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Makeover Takeover: Jess’ Long Awaited (Small Space) Living Room Reveal


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…

small living room ideas

Squiggle | Pendant Light | Curtain | Rug | Coffee Table | Pouf | Wall Color | Chair (vintage) | Grid Painting (vintage)

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. 🙂

small living room ideas

Floor Lamp | Curtain Rod | Curtain Rings | Curtain | Throw Blanket (not available) | Small White Vase | White Pillow | Copper Pillow | Green Tea Table (unavailable)

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.

small living room ideas

Sofa | Round Pink Velvet Pillow | Sherling Pillow | Lumbar Pillow (vintage) | Wood Tray (vintage)

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.

small living room ideas

Coffee Table | Bronze Side Table | Marbled Side Table | Table Lamp | Painting (vintage)

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…

small living room ideas

Top Right: Horizontal Abstract | Middle Left: Ceramic Wall Art

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?!

small living room ideas

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.

small living room ideas

Wall Mirror | Tan Mules

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.

small living room ideas

Gold Knot Basket

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.

small living room ideas

Peg Rail | Terracotta Vase | Black Purse | Mies van der Rohe Book | Wooden Box (vintage)

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.

small living room ideas

Colorful Abstract | Ceramic Wall Art | Legs Print | Black Ring Sculpture

All the styling pieces of my dreams.

small living room ideas

Thought you should get a better look at that MQuan ceramic and see a picture of some of my family members.

small living room ideas

I also wanted to show off my favorite red keychain. 🙂

small living room ideas

Rust Dress

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?

Emily Henderson Jess Moto Living Room Side By Side 4

Emily Henderson Jess Moto Living Room Side By Side 3

Emily Henderson Jess Moto Living Room Side By Side 2

Emily Henderson Jess Moto Living Room Side By Side 1

For more of Jess’ Makeover Takeover: Jess’ Kitchen & Banquette | Jess’ Makeover Takeover Intro

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I am speechless!!! Your living room turned out amazing! You really have an eye for collecting unique pieces that work well together.


So, so pretty! I love everything


More proof that all good things take time… Your space looks amazing and so inspirational for those of us looking to design and decorate small spaces! Can’t wait to see the kitchen and banquette… When will we see that reveal?


This is stunning! I have to say, when you posted the inspiration photos and the before, I was skeptical. I couldn’t imagine how you could make such a tiny space give the same aura as those grand, art-filled, carefully disorganized living rooms. But you delivered! Hats off. Personally, I would have liked more presence in the curtains and may be something over the lamp, but it’s stunning nevertheless.


more like this please!!!


It’s sooo good. Everything is stunning with so much personality. You nailed it. That bench is the best. Can’t wait for next week. Really enjoyed this!


I haven’t loved anything this much since Sara’s MOTO. Love love love love.


So beautiful!!! I love the honestly about the gifted pieces and your thoughts behind the design process. Great job!!


Very California and VERY cool. Nice work!!


I have a sincere question regarding the “California” look. To me, this room looks very 80s – I don’t mean this in a negative way, it is just a lot of light woods and color pop. Is this a West Coast trend only or is this trending elsewhere? I’m from the Midwestern US and I don’t see this trend taking off by me.


That’s an interesting question. I live in Florida so I’m definitely not the expert in the Cali style (haha), but I do notice some consistent elements that seem to pop up in stylish California homes – natural materials, lots of whites and neutrals with a ton of texture, etc. I think the 80’s look comes from the more sculptural pieces, which remind me a bit of the art deco-ish “Memphis” style that had a moment in the 80’s. Maybe it’s more popular in California, but I’ve definitely seen those sculptural pieces showing up in big home retailers like West Elm and CB2 recently.

Loveley of

this is stunning. and i have no words. seriously. well, okay, i do have words, because i’m about to say them.
that gallery wall is just beyond. the bench and all the styling, beyond beyond. everything else in this reveal. just crazy beautiful. it’s such a small space, but each piece is beautiful on it’s own, and are amazing put together. you absolutely pulled off the exact look you were going for. i am so inspired by this.


Your space looks great! Well done and thanks for the inspiration!


I am clapping 😀


I didn’t even know that I needed a squiggle!

Monika S.

