Hi everyone! Lea here with my living room reveal that started as my problem child but with the help of Emily turned into a functional and cozy room my whole family can enjoy. But let me back up and remind you where we started. Back in November, I wrote about my open concept living and dining room design agony and was fortunate enough to have Emily to bounce ideas off of and help me envision what I wanted from this space. As a stylist, I tend to get sucked into every detail which I obsess over, and with this room let me tell you, I OBSESSED. It wasn’t until Emily kept driving the MOST important question home, “how does it make you feel?” that I realized what was lacking. I wanted this space to be functional, comfortable, and (of course) beautiful, but there were some design hurdles I had to get over first.
To give you an idea of the layout here is my impressive stick figure drawing of the floor plan:
Along with making this room as pet and family-friendly as possible, the open concept presented challenges. Plus this is the first room you see when entering the house. I wanted it to be inviting, functional, and a place where my family and pets would feel comfortable spending time in. This is where we left off when we last chatted:
Sigh…that rug was one of my favorites but a deep blue rug with white dog fur that sheds like a “you know what” was just completely disastrous.
So I did what anyone would do and asked Em for advice. We went back and forth on the rug (she has the same rug in the Mountain House – which is where I first laid my eyes on it and immediately had to have it) but she agreed (now having two pups of her own she gets my struggle) that a dark-toned rug doesn’t work well with light-toned furry pets and isn’t worth the headache.
While I obsessed over other details, Emily suggested to begin by replacing the rug because it is easier to start with a rug as a jumping-off point and pull colors from it than it is to find a rug that has the colors you want to work with. So like any un-seasoned stylist, I didn’t listen to her. Instead, I focused on the curtains. Ha! Ok, let me provide a little context here: I wholeheartedly value and hang onto every ounce of advice Emily gives when it comes to styling (hello, she didn’t win Design Star for nothing!) but the toile curtains here drove me to the point I couldn’t move past them. I was struck with design paralysis and they were blocking any and all progress. Yes, they are beautiful and I will be using them in a future project but they didn’t feel right in this room. They made the room feel darker which is the opposite of what I wanted.
I knew I wanted a solid color that wouldn’t be too busy but would add a dash of color. Emily’s tip: “try something with a chunkier weave“.
That’s when I laid eyes on this fabric by Calico Corners which coincidentally happened to be the same fabric Emily used for her bedroom curtains in her L.A. house. Gah! No wonder I love her!
See how they instantly brightened up the room? They are a total mood lifter. This time I worked alongside one of the designers at Calico Corners because let’s be honest, when ordering custom curtains, it helps to lean on the pros that know what they’re doing. Also, I don’t always trust my math and I wanted to be SURE these curtains would work.
The Calico Corners designer came out to my house to measure my windows and I am so glad she did. Here’s why:
- She measured my windows properly and measured past my windows about 18” – that sounds like a lot but her advice was when your curtains are fully open and pulled back, you don’t want them to cover your windows. This allows as much natural light in as possible.
- She measured the length so that they hit the floor more at a tailored trouser length than floor-length because I knew a puddle wouldn’t work because of my cats.
For the hardware I chose to go with Calico Corners French rod and they sent their installer out to install them, and again, I’m so happy they did because I learned another great tip:
- Lightly spray silicon spray on your curtain rod and always lift up on your wand and then push/pull your curtains vs. dragging them across your rod. The silicon spray is a game-changer and now my curtains glide across that rod so effortlessly.
Obviously, I can go on and on about the curtains but let’s move on…
Next on the living room makeover list was a sofa. Again, not because I didn’t love the one we had but because we needed something cozier. Emily’s tip: “look for something cozy and comfortable and you’ll find that you and your family use the space more.”
I knew I wanted something larger than what we previously had because the window on this wall is really large. I also knew that I wanted something we could all lounge on (we’re sofa loungers over here) but I also didn’t want it to feel so big that it took over the room. When I found this low profile modular sectional by Article I knew it would be a perfect match. This sofa is so versatile and with so many combinations you can basically customize your own. I added the armless chair and ottoman to our configuration. I really love the modern aesthetic of this sofa and the French-welt-style. I also love that the low profile doesn’t block our window, again maximizing the natural light in this space. I feel that going with this modern, low-profile sofa kept the room feeling casual and laid-back (thus more inviting).
