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E-Design:

A Neutral and Eclectic Living Area

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Hey there, friends, Brady and Ginny here today. We are tackling another fun e-design project that we recently finished up. This time we took on a open floor plan living room/entry/dining area where the husband and wife wanted to update their space with some new items while keeping and repurposing some of the items they already had, as they would potentially be moving at any time due to the husband’s line of work. As most of you know we love a good challenge here at EHD especially when it comes to reusing and repurposing some vintage items so this was a fun one for us to tackle.

The client, Heather, had let us know that they wanted the room to be comfortable, inviting, clean, and bright with some pops of color through art and accessories, but that they wanted to keep the big main pieces pretty neutral and transitional so that they could potentially bring them to their new space if they were to move soon. At the top of their list was a deep seated sectional so that they could enjoy their nights together and also to provide more seating for their friends when they all get together.

We started the process by pulling together this concept of color and style for her based on the pieces that she wanted to keep as well as some of the inspiration that she had passed along to us through her pinterest.

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We felt that a mix of mid-century lines, contemporary storage solutions, and boho/global textures fit well with what she had wanted in her space. We suggested to her a mid-century inspired sectional or lounge as we felt that would work well in her space and provide that clean “fuss-free” seating that she needed for both her husband and friends. The mid-century lines also allowed for bringing the new sofa along to her next space if they were to move.

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The floor-plan is very open as you can see below, so we wanted to keep the paint colors and larger pieces pretty neutral so that each space within the larger space would flow freely together without it feeling too disjointed or crazy.

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With that in mind, this is what we sent to her regarding our paint selections:

“For the overall color for the walls we are suggesting Benjamin Moore Calm.  It’s still in the white family but has subtle hints of blue and pink when the light hits it.  Much like it’s name, it’s a super calm yet happy color.  This will go well with what we’re suggesting for the kitchen: paint the upper cabinets in Nimbus Gray from Benjamin Moore and lower cabinets in Witching Hour also from Benjamin Moore.  The two tone will help keep it feeling light at the top yet adding interest and the dark will help ground the kitchen giving some drama to the space.  These colors will also work well with your existing backsplash and countertop. We also suggest painting the insides of your built-in bookcase too.  Not the whole thing though. We have noted on the presentation exactly where and what color we’re thinking.  This is a fun way to add color and depth into your bookcase.”

For the entry area we decided to reuse her existing National Park posters that we loved and just reframe them and then let those serve as the color palette for the small space:

“We love the idea of bringing in a fun colorful runner which ties in with the colors from your national parks posters. We’ve added a new organic shaped contemporary console in white to keep it feeling light.  A round mirror with a black frame pulls in other black elements we have around the space.  You have the opportunity to add a small chair or plant to the entrance and we’ve shown options for both.”

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Mirror | Gallery Wall Frames | Entry ChairPlant Stand | Console Table | Runner Rug

Moving into the Dining Room and Kitchen we wanted to keep the color palette going that we had established in the entry and reuse some of the furniture that she wanted to keep like the dining table, but update it with new chairs:

“Keeping with your existing dining table, we are proposing these black windsor style dining chairs.  Even though they are traditional in their style, these particular ones help to modernize the space.  We added a striped flat woven rug to the space to keep it simple and not compete with the other rugs. This type of pile is generally better for eating areas as they are easier to keep clean.  We toyed (a lot) with the idea of adding a chandelier to the dining space and ultimately decided that it really doesn’t need one.  We absolutely love a chandelier over a dining table, but with it being in close proximity to the island pendants, we thought it would start to get rather busy in that area and they would compete with each other.  We do love the idea of adding three evenly spaced out pendants over the island.  We’ve added a large oil painting to replace the painting you have.  The contemporary abstract style works well in the room and the colors tie in with the furniture selections.  We’ve decided on simple black stools for the island.  We initially added some wood stools; however, we felt that they started to compete with the dining table and the woods started to clash in a bad way.”

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Oil Painting (no longer available) | Pendant Lights | Counter Stool (similar) | Flat Weave Rug (no longer available) | Windsor Chairs

In the living area, after we did some research and poking around online, we knew that we would most likely have to go the custom route to really achieve the sectional that she wanted, so we found a shop that was able to make a custom piece based on what we suggested for size and scale, and what she had wanted for style and design. We also thought that the space should stay pretty neutral as far as color goes and that a soft oatmeal linen on the sofa would work well in the space and could end up working in a new place when/if they moved. We sent this to her with our overall concept for the living space:

We are going for a neutral palette in this space and suggesting that the sofa fabric be a soft oatmeal linen. We paired it with a super plushy Moroccan style rug which will work well with the flooring you have and sit well under your existing coffee.  To keep the room light and airy we’ve proposed some light linen/cotton drapes paired with the black hardware.  We found these super cute vintage mid-century stools in black leather which would sit well next to your coffee table.  The shape is awesome and even if you didn’t love the black leather they could easily be reupholstered.  Behind the sofa we have shown a beautiful woven cane bench with another colorful abstract painting which we thought went really well with the pillow you love so much.  We also selected some other pillows that could work well with the pillow you have and the new artwork.  To add a more contemporary and colorful element we have proposed this really cool geometric side table.  Lastly, you can never have enough plant life so we’ve added a couple of mid-century style pots on to the board. These look particularly great with sculptural cacti or succulents.”

