Happy Friday, folks. Sara here (resident social media coordinator and in-house photographer). You might remember me from last year, when I made-over my childhood bedroom for the blog. Since then I’ve moved back to the city proper, and I’m ready to dive into a brand new ‘Makeover Takeover.’ But this time I’m not alone.
This past September my boyfriend Macauley and I decided to take that giant leap into madness and move in together (or ‘live in sin’ as my mother fondly refers to it). For those of you who are currently feeling heart palpitations of anxiety due to our decision, let me preface this with the fact that we’ve been together for a ballpark amount of 5 years now and had talked about it for the past year and half or so before we finally took this step. It was not a spur of the moment decision based on the inability to pay rent in Los Angeles on our own. But, while the initial decision to move in together went nice and slow, once we started looking for a place things took off at rocket speed. Mac’s lease was about to end, so we decided we could use those last four weeks to apartment hunt together. Of course that very first weekend I spotted a craigslist ad for a 1930’s, Spanish-style, 1 bedroom in a neighborhood we were interested in. We visited, applied, and were offered the apartment that very evening. It was the first, and only apartment we looked at.
The apartment itself is pretty amazing, and we constantly feel lucky to have nabbed it so quickly (I attribute this to my uncontrollable impulsiveness, which generally doesn’t lead to good things, but worked in our favor this time). It has some cute architectural details from the 1930’s, original tile from the 1950’s, huge sash windows in every room, and new wood flooring with sound proofing that was installed right before we moved in. We really wanted to make this place ‘ours’ rather than have it be a Frankenstien of mismatched furniture pieces we’d both collected since college. So we started by selling most of Mac’s furniture, and I left my bedroom back home completely intact rather than moving it into our new place. We spent the first few weeks in that apartment with nothing more than a mattress on the floor, and a coffee table in the living room. I’m not exaggerating. After a few weeks we broke down and bought a couch from Ikea because we couldn’t sit on the floor anymore. But creating a cohesive living space takes time, patience, and money (although, to be fair and honest we knew that pulling together the apartment for the blog would allow us to get some awesome pieces that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford all at once). And adding the minor fact that we were having to suddenly be aware of each other’s opinions, meant it was going to be a very long process.
The entire apartment is pretty much an open floor plan – the living room looks directly into the dining room, which then goes into the kitchen. We decided to turn the dining room into an office, because we both work from home quite a bit, and instead put the dining table in the living room. We don’t sit at the dining table very often, so it felt wasteful to dedicate an entire room to something we rarely use. Side note – please ignore those cords running along the floor. This apartment, being built in the 1930s, doesn’t have the best wall to outlet ratio, but it’s being handled (not by me, obviously. That’d be a joke).
But, after 7 months of pinning, multiple mood boards, lots of trips to the flea market, and several design-anxiety filled nights we’ve almost got the place pulled together. Art is out being framed, all the big pieces are in place, and so far no feelings have been irreparably damaged (though I did tell Mac that his computer case was ugly one night, when I was really feeling the Pinterest perfection pressure. Sorry!). There are just a few details left to be decided, which is why we thought we’d bring you, the readers, in on the project. Today I want to focus on the living room, and especially on the rug.
When Mac and I first started planning the living room I asked us each to write down a few words to describe what we wanted. He wrote down homey, characteristic, understated, and refined. I wrote down masculine, relaxing, neutral, and cozy. So far we’ve got some awesome pieces that we love and feel fit our shared vision perfectly, like the Sven sofa from Article, these Vista sconces from Cedar & Moss, custom linen curtains from Country Curtains, and an Aldama Chair from The Citizenry. I already owned a beautiful vintage coffee table, and we bought a credenza and dining chairs for a crisp $100 bill at the Rose Bowl one Sunday. But we still need a rug to tie it all together.
DISCLAIMER: These photos are not fully styled out – which I realize. I just feel the need to point that out before the comments of ‘you need more height on your mantle’ or ‘those pillows are not the right colors’ start rolling in. The styling will come, I promise. And it will involve lots of texts back and forth the night before the shoot with the entire EHD team (bless them). And with that, we proceed with what we have.
Since our art is out for framing, the art shown here is just photoshopped in to give an idea of what we’re going for. We do have a huge 32″ x 40″ polaroid piece being custom framed right now (by Framebridge), and we’re so excited to get it up and see how it turns out. I take a lot of polaroids, and at first I thought putting them out on the coffee table similar to what Brady did in his living room makeover, but they were starting to get really scratched from being shuffled through constantly. So I decided that framing them would be a fun, and a graphic way to display all my favorites at once. Mac’s mom had given us those two Dave Eggers prints which are real quirky, and I love them so I figured it was time to get them framed. We also have two abstract mono-prints by local L.A. artist Anna Ullman going up above the dining room table. We like how neutral they can feel, but still have so much warmth and movement to them (we love them so much, we’re putting one up in the office as well).
