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Caitlin’s FINAL Living Room Update – Including Her Dream Vintage Score, Fabric Chairs Her Cat “Can’t” Ruin, And A Big Mistake…That She’s Fixing

You know how all babies look kinda wonky for a while after they’re first born? (Except for all of my friend’s babies, who have come out looking amazing and beautiful and definitely not like weird little wrinkly/puffy aliens.) Well – that newborn phase is kind of where I am in my living room process. It doesn’t look like much right now – you may even think it looks kind of bad! – but I can finally see all the bones and pieces sliding into place, you know?

It’s always weird to share in-progress spaces on the internet, but I’m really excited for y’all to see the full transformation from “a bunch of furniture in a room” (what you’ll see today) to “intentionally designed space” (that you’ll see next month – I’ve made more progress since these photos and we’ll be shooting at the top of 2023!). But today, I want to walk you through the weird middle ground phase – it’s taken 3 years of sourcing (vintage takes time!) and I’ve made a pretty egregious and embarrassing mistake (read on for my enormous paint fail – renters, please learn from my error), but this is the last “before” that I’ll show before the dramatic “after.” Ready to see what I’ve been working on? We’ll start in the back corner, closest to the dining room…

The Vintage Score Of A Lifetime

…WHICH IS THE NEW HOME OF AN UNBELIEVABLE FACEBOOK MARKETPLACE SCORE. I’ve written a lot about how to find good vintage on the internet, but my number one piece of advice for all secondhand sourcing is usually “keep it vague – folks who know what they have tend to price it accordingly.” So, uh, imagine my utter shock and surprise when I fired up Marketplace, typed “Marge Carson Elephant Bar Cart” – one of my white whale pieces – into the search bar, and found an EXACT MATCH, in near-perfect condition, including the original stool, at an achievable price point, and JUST A FEW MILES AWAY.

I do not know what kind of karmic deed I did to be rewarded with a dream piece that usually costs between 2 and 3 months of rent, but I AM SO GRATEFUL. It did still take a few nervous months to save up for it – I was always worried someone else would swoop in and steal it, as I tragically do not have a dedicated account with several hundred dollars earmarked for impromptu furniture purchases – but man, I lucked out. Welcome to the Concrete Jungle, new friend 🙂 (And shoutout to Jess, who said the name to me – you’ll soon see that it’s very appropriate.)

The Chairs (In A Surprising Fabric I Love)

First – I have since flipped this layout (and the elephant end table – a $2 Long Beach Flea find! – may find a new home, lest I become known as “the insane animal furniture everywhere” lady), but I wanted to take a second to sing the praises of these Mitchell Gold +Bob Williams chairs. I was looking for something that felt a little 70s – I’m shooting for a disco-meets-deco vibe in here – with a more petite profile, and these fit the bill perfectly. The entire piece was customizable, so I opted to get the base in wood (it’s the ‘Natural’ option) and chose a Sunbrella performance basket weave for the upholstery (in ‘Almond’ – I love it).

I know Sunbrella is normally viewed as an outdoor fabric, but it’s also the only upholstery option I’ve found that can hold its own against my cat’s claws. (I actually wanted to use it in here so badly that I asked the Sunbrella team for help in sourcing indoor chairs – they were the ones who pointed me in the direction of MG + BW and I’m very thankful they did!)

An early testimonial: these chairs were delivered a few months ago, which was simultaneously amazing (great shipping times!) and terrifying (what if my cat destroyed them before the shoot?). I’ve been so pleased, though – my cat’s taken a particular liking to the front portion and to the top of each chair (read: she is constantly scratching on these, despite my best efforts to redirect her) and they’ve held up beautifully. I know that nothing is totally indestructible, but these have given me the ability to enjoy an upholstered chair without the constant worry of imminent and immediate ruin. Highly recommend Sunbrella’s indoor fabrics to any other pet owners out there:)

The Work-In-Progress Fireplace

There’s a lot to be done here – I’m planning on grabbing a vintage trunk to replace the leather statue (yes, that is the third animal item in this post, for anyone counting) and obviously, the mantel needs some styling. I do love the original elements here, though – I want to give some breathing room so the sconces and fireplace can really shine on their own. I’ll also swap out the art on the Frame TV for the shoot, but well…no promises that I won’t change it back to this Bosch after the photography is done:) (For anyone else who is interested in weird 16th-century art – BoschBot, my favorite Twitter account, posts random bits of the painting every few minutes. Definitely NSFW, but so fun to see the details up close!)