Coffee Table | Rug | Sectional | Ottoman | Curtains | Curtain Rod | Side Table | Pillow Cover | Throw Blanket | Lamp
I started feeling in a really good space, so much so that I was ready to paint the front door to give it more personality.
Gold Table Lamp | Door Paint Color | Door Hardware
I went with Pitch Black by Farrow & Ball and the hardware is by Emtek in French Antique finish. Painting the door created a contrast that made the neutral color palette pop. There’s no doubt the power of paint is real!
During the design process, I kept texting Emily photos of the progress and she was persistent in asking “but how does it feel?” And you know what? It started feeling really good and I appreciated her keeping me on track. Having someone keep you grounded and focused is a huge benefit. It saved me from making unnecessary purchases and it kept my design eye from wandering all over the place. She also lead me away from going down the path of buying sculptural pieces that are interesting but wouldn’t necessarily feel cozy and comfortable. I kept asking myself WWED (What Would Emily Do). That’s not to say I totally dismissed myself and didn’t ask What Would Lea Do. It just meant that when I was feeling impulsive and had a shopping cart full of things at 2 A.M, ready to hit the “buy now” button, I paused and asked myself these questions. Basically, I’m learning restraint here folks! In a world of instant gratification, I am finally learning (in my 40s) how to be a responsible adult.
Leaning Ladder | Blanket | Media Cabinet | Sconce | Chair | Table Lamp | Coffee Table | Rug
The next step was to turn my attention to this wall that previously had bookcases that no longer served their purpose in this room. Here’s why:
- With the new pieces in the living room the bookcases felt off and they weren’t balancing well with the visual weight of the new sofa.
- They began to somehow make my design eye feel chaotic and I wanted to calm this room down.
- I wanted movement on this wall.
This wasn’t an easy decision. I loved those bookcases but somehow they didn’t feel right and so I asked Emily for her opinion. I want to preface this with Emily never puts down my design ideas or tells me they look off or bad (although sometimes, I wish she did lol). Instead, she coached me into seeing something differently by asking me what I thought about adding “contrast” to this space to “warm it up from the white walls with a white sofa.” Instead of telling me, “Hey girl, that bookcase really looks busy and is throwing your entire room off, you should do this” – she says things like, “This is looking so good! How does it feel? I find I use a room a lot more when it’s super inviting”.
Also, I think I recall her giving me advice about adding contrast and warm wood tones. This helped me see through the bookcase wall dilemma and replace them with this warm wood cabinet by Article.
Admittedly here’s one of my panic moments – I thought this chair blended too much into the cabinet.
Chair | Side Table (similar)
I immediately texted Emily (by now she’s used to my frequent freak-out moments) and she assured me to wait before purchasing a new chair and see how the room feels once there’s a rug in place. As you can see by this image, the rug made all of the difference and provided the much-needed contrast. I’ll talk more about it in a minute.
It probably won’t surprise you that I drew a lot of inspiration from Emily when creating this wall. Originally, I wasn’t sure if my family wanted a TV in here but surprisingly they voted to opt-out (we do have a TV room in the basement). This gave me a chance to add more of my personality into the space. I created this small gallery wall with my favorite vintage art that I’d been hoarding and also a new favorite vintage piece from England (sourced by a favorite local shop, J. Altier) that gives some architectural interest and texture to this wall. To top it off, I added this wall sconce by Hudson Valley Lighting.
Working in true Lea fashion, I was finally ready to source the rug. Rug sourcing is not my strong suit because the amount of options out there overwhelms me and rugs in this house need to check all of these boxes:
- Wool or wool-blend (AKA easy to clean and resistant to stains)
- Cozy, shaggy, or high-pile for sitting or laying comfortably on the floor
- Hides dog fur
- Gives some pattern to the room without overwhelming the room
- Not so precious (remember my antique Sultanabad rug?) that I become crazed about the cats even looking at it.
Sourcing and sourcing took me weeks until I finally found this rug by Dash & Albert and I went with a 9×12 for this sized space. What really drew me to this rug was the geometric pattern and that it was neutral but added pattern and color to this space without taking away from the curtains.
