Makeover Takeover: Jess’ Long Awaited (Small Space) Living Room Reveal
***Written by Jess Bunge
Annnnnnd we’re back! The reveal of my teeny tiny living room is here, hopefully, for all of your enjoyment. I love her so so much. We have been through a lot in the past 18 months, five of which it only had a mattress and a little bistro set from IKEA in the kitchen. Yep, five months of not a single. piece. of. furniture. in. this. room. If you are having a hard time pulling the trigger on your home design, trust me when I say I GET YOU. But what I also want to say is that you should just make a decision on something. Even if it’s one small piece, a paint color or simply hanging some curtains. It’s insanely frustrating how easy it is to fall into a rut if you’ve been looking at your space in the same light for a little too long. You won’t believe how much drive will start to flood into your veins once you see the space slightly more filled out. Please learn from me.
But there is a balance, right? You also want to find the right pieces and while money should grow on trees, it doesn’t. So time it does take. Just don’t let the reason why your design is taking forever be because you’re fearful of making a bad decision. If your choice is thoughtful and you love it, go for it. Therapy session complete, because you guys are here for a MAKEOVER REVEAL. 🙂 Now as you may have read in my intro post yesterday, this apartment is a big deal for me. It’s the first place I’ve lived by myself and every inch of the 363 square feet served as an opportunity to show what I was made of and make a home that was me/who I wanted to become. I definitely didn’t put any pressure on myself…
Design paralysis was alive and well during this process but there were a couple of pieces I knew I desperately wanted very early on. That Katie Gong Wall Squiggle and the Ferm Living round pouf. I have been a fan of Katie’s for a few years now. She is a Bay Area-based woodworker and sculptor that creates insanely cool and beautiful pieces. So when I reached out to see if she was willing to gift and she said yes, I nearly fell over. I don’t take asking for product lightly, especially from small businesses. It meant the world to me that I was going to be able to have such a stunning piece of art in my living room. And look at it! That squiggle adds so much personality while still maintaining an organic neutral feel. The second piece is my beautiful pouf. I knew it was going to give me that cool modern European style I really, REALLY wanted. And look how killer it is?? Without it, the room would have been too neutral and missing that color pop it needed. I think I actually did a happy dance when they said they would send it. Honestly, I use it almost anytime I’m lounging on the sofa. It either serves as a soft place for my feet to rest or a spot to house my laptop while I watch Netflix… or Hulu… or HBO. Plus, when I have a few friends over, it’s an extra seat. 🙂
If you looked at my moodboards yesterday, you may have noticed that my rug changed with each board. I was having a hard time finding a neutral rug that felt cool and modern. Well, I did. This rug, which you may also recognize from the Portland Project Living Room and now the Mountain House Family Room. It was THE one. I also have a strange obsession with grid patterns. I really had to reel myself in anytime I saw a piece of art with a grid. I wanted them all. However, I settled on that vintage beauty hanging next to the squiggle from Chairish and I love it. But seriously I had to constantly remind myself that an apartment full of grids is not what I really wanted. Which brings me to another piece of advice. Just because you love something doesn’t mean it should be everywhere in the same room. That could be a color, pattern or type of object. Collections are good, but a one-note design is not. Your room will lack depth and that ideal eclectic-ness most of us are striving for.
Did you also notice my sad ceiling fan and beige walls are gone? See ya later suckers and be still my heart. That Farrow & Ball paint makes the space look like actual heaven. Okay, I haven’t been but in my heaven, it’s this color. Pointing is my personal perfect warm white recommendation. Also as I mentioned yesterday, I am a huge advocate for changing out lighting in a rental. Tell me that stunning Noguchi pendant light (not gifted) doesn’t change the entire feel of the room. If I can do it, you can do it. Don’t be afraid to take on the challenge. Just make sure you have a tall enough ladder. In my old apartment, I only had a step ladder and a stack of books. Not safe or recommended. However, that Complete Works of William Shakespeare really came in handy that day. 🙂
So it wasn’t until I was deep into the design process that Donna decided to steal another piece of my heart. Donna is that brass floor lamp. What’s funny is that a few of my items came with female names and I love to make jokes that they are my girl gang. Maaaybee living alone has made me crazy. Whose to say? But back to my gal pal Donna from Schoolhouse Electric. The dome shape was why I immediately fell in love because she was really modern. But what was extra special was the matte brass finish. It says luxe without being flashy. Another special piece that was graciously gifted was the throw blanket from Lulu and Georgia. When I saw it on the site, I knew no other throw would do. The mustard color and geometric pattern were simply perfect. Plus the quality is so good. It has a great weight and keeps me feeling very cozy as I doze off to sleep on my sofa which I will chat about next. The sofa, not my college-like sleeping habits.
In yesterday’s post, I talked a lot about my dad’s carpentry skills. But what I didn’t mention was his knack for thrifting. That malachite tea table was a piece he found for $60 at a thrift store. He just liked it and thought I might, too. Then a month later while I was perusing the interwebs for work, I came across it and it actually retails for $600. WHAT?! Thanks again, dad. I don’t deserve you.
