Well, we are moving forward on some smaller design projects, without stepping inside the room. It would be like writing a book on a typewriter with invisible ink – doable (?), but certainly not our usual process and that makes us feel unsafe and unsure, but maybe in a good way? Today we are showing you an update of a project we introduced briefly earlier this year, and we have a very important paint color decision to make in order to keep this moving forward – because while we can’t shop, they can paint.
You see, there is a dark accent wall that is bumming us all out, making the space feel smaller and becoming this daunting force in the room screaming for attention in a bad way. It’s going to be a BEAST to paint over, so we are partnering with KILZ® on this project because we need a seriously good primer and they are the best in the business – it’s what all our painting contractors use and recommended to us. Plus, now that they have paint colors to choose from as well, it’s a one-stop paint solution. So without actually being in the room, seeing how it feels or how it looks in the morning versus the night we are all going to choose this color TODAY.
Here’s how this project went down – Corbett is one of my best friends (see her house here) and her brother Chandler just moved into a new apartment that was dripping with charm, but needed some help in the decor department. She has GREAT taste, as you can see from her house, so she was going to be the lead designer on this (to save on our design time) and we were going to do it together for him as a fun project, with his input of course. We had dreams of thrifting trips to Palm Springs and so many Rose Bowl Flea market hauls, that who knows, might still be in our future. But meanwhile, we are moving forward and you are invited to come with us.
He lives in a historical building on Wilshire – that is the courtyard you walk through to get to the lobby. It’s SO AWESOME.
When we first saw his apartment, he had JUST moved in. Corbett had just held a garage sale so he had sold most of his furniture that he didn’t like, thus the stuff on the floor and the lack of furniture. OF course, if he knew it would be months before he got a sofa he might have waited, but without a time machine we can’t really go back and fix it.
It is a great space with some obvious, solvable, challenges. The biggest is the lack of natural light. His window faces the courtyard so it doesn’t get a ton of light, and painting just ONE wall such a dark color hasn’t helped. Plus he wants some privacy from his neighbors so we can’t leave the window naked. He needs window treatments which frankly is a bummer because that window is gorgeous, but I get it – he would feel very exposed.
Besides needing a sofa, there is also a challenge of laying out the room because it is a pass-through space (but not too long and narrow, thank goodness) and there is a lack of storage. But the biggest culprit is that dark accent wall, which we’re planning to cover up with KILZ® Primer and paint.
Months ago Corbett pulled together a mood board for it, which we loved, based on this inspiration.
It was ’70s brutalist, with some mid-century mixed in and lots of contemporary or more post-modern pieces. We are in need of some color I realize, but we still want to keep it moody.
We all met up and landed on the below mood board, but it wasn’t finalized – just a bit closer to where we were headed. We knew that we wanted a lot of thrifted vintage so it’s hard to create a mood board not knowing what we will score.
But then Chandler let us in on a secret – he doesn’t really like the ’70s, hates brutalist and in fact leans far more ’60s. And the ’80s/ postmodern trend that we loved was definitely not his jam. When probed, what he wanted it to look like this room from Mad Men.
So Julie took that inspiration and brought it more into 2020 with the following inspiration. We get you Chan, you want cleaner lines and more of a mid-century feeling, but we think that can be done while mixing in some contemporary pieces.
There are ways to bring in the mid-century vibe without going full “set,” mostly by using cleaner lines and less round and bulbous shapes (he really didn’t like them).
A few weeks before the shutdown, Julie and I were thrifting in Pasadena and I found this sofa for $200. TWO HUNDRED. As an unfortunate sofa hoarder (WHY OF ALL THE THINGS TO HOARD?) I HAD to get it, but so would you – $200 for this mid-century gem with original upholstery in decent shape? I didn’t have any place to store it and while I wasn’t convinced it was right for Chandler (this was before we knew he wanted more mid-century) we figured we’d at least store it in his living room and he could sit on it while we continued to design. Then, since we were renting a UHaul anyway, I said: “hey swing by my storage unit and lets at least get you some other pieces that MIGHT work.” This is an unusual part of the process as most people don’t have an inventory to temporarily pull from. But since he’s a friend it felt like a good way to get him some pieces to sit on as well as get a better sense of what really works in the space and what he likes. So a lot of the pieces you’ll recognize and they may or may NOT stay as we haven’t seen them in the space.
