Well, the day has finally come and I am emotional. This MOTO (Makeover Takeover) has been almost two years in the making which means I have been staring at these walls for a the length of a pandemic and then some. Boy am I ready to invite you in. WELCOME TO MY HOME.
In case you’re new here, and before I get lost in the ins and outs of our design, let’s get properly acquainted. I am Ryann the Associate Editor here at EHD and I live in this 1 bedroom apartment with my fiancé Rocky and American Bulldog named Gus. The space you are about to see is our living room and dining “area” that we collectively spend about 90% of our time in. It’s my office, Rocky’s classroom, his therapy office, Gus’s nap and play palace, my occasional workout studio, and basically everything in between. We host Sunday dinners with our closest friends here and it is where Rocky proposed to me last year. That said, this space is so special to us, it’s our first fully furnished apartment together, and we are very excited, anxious, nervous, overwhelmed, and overjoyed to share it with you.
If you have been reading the blog for a while, you might have seen some of my early blog posts dedicated to this space. You may even remember when I contemplated rug options, asked your opinion, and then ultimately bought a multicolored Azilal rug that lo and behold, you will not be seeing in this reveal (although I do still love it and hope to find a place for it someday). You might also recall a blog post where I asked Em to help me frame the pieces making up my gallery wall because I was feeling intense design decision fatigue. All of the posts leading up today point to a few things: that designing a space for the first time is hard, that mistakes or changes happen A TON, and that perhaps I am attracted to far too many styles and aesthetics. But today, I am celebrating the success of getting to this point, of having a “finished” design to share with you all. I mentioned I am emotional because writing about a design Rocky and I are so proud of and get to call home is wildly emotional. There was a time I wasn’t sure if I would ever get here. But here we are so please come along, put on your favorite record, and get cozy. We’ve made this space to feel welcoming and homey and a reflection of both our souls. I hope you like it.
If we go allll the way back to the beginning of 2020, it started with the sofa. Article reached out to me and offered to send one of their sofas back when our place looked like this (ROUGH) and I was overwhelmed with gratitude but aware this meant I would need to start taking my MOTO seriously. Once I pinched myself and realized I was in fact not dreaming, I chose their Texada Sofa without question. My brain has come up with a lot of wild ideas about what to do with this space, but one thing that has remained steadfast is my love for this sofa. It’s really is so special. Everyone who comes over compliments it and most are pleasantly surprised how comfortable it is. Let me repeat that in case you missed it. Folks, it’s SO comfortable and I know that is so important in choosing a sofa. It also works with a ton of styles and I have about 100 mood boards to prove it.
If we are following the timeline chronologically, it is now around March 2020 and we have a sofa. And that sofa is all we have for a very. long. time. I am sure most people get through more than one decision before design paralysis sets in but for me, this was it. What do I do with this perfect sofa and a beige apartment that has about as much architectural interest as the inside of a refrigerator??? This is the point in the story where I make a lot of mistakes. I buy a cheap black tulip dining table from Amazon because I am desperate for more furniture. I buy the aforementioned rug and a cobalt blue pouf. I don’t know what the hell I am doing. This is when I decided to actually pay attention to everything I learned from working at EHD for two years. I went back to my Pinterest board. I looked at the inspiration I pinned in the beginning and then I pinned even more. I pinned inspiration until I saw a glimpse of what I was hoping to create in my own home. What eventually came clear is I was attracted to lived in, welcoming, comforting, eclectic spaces with charm and a lot of personality. I was seeing patterns and dark colors and lots of vintage gallery walls which somehow made the next step obvious: we need to go bold with paint color.
Once we decided to paint the walls a dark green color, we quickly landed on Current Mood by Clare Paint. At first, the thought of painting half of our entire apartment a completely different color was terrifying but something told me I needed to go for it. And guess what? I have never EVER regretted this color. It looks incredible at all times of the day and it facilitates the scholarly library feel we were after. My only regret is not painting the ceiling, which we will likely do very soon. Sara asked if we’ve ever thought about painting it when she came over to shoot, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since so I take that as a sign.
As it goes with any paint color, the hue changes slightly throughout the day and depending on the amount of daylight. During the day it leans a little more blue and towards the evening the green really comes out. I happen to love both shades but the paint swatch Clare Paint sent over was so helpful when we were making the decision. They send a sticker swatch that you can stick and move around different walls depending on the time of day. This helped us REALLY visualize what the color would look like and made our decision extremely simple. Once the walls became this fantastic green, the vision really fell into place. Now the next step was executing our vision. Easy enough, right?