Meet my other gal Caitlin or more formally know as The Caitlin Sofa by The Everygirl for Interior Define. While I knew Interior Define was the company I most wanted to work with, I still looked around to see everything on the market. I like researching products if you can’t tell from my job title. 🙂 But my initial instinct was right, they were the one for me. I’m a lady who likes to have options. And if my “DIYs” have proven anything it’s that I also have a REAL soft spot for custom furnishings. That’s why I bit the bullet on Interior Define because of all their customization options.
I knew I wanted an off-white fabric, single seat cushion (dreams) and with simple light wood legs. And without any trouble that’s exactly what I got to design. I chose the 79-inch linen (pebble weave) with the natural oak (tapered round wood) legs. They also recommended I get the cushion fully wrapped (for a little less money you have the option to only have fabric on one side) in case I do make a spill no cleaner can clean. I’ve had it since April and haven’t needed to flip the cushion yet. Am I a real adult? Also, the color still looks amazing. I’m careful but not crazy neurotic so I feel very good about highly recommending this fabric to you all.
I think it’s time to talk coffee tables. I’m ready. It’s painful thinking about the hours I spent looking for a coffee table that was the right size, height and style. I said that once I found it, I never needed to look at a coffee table again. Dramatic? Yes. But here were my challenges. I already had my beloved pouf and I wanted it to nest under my future coffee table. The trick was that said coffee table couldn’t be too wide because my living room is small. Duh. Then on top of that, I needed it to be black metal to pick up the other black accents in the space. I already had a lot of wood pieces and any more would have again gone too boho. Lastly, its visual weight needed to be light because I didn’t want it to compete with the heavy pouf. Let’s keep the heavyweight champ fights out of my living space, okay? It’s super important to consider the visual weight of items so your space feels balanced…especially in a small space where things get can get heavy fast.
But then one morning the heavens opened up and I received a promotional email from a Danish company called Kontrast. There it was right on my screen, the perfect coffee table. Not only were the measurements EXACTLY what I was looking for but so was the style. Notice the adorable brass feet that pick up the other brass accents perfectly. I am still pretty speechless with gratitude they sent it to me. For anyone wanting to snag this cutie, as a coffee table, you would probably want an additional piece like a pouf so it’s the right length for your sofa. But if your living space is larger, it would make the perfect side table, too.
Shall we also talk about my heater for a sec? I first thought I would put a tree in front of it because I almost never use it so there would have been little chance of fire. But then I thought about it and I really didn’t want a tree. I was afraid the look was going to go a little too boho (is that my new big fear?) and I have a talent for killing plants. I want to save the trees. Not take them against their will and kill them slowly. Another idea I had was to design a cabinet with a door in case I ever did want to use the heater to heat my apartment. But did you know good wood is expensive? I was naive but wised up quick when it was ready to buy wood for all of my “DIYs”. Since I didn’t have a better plan or a big enough budget, I embraced it. When I look at it know I kind of find it charming. Oh, and there is my one outlet. Not in a very useful area as it’s nearly impossible for me to have a TV without an unfortunately long cord wrapping around half of the space (not an option) or laying out the room in a way I didn’t like (also not an option). But to be honest, I have been watching TV exclusively on my laptop on and off for almost a decade. It really doesn’t bother me. I might invest in a projector and find a cute way to hang a sheet over the gallery wall for the off chance I want to have a movie night with friends.
Speaking of the gallery wall, here she is…
I have A LOT to say about this shot. If you thought my coffee table issue was an ordeal, I raise you a gallery wall. I knew I wanted one badly as it was going to really drive the style I wanted home but was completely overwhelmed by the idea of designing one. What was the art going to be? Where was I going to find it that didn’t take all my money? How many colors did I want to incorporate? How would I choose the right sizes to fit the wall perfectly? What color frames did I want? Only white, only black? Modern or vintage? Both? How much did I want unframed? My head hurt. I actually only officially put everything up with my cousin last week.
The night of “The Install,” we watched Emily’s IGTV she shot at Michael’s house at least three times to make sure I was going to create a decent looking gallery wall. When my boss has tips, I listen. So to start, we taped the measurements of the wall onto the rug (very scientific) and then just went for it. I did my best to evenly distribute the colors, shapes, sizes and frames (or lack thereof). I’m extremely happy with the end result. I feel very silly for letting it agonize me for as long as it did. One of my favorite parts is the unconventional “framing.” I had been looking at that square canvas-wrapped piece that Minted kindly sent through for a while. My original plan was to get it framed because I didn’t know they had a canvas wrapped option! YAY options! I made a last-minute decision to change it and am so happy I did. On the other side of the wall is my “Everything Will Be Ok” ceramic art. I found Tina, the artist, on Etsy and instantly fell for her ceramic work and love the texture it brings. Win! My last “no frame” idea was the clips. My inspiration for the clips was the piece at the top right by Jenna Bauer courtesy of Saatchi Art. It’s how it was displayed on the site and I thought it would be a great way to change up the framing. The window on that wall was a pain in my neck and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it. But once I saw Jenna’s piece, my pain was gone and my heart started to sing. I mean look how cool it is?!