The New Rug and Old Coffee Table

THIS RUG. It’s the Harwich Natural Woven Jute Rug from Annie Selke and OH MY GOSH, I LOVE IT. I originally was planning to use a smaller leopard-print hide in here (it’s actually still leaning up against the fireplace – I’ll find a spot for it somewhere!), but realized I needed something to ground my floating furniture a bit more. I love the harlequin print as an alternative to a ubiquitous checkerboard and the woven texture makes it feel a little less precious, you know?

The 1970s tubular lucite coffee table was a 2019 steal from AES of LA. I’ve historically been a serial coffee table switcher, so holding on to the same piece for 3 years has been HUGE for me. I know you can only see a glimpse but trust me – it’s beautiful and I love it 🙂

My Dream Sofa That I…Kind of Resent?

If I can offer you one lesson, it’s this: your sofa can be curved, it can be leather, or it can be armless. DO NOT GO FOR ALL 3. I love my funky 80s sofa when I have company – it’s perfect for comfortable conversations and for enjoying drinks with friends but…well, I kind of resent it the rest of the time. You can’t really take a long nap here (which may be good for me, to be fair – your girl can snooze) and pillows slide right off, so it isn’t great for relaxing in general.

Long-term, I actually think I want to scrap my current dining room plan in favor of using the sofa as a banquette with a round dining table (naturally, now that I’m almost done with the living room, I’ve realized that it’s the perfect scale for that the dining room – I checked!). Short-term, it’s livable (and at least I love looking at it, too). I guess that now I’ve learned that having a nap-worthy sofa is more important to me than my friends being like, “oh, this is a beautiful conversation area.” C’EST LA VIE.

Flanked By A Sweet Rose Bowl Find (For Now)

Y’all, the Rose Bowl deities SMILED ON ME last month. I found this pair of Salterini-style tables for a SONG (like, we’re talking like 1/10th of the price here, y’all). Dealers stopped me to ask if I knew what I’d found. Someone tried to buy them off me in an aisle! I know they’re a little patinated, but I love their character and their history. I don’t know if they’ll stay next to the sofa in the final iteration of the reveal – they may relocate to the front door as a little drop zone! – but there’s something really thrilling about walking into a room that’s filled with found pieces. I think searching for vintage fulfills some sort of deep-seated hunter/gatherer urges in the weird part of my monkey brain, or something (anyone else?).

My Problem Corner

Or like, a half-problem corner, I guess? My mom actually got me this canoe shelf from TINI (an old LA vintage store, RIP) about 7 years ago after I sent her near-weekly updates of me visiting it in-store (like a lunatic – again, being driven by my monkey brain, maybe?). I pulled it over here to test the size and scale as I wanted to put a similarly-sized closed storage piece here – maybe something a bit campaign-y? – where I can also hide (or at least obscure) all my wifi/router mess. Alternatively, I was noodling on a round foyer table here in the corner – I think either would make me really happy, it just depends on what’s on FB Marketplace when I’m ready to plop down ~$200. Stay tuned!!!