Then I noticed this rug has been used in many EHD projects (The Portland Living Room and Jess’ Living Room) and that’s when it just hit me that we’re true soul sisters (hello, Virgo’s unite!) and even my subconscious self without thinking selects yet another EHD favorite rug.
Hopefully, this post wasn’t too long-winded and if you are someone who struggles with an open floor plan who also wants to create a family-friendly-beautiful space I hope this leaves you feeling inspired. Remember, don’t feel bad or discouraged if you are hitting a design wall. We all struggle with a “problem” space or room and if there’s one takeaway from this, keep asking yourself the famous Emily question “how does it make you feel?”. After all, we all want a home that makes us feel good and happy.
And because “before and afters” are the best, here you go!
Until next time! xo, Lea.
*Design by Lea Johnson of Creekwood Hill
**Photography by Sage E Imagery
So pretty and it solved all of your problems.
The bench in your hallway stopped me in my tracks.
yes! same. why are we not talking more about that bench!? so cool.
Oooh, yes! How fabulous is that bench?!
It looks so so good. Warm and inviting and comfortable. Well done! The rug and curtains are perfect.
Also, WHY HAS NO ONE EVER SHARED THE SILICONE SPRAY TIP BEFORE?!? Come on, y’all have used Calico Corners on a few projects. You need to share this kind of knowledge. 😬
Lea, absolutely beautiful. I was unaware of your work until your first post at EHD and now I am a big fan. You strike such a wonderful balance between beauty and practicality in a space.
Beautiful🙂 Although I think the previous curtains would have worked with the current design, especially after you painted the front door which was a genius move and just what the space needed!
I really love this redesign – it looks cozy and livable. I’m in the market for a comfy, dog & kitty friendly sofa. I’d love to hear an honest review on your new sofa (is it really comfy? Is it easy to clean? Does it maintain its shape?).
Yes, please! How is the fabric holding up to your cats?
What a gorgeous room! If this isn’t perfection, I don’t know what is. And by the way, do you happen to know the source of your wallpaper on the staircase wall behind the bench? I think it’s charming.
I want to know about the wallpaper too!! The room is beautiful!
Where is that wallpaper from. It would look great in my dining room!
It is by wallpaperdirect.com it looks like it’s no long available but if you search Scandinavian they have VERY similar ones.
I asked the same thing but then I went back to a previous home tour and found it was this: https://www.hyggeandwest.com/products/diamante?variant=39256628592778
I was actually a big fan of the old curtains (and tried to find them online). If you haven’t found a home for them, Lea, let me know, and I will buy them from you!
This is so lovely! I have a room that is very similar in layout, except I have sliding doors where you have windows and a TV that is mounted where you have credenza. I have not been able to come up with a functional setup that works for using the doors (we have dogs that go in and out constantly) and watching TV. If you had sliders where your windows are, and if you wanted to mount a TV, what would you change? Anything? Love learing new things here!
I’m not a designer, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. But with the layout you describe, I’d float a sofa opposite the credenza wall, which would allow you to use the sliders, mount a TV on the credenza wall, and still be able to sit somewhere. 🙂
This looks so beautiful! I was worried about you losing the bookcases but honestly it looks even better with the new configuration. Can I ask the source of your black wall lamp? Thanks!
Thank you! That is from Lulu & Georgia
We also have an open concept LR/DR and kitchen space and we have 3 dogs ( one yellow, one black, and one gray). I am curious if you put down throw blankets on the couch so the dog doesn’t get it dirty, or is the dog not allowed on the couch? We use 2 throw blankets on our sectional (dark gray) and that way everyone can sit on the couch for cuddles without me worrying about the upholstery. I chose a vintage-looking oriental rug to anchor the LR and it hides the pet hair beautifully. I also recommend Resolve pet stain remover, it works so well on any stain your dog can make, and I’ve seen them all!!
This is very soothing and looks like such a cozy space! I have a very similar layout, a large open room that contains the living room, kitchen and dining room and I’m struggling a bit to separate the two spaces between the dining room and living room right now. This is great inspiration for me 🙂
1. this is super beautiful. all the new furniture and rug pieces really look great, but it’s your art, decor, treasures, and styling that make this room so special! what a collection!
