paint color (White Dove by Benjamin Moore), I had to redeem my hypocrisy with something of color. Low and behold…I ended up buying these white curtains from IKEA instead, and well look, I ended up loving them. They look SO much more expensive than they really are ($40 for a set of 2), and because there would have been so many panels in here, anything with a striking pattern (like the English floral or toile I wanted) would have been Overwhelming with a capital “O”. To edge it up a little, I used my favorite curtain rods and rings in matte black that were left over from my old apartment (I had to buy the extra-long one for that front window, though, but it was still only like $60).
Oh and the pillows…where I FINALLY brought in the color and pattern aside from the sofa. The blockprint floral pillow and embroidered tassel pillow were both sourced through McGee & Co., the copper crushed velvet one I got on sale at West Elm, the textural blue lumbar was borrowed from Jess at the last minute and the mustard yellow lumbar is from Lulu and Georgia (though sadly no longer available).
Here was my solution for the whole TV-off-center situation. An articulating, pivoting wall mount. Drilling holes in my rental walls made me insanely nervous, but nothing some spackle and sandpaper can’t fix. This has really changed our TV
binging viewing experience for the better. It pulls out FAR—much farther than in the GIF above—and can turn to reduce glare from the windows in here and the dining room. Boom, problem solved (plus, there’s a part of me that loves that the TV is not the focal point here).
Ah, that Article sideboard. I’ve loved it ever since I saw it in Emily’s house, long before I worked here. It’s not technically a media console, but I don’t have a cable box or anything (just some Firestick cables) so it’s totally fine. In the name of honesty, there is typically a big white box that holds a power strip and excess cables from the TV and the soundbar that’s not in this photo in the name of “pretty” off to the left, but a jumble of cables just wasn’t cutting it for this shoot. One day, when I figure out my cable management, maybe I’ll show you what I did to make things better. (Also, look away from the dining room, that’s for tomorrow…)
The fireplace is non-functioning so that firewood is just for show, but man do I love its character. The little wreath on the top tile makes me chuckle. And while I think if I owned this place, I’d give this a little refresh, I don’t know…I kind of love it as-is. The sconces were generously supplied by Hudson Valley Lighting (also, generously installed by Jess) and they are so sturdy and well-made. The double light (x6) keeps this room BRIGHT at night (a dimmer helps). I contemplated doing something rad and modern, but landed on something more appropriate for this building’s era and I’m really pleased with how they look all together.
I got this mirror through Schoolhouse and it’s so nice in person. It has this wide lip around the edge that makes it feel extra special, and it was insanely easy to hang (it came with a French cleat that had a built-in bubble level…easy peasy). Oh, oh, and that little stool…Jess came to help me MULTIPLE times before this shoot (I seriously do not deserve her as a coworker or friend), and when she saw this she swore it was a flea find. NOPE. It’s from Target. It straight up looks like something from a cool antique market and it’s one of my favorite pieces in here.
In my “before” photos, I had a vintage mid-century chest here that I found at a vintage market in Boca Raton, Florida. I love that piece so so much, but I painted it blue many moons ago, and next to the blue sofa, it was too much. Plus, it sat a little high and I could barely open the window, so now it’s in my bedroom and holds an overflow of books and candles. I picked up this console from Target to fill its void and it works perfectly here.
That weird phone on the bottom right-hand corner? It’s an antique from Puerto Rico (where my family is from). I did not, however, get it from my Puerto Rican family; instead it came via my sister’s Bostonian-French-American mother-in-law who’s a thrifting wizard. She thought I should have it, though my sister will tell you another story (sorry, Frances, but it’s mine and you’ll have to come to LA to get it “back”). The rest of the pieces I’ve had forever (including that giant stack of Luxe Interiors + Design magazines—I used to be the Executive Editor there, so it’s a reminder of my career journey). Oh wait, that cool round rock sculpture thing is new (from West Elm), and the terra-cotta vase is actually a very chic oil diffuser from the brand Vitruvi. It comes in a few different colors and is the only diffuser I’ve found to blend into decor seamlessly and in a very good looking way.
By the way, Target has a nice line of candles from Project62 that are insanely good. You see a sliver of one here, but they’re all in ceramic vessels and the scents are so strong, you can smell them even without lighting them. I’m sold.
And finally, this year’s birthday present to myself, because yes, I am that type of person: two custom commissioned embroidered art pieces from Samantha Gluck. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because she’s a designer that did projects with Emily in the past. We ran two house tours from her last year, and in her own home, she showcased a crazy cool embroidered wallhanging she made herself. I sent her an email to see if she’d be willing to make something for me because I was obsessed, and she kindly agreed. I gave her my color palette (neutrals, blues, greens, terra-cotta), she sketched this up and we went through the design process together to land on these two. She’s amazing, and so are these pieces.
And that’s it! I leave you with another sneak peek into my dining room to get you excited enough to come back tomorrow to hear from me, Arlyn, YET AGAIN. Thank you Emily for handing over the reins of the blog to me for three days in a row to share my home with the readers. Thank you readers for sticking around and getting down to the bottom of this behemoth post. I hope you love my home as much as my husband and I do. It’s our refuge from the crazy streets of LA (that has quickly become “home” this last year). If you have any questions at all, let me know. I’m happy to answer whatever about whatever. Come back tomorrow to see my dining room…I promise it’s good (well, to me, at least).
1. Blockprint Pillow via McGee & Co. | 2. Copper Velvet Pillow | 3. Embroidered Tassel Pillow via McGee & Co. | 4. Sconce via Hudson Valley Lighting | 5. Custom Metal Frame via Frame It Easy | 6. 4″x4″ Prints | 7. Curtain Ring | 8. Curtain Rods | 9. Curtains | 10. Table Lamp | 11. Black Side Table | 12. Velvet Sectional via Interior Define | 13. Coffee Table | 14. Basket (as tree planter) | 15. Rug via Lulu and Georgia | 16. Caned Side Chair | 17. Wood Side Table | 18. Yellow Bud Vase | 19. White Vase | 20. Girl Print | 21. Candle Holders | 22. Mirror via Schoolhouse | 23. Black Frame via Framebridge | 24. Slow Down Tea Towel | 25. Stacked White Planter and Tree | 26. Bleached Wood Tray via McGee & Co. | 27. Black Vase | 28. Carved Wood Accent Table | 29. Brass Hand | 30. Blue Glass Vase | 31. Andirons | 32. Walnut Sideboard via Article | 33. Bench Cushion Velvet | 34. Black Planter (similar) | 35. Lidded Candle | 36. 3-Wick Candle | 37. Canvas Floater Frame | 38. Custom Embroidered Art by Samantha Gluck | 39. Stone Oil Diffuser via Vitruvi | 40. Brass Snuffer | 41. Rock Match Striker | 42. Metal and Rock Sculpture | 43. Console | 44. TV Wall Mount | 45. White Dove by Benjamin Moore | 46. Sheepskin Throw | 47. White Knob Planter
***Photography by Sara Ligorria-Tramp for EHD