The Window Wall

I’m VERY excited about this. My new curtains (just cheap semi-sheer ones from IKEA) will be hung appropriately – you can see their new endpoints, which I marked with tape – and the windows will be flanked by those horse mirrors that I nabbed at the Rose Bowl last year with Jess. The waterfall bench will be replaced by this white oak media cabinet from Room & Board (set to be delivered in just a few days!!!) which will house my record collection and turntable, in addition to providing a nice place for my cat to stare at all the action on the street below:)

A Ringing Bamboo Shade Endorsement

While I have you – I spent about $180 on these four cordless bamboo shades ($41 for the 29″ wide ones, $48″ for the 35″ wide version) and I am SO, SO, SO HAPPY WITH THEM. I spent a really long time trying to figure out which cheap woven shade was the best and I couldn’t be more thrilled with my choice. If you are also in the market for window coverings that look great and won’t break the bank, I cannot recommend these more highly. (I got them in ‘Squirrel,’ which is a really cozy and warm natural wood tone.) I’m so excited for you to see them with the updated curtain rod and drapery – I’m so thrilled to have found an affordable and renter-friendly window treatment solution! (It only took, uh, almost 4 years? NBD.)

My All-Time Greatest Rose Bowl Score

The back wall, opposite the fireplace, is filled with 4 VERY un-styled bookshelves which you don’t have to stare at yet:) But I am still freaking out about this Rose Bowl find – I fell in love with the whimsical shape, thought it’d be a nice fit for this empty space (I was inspired by Erik’s similar living room closet/chair combo here!), and figured I could clean up the original leather upholstery a bit. (It isn’t in the best shape, but it’s more of a “looking” chair than a “sitting” chair, you know?)

The dealer originally asked for $300, but I negotiated it down to $215. After I’d purchased it, he told me that it was an “original, probably worth about $2,000.” Honestly, I kind of laughed it off – I’m more interested in the shape than the resale value – but I clocked the original stickers on the bottom of the chair while I was carrying it out to my car. I’d like to introduce y’all to the George Mulhauser Scroll Chair, produced by Plycraft in the 1950s, which now seems to fetch a biiiiit more than $2,000. I am genuinely the luckiest person in the world (when it comes to vintage finds, at least).

An Egregious Paint Failure (No!!!)

THIS IS WHERE MY LUCK RUNS OUT, THOUGH. After waffling between two Sherwin-Williams paint colors – Romance, a warm-toned pink that had been my gut instinct, and Alyssum, a cool pink that perfectly matched my dining room wallpaper…well, I made the wrong choice.

Pro Tip: If you’re a renter painting your walls, make sure that the color works with the trim, too. I finished one wall before stepping back and getting the ‘ick’ almost immediately – the cool tones here clashed WAY too hard with the warm white trim, and it got even worse at nighttime. I’d checked the paint on every wall at every time of day and thought it’d be the perfect choice to pull both spaces together – I just forgot to consider the immovable elements, which feels like the cardinal sin of customizing a rental.

Alyssum | Romance

I still love my instinct to go pink, but I’ll be swapping shades ASAP. I don’t know why I was so obsessed with perfectly matching my wallpaper color when I should have instead been optimizing for a tonal match. I do wish I’d gone with my gut the first time around, but at least I tried (and at least I didn’t get too far into the paint process before pulling the plug).

This is where I’ll leave you – a ~50% completed room that took years to compile (and that currently has a face only a mother could love, despite the time spent – this is regular design for regular people :)). It isn’t much now, but I can’t wait for you to see the transformation – I’ve always wanted to see some half-finished projects on the internet so I could analyze what changed in the final makeover reveal (in hopes of applying that to my own home), and, well…I guess I’m now the person publishing some half-finished projects, hoping that maybe it’ll encourage someone else. IT’LL GET THERE, I PROMISE. (And in the interim, if you have any ideas or suggestions…I’m all ears.) See you down in the comments, yeah? xx

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Maria
1 month ago

Yay, a Caitlin update! On a Monday! Thanks for showing the in-between, it will make the final version so much more interesting and informative! I’m especially curious to see how you’ll style the mantel and solve that cable situation. Also, do you have a sofa in mind for when you eventually put this one in the dining room?
Love that you scored so many great vintage finds. I’m not a great thrifter myself and I’m always afraid things won’t go together or will look too random, so I look forward to seeing the final styled version. Sad to see that elephant side table go, but I get it. The animal count in this post is up to 5, if you count the rattan duck and the mirror horses haha!