Yes! She had me at ‘Squiggle’.


Favorite post in a looong time, so beautiful!


That gallery wall is stunning. Truly exceptional how you were able to incorporate the shelf and floor objects as well. Its sophisticated and cheerful. I too love/fear the boho so thank you for no macramé (which I can love but also just feels trendy in a having a hot minute kinda way). But I think what has me lifting a cocktail glass to you – and pinning this for future reference – is the way you handled that heater. Clever, clever girl. Can’t wait to see the kitchen. Thanks for letting us into your home.


Love that bench! It’s the best part of this makeover. Bragging about all the free stuff you go however, was pretty obnoxious.


I didn’t see it as bragging, but truth telling. I appreciated Jess’s honesty. I believe that bloggers are bound by law to reveal sponsored posts and “gifts” as well. The businesses receive advertising so in that way it is an (even?)exchange. I especially hope small businesses like the wall sculpture artist get more orders.

I love reading how tos, gallery walls, etc, so I can best make do with what I have access to, family pieces, thrift store finds, alley finds.

The thing I was most touched by was the beautiful woodwork Jess’s loving dad created for her. I have tears in my eyes.

Also really liked Jess’s writing and ruffly dress.


Disagree about the free stuff – I think it’s important (and in some cases, the law) to disclose what’s free and what you paid for.


I agree–I appreciate knowing the blogger got the item free! Thank you, Jess and team, for another fabulous post and beautiful inspiration.


I think it’s only ethical to reveal what you paid for and what you got for free. My question: Do you get to keep the free stuff? Or at some point do you have to return it (or buy it)? Just curious how these things work.

I don’t view the “free stuff” as any different from what I’ve been looking at in interiors magazines for decades. How can consumers find out what’s out there unless we see it INSIDE homes like this? Or in the pages of magazines we read.

But god forbid folks show a bit of common sense, not to mention courtesy, in commenting on the internet.


This is very pretty, I especially love the wrap around bench which I think is pretty genius! But I was pretty shocked when I did a quick rundown of the math and realized if you had paid for everything in this room there is well over 11,000$ worth of stuff in here. I was definitely expecting a more budget friendly reveal given how small the space is and the fact that it is a rental, though I realize now that this was my mistake and not a fault of yours.


THIS. Once again, pretty things no real person can afford. I was hoping for a real, small space makeover– not a custom, gifted sofa and art. Although the bench is lovely!


This isn’t in my price range either, but I don’t think that makes it not “real”. I think the room looks beautiful and there are a lot of design ideas in here that could be achieved at a more budget friendly price. Like that gallery wall. I’m HIGHLY considering schlepping myself to the nearest antique store this weekend to rummage for some “new” art (I always say that, but this gallery wall has me making promises).


I have a suggestion on how you might present designs with so much gifting in a way that allows you support vendors, monetize well, and show us beautiful designs like this:). First, write one or two sentences right at the top, explaining that major pieces have been gifted. Then don’t mention it again for every piece in the text, just do a summary of items/links with the word “gifted” where it’s relevant. (I found myself getting annoyed with the “…and this was gifted” over and over.) In the body of the post, you could talk about why each gifted piece is so good, and what aspect of its specialness could be replicated for less. You don’t have to show actual alternatives (the look for less) at this point, that could be a whole separate post. But you could use these gifted pieces to illustrate design lessons we will build on. For example, the impact of special sculptural art. Someone crafty could make a similar piece, someone quirky could use found wood or metal, etc. Same thing for the pouf, something with a similar impact could be found in a vintage store. On the other hand, the Interior Define sofa is… Read more »


This! Exactly!


Thank you Lisa for opining so thoughtfully! I completely agree. I have no issue with items gifted and think it’s a great way to introduce the audience to unique pieces we wouldn’t normally be introduced to, but I too was a little overwhelmed with the amount of “gifted” language every other line contained. Quite frankly, I found it distracting.


Thank you for the thank you! I don’t mind gifted items either for exactly that reason, it’s a way for small interesting artisans/vendors/shops show us what they do!