WRONG. Well, sort of wrong. You see, to complement the dark moody walls, I knew I wanted to incorporate vintage furniture. I love all things vintage but as many of you know, those one-of-kind pieces that make your heart sing are often expensive. This is a big reason why this makeover took as long as it did to complete. Finding vintage and antique furniture that fit our space, our desired aesthetic, and our budget was laborious and time-consuming. But the good news is if anyone’s handing out awards for most time spent on Etsy, FB Marketplace, & Craigslist I might be a top contender. (P.S. If you want a really great how-to on searching for vintage furniture, check out Caitlin’s guide here).
After many months of obsessive internet scouring, I found this vintage record cabinet. I sourced it from a Etsy seller at first thinking it could be an interesting TV stand. It didn’t end up working as such, and instead became the perfect record console. It actually has a working record player and radio inside so if you were thinking it is helping me overcome my storage woes, think again!! It is not a storage piece but man is it pretty. The wood tone is so rich, I love how it pops against the dark walls, and the brass floral like ornaments make it extremely charming.
With one piece of vintage furniture I am feeling like a real aficionado and this is, of course, when things start to lull. It is also at this point where the vision is hard to picture because too much of what I have is not going to end up in the final design. I had the sofa, console table, and finally made a decision on a coffee table but I needed to make more moves. Eventually I realized the answer was simple, we needed a new rug!
The rug we landed on was gifted from Revival Rugs and it SIGNIFICANTLY helped our design get back on track. I went back and forth about rug size and style, but once the design inched closer to my vision it became obvious the answer was a classic Persian rug. I don’t know why I was against it at first because a Persian rug is like a good pair of jeans–it always looks good and never goes out of style. We could have opted for a smaller rug but I actually love how a large one like this looks in our space. It adds in a layer of cozy and I like how almost all of our living room furniture is touching the rug. It helps separate the living room from the dining area and essentially creates its own zone which is important in an open concept space.
For a while, my vision was to put an ornamental mirror over the sofa. It seemed like the obvious thing to do until I set my sights on this Tulca mirror and asked Lulu and Georgia if they would be willing to send it for my makeover. The curved edge and flat bottom make it the perfect accent for a fireplace mantel which I thought was very charming. Obviously, we don’t have a fireplace so to give it off a sort of mantel vibe, we put it on our record console. At first, I thought we would need to mount it on the wall but when Bowser came over she reassured me it looks great leaning on the console. Hot tip: If you need reassurance on design decisions, get yourself an Emily Bowser.
Finding the right drapery for this space was another challenge. There is a reason we create how-to posts like this, that we all keep going back to for years and years. Hanging curtains is not easy (Rocky will attest to that) and sometimes it’s difficult to find the right readymade length or width or even style curtain even though there are so many options out there. I knew I wanted some pattern for our window treatments but was having a strangely hard time finding the right fit. That’s when Wovn Home entered my life and made the curtains of our dreams happen.
They offered to send us their Euro Pleated Drapes in Striped Oyster and the length and width were so easy to calculate on their website. It is hands down the easiest custom-made process that I have ever encountered and the product was better than we could’ve imagined. We also ordered their roman shades in the same pattern (as you’ll see below), and the two together balance out the space while adding pattern and warmth.
Euro Pleat Drapes in Striped Oyster | Gold Drapery Rod | Tv Stand | Wingback Chair (vintage via Kaiyo) | Red Lumbar Pillow | Blanket by Justin Klegka | Faux Plant | Spaghetti Western Puzzle | Disco Queen Puzzle | Italy Travel Book
I can’t remember when Rocky told me he wanted his own armchair but I do remember thinking, “OKAY SURE BUD! I’ll get right on that.” Truthfully, he was right in that we needed more seating and a vintage wingback armchair did feel like the perfect fit. Once the idea was planted in my brain I began searching Etsy and all my go-to online vintage shops desperately. On a whim, I think I randomly searched for “Gingham Armchair” and this guy from Kaiyo came up. Obviously, I was in love. It was the ideal size and shape and the color was right in line with our color palette. They are based in New York though, so shipping would be pricey to get it to LA. I crossed my fingers and reached out to see if they’d be interested in gifting for this project and they graciously agreed. It is the grandpa armchair that really rounds out our old man smoking a cigar in a library feel and we LOVE it.
Complimenting the perfect armchair is a red lumbar pillow that somehow matched wonderfully and a very cool blanket by our friend and tattoo artist Justin Klegka. He created the design and made about 100 of them so it’s one of those things that is very unique and special to us, and it also became a great accent for this chair.
