This room. My beautiful, bright charming problem child of a room needs more care and attention (and thought) than any of the others. Why? WHY? It’s such a pretty room!!!??? I’m blaming the children and my intense need for comfort and practicality these days. But historically I’ve blamed the old sofa, the bright rug (then the neutral rug) and at one point I even said: “there are just too many windows!” Ha, impossible. Slowly but surely we are getting there and I’m officially the happiest YET. Of course, my needs/wants have shifted even more because after living so minimally up in the mountains, with nary an accessory in sight other than a pillow or two, I realize how much easier it is to live and parent with less stuff to style and put away. So trying to bring that minimalism to my desired “eccentric English grandma” adds another challenge – she is historically NOT minimal. So with less booked shoots and partnerships, plus some new pieces to show off, it felt like a good time to style out a few rooms (plus I was dying to style/shoot – safely of course). You saw the kids shared room reveal last week (thank you for all your wonderful support – I’m SO happy with it) and today we have a living room update, yet again. It’s Groundhog Day here, but perhaps it’s just GROUNDHOG YEAR.
But one can not give you a proper EHD update without recounting the drama of this room’s sordid past. So let’s revisit the history of this living room over the last three years.
Version #1 – 2017. The Busy/Messy English Great Granny. Admittedly this version actually “works” the best visually in photos, and yet it’s not my favorite (thus the need to dedicate the next three years of my life to getting it right). One reader pointed out why this works (in 2019) and it’s because the heaviness of the rug balances out the beams. Oh, I wish I had read that comment (or had that thought myself) before I bought our new rug which I LOVE and is the softest rug in the entire actual world (it’s plush + 1/2″ memory foam – its an absolute dream to lay on and creates so much more seating without more furniture) Sadly it’s no longer available. But this 1st version also had/has too much stuff for me. When it was perfectly styled (for this one day in 2017) it was beautiful, but otherwise it was just too much stuff to put away, too many plants to keep alive, and yes a bit too ornate, busy and traditional for me – without the edge that for some reason I think I have. It felt too busy and colorful, but that was also when I had two very small kids and my life felt extremely chaotic so I had to reduce the visual noise. NOW, if I could go back in time I would have NOT sold that rug so I could try it with the new sofa and less “stuff” and that might actually be the winning combo but I wanted to work with this new rug and see if I could make it work. Next up…
In 2018 I switched out the rug for this more neutral one and we all agreed that its calmer, but for whatever reason didn’t work. The styling on this shoot was a bit stiff, too… So a month later I reshot it with better/looser styling…
I did like it more, for sure, but man, just not that happy with it. At the time I blamed the sofa (first the rug, then the sofa – who is next?? too much beautiful natural light??). So I happened to still have this sectional from Article that I staged in our Glendale house, and figured it was worth a shot. Maybe a more modern streamlined sofa was the solution.
2019 – The Contemporary Eclectic? This is starting to feel like a stretch. I admit that this works, but we were actually back to a “lot of stuff” to deal with in order to make that room sing. Picture this room without the flowers/branches and 9 pillows on the sofa. I think it might not really be that exciting. Why? Because the sofa and the rug are the same color, i.e. no contrast and it felt off-balance with the chairs. One of those two things needed to pop a bit more and I didn’t want to have to style out those pillows every day. No… I wanted a statement sofa, something special… And after a year of shopping, I finally ordered this amazing bright Lawson Fenning sofa that makes me smile every time I see it, sit on it, stare at it, etc. I’ve only spent a week with it since we aren’t even living in this house, but I just love it so much. So this is where we are today and when I was in the room I LOVED it.
2020. Here we are – new sofa, new pop of red and the chaise lounge that I’ll keep for the rest of my life. Maybe I’ll call it the “Almost Off Her Rocker But Like Not Really Eclectic Grandma” – not really that weird, I can admit, but in person it’s just enough and when I added more stuff, it just felt like more to put away at the end of the day. I’m wondering if I’m losing my “stylist” label because I’m increasingly not into “stuff” which is the actual calling card of being a stylist. Instead, I’m opting for some super special pieces that don’t actually want much on them – The sofa, red chair, and the chaise are the statements that bring me so much joy, and adding color back in makes me so happy. I missed my blues and greens and shant ever stray from them (except in a month when I change my mind).
My New Sofa
That sofa. Oh I love it. It’s from Lawson Fenning, called the Moreno and reupholstered in Crypton fabric, Salute. Now we tweaked the dimensions to make it more ergonomic so if you want to order it from Lawson Fenning ask them for my dimensions instead of what is on their site (I believe the back height is just a few inches higher and the arm height is a few inches lower). It is just so pretty and the shape of the arms are so simple but special. I wanted to have a brighter, happier color and this powder blue is actually brighter than I remembered ordering, but I’m even HAPPIER.
A small swatch of fabric looks different than the same fabric in a huge sofa.
I was so tempted to put in more “stuff” but then I remembered that I want clean and fresh and purposeful. Maybe that’s my 2021 Post Pandemic attitude – “Clean. Fresh. Purposeful”. WHO WILL WE ALL BE ANYWAY AFTER THIS???