Julie gave him some direction of where to put the pieces that we were loaning/giving him.
Now there are a few different ways you can layout this room, but this feels the most natural to us and him and like I said, it might not be this exact furniture but we like the two chairs across a chair and ottoman, allowing a pass-through space.
Having these simple SketchUps by Julie certainly helped him arrange them and gave us all a better idea of what would work.
Of course, I’m dying to go in and move them around (and remove at least one black leather/wood chair – THERE ARE A LOT!), but until it’s safe to, we can’t go over there. Now normally we would wait to paint until at least some of the major furniture decisions, but Chandler has offered to paint while staying at home and it would be a huge check off the box. So we chose some neutrals that he (and we) were most attracted to – here goes.
Julie ordered samples and painted them all on large pieces of paper and then dropped them off outside his apartment building and texted him to come grab them – like a paper drug dealer.
We instructed him to put them on both the accent wall and the opposite wall and take SO MANY PICTURES.
Like I said, this is not our usual process and it’s EXTREMELY hard to make this decision not being in the room and not knowing what really is working design-wise with the furniture.
So right now our thoughts are this:
- Going light will keep it feeling bigger or at least as big as it can be, but without very much natural light bouncing around, will it just feel boring and dead?
- Going dark could make it feel moody, but it’s a pretty big room to go dark in, with a large white ceiling (that we’d love to not paint as it’s a rental and it’s just so time-consuming and laborious to paint such a big ceiling). With only one window to break up the space it could just be a big dark box (which I suppose is why the last renter painted just that one accent wall).
- It’s a little on the safe side mostly because all the “leftover furniture” is black and wood. It’s making me realize we need some color, some art, and VINTAGE. I’d love to try to mix in more mustards like in Corbett’s mood board above.
- While I love that sofa, I want more contrast with the wall color and yet we don’t want the room to be a bold color (nor white). But we are in a “make it work” phase of life so I also would love to try to just make it work.
- I’d love to consider doing something with the paint to break up the walls, or painting the trim a contrast. It’s honestly so hard to be creative without being in the space but it’s a good challenge.
- As far as decor goes we are going to follow our rules of how to make a dark room feel brighter – mirrors, more contrast, things to draw your eye around, plants, adding architectural elements that pop and art that brings in pattern, color and interest. This room needs LIFE. (See this post where we break down how to do this).
- While I love the article chair (no longer available)/ottoman and the leather sling chairs I bought at the flea market – I’d love one or more of those to be different – and I’m leaning more towards nixing the sling chairs in hopes of finding some that are upholstered (in a mustard velvet?) or in a pattern.
- In the above mood boards, I like the darker colors the most, but I do fear that they’ll be really dark so we could do a lighter tone with darker curtains.
- The rug we want to use is from the mountain house living room (it was getting way too much traffic in there so we switched it for something darker). We are actually dropping it off this week to see if it works in there, instead of sourcing another rug (his current one is too small). It’s a good opportunity for a pattern, but since we have this rug I’d love to try to make it work on a budget.
Right now if we keep the vintage sofa I’m leaning towards doing the darker “Porpoise” with a patterned curtain (am I suggesting a statement curtain? Are we back to that?) to help draw your eye in and give some interest while they are closed. We could even sew a bunch of flags together or do a textile art for curtains since it doesn’t need to be blackout or anything, more just so people can’t see in. BUT I could easily be convinced to do “Silverado” which would make it feel bigger, but wouldn’t be as dramatic. Then we could add drama and moodiness through the textiles, art, and accessories. Or, here are all the paint colors available if you want to suggest a totally different direction.
I mean guys, I can’t tell you enough how much I wish we could get our bodies into this space. I want it so bad that I had Julie photoshop us in and looking very serious about the design of this room.
So since you have seen the space as much as we have at this point (clearly) – what say you????