Oh, I do love a reveal day. My childhood love of show-and-tell has turned into a real career obsession. I am so excited to show you the living room we designed for the Invitation Homes Make It Home Show House in Atlanta. After yesterday’s messy design fail post today feels like waking up from an “I lost my wallet in the airport” anxiety nightmare, only to wake up and realize that everything is not only fine but we are really, really happy with it. It’s almost entirely locally shopped, 80% vintage, pretty budget friendly, and yet still cool and interesting.
Large Black Vase | Round Mirror | Mobile via Antique Factory | Blush Table Lamp | Rattan-Wrapped Candleholder | Surf Shack Book | Stacked White Planter via Citizen Supply | Vintage Typewriter Table via Park West Vintage | Vintage Iron Coffee Table Base via Decades Antiques and Vintage | Vintage Lady Oil Painting via Highland Row Vintage | Ceiling Fan courtesy Schoolhouse
Since we didn’t have a homeowner, we got creative carte blanche. So to help us focus, we created a muse: someone whose style needs and wants we could channel. To make it easy, the EHD team—myself, Emily Bowser and Julie—volunteered to become the collective muse and designed it if we lived in Atlanta. When challenged with a budget, and only days of shopping locally, what would we buy for ourselves, our home? What would we put on the walls? What sofa would WE risk upholstering in JUST TWO DAYS??? We had SO much fun shopping for “ourselves,” and so it’s a real mix of styles, pieces and colors that, put together, we absolutely LOVE.
Alright. We like it. You get it.
Now, I’m going to walk you through what we did and what you guys can do whether you rent or own to turn your house into a home (which was the whole intention behind this show house…to create spaces that felt like “home” regardless of whether you’re a short-term or long-term renter, or even an owner).
The Color Palette:
We added life to this white space with the blue and clay palette and a broken stripe rug we sourced through Lulu and Georgia.
For renters, most homes that you lease, you can paint if you paint it back to the original color (though be sure to double check with your landlord as some leases have STRICT no-paint policies) so while it’s okay to paint, if you are fine with white, then I say stick with it and add color through your furniture and decor. We chose this clay and blue/turquoise combo, of which we haven’t done before but we LOVE. If you aren’t into this color combo and wondering where to start, then choose something that you love (a color you are comfortable being around all the time) and google “color wheel.” You’ll want to pick a color on or near the opposite side of the wheel to balance (orange—or in our case, clay—is a direct complement to blue). Then you pepper those colors evenly around the room. A trick to make sure you don’t end up having a room that looks like a kindergarten is to vary the hues a little. We didn’t go straight orange and blue here, but instead used the two colors as a guideline and slid around the color spectrum a little within those two areas.
Personal Art is the Best:
Vintage Sofa, Squiggle & Lady Print via Highland Row Vintage | Round Pillow | Green Lumbar Pillow | Striped Lumbar Cover | Clay Pillow | Pink Throw | Rug courtesy Lulu and Georgia | Blue Vase | Mint Side Table | Black Sconce | Vintage Magazine Holder Side Table via Park West Vintage | Wood Box & Floor Lamp via Decades Antiques and Vintage | Wall Display Box | White Frames | Black Float Frame
Art is probably the most difficult thing for people to commit to. There is a strange amount of pressure to have it represent us. While there are a lot of good online art options out there, too often we either don’t buy anything and the walls remain empty OR we buy something generic just to fill the walls.
We wanted to show people how they can create meaningful art by putting heirlooms, collectibles, or souvenirs into ready-made frames. If it’s two dimensional (paper) and special to you, MAKE IT ART.
We did vintage postcards (maybe your grandma is a hoarder?), vintage matchbooks (such a fun thing to start collecting on trips) or even records that mean a lot to you (assuming you don’t want to play them). It could be old love letters, a cocktail napkin from the night you were engaged, as well as Polaroids, photo strips, etc. The point is ANYTHING that is two-dimensional can be framed as art. Sure, you want to think about the color palette and whether you like it visually, but if you collect and search long enough, you can put together a gallery wall with anything you have. Remember that you don’t have to frame EVERYTHING. Just narrow down what works well together in any given space (and know that you can always use other framed mementos in other spaces).
HOT TIP: If you want a piece to take up more space, think about putting a small matchbook or Polaroid in a really large frame with a big mat. It’s a modern cool way to frame that gives it more importance.
HOT TIP #2: Putting three-dimensional items in Lucite or display boxes (we got the one above at IKEA) like we did with that vintage squiggle sculpture. This could be a pretty rock, feathers collected by kids, or a vintage button collection.
Since we didn’t actually collect these over time, we shopped beforehand on Etsy and then scoured the antique stores in Atlanta (most of this came from Highland Row Vintage). These do NOT have to be hallway art or relegated to a den. Mix them in with a couple of larger pieces (like that vintage painting we found) and it really looks like a curated collection.
Vintage Leather Safari Chair via Decades Antiques and Vintage | Blue Side Table | Vintage Bookshelf and Vintage Wood Coasters via Highland Row Vintage | Round Stoneware Tray | Mint Vase | Bookends (via West Elm, not available online)
This is where you put on your “how can I make this random thrifted stuff cool” brain. We wanted to see what we could do with the time and budget limitations so thrifting and vintage shopping was crucial and we DID. We found the arched shelf at Highland Row Vintage ($95 + spray paint), the circus-elephant-drum-turned-coffee-table at Decades Antiques and Vintage ($165 + glass), black window bench at Decades Antiques and Vintage ($130), and two other side tables (the magazine table by the sofa was $27, the vintage typewriter table to the right of the fireplace was $115) all that same week as the install and upgraded with basic ideas (like spray paint and surfaces where necessary—i.e. the glass on the now coffee table).
Orange Abstract Print (via IKEA, not available online) | Vintage Picasso Poster via Highland Row Vintage | Vintage Black Bench via Kudzu | Curtains | White Ceramic Planter | Gray Planter | Plants via Citizen Supply | Mostly Plants Book | Terrain Book | New Kitchen Basics Book | Standing Mobile via Antique Factory
HOT TIP #3: Lean art in front of a window if it’s not giant and therefore doesn’t block too much light. It’s okay. Breaking the rules is fun. (If you plan on drawing the drapes, it’ll be a nightly annoyance, FYI, so think through how you plan on using the space before trying it…regardless, it’s just leaned art. No holes were made that need to be filled…just play around. The design police aren’t going to come knocking if it doesn’t work.)
Reupholster Risky (But Cool) Vintage Pieces:
We found these chairs for $325 for the set of two at Highland Row Vintage and reupholstered them for $800 (this was a RUSH job, so unless you need chairs in two days like we did, it should be far less) in a fabric that cost about $200 (we needed 12 yards). Altogether, the cost was just over $1,300 which, no is not CHEAP, but without the rush on the upholstery, would be a good price for totally unique chairs. (Also, for anyone local who is looking for an upholsterer, we used Antonio from 23 Upholstery; he doesn’t have a website but you can reach him at 678.993.6711.)
NOW, THE SOFA…
This beauty was found last minute at Highland Row Vintage and cost $650 in its original condition (we posted pictures of the before in yesterday’s intro post). Add the fabric (which had to be sourced from three different Joann’s because…#lastminute) for $500 and the RUSH upholstery cost of $850 and it equals = $2,000 (probably a few hundred less without the last-minute request for reupholstery). It’s definitely more than a major retailer but it’s way less than most vintage sofas on the market. While I think it’s amazing, the one thing I would change is to have the seat cushion innards be feather-wrapped foam, not just the stiff foam because it’s SO BOUNCY. My kids want a trampoline. This is probably not what they meant.
Do I want that sofa for the mountain house loft space? YES. I love it so very very very much. It has the exact level of uniqueness, simple lines and whimsy that makes my organs have a happy panic attack. This was a “HECK YES” since the first photo my team texted me earlier that week.
Repeat Design Elements—Over & Over:
Here’s what we repeated: Thin black metal (via the coffee table base, the bench, the lamps, the mirror, the vintage bookcase, vintage mobile). Warm wood and leather (vintage safari chair, objects, side table). Circles. Teal, terra cotta and even hits of yellow. Repeat themes and elements in different ways to make a space feel unique but cohesive. I suppose this is the recipe for the “effortless” look that we all want, but that is far from effortless. This is also how a room will look and feel balanced, cohesive and yet eclectic and unique. (FYI, that fan was courtesy of Schoolhouse and in a white, it doesn’t stand out too much; rather it blends into the ceiling but when your eye catches it, it’s at least cool and modern.)
Vintage Leather Safari Chair and Large-Scale Abstract Painting via Decades Antiques and Vintage | Clip Light via Antique Factory | Faux Suede Blue Box | Mixed Marble Round Box | Marble and Copper Dip Bowl | Misc. Wood Objects via Vintage Shops.
The space was shared with the dining nook so we dressed that out, too, working in the same theme and color scheme.
We found the dining chairs on Craigslist for $350 and paired it with the IKEA pedestal table. To repeat that teal from the living room, those awesome Industry West caned stools break up the neutrals over here. Of course, what makes that shot is the almost unthinkably small vintage black and white tea set that we picked up at Park West Vintage in Marietta.
As you can see, the same elements are repeated there—wood, black, white, and a combo of classic/streamlined and sculptural/vintage.
This job was incredibly fun. So stimulating. Challenging in the ways where you feel like you stretched as a person. I’m so proud of myself and my team (Emily B., Julie and Grace, who isn’t pictured here) for flying across the country, design blind, into a major deadline, full of fun, panic and ultimately style success.
Thank you Invitation Homes for being innovative and creative enough to come up with and seamlessly execute such a partnership. Being given creative freedom on all fronts makes this project so rewarding, for everyone involved. If you’re in the Atlanta area and want to see this room (and all the others, more info on that below), there’s a free open house tomorrow, Saturday, May 18 from 2 to 6 pm (register here) in Kennesaw. GO SEE IT. I won’t be there, as I’ve trekked back home, but you should still go if you can.
Like I mentioned, there are other rooms in this Make It Home Show House designed by five other designers/bloggers that are also worth checking out. Here are all their Instagram accounts so you can follow along:
- Kevin O’Gara of Thou Swell
- Erin Marshall of Live Pretty on a Penny
- Brittni Mehlhoff of Paper and Stitch
- Brittany Hayes of Addison’s Wonderland
- Rhoda Vickers of Southern Hospitality
Again, thank you Invitation Homes (and some of the other brands who donated product like Industry West, Lulu and Georgia and Schoolhouse). If you’re in the market for a pet-friendly, high-quality, updated home to lease in desirable neighborhoods, head to their site to see all the 17 markets they are in (they are literally all across the US from Atlanta and Tampa and the Carolinas to Minneapolis, Seattle and SoCal with 80,000+ properties). It’s a very cool concept, particularly as it seems to get harder and harder in some parts of the country to be a homeowner.
OH and if you’re not in Atlanta, you can always take a virtual tour of the home here and see more behind-the-scenes and exclusive footage from the show house on the Invitation Homes Instagram account.
***photography by Sara Ligorria-Tramp for EHD, art direction by me, design and styling assistance by Emily Bowser and Julie Rose