Top Left: Tan Line Print | Top Right: Black L | Middle Left: Mustard Print | Middle Center: Canvas Squiggle Line | Middle Right: Vintage Poster | Bottom Left: Blue Geometric | Rock Match Holder | Amber Bud Vase | Chair Book | Painted Rock | Woven Basket | Wooden Ball | Blue Box | Black Footed Stand
Now I don’t want to leave out my framed buds. Both the little blue guy on the bottom left and the black and white “L” shaped piece higher on the right are by the same artist, Inka Bell courtesy of Uprise Art. If you are looking for beautiful unique art, you absolutely should check them out. When I was searching the site I didn’t even realize these two pieces were by the same artist. I just loved them and obviously have a type. Geometric, simple and full of depth.
For the frames themselves, I went as budget as I could. IKEA was my first stop. I was joking with my cousin that I was an Authorized RIBBA Frame Retailer because I bought so many. I just wanted every option in both black and white. Doesn’t sound like me at all. Then for the pieces that didn’t want to nicely fit in a RIBBA frame, I went to Frame It Easy and CB2.
And before we get into the shelf/bench construction, let’s talk styling. Like many of you, I have been a fan of Emily’s for years as well as the artists she would use time and time again. So when I was designing my space I was crossing my fingers and toes that the wonderful Mquan would maybe send me one of her ceramics. The crossing of limbs worked and she agreed to send me the coolest, handmade painted rock that ever existed (the black and white one above). Sara and I both were looking at it perplexed wondering how she does it. I now feel like I am a true EHD team member.
Now, let’s talk about my wraparound bench. I really don’t know what to say except it just came to me one day while I was sitting on the floor staring at that wall. I had been looking high and low for a bench but none of them were right. They were either too short, too long or too deep. Something too short was most likely going to dwarf the space but too long would awkwardly block part of the entry into the bedroom area. And a bench that was too deep was obviously going to take up prime real estate I didn’t want to give up. Then the entry hallway is not crazy narrow but couldn’t take a big piece of furniture. Plus I wanted something unique.
Onto bench construction. The wood wasn’t cheap…$600 for two long pieces of heavy, thick Alder wood. To construct it, my dad used a table saw for the long cuts, router tool to curve the edges and a miter saw for the short cuts (the legs). He then sanded the wood with an electric sander. To finish it off he joined the large pieces with little dowels he added (like IKEA does) and brass latches to secure them underneath. Then the legs are screwed in with wood screws. I decided that I loved the natural finish so much that I left it raw. So far so good since it doesn’t get much human interaction…just eyeballs!
My last and final design struggle was the search for the perfect mirror. Mirrors are kind of a must for a small space in my opinion. They are magical objects that make your space feel bigger, bounce around the light helping it feel brighter and are practical so you don’t leave your house looking crazy. Needless to say, I needed one. Boy oh boy did I search. Again it had to be modern but simple. I stumbled upon this wall mirror by Moebe and I knew I had found it. They were gracious enough to send it my way, and I cried with joy. Now my entry and apartment look brighter and complete. I fell for the black frame but that frame comes in different finishes. I couldn’t recommend it more.
Here is a fun shot to help you better understand my crazy little space layout. This is the view from my front door and on the other side of the wall on the left is my bed nook. I say nook because it only fits up to a queen sized mattress. Wall to wall.
But this is the entry money shot. I do have a hall closet directly behind this shot but when I get home I just want to hang up my coat, purse and hat with as little effort as possible. Opening a door?! Toooo much for this tired old lady. So to solve this problem on a budget I went DIY. But for real this time. I found these peg rails from The Container Store that were $15 each. I know, way to go Container Store. I sliced off the middle ends with a miter saw to make them match seamlessly and after a dash of black spray paint, I was in business. I considered leaving them natural but the tones of the two pieces were too different and I wanted the color to contrast with the bench. That box was a steal for $20 from the Rose Bowl and is the perfect shoe storage as the first thing I do when I walk through the door is kick off my shoes.
So before we get into those juicy before and afters, I thought I would be a little indulgent and just show you a few more photos from the shoot. There were just too many good ones. That is all thanks to our endlessly talented EHD photographer, Miss Sara Tramp.
All the styling pieces of my dreams.
Thought you should get a better look at that MQuan ceramic and see a picture of some of my family members.
I also wanted to show off my favorite red keychain. 🙂
Portraits are a part of the MOTO experience and while grateful, I am mostly shy in front of the camera. I’m all eyeballs and crooked smiles. But Sara got this shot and I didn’t hate it. A real first:) But also if you really knew me I could’ve been on the verge of falling asleep with my eyes being almost closed. I have a falling asleep superpower.
This about wraps it up for today. THANK YOU for all of your kind words yesterday. I learned a lot about myself and design through this MOTO process and feel SO lucky to have gotten the opportunity to do this and share it with all of you.
Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments. I can’t wait to show you the kitchen next week. I think you’re really going to dig it. Love you, mean it…but seriously.
Here are those VERY fun before and afters because who doesn’t love a good transformation side-by-side?