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Drapes | Oil Painting | Plant Stand 1 | Plant Stand 2 | Bench | Ottoman Seats | Geometric Side Table | Rug | Patterned Pillow | Tassel Pillow (no longer available) | Solid Pillow | Coffee Table | Floor Lamp | Sectional

Last but not least there was her bookshelf that we wanted to tackle for her in a fun and interesting way so we pulled together this “bookshelf layout” with styling tips of what to put in what areas so that she could have a cohesive, yet interesting overall look to the shelf. Although this was created just for her, this layout could be used for anyones shelving and you can click through  here,  here,  here and here for some posts to walk you through some of the ways we have styled shelves.

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We got a response from her a few weeks later letting us know that her husband had just got the news that he would be relocating and that they would have to move. To say that she was surprised and saddened by the quick move was an understatement, but fortunately the design scheme and overall concept that we had pulled together for her would still completely work for her new space minus the layout that we had created specific to her existing space. We wish her well in her move and her new space and look forward to seeing how it all turns out.

Which area is your favorite from the design plan we pulled together for her, or which one would you pick for your own? Does anyone else have old furniture that they want to keep and incorporate into a new design plan or move? Head over to our design services area and let us know below and we might just tackle it for you here on the blog.

In the meantime if you are craving more Design Agony and E-Design posts? Check these out: Updating Basic Bedroom Furniture with New Bedding,  Should We Paint Wood Panelling?, How To Layout A Narrow Living Room, Kitchen Nook Refresh, Cures For A Maple Orange Kitchen, Master Bedroom Refresh Plan, A Rustic Mid-Century Family Room, Neutral (Well Mostly) California Nursery.

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  1. Emily, The content on your blog these past few months has been ON.POINT. Thanks so much for producing posts that I am so excited to read whenever they come out. Thank you!!

  2. My favorite part of this plan is how the team picked items of such different styles for the dinning/kitchen area, yet unified them using the color black, making the traditional dinning chairs, modern stools, and mid-century style pendants work together!

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  4. Could you list the sources for the original images in your inspiration photo board? Would love to know the name of the artist for the piece on the bottom right.

  5. Hi Team EH–just a FYI, I think that the labelling got inverted for the paint colors–Witching Hour should be the dark, dark gray…

  6. You guys have been incorporating pieces with caning lately and I love it. Another recent post included awesome caned dining chairs from DWR and I had just the day before been lamenting the absence of caned furniture (having grown up with it in the 70s/80s). It can read traditional, mid century, transitional, modern, boho… it’s the perfect touch of organic material, texture, and neutral pattern.

  7. My favorite part of this post was the book shelf layout plan. And for some of us who like that West Elm’s planter with stand, but don’t want to spend $150-190, here’s this one from Target! http://www.target.com/p/artificial-plant-in-stand-large-threshold/-/A-50968822

    1. Oops, I realize now the planter with the wood stand isn’t from West Elm. But the Target one still can’t be beaten in price

    2. I saw a fake fiddle leaf in one of the same style at Home Good today, too. Much better deal than West Elm, but same look 🙂

      1. Yes! I saw one like that too, but Home Goods does not have an online store. Although I would take out the fake plant and replace it with a real one.

  8. Love the counter stools, where are they from?!

  9. What a great design! Hopefully the clients can put the plan into place at their new home.

    One question – a flat-weave rug was suggested for the dining area, with the recommendation that “This type of pile is generally better for eating areas as they are easier to keep clean”. Can you expound on that? I’ve had a few flat weave rugs over the years and unless they’re machine washable, I find them pretty hard to keep clean! Even Flor brand carpet tiles were tough – and we don’t even have kids!

    We currently have a wool rug in our dining room and I find it much easier to keep clean – and if need be, have professionally cleaned.

    1. We’ve had decent luck cleaning our FLOR tiles at the car wash – and they get DIRTY due to our golden retriever. You remove the dots and take the tiles to the do-it-yourself coin-operated car wash. Then you blast away with the pressure washer (and soap, if need be). You can re-use the dots if you are careful, but after a couple of times you might have to get new ones. Just wanted to share that tip in case anyone else is having issues with the FLOR tiles!

  10. I would love to hear more about this custom sectional. How do you find someone to do this and how much would something like this cost? Thanks!

  11. Rats! I especially LOVeD this one.

  12. Style is very important i like this-this is really great

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  13. best post admin thanks for sharing this .

  14. I would love to hear more about this custom sectional.

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  16. you can never have enough plant life so we’ve added a couple of mid-century style pots on to the board. These look particularly great with sculptural cacti or succulents.”

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