2. with that said, my favorite iteration was the one shown on the house tour with the antique rug and the bookshelves. that was a stunner and was SO unique. like, it stayed in my mind for so long because it looked so collected. sigh! oh man. i loved that one.
3. that bench is OTT amazing. love love love.
4. the planter pot on the bench. where is that from? so pretty!
5. it feels so light bright and airy! the pictures are obviously brightened (not complaining), but i’m wondering, does it feel way more lighter in there now in real life?
6. i feel like this new iteration goes better with your striped entry light 🙂
I also think it looks lovely, and am curious about how much of the brighter feel is there in person and how much it’s a result of the photography. Definitely don’t blame you for lightening photos, just wondering whether the same brightness is achievable in my space!
Thank you!!!! 🙏🏼 I LOVED that iteration too but no one heard that room. Not what I intended. The photography does make it brighter but not much, it was a really bright day out that day (the photographer had some sun spot issues) and now that the curtains properly fit I think that made the biggest difference when it comes to light in here. I didn’t realize how much the previous ones covered the windows even when they were open.
Is this post sponsored??
Such a cozy space and the front door is inviting on all on its own.
The rug’s perfect and looks like it’d be great to sit on, too.
I’m so intrigued by the octopussy ceramic object on the coffee table! It looks so organic.
The mix on the credenza looks so curated, you’ve really done such a thoughtful job, Lea! The whole room mixes in interest, texture and organic vibes.
Great job! 🤗
(I’m not sure about the side table’s base out in the open though; I’d probably stub my toe on those sharp corners.)
Love this space so so much!!! It’s perfect!
looks great! do you remember where the black plug in light is from? thank you!
Yes, Lulu & Georgia
This looks really great! I really really like the new look — less cluttered, looks more pulled together and very sophisticated as well. Kudos and congrats on a new space you love!
I am curious what the budget for a room redesign like this would be as I noticed quite a few pieces were replaced? Would you mind sharing? I would love to re-do my (rental) living room at some point and would be helpful to have a sense of how to plan for this.
Second question, I’ve always wondered (I may have missed a post on this) — what do people do with your old furniture, rugs, curtains, etc., especially after a big redesign? I’ve been procrastinating swapping out my sofa because in my mind that requires listing on Craigslist or OfferUp and staying on top of prospective buyers etc., and doing the same for several pieces at once seems like a lot of work (I live alone and don’t have a car), but I wonder if there is an easier process that others follow that I could consider.
I would love to hear this discussion too! I have old furniture that needs to go. But Craigslist is something I do not want to do. I’m not even sure it’s in good enough shape to donate it (upholstery is near tearing/ripping). What other options are there? I feel like I’m stuck between having it reupholstered or chucking it into a dumpster. Neither are good options.
Here’s what I do with old furniture that can’t be donated: list it on the Craigslist “free” section and put it on the curb (or porch, or front yard). Even absolute junk is gone within hours! And you don’t have to deal with strangers coming into the house. Just be sure to remove the Craigslist post once the item is gone, so people don’t get their hopes up.
I often list my give-aways on a local buy/sell group, but sometimes I simply set the item out at the end of my driveway with a sign that says FREE. Even though I live on a quiet street with little traffic, someone always picks up what I’ve set out within just a few hours. Yay for easy and fast solutions!
Goodwill or St. Vincent will pick up in some areas. My daughter donates all kinds of furniture, and they just give her a blank receipt to fill out.
Wow! It’s seriously so beautiful! That coffee table, all the sculptural vases and art, it’s so so good!! Bravo!
Beautiful room. You did a great job–it’s really inviting.
For anyone considering that lovely couch–think twice if you have mobility impairments or frequent visitors who do, or at least more visitors than you have chairs with arms. Many people need a higher seat with arms to push off to be able to get up without assistance.
But that does depend on your circumstances.