True, but I also felt a little uncomfortable that the Katie Gong piece was gifted. Katie is a working artist and new mom in one of the most expensive cities in the US (San Francisco) so she’s not exactly flush with cash like a corporate donor. Did she feel pressured to gift the piece? If there’s anyone deserving to get paid, it’s Katie. I just wish she’d been paid while getting more of the other stuff donated.


agree wholeheartedly. that’s literally what I pay in rent on my apartment for the entire YEAR.


I agree but I also think that it would be fairly easy to come up with a similar result for far less $. No diss to MQuan because her stuff is beautiful and she’s a true artist but you could actually paint a literal rock for free and get almost the same result.


I agree with Caitlin, I never come to this page thinking “ugh, out of my budget!!” and sulk over it. It gives me inspiration to create within my own budget. It’s amazing that Jess was gifted awesome items, and why not? She does work for an extremely talented designer after all! And like Sid mentioned, all you need is a little imagination and craft skills to re-create some of the items, or just really good google search skills to find similar items!!

Immediately when i saw the squiggle, i thought “that is amazing, can’t afford just now… but maybe some thick wire…. self drying clay.. and paint??” Could also be a good blog post!! Readers submitting their DIY recreations of items that are out of budget! (If i nail the squiggle attempt, I’ll submit!!)

The room is breathtaking, you deserve any gift you received, they could not have gone into a lovelier home. Can’t wait to see the rest!!


i think another takeaway from this post is that really unique design, with a good amount of customized pieces, doesn’t come at a true budget price point, even for small spaces.

i first lived on my own in pre-internet days (yes i’m old!) and had a budget of basically zero and did all kinds of diy and thrifting…would have loved a resource like this blog to get realistic expectations for the price point of different looks! And it would have helped me figure out a lot faster than i did that costs for a truly finished and styled room ADD UP.

lovely room, congrats and enjoy filling it with memories!

Pamela Furey

You put into words exactly how I felt when I saw the Katie Gong piece.


This is exactly how I feel reading this. Small space usually translates to more affordable … this is beautiful, aspirational, but decidedly not affordable.


WOW!!!!! Beautiful result!! That bench is going to go viral on Pinterest, I just love it!!! You have a wonderful unique eye!

Karen T.

Such eye candy! Love it!


My dining area situation has been at a stand still for…. an embarrassing amount of time. This is what I needed to JUST PICK SOMETHING. Gah! Thanks, and your space is really so lovely!


Agree. I’ve been stuck for 4 years on the overwhelming task of redecorating (and light remodeling) of the downstairs of my “new” house. Finally just picked paint whether it’s perfect or not and everything is flowing. This was great advice and I appreciate knowing that even the pros who are oozing with obvious creativity and talent get stuck sometimes. xo


This. Is. Perfection.


Just FYI, the Bungalow 5 Isadora Side Table is still available from Candelabra but in Navy, Natural or White.


This reveal is awesome. I love your style: both writing and design.

Thank you for being honest about the items that were gifts. I have to say that I was a little taken aback by how much stuff you got for free. I know you have access to things that most people don’t because of your job, so I’m not faulting you for taking advantage of that. But it was a little disappointing to go into this thinking it would be an accessible design post (I guess because of the small space, the fact that it’s a rental and your comments about being budget conscious) and then reading about all the (beautiful! expensive!) items you were given. That took the makeover from accessible to unachievable for me.

I’m just leaving this comment so you can have some insight on how all the freebies came across, not because I am advocating that you should’ve handled it differently. I think design bloggers just run in a different world that most people, is all.

read what I thought was going to be a


I agree exactly with this comment. I understand why you take advantage of all the gifts that the EHD platform allows, but for all the same reasons listed above, I expected this makeover to be somewhat achievable/relatable and that wasn’t the case.


I had similar sentiments. The design is gorgeous! BUT the pieces are extremely cost prohibitive. It might be helpful to link items that give a similar look but are more affordable and approachable for a 300 sq ft rental. The space really is beautiful though. You are lucky to have a handy father and access to such beautiful items for free.


To be honest, it doesn’t bother me. If I had the opportunity to collect beautiful pieces I would take full advantage of it too! Plus this is a great platform for makers and artist to have their work displayed in a really organic way. Sure, I can’t afford every piece but there might be one from a post like this that really resonates with me that I’m willing to invest in/splurge on! That in turn helps support an artist or maker. I guess that’s what I really love about Emily and her team, their balance between budget friendly (Target) and higher end inspiration posts like this (because artisan work should be expensive, and there is an audience/market for it!). Just my two cents. LOVE the room Jess!