So, now that you know the art plan, let’s get into the rugs. Originally I had wanted to use the same scallop hide rug that Emily had in her living room. I loved that rug with an unhealthy obsession. But after taking a look at my design boards Emily, Ginny, and Mel all gave me the same advice – don’t put a white hide rug in that room. I was devastated. But the more I look at the boards and the living room, the more I understand what they meant. The walls and curtains already gave the room a lot of white, and a white hide rug wouldn’t bring enough texture to compensate for a lack of color. We needed a color, a tone, or a texture. Mac was pretty happy with that news because he had been a big proponent of a not-white-hide-rug for a while.
After extensive rug hunting I finally narrowed down our options to about 10 choices. I went through a lot of rugs, so 10 was a really good number for me. I mocked them all up in photoshop, and had the EHD team weigh in. BUT, even after advice had been given, and favorites had been pointed out Mac and I still weren’t convinced of any single rug. So I did what any impulsive decision maker who finds themselves unable to make decision would do – I ordered as many of them as I could to actually try in the living room.
In the end I was able to get my hands on 6 of our absolute favorites.
Option #1 – Vintage Persian, Esmaili Rugs
I have a feeling that a lot of you are going to feel this rug tug at your heartstrings right away. It certainly did mine when I spotted it on the Esmaili Rugs website. The pink tones, the hits of navy, the unique pattern. It all adds up to be one pretty gorgeous a rug. However, she was on the pricier end of the rug spectrum (as she should be, being an 8×11, vintage rug in excellent condition), so she needs to be 100% perfect for the space for us to feel comfortable making that sort of decision. She’s not a rug you live with for 5 years and then replace. She’s a lifetime investment. This rug also adds a lot of warm, brown tones which moves the room a bit more in the direction of ‘bohemian,’ which isn’t our original vision for the space. BUT SHE’S SO BEAUTIFUL . . . maybe we change directions?
Option 2 – Zena Rug in India Ink, Safavieh
This rug is incredibly soft. I did lay on it for a bit, admiring it’s unparalleled softness. I imagine this is what baby seals feel like. It is a bit more shiny than I had originally anticipated from the online images. Maybe a lot more shiny. But having some color in the room doesn’t hurt.
Option 3 – Zander Rug in Charcoal, Lulu & Georgia
This is another super soft rug, and cuts way down on the shiny factor. We also like the darker charcoal tone, which ties a bit more back into that neutral/minimal vibe we wanted to incorporate, while the art and warm leather bring in the homey/cozy aspects.
Option #4 – Texa Rug in Vanilla, Article
I still wanted to try a white rug in the room, but this time I went with something that had a little more texture and warmth to it. Comfort is really important to Mac (me too), and he loves the softness of this rug. It does brighten the room up, and lets the coffee table pop a lot more than the darker rugs. But are we responsible enough to own a white rug? Is anyone??
Option #5 – Texa Rug in Fog, Article
Same rug, different color. We really, really like this rug. It’s the same soft, cozy rug as above, but in a speckled gray color, which makes us feel a lot better about living on it. And I really can’t express how cozy this rug is under your feet (like, extremely cozy). The gray tone is nice and subtle, and let’s our art do most of the talking in the room. It’s a bit more of that neutral, minimal look we like. This rug is way, way up there on our list.
Option #6 – Caline Rug in Charcoal, Lulu & Georgia
The final rug in our line up is this pretty dhurrie. I absolutely love the color on this rug. It’s not super saturated, but keeps things interesting with texture and varying tones. And did I mention that I love the color? But Mac did point out that it isn’t the softest of rugs (dhurries usually aren’t), and he missed the thickness that some of the other rugs had to them. That last part could be solved by a nice thick rug pad, but that wouldn’t help very much with the top. Do we sacrifice a little softness for some major style?
But wait, there’s more. Right now we have that credenza in the back corner behind the couch, and were thinking of turning it into a bar area. We like the idea of hanging planters, to bring in a unique addition to the space that isn’t a frame on the wall. But then Brady ruined everything by suggesting, in a completely in innocent tone, ‘why don’t you put a tree in that corner, and move the credenza to the other side of the mantle.’ WHY BRADY?!
But he had planted the seed, and I had to scratch the itch, so I did some quick photoshopping to test drive it. It does look real good, folks – so he might be on to something. The big question is do we have room for the credenza on the other side of the fireplace, with the hallway and media unit on that side of the room, too? Or do we nix the credenza entirely? And which rug to we commit to? These are the questions that are currently sabotaging any sense of calm I may have previously had.
So now I pass it over to you. Which rug speaks to you? Do we go with comfort and livability, or style and beauty? Hanging planters and bar area in the corner, or a beautiful tree to bring some greenery in and really make that corner pop? Mac and I can’t wait to read each and every comment, and agonize over these important life decisions together.