The Chairs are Back…
We brought back those Target chairs I just can’t quit because I like how it lightened up the space. I didn’t think that the dark gray ones would work as well with the blue sofa (but they might be fine) and I tried a bunch of different vintage chairs to see what would work but it just was too busy. To be fair they might have looked good in a photo but it just felt too much for me. I’d love to invest in some super special vintage chairs, but tbh these are so simple and good, a great scale and remarkably comfortable. Plus, I love the open wood arm – the chaise is really the statement so three heavily upholstered pieces in a row wouldn’t have let that beautiful piece POP.
My Dressed Up Vintage Chaise
There she is. Ready for the ball. In case you have forgotten who she was before, I bought her from Jayson Home over 4 years ago in the original vintage fabric and fringe from the 1800s (she’s FRONCH) until it basically fell apart. Here she was BEFORE…
The shape is just so pretty and it has a really lovely petite scale that is still super comfortable. But after springs started popping up I put it in storage and started shopping for her new skin. I searched for a year for the perfect floral fabric and I FOUND IT.
The fabric is from House of Hackney out of, yes England and it’s incredibly stunning in person. The color combo could NOT be more perfect – it has that vintage-y vibe, in a modern unexpected way. The caramel flowers against the teal reminds me so much of my favorite pillow seen below. Buildlane restored it, refinished it, and reupholstered that beauty and they did an amazing job (like always). No more springs in my back when I’m trying to read The Vanishing Half (so good).
I’ve always loved florals more than most, but they are still HARD to get right. This floral has never been more right. It is splurgy and don’t try to knock it off (there is a reason it’s so splurgy) but for an investment piece like this I can’t recommend House of Hackney’s collection more – totally timeless high-quality English florals. I bought that lamp at a thrift store up here for $40 or so and then added the black shade to ensure what is an apparent necessity – that every single lamp of mine is black (except for the Schoolhouse lamp with the blue shade I’ve had forever on the piano). Onto my next favorite vignette …
Remember the trunk I bought at the Downtown Modernism flea market? I thought that it was a regret as it sat in the garage for a year, but once I realized I wanted more antique/vintage in here I brought it in and the green/brass added a lot of soul. Once combined with the Puritan oil painting (from 1730 – seriously), the modernist lamp, and BOOM that red leather balloon chair from Chairish and it felt pulled together, but unexpected. I added a vase from Justina Blakeney (the black and white stripe on the top shelf) and tried to restrain myself on the shelf styling but could probably take it down another 7%.
That chair brings me all sorts of guttural happiness. It’s red but not crazy bright. It’s round and graphic, with wood arms and black legs and it speaks to me. My new footed bowl (because I needed another one) is from EcoVibe – a new resource for me that has a ton of cute pieces.
MY PILLOW IS BACK. I made that floral pillow when I was 24, out of vintage fabric from the 60s and 15 (FINE 17) years later it still brings me a lot of happiness – maybe even more as I get older. I suppose it’s an OG EHD piece that will never leave, so I really had to work it into this room. I combined it with a tasseled pillow and blanket from EcoVibe. As I wrote about earlier in this post, I didn’t have enough black-owned businesses represented in my house so after I called myself out, and went on a personal shopping spree while researching posts, I styled out these pieces here and love them. The side table is from 54 kibo, the pillow/throw from EcoVibe, and the candlestick via Jungalow.
As we turn around we can see the piano and dining room and just in case you didn’t know that all the doors opened up to that dream of a patio (will never not be in love with it), we went ahead and opened them up.
I suppose I’ll hoard that vintage leather trunk forever. It’s been in 4 different rooms which shows its true versatility/my addictive nature to rearranging. The Entler lamp on top makes it feel more modern IMHO. The MQuan bells are holding strong after 6 years, and that flea market grayish cabinet is still one of my favorites. Slowly but surely you can see that things aren’t changing as much as they used to. I’m really starting to create an inventory that I won’t ever let go of.
I would LOVE to try a darker rug at some point but “trying” a 10×14 rug takes like 2 people and 3 hours. I do think that one with more weight would add that grounding that we need and balance out the beams, but it’s not happening right now.
So there we are – an update, a sofa/chaise/red chair show and tell… Rearranging was SO MUCH FUN. It was the definition of “Style, Play, Every Day” that makes me really miss our day to day job.
So what do you think? I know that some of you wished that we would have pushed further and for others, this might be too far already. I suppose what I feel like is a huge win is having pieces that I’m obsessed with and knowing that when you put things that you LOVE together in a room typically they work, even if they “don’t work”. One of the best pieces of advice that I learned from my styling mentor/boss Cindy Diprima was “pretty always looks good next to pretty”. Of course, there are exceptions but I think the overtime collecting is working in this room and it’s starting to really come alive, in a restrained way which is livable for us. Maybe a darker vintage rug would look amazing. Maybe two vintage chairs instead of the Target chairs would balance out the sofa more (I’ve literally spent HOURS searching for open wood armed chairs that are big enough to balance out the sofa, but not “chunky” and it’s hard!). Ok, let’s talk about it. xx
In case you missed any of the other reveals so far check them out: The Kid’s Shared Bedroom | The Basement Guestroom/Office | Basement Bathroom | Elliot’s Room | Kitchen and Dining Room | The Entry | The Front Yard
**Final Reveal Photos by Sara Ligorria-Tramp