The short wall to the right of our bedroom door was a conundrum for a while. It needed something sculptural but not bulky because of the limited space. Meanwhile, we had a collection of books and magazines cluttering every surface. Some sort of shelving unit was obvious but a traditional bookcase would take up to much precious space. My heart wanted a vintage 19th-century style bookcase to match the Victorian aesthetic but my brain knew it would be too visually heavy. I remember bringing this up to the EHD team and Caitlin brilliantly suggested taking a look at this shelving unit by Room & Board. It mounts to the wall so it takes up the least amount of real estate and the open sides gives it a built-in look. I sometimes wonder what it would look like if we put in two side by side and took up the entire wall, but maybe that’s another question for another day and another blog post ;). In any case, Room & Board sent us this bookshelf and it was exactly what that little wall needed. It holds so many books and the black finish helped bring a modern flair to our design, and ties in all the black accents.
I don’t think I can properly describe how happy this shot makes me. If you take anything away from this post, please let it be that when people tell you putting together a gallery wall is hard, BELIEVE THEM. This gallery wall has seen more iterations than I can count and it was almost by divine intervention that it finally came together. Now it’s finished (for now) and I don’t just like it, I LOVE it. It may not be your particular style because art is so subjective and I am not blind to the fact that these pieces are specific to Rocky and I’s interests, but that is probably why I love it so much. This wall was our most collaborative effort as a couple and it makes me so happy that we achieved it together. This gallery wall is like our baby!!! Our firstborn at that! It’s very exciting.
Our other baby happens to be that fiddle leaf tree. She’s mostly Rocky’s responsibility because I have a notorious black thumb, and if I kill another plant my heart will not be able to take it. We got her a day before the shoot to make sure she was photoshoot ready and now I am very attached. It is true what they say about having living things in your home. It’s healing for the soul to take care of a living thing and have it be a part of the beauty in a space.
The table is a 100-year-old antique that I sourced through Facebook Marketplace (and paid $100 for — a dollar per year!) and the chairs are vintage from a seller on Etsy. The chairs were in my design board since day 1 so it feels good that they made the final cut. I love that our table and chairs don’t match because if I didn’t want anything in here to feel uniform or predictable. I want it to feel found and collected and this dining “set” hits that mark for me.
When we have guests over it is really nice to have the armchair angled there towards the sofa so we create a real conversational space. In our day-to-day lives though, we often move it in the corner where the tree is, and lately I’ve been using it as my office chair and Rocky uses it as his therapist chair (as he should). Hot Tip: absolutely use a wingback chair as an office chair! I just pull it up to our dining table and it’s so comfortable. Wildly more comfortable than a desk chair as you can imagine.
That bar cabinet is a piece we’ve had since the very beginning. Sara gave it to us when it arrived to her damaged and the seller offered to send her a new one. We got it so early on that I wasn’t even sure if it would make the final design, but since it is so classic looking I found that it wasn’t worth replacing, nor was it necessary. It pairs perfectly with our dining chairs and provides us with much-needed storage.
The moody woman portrait is a digital print from Etsy that I printed via Artifact Uprising, and I found the frame at an antique shop in Burbank. I think my favorite thing about the design process is “found” things coming together and making a space look beautiful. At times it will feel like nothing is working but then there are days where one new item makes everything make sense. I remember walking into the antique shop looking for a frame for this portrait there it was! The right size and everything. It’s those moments I truly cherish because the other moments, honestly, make me feel like I am possibly losing my mind.
Emily Bowser brought over those extra-long taper candles for the shoot and now I have to have extra long taper candles. They are also dripless and we are not sure how that works (science am I right?) but now I will never go back to non-dripless candles.
If only the dinner table was always equipped with a cheese board by Bowser and natural red wine. The tablescape was put together by Bowser and in an ideal world, I would wake up to this every day (hey Bowser are you game??). Looking at it makes me feel like we are always on an Italian vacation which, if you can’t tell from the design of our home, is exactly where we’d like to be.
There’s us!!!! Look at how handsome Rocky is. Gus is missing because to be honest, having a photoshoot with a rambunctious American bulldog was a little too stressful for me to handle. But scroll to the end to see him and all his glory. He really is the king of the castle.
Two more because I am obsessed with the portraits Sara got of us. We actually never got professional engagement photos and now we’re like, what’s the point? So these are our stand-in engagement photos.
And now, brace yourself for the before and afters:
Thank you thank you thank you for coming along this journey with us. We are beyond grateful. xx