LL
1 month ago
Reply to  Maria

don´t forget the little porcelaine leopard in the bookshelf 😉 hence 6

annie
1 month ago
Reply to  LL

idk y’all, the scroll chair gave me ram horn vibes so maybe up to 7?? i love them all though, especially those mirrors, whew

KD
1 month ago

Wooohooo! Love a good progress post. “Romance” is gorgeous. And, someday, you’ll have to share how you / when you became drawn to animal decor. So curious.

Reanna
1 month ago

I really appreciate seeing the “in progress” – it’s realistic and makes me feel better about my own slow process!

Janessa Olney
1 month ago
Reply to  Reanna

Yes, thank goodness I’m not the only one who has picked the wrong paint color and takes months to finish a room.

Lrc
1 month ago

I love your posts! It’d be fun and educational if you gave us a bit of the history of the vintage pieces/designers — what’s the deal with the elephant table or the little side tables that to dealer asked if you knew what you had? I’d love to learn more about them from you when you post about your finds.

Michelle
1 month ago
Reply to  Lrc

Ooh – yes!
Posts about various designers would be so neat – maybe focus on the one piece and then introduce other pieces by the same designer? Or maybe share different ways the piece was used if there are other examples to be found? And since the team all seem to love vintage pieces this could be a series. I’d be so interested in that

Kj
1 month ago
Reply to  Lrc
Allison
1 month ago

Caitlin! Great to see your updates. Love your eye for a good vintage find. Just had to post to say 100% indoor sunbrella concert here too. Used it on our pottery barn sofa, and with little kids and two cats it’s been the best choice! I can whip off the cushion covers to wash in the machine and in a light dove grey the fabric is soft and comfy and no one would know it’s an outdoor textile. It’s great how you’re marrying whimsy and practicality in this room. Love it!

Susan
1 month ago

I will be interested to see this come together. Horse statement pieces with a giant elephant piece has me wondering how it will all shake out. You have some amazing vintage finds, I just can’t see where it’s headed. But that’s the fun of it

Jen
1 month ago

Gobsmacked at what you score on marketplace and in person! Although difficult to compare ‘inventory’ between LA and Southeastern Idaho, : ). Big fan of the real design for real people post!

Vera
1 month ago

Ooooo! Progress posts are so fun!!!
I can totally see it Caitlin, it’s going to be fabulous.
Love that we have something to look forward to after the holidays!

DonnaJ
1 month ago

I enjoy this process post and as a fellow slow thrifter I appreciate the tales behind the finds…Iike the film production triangle of fast/ cheap/ good, I think its great to step out of the ‘done in 24 hours TV reveal ‘ paradigm and understand that almost anything is possible on 18 month- 5 year timeline! I love the curved couch but yes living rooms need a sleepy comfy option.. I bought Sigmund Freud’s granddaughter’s couch off Craigslist this summer. Long, low, 60’s, linen upholstery, down pillows. A true nap inducer. Obviously the cats are not invited. I got Panther pads and some some extra cat scratchers and redirected the boys with praise and nip. With prevention and more scratching options the cats now ignore all of my vintage and scratch their sisal scratchers. I highly recommend the Panther pads. I also have some ideas for this room. I think it would be great to add some tems from the 30’s -40’s to ground it and give variation in tone and period. Curvy coffee tables with blue glass, a small Nichols rug, a curvy wooden cabinet – thinking old small bar cabinet as not a huge wardrobe, or a James… Read more »

DonnaJ
1 month ago
Reply to  DonnaJ

PS I love the wicker elephant !

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  DonnaJ

OMG!!!😳
” Freud’s granddaughter’s couch off Craigslist” Wot?!
THAT’S AMAZING!