It’s a dream. A lovely, curated, custom, gorgeous dream.

Elizabeth Rose

Love the gallery wall and how you worked around the high window on that wall! Such a great makeover and love Jess’ voice.


I too love this makeover. Everything is so beautiful.

But I have to say about Jess’ voice that it was sometimes very hard to understand and keep up with the writing as english is not my native language. Usually I have no problem understanding other EHD writers so I hope you’ll see this comment and pay more attention to the writing. It’s not that I don’t love a colorful, personal voice.


Everything you chose is beautiful, but that bench is a showstopper. The function, beauty, and custom feel it gives it unreal. What a killer idea!


I have followed this blog for at least 7 years and this is my first time commenting because this is THAT. GOOD. Love everything. You have such an eye for design and goodness, girl I CAN RELATE on the design paralysis. Love to hear that designers get it too.


How are the curtains at night, like for privacy? And how about during the day for blocking glare (like on your laptop)? Asking because I have a 108” window and the only curtain options I found that are wide enough and blackout are over $200 per panel, which is too much for me to spend. Also, how wide is wide enough? The curtains you chose are 57” wide each, so is a collective 114” wide enough for my 108” window? (No idea how wide your window is, to compare it to mine.) I feel like curtains and art hanging are the hardest! Seriously am considering just living with my broken, cheap blinds indefinitely.

Cris S.

Can you use the linen Ikea curtains? I’ve seen a lot of bloggers recommend them as having a good ‘weight’. Put two to several panels together depending on the fullness you are looking for (just whip stitch the panels together while watching TV). Use clip curtain rings. Restoration Hardware Outlets have had dirt cheap curtain rods and even hardware if you have one close by (you can even call and see what they have in stock). OR, we had a really long window and I bought some sturdy wood curtain rod holders (one for each end and one for the middle) and then bought a very long but sturdy wide wood rod/dowel from the hardware store, painted it and put it up. There is much more DIY, but you can do it! No one deserves broken blinds.


You may not need blackout, if you’re just trying to reduce glare. The ikea linen curtains should be fine, but I’d recommend getting four or even six – rule of thumb is 2.5 x window width so they don’t look puny. Window coverings do so much to elevate a room.


I love this room – great job. Pointing looks white in the photos. Does it look white or cream in real life?


Incredible job Jess!! It’s perfect! That bench…swoon.


When you mentioned your heater, I had to scroll back and forth a couple times to find it. Just glancing at the pic without you pointing out what it was, I thought it was just another piece of that “grid art” you like! 🙂 Beaitiful space. Makes me a little envious of your no hubby/no kid/no dog/LA stylist lifestyle!


Me, too! I thought it was a wood piece at first, like a printer drawer. It looks great in the photos!


The bench is really a stroke of genius. Your coffee table, sofa and gallery wall are perfectly balanced and look comfortable. Well done!


I want to see the rest of he apartment!


What color did you paint the ceiling?


This is an example of really thoughtful design. And you should trademark that bench! Way to go, Dad! Plus your writing style is hilarious. EHD is lucky to have you.

we really are!! <3


It’s lovely! Well done!!


I love it! It’s fun and playful, yet feels curated and pulled together. Your eye is fantastic! Can’t wait to see the rest 😉


You’ve put all these freebies together nicely. The only thing that impresses me though is the bench. That is original


absolutely LOVE the style that was pulled off in this room!! It’s so refreshing seeing someone actively try not to go too into “boho” territory. I am so tired of that style and this just feels way more grown up and interesting.

other commenters pointed out the amount of gifted items, and though I really don’t think “bragging” is the right word I definitely noticed how many objects (both gifted and purchased) were way, way WAYYY out of my budget. I definitely don’t click on these posts with the intention of scooping up every item in the room to fully copycat the space (good lord I would if I could), but once in a while it would be so nice to not feel like a dejected poor person who can’t afford to have a house look this chic after coming here. the repetition of the words “on a budget” just make it that much worse, tbh. what kind of a budget are you on if you’re buying $600 in wood for a custom made bench, a $2100 couch, $700 lamp, $500 mirror, etc?? that’s just not attainable for most.