This looks so much more coherent and cozy and serene-all the good stuff. But I am really struggling with the coffee table. Does that matter? No, it’s your house. But my eye does not care for imposing semi-brutalist 1970s coffee table in front of very large right-angled sofa and it would like, impudent eye that it is, something more ornate/ornamented/curvy. I keep thinking of folk tables from anywhere in the world (Asia, Africa, Latin America, New England, the Midwest), still wood, but with engravings, even traces of worn gold leaf or paint, maybe some fretwork. Just less monolithic and with more of a sense of provenance and history.
My eye steps down from her soapbox.
And it could still be white. Or you could paint it white. Yes, it’s a mystery to me too, why I care so much;)
Wow …. stunning reveal! The room feels so much larger and balanced and looks truly like a space you would want to spend time in and welcome guests into your home. Well done 👏🏻👏🏻
Could Lea share what wallpaper she used in the entryway? I’m thinking of using something similar in our office.
I absolutely love the styling here: agree, the entryway bench, the rug (which I think Emily used in the Portland house) and the neutral color scheme is perfection. I love the look of that couch, casual but more out together than the similar one that I think Brady and Emily’s best friend (?) have. I have a different Article couch and I feel like I could be there spokesman— I have a toddler who dumped an entire jar of Almond butter (yes, think about all that oil!) on my couch and because it was so smelly I washed the cushion covers in the washing machine and they didn’t shrink and the stain miraculously came out! I’ve since washed them a second time too!
This proud owner of a messy toddler would love to know which couch you own 🙂
Wondering what the history of this room is – like was it a late addition to the house? I can see the entryway has “normal” walls but the living room has some sort of clapboard siding? I know you are annoyed by the open floor plan (which doesn’t bother me!) but was thinking maybe it would be more cohesive to maybe redo the walls?
Ohhh this is so lovely. I generally love design problem/solution posts! If you bring back reader design agony (please), I have a good one!
Where is that round, wood side table from? It’s in the corner next to the couch with the plant on it. Just what I am looking for!
Beautiful update, Lea!
I really love the redo for the decor but also for addressing my particular problem: how to situate furniture in a living room with no entryway. Trying to solve this spatial problem is doing my head in! Has this topic ever been covered?
Very nice! Did you also paint the walls to a cooler white color? The room seems calmer and more sophisticated, even though both are styled so well and you kept quite a few pieces. I love the curtains, sofa and coffee table! I love all of it, but especially those.
Nice work Lea!
So good! Weird question but did you paint your front door black on both sides or just on the exterior? Considering painting our front door black and since all our interior doors are white was thinking about leaving the interior facing side white. Curious what other people do.
We painted both sides. Oddly I smile every time I walk past it in the morning and am now thinking of painting all of our interior doors (which are also white) 🤣
It was a beautiful room before, but it is spectacular now. So warm, coz and inviting.
This is beautiful! Thanks for taking us through your process.
love this so much! I have a very similar space and plan to use your new layout as inspiration 🙂
2 questions/requests: what is the black table on the corner opposite the sectional? any chance we can see that view?
and can we see a full view of the hallway bench against that wallpaper? soooo dreamy….
Same question! I want to see that black table with a white candelabra (?) on it? Amazing! You may have questioned yourself along the way but honestly it turned out stunning. The only thing I’m not 100% sold on is the white pendant. It looks a bit cheap comparatively, but that’s just my two cents 🙂 Overall it’s gorgeous!
Love your design and the post was well written too. It was entertaining to see how you process your thoughts like everyone else. I love it all. Did you paint the inside of the door too or just the side facing the exterior of the house? Also, where is the wallpaper on your stairs from? The rug is awesome, but it is a bit pricy. Do you happen to have a similar, lower costing rug?
Love it!!! I have to say, I never even noticed the shiplap on the wall where the bookcases were because I was always looking at the bookcases. Now I can see things! It was so pretty before of course but I saw the first photo and instantly took in a deep breath! Congrats on the new beautiful room sweet Lea.
What a great job. I think the decorative pieces – the rug, lighting and the artwork, especially the artwork (that carved wooden piece above the media unit is incredible) – just make the space sing. I’d love to know if it’s as nice lived in as it is photographed?
your coffee table styling is so gooood
I liked it before but the result is soooo much better! I could move right in and not change a thing!
how do you stop your couch from moving? i assume there is some space between the couch and window so that the curtains can move. i’d like to get curtains but my couch moves when we lean against it. i don’t want to scratch up my paneling with a side table
Great question! Article has these big rubberband-type things you hook around the feet so they don’t move around also with the rug underneath it helps more to keep them stationary. So far we have not had an issue with sliding.
I put two 2×4’s behind my sofa to keep it away from the wall. They are cut to be slightly shorter than the couch so they can’t be seen but they keep the sofa from sliding backwards when ppl sit down. I did the same to the bed in my daughters room.
Do your readers with pets know about the ChomChom pet hair remover tool? My precious little kitty burrowed under the quilt covering the white futon and shed black hair all over. This simple tool cleaned it up beautifully!
I’m crushing on the striped flushmount at the front door! Where is that from? I’d love to know.
I made it! Ha! It’s an inexpensive fixture from Home Depot and then I painted stripes on the shade. I used painters tape bc I’m not good at DIY but I saw someone else had a better idea and used rubber bands for the lines. Thank you!
It was a pretty room before and now it’s even better. Looks so peaceful, soulful, and sophisticated all while being comfortable and inviting. Good job!
Ou, well done! Love a good pet friendly post—and a Noguchi (or killer knock off)! Also your knot in the wire is such a good idea I’m stealing it immediately because I realized mine was too long and this would be so much easier than trying to configure another makeshift ladder hahah!
So I’ve been totally lusting over the low chunky sofa and I’m in love! Are you finding it keeps clean well? My kittehs can be a bit messy!
I’ve always struggled with the rug with the pets situation! So nerve wracking when my cats will 100% throw up a hairball on it the day I buy it even if they haven’t coughed up a hairball in years. I feel your pain—glad you found something workable!
Ha! Yes! The hair balls and we have one cat that likes to pee on rugs. 🤦🏻♀️ I found with wool rugs I’ve been able to clean up hair balls very easy and no stains. It’s wool rugs on out for us. The sofa….so…we’re trying to get the cats to not lay on it (emphasis on trying) BUT no scratching so far (knock on wood). We have one cat that scratched every sofa we put in here the minute we got it and I think it was bc they were always a chunky weave or nubby texture. He seems to leave this one alone. Remi isn’t really allowed on this one, this time but she has full run of the basement sofa.
I’d love to know more about your pendant situation! I see the lantern linked to Amazon – where did you find the cord? Did you do electrical work to add overhead lighting in a new space as part of the project?
Oh my gosh I should’ve talked about that! So the cord kit is also Amazon. But no, we stuck a puck light there on a remote for now until we do the electrical this summer or once the world sort of opens back where we want people in our home again.
Thank youuu for always sharing and inspiring!!! You are amazing!!!
Can you provide sources/artists for the artwork? I especially love and am curious about that textured black piece over the console!
The line drawings are all vintage or found originals that I thrifted. The black wooden piece was sourced by a local shop J. Altier on a travel trip to England.
Lea, the room is beautiful. Would you mind sharing the source of the wallpaper behind the large wooden bench. Thank you.
Thank you! It is from Wallpaper Direct but I don’t think they have it anymore (it’s a few years old) but if you search Scandinavian on their site there are some VERY similar.
It is beautiful, but honestly so was the old room. You have exquisite taste. Love the bench as others have said, the rug is perfect, the sofa looks so comfy, and the wood cabinet looks perfect, and really does warm up your space. So well done. I tend to get in my head sometimes and agonize over a space too, so you’re not alone there. The last time you posted with your gorgeous sunshine sofa, I started cruising you blog, and I wanted to ask you about the brass mushroom lamp. I have been looking for something like that, and wondered if you’d mind sharing where you got it.
Lovely room and it was priceless to see your dog muscling his way into your photos! I wish you had also linked your fabulous things on the coffee table and the media cabinet. I love the stuff you have there!!
Hi Lea! This is a gorgeous space and I want it all. I’m so inspired. Question for you on the sofa. You linked the sectional, but it appears that you bought 3 separate pieces + the ottoman, but I don’t see an option to mix and match individual pieces on the article site. Can you share how you made it work and which specific 3 pieces you bought for the couch? Love everything you create. Each space is magnificent.