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Wait….I thought you meant HIS couch. 🤪

Kristy
1 month ago

Awesome, I love to see work in progress! I bought the Chicology bamboo shades after you mentioned them in a Link Up post a few weeks ago, and am also very pleased. I’m planning on shortening one of them and adding a fabric lining to the back of all for a little more privacy…after examining them it looks like they should be pretty easy to modify for a fraction of what custom shades would cost!

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Kristy

I’ve done this by adding reallllly thivk calico to the back, stitcbing usinb a curved large needle and thin twine as thread. Worked really well and had an upmarket vibe while adding addition thermal and privacy qualities. I highly recommend it. 🤗👍

Roberta Davis
1 month ago

Looks good- can’t wait to see the final!

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago

Caitlin… this is real progress!!! 👍
Sooooo impressed with your vintagd shopping! I’m not totally into the same vibe (except animals), but dang! You’ve got a great haul!
The scroll chair is the bomb!💥 Gosh, I love it.
Fab idea for your sofa in the dining room. Yaaaaas!
Cannot wait to see the room finished.

Aunt Sue
1 month ago

I like your plan to use the leather sofa as a dining banquette, but will it create the same problem of a warm color (the caramel sofa) clashing with the cool pink in the wallpaper? I honestly don’t know and it’s hard to tell on a screen. I love all your animals especially the deer guarding the fireplace. Thank you for sharing all of this hard work and thought.

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago

🐈 Do you clip your cat’s claws??
I used to clip my cat’s claws and he scratched much, much less.

Alice
1 month ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Me too. I have friends who allow their cats to have surgically sharp eagle talons and I can’t imagine it. Cats can learn to tolerate having those sharp points clipped off (not too much!).

🥰 Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Alice

Yep. My cat didn’t mind it at all, spesh once he worked out treats were involved mid-way. 😏

Katie
1 month ago

For your chair — I was shocked at how well my norwex cloth (the all purpose one) cleaned my leather upholstery with just water. Give it a try!

Katie
1 month ago
Reply to  Katie

Sorry the “Enviro” cloth, just get it damp (not super wet, because leather)

emily jane
1 month ago

Yes, yes, YESSSSSSSSSS!!! to the sofa as a curved banquette!
My favorite parts of the process when designing any space are all of the iterations one goes thru before finding the ‘sweet spot’ so this post is, as EHD folks say, “chef’s kiss” -mwah xoxoXO!
VERY excited about this reveal : )

Jen A.
1 month ago
Reply to  emily jane

Totally agree that sofa is ideal for banquette!

Angela
1 month ago

Fellow cat lover!! I put one of these in every room in our house that we spend time in (bed, living, dining, entry) and it almost eliminated furniture scratching completely. https://www.amazon.com/BEBOBLY-Scratching-Climbing-Furniture-Scratcher/dp/B09ZKCFTJ7/ref=sr_1_11?keywords=wall+mounted+cat+scratcher&qid=1670261110&sprefix=wall+mounted+cat+s%2Caps%2C109&sr=8-11

My understanding is that cats claw to express excitement or to kind of release stored energy (maybe like how dogs yawn, fake sneeze, and stretch? I don’t know, I’m not good at dogs) so redirecting them to these posts still allows them an outlet to do their thing.

Christina
1 month ago

I love the update and can’t wait to see the final result. Can I put in a request for an apartment floor plan with it? I can’t remember if there was one before but seeing how the rooms flow/where the doorways lead to always helps me figure out photos better.

Cris S.
1 month ago

I LOVE this! I love the vintage finds and the stories and the room. And I think, if you love the figural pieces, go with them! Don’t leave that elephant bar cart hanging – let them have a friend in the side table and on the walls and everywhere. Why not? It actually fits in better when layered. Go for YOUR space, not a space where you made decisions based off of what others will think. This room is heading in such an awesome direction! I have two questions – the first is that if I’m scheduling a trip to southern California and have flexibility on the dates, would you recommend choosing a Rose Bowl flea weekend or a Long Beach flea weekend? I’ve been to both in years past, but don’t know how they are shaping up recently. Generally I’m looking for art, wooden hat forms, old leather books (is the book seller back in the corner of the Long Beach flea? The one with huge boxes of stuff emptied from libraries – I’ve bought so much from him over the years but he wasn’t there the last time) Second question – how do you deal with letting go… Read more »

Alice
1 month ago
Reply to  Cris S.