Beautiful! That squiggle is everything I didn’t know I needed. ???


This is so timely for me! I just moved into a new apartment and the living room is 10 ft deep and I was worried about getting an 8×10 rug and if it’s ok for the front of the media console and couch to both be on the rug? Is there a rule about not doing this? The smallest I could get away with length wise is a 9×6 but of course i fell in love with a rug that’s 8×10. So for small spaces that are 12 ft wide by 8 ft deep, is a rug a 8×10 rug too big? is too big a thing??


Everything is just beautiful! Lucky and talented you! That bench = genius. Love it! Thanks for sharing!


This is stunning! I absolutely love the bench and gallery wall. I can’t wait to see the banquette!




This is just so beautiful! I am sooooo impressed with what you were able to do with this small space. And I want everything on that gallery wall! The MOTO series genius, please keep it coming!


Stunning! So many amazing ideas! Love your space.

Jackie Tateishi

It is AMAZING! I keep walking around my house looking for a wall I can put a wrap around bench on! SO CREATIVE

Jordan G

You did a beautiful job. The bench is a stroke of genius. And I love that wall squiggle.

I read some of the other commenters, and I just wanted to say that I am happy for you that you get awesome freebies. It doesn’t bother me at all! This is a great post for inspiration.

I think we can look at things like your coffee table and your painted rock and even the wall squiggle and identify the principles that make them work. Nesting poof under smallish coffee table for a layered look? Check. Putting something sculptural and natural on the wall for interest, especially if it draws the eye up and highlights your ceiling? Check. Geometric throw in a yummy color to warm up a white sofa? Check.

Thanks for sharing your hard work with all of us.

emily jane

Thank you Jordan G! As a fellow EHD fan and sometimes commenter I’ve never understood how or why people have so many preconceived ideas about what this sometimes aspirational, as-beautiful-as-it-is-informative and ALWAYS free blog ‘should’ provide them..? Given the intense amount of multiple people’s time and energy this incredible transformation required, it seems to me suggesting this post is lacking because it didn’t satisfy an assumption that a small space meant a ‘budget’ one, might be missing the broader point..? As someone with a budget that makes buying even ‘get the look for less’ linked items a financially irresponsible indulgence, every single post at Style by Emily Henderson is in fact, aspirational! Which is why I know every moment of Jess’s space is both inspirational and, with a little patience and creativity, attainable. I love the results of your Makeover Takeover Jess!!!!!!! (pretty sure you are going to see versions of that inspired design & lovingly built wrap-around bench show up for a long time to come because -well, perfection : ) Looking forward to MORE of your space (with items gifted, DIY’ed and otherwise ; )


Agree. There is so much inspiration here even if the expensive items were gifted. What is she supposed to do, NOT take advantage of being in the design world and getting access to beautiful free pieces? Good for her. It’s the perk of her job, one she clearly works very hard at. For the rest of us, take the inspiration and do your own thing.

Sheri M

Agreed! This is a commercial site after all. I see the rooms as aspirational. Just because you can’t have that exact table or mirror or piece of art doesn’t mean you can’t source a more affordable version or make one yourself.

Some people seem to want an “off the shelf” room and lack the imagination to see how they could create similar looks based on their own needs and budget. It is totally possible and far more rewarding.

This is a beautiful makeover. I love the bench! Very creative problem solving.


Couldn’t have said it better, Jordan and Emily Jane. Why does small have to mean cheap?


Jess, I had to comment to tell you how great this looks. There’s a genuine, personal design point of view. Everything is the proper scale. Each piece is interesting and plays well with the others. It’s both eclectic and harmonious, to accomplish that kind of balance in a smaller space is a true achievement. You totally nailed it.


I know you guys are designers, so getting pieces for free is the norm. But I wish we could see more spaces with pieces you actually had to pay for. Could someone who lives in a less than 400 square feet rental actually afford to decorate this way? Seems unlikely.

Danielle Wells

I sort of agree with this sentiment. I don’t care if the items you use were paid for or gifted, but more affordable options would definitely be nice to see!


EHD does budget room roundups and vignettes etc. here on the site frequently. I think they strike a decent balance!

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