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The Curbly Family Living room makeover

When I was a 22 year old waitress in New York, every single customer I had would say, ‘You’re so friendly … what are you from the MidWest or something?’ and I would say (in a VERY friendly voice, i’m sure), “Actually, I’m from Oregon.’ And they would say in a ‘like I said’ voice, ‘Yeah … the midwest’. That was before Portland was cool when there were a lot less people from the Midwest in New York, I suppose. They literally thought that Oregon was the Midwest.

Well last week I went to the real MidWest, Minnesota even (super midwest) –  possibly even for the first time. And yes, people there are VERY friendly. We (Orlando and I) went to redesign the Curbly.com family’s house  – a couple I had met at some Alt Summit parties the last two years. After meeting/hanging out with them I thought I liked them, sure, I like most people when I’m at a party if you know what I mean. But it was definitely a risk going there for 5 days without really knowing them. They could have been really weird, lame, have had really bad taste, or worse … really annoying.  And despite being super friendly, (most people even say ‘bubbly’ much to my torture), this girl can be strangely easy to annoy.  Ask, OH JUST ABOUT EVERYONE I KNOW. Except don’t because that sounds annoying.


Well i’m ecstatic to say that not only were these two friendly, but they were totally amazing in every way. In fact when everybody asks me how my trip was I say, ‘So great. It was actually the best case scenario possible’. That rarely happens, folks. Good people. Good design. Adorable kids. Satisfying work. Fun with Orlando. Just generally a GEERRAATTE week in the Twin Cities.

So welcome to the first part of a four part series documenting my Curbly home makeover. The whole makeover was sponsored by Sherwin-Williams, shot by Melissa Oholendt, produced by Curbly.com and art directed, designed and styled by me (and Orlando).

So here’s a before: curbly-liiving-room-before

I mean, great bones, but REALLY BAD SKIN.  While a lot of people like their dark woodwork, I generally am not terribly into it. The burgundy and yellow/white however I love, if by ‘love’ I mean am by strongly repelled by.

So they totally renovated it (before I got there, obviously) and painted it this beautiful Aloof Gray by Sherwin-Williams. And then we came in and decorated it so it looked like this:

curbly living room

The intention behind this room was to be warm, inviting, comfortable, family friendly and yet young and modern. The house was a classic turn of the century craftsman, so there needed to be some elements of traditional design in it so it wasn’t a jarring departure, but mostly they loved eclectic midcentury design so we needed to combine all those styles together.

I absolutely love how it turned out. Its so happy and bright, and yet warm and comfortable. I can’t decide what my favorite element is – I LOVE that rug from Loloi, I LOVE those two custom plaid wool chairs. And just generally I love how you want to sit in every chair/sofa because they are all so comfortable.

emily henderson traditional

Here was our process:  First we talked style and needs for each room, then they created a pin board, and after a few skype conference calls, we started curating items from Craigslist and then supplemented with new pieces from my favorite resources.

Wall Color: Sherwin-Williams Aloof Gray SW 6197 | Sofa: Room&Board Anson Sofa in Vessel Cement |Danish Chairs: Vintage/CL (free/$80, plus $400 in fabric and upholstery) | Rug: Contemporary Luxe in Blue Steel from Loloi Rugs

campaign dresser

That campaign dresser for instance was found painted a sad dark brown, and Bruno sprayed it white when we were there. The midcentury chairs were a combo of craigslist and a family hand-me-down that we had recovered and restored.

white campaign dresser barcart room and board sofa west elm pillow


mid-century desk

Laptop Side Table: Pix Table by OCD Furniture from Forage Modern Workshop | Lamp, Ikea |Desk/chair vintage | Rug: Contemporary Luxe in Blue Steel from Loloi Rugs 

mid-century plaid brass coffee table mid-century traditional

Roman Shades: Laura Ashley Soft Fold Roman shades in Casualle Milk from Blinds.com | Windsor Chair: Vintage, (Craigslist): free with dining table | Dimply Vase: Kabasa Vase from CB2 | 

mid-century traditional

All in all a WILD transformation and one that I didn’t want to leave. Its low maintenance, unfussy, yet totally pulled together and intentional. Almost like it was designed ….

Stay tuned for the dining room transformation, complete with my favorite family photo gallery yet. 🙂

Meanwhile check out this resource list; they are all here, folks. Get to shopping.

Wall Color: Sherwin-Williams Aloof Gray SW 6197 | Sofa: Room&Board Anson Sofa in Vessel Cement |Danish Chairs: Vintage/CL (free/$80, plus $400 in fabric and upholstery) | Rug: Contemporary Luxe in Blue Steel from Loloi Rugs | Kaleidoscope on mantel: Vintage (Loft Antiques) | Porcelain Succulents on mantel: Waterstone Succulents | Majorette: Vintage (Hunt & Gather | Pot for fern: Skars Tall bowl in white from CB2 | Candle Holder: Tri Taper Candle Holder from CB2 | Bronze Bust: vintage (Hunt & Gather) | Photo over mantel: Corncob Building by John Kingman | Books: Vintage ($20) | Blanket Basket: Vintage (Hunt & Gather) | 

Poof: West Elm, discontinued (here are some other good ones though!) | Coffee Table: Blue Ocean Traders | Bar Cart: Blue Ocean Traders | Giraffe Decanter: Vintage (Loft Antiques) | Marble Top Side Table: Blue Ocean Traders | White Table Lamp: Jayne Oat Beige Glazed Ceramic | Threaded House Art: Happy Red Fish | Wood triangular side tables: Vintage ($45) | Campaign Dresser: Vintage ($80) (painted with Sherwin-Williams Pure White SW 7005 Latex Enamel) | Boy Painting: Vintage (Loft Antiques) | Blinds: Laura Ashley Soft Fold Roman shades in Casualle Milk from Blinds.com | Windsor Chair: Vintage, (Craigslist): free with dining table | Dimply Vase: Kabasa Vase from CB2 | Flannel Pillow: Fairbault Wool Pillow Cover – Ticking Stripe from West Elm | Gold Star Pillow: Nate Berkus Star Ikat Pillow | Throw: Herringbone Throw by Brahms Mount from Forage Modern Workshop | Laptop Side Table: Pix Table by OCD Furniture from Forage Modern Workshop | Metal Drum Table: Vintage (Hunt & Gather)

This post was in partnership with Sherwin-Williams, but all design decisions, words and thoughts are all mine, folks. Thanks for supporting my partners that make these makeovers possible. 

All beautiful photos taken by Melissa Oholendt (Thank you, Melissa!!!), styled by me, produced by Curbly.com

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  41. I understand the aesthetic, but it pains me a little when people buy an old house with so much character…(original wood work, etc.) and refinish them to look new. Why not buy new? These old houses are such a treasure! It’s a shame to see them changed beyond recognition. And in reference to the before and after pictures…I know it’s harder to find paint colors for dark trim, but I think I liked the paint/trim better in the before pictures than the after pictures. And my husband had harsher words…he’s a bleeding heart for these early century beauties.

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  43. Impressive! This makeover makes me love white shade even more. From a dark room accent to a lighter and neat space now. You’re are truly talented when it comes to decorating and designing a home, I totally admire you for that. Thanks for sharing this amazing renovation as always!

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