I love your second question and would love seeing it answered. I don’t know if this blog can provide an answer but I wish somebody would.

Shar
1 month ago

Your apartment (and any house Jess has ever lived in) are MY FAVORITE on the entire internet! I LOVE how much you’re willing to PLAY! Wonderful!

Mara Pitcher
1 month ago

I know you said you’re going for disco meets deco, but I also love how all the curves (the chair, couch, horses, elephahts) and connections to nature impart a nouveau aesthetic. Looking forward to see how you bring it all together!

Suzanne
1 month ago

So good! I love a curved sofa, but can understand wanting more of a lounge sofa. I look forward to see it as a banquette in the dining room. I considered that Annie Selke rug, but I wasn’t sure how it would hold up with cats. I’d love to hear. I ended up with a tightly woven flatweave rug from Nordic Knots (Square, despite being slightly resistant to the checker trend), and it’s amazingly durable. The vintage chair is such a great score and the perfect “sculpture” for a design lover. I can’t wait to see the reveal next month!

Gretchen
1 month ago

Fun post with so many amazing pieces! Maybe they won’t all work together in the living room, but I’m sure you’ll find a perfect home for them somewhere.

IreneL
1 month ago

Yes to a curvy sofa banquette! That could be fabulous and will leave you with a space for a more traditional napping sofa! You could also reupholster the sofa/banquette – a chenille or velvet fabric would be gorg in the dining room (if you can keep the cats off of it lol). I do love your end tables w metal trays and I am curious about their history. I do see some 30s and 40s in your decor as a few others have said and it mixes well w vintage MCM. You have some unique and very interesting finds and I can’t wait to see how the room evolves! Thank you for sharing this post w us!

Paula
1 month ago

These updates are SO much fun!

Patti
1 month ago

So fun! You can keep all the animal themed stuff cause I’m just not feeling them but I would have bought that couch in a heartbeat. I get that it’s uncomfortable but it will make such a fab banquette!

Tamara
1 month ago

I love hearing about the process and the sneak peeks you shared! Thanks for a fun read today!!

Paint color — I love the ones you shared and considered them both for a southwest facing room; I went with Sherwin Williams Intimate White instead. It has been a little girls room and a primary bedroom at our house. The versatility has been amazing as we’ve gone from vibrant linens (think aqua, green, hot pink, blue) to neutrals, whites, green plants and mahogany. Have fun choosing — that’s just one that I have grown to love personally.

Anita
1 month ago

I love this, the stories of reach vintage find, how to pull them together! Real life stuff here

Jen A.
1 month ago

Great idea to incorporate campaign furniture – it would weave in so perfectly with the animal decor. Definitely high vote for some sort of campaign piece for the wifi corner. I would love to see that side table find a home in an adjacent room, so it carries the elephant through to another location. Very curious to see the reveal!

Lori
1 month ago

I’m always so thrilled when I see a Caitlin post!!! I love how your share your process, and I love all the funky vintage finds. I also love that ‘Romance’ color & making a note of it because I also love a pink wall. Can’t wait to see this all come together– I love the aesthetic you’re aiming for & the vibe is great!

Sally
1 month ago

Favourite type of post. Your style is nothing like mine which is what I love about it. It’s so refreshing to see a deeply personal, genuinely unique and highly creative interior style like this. So enjoyable. And it does spark ideas for myself within my own aesthetic which I probably otherwise would never think of, which is kind of why we visit these blogs. We all like playing with our houses.
Can’t wait to see the reveal. Love the halfway share and agree, makes the final reveal more interesting.

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