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A Rustic Mid-Century Family Room

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Sometimes we get clients that are based right here in LA, who don’t want to do the full service design, yet still want to take advantage of our initial in-person consultation, along with our E-Design service. So today, we’re sharing an example of one of those clients (no, not the photo above – that’s Bri’s house that I designed years ago but it was a big source of inspiration for the client so we made it our opener photos.)

Ginny traveled down the coast to Palos Verdes to meet with the Davidson family, who are a very sweet family of 4, with two young boys (one of whom was very interested in what Ginny was doing when she was measuring out the room. They may have a budding designer on their hands).

Living Room Before

In their E-Design submission they wrote that they needed help with the design and layout of their 1960’s California ranch-style family/living room. They were having trouble making the room feel warm and inviting, and in keeping it kid-friendly without going too over the top kid-friendly. They mainly use the room to hang and watch TV, so it gets quite a bit of use. Stylistically they have a love of rustic, mid-century modern, and wanted “bright, friendly colors, but open to suggestions. The room gets great light and we don’t want to darken the area, ” and didn’t want to see “dark brooding colors. Uniquely sharp edges and objects.” They were pretty open to replacing most things in the room except for the TV on the wall, the two blue chairs (which are great and we wouldn’t have replaced them anyway), the piano, and the mantle.

One of the main issues with this room is the layout, and as you can probably see from the photos above, the sofa covers up the fireplace. And although us Angelinos don’t always require a big roaring fire, if you have one it’s nice to have it on display, or even use it on those 5 days of the year when the temperature dips below 60 (eye roll)!


One of our designers,  Ali,  got to work on the overall look and feel and came up with these very happy, bright, and playful inspiration images that give off that cosy California, rustic, mid-century vibe they were looking for.


After chatting with Ginny about the layout, Ali came up with two options that would help to expose the fireplace, yet still allow a good amount of seating for the family. This was a tricky room to lay out, because the piano could only fit in one spot, and the TV was already mounted to the wall as it logistically didn’t make sense to move it elsewhere. Although it allowed for a lot of seating, their existing sectional was really taking over the room. We tried to make it work in several different locations but just ended up causing more problems, which is why we ended up switching it out to a smaller sofa with different sets of chairs.


Although the first option does work well and allows all the pieces to be in there, the sofa feels slightly tight to the piano and the fireplace wall. The second option works better on paper, and allows a better navigation through the space. It also allows for a more open entrance into the space from the hallway.


Drapes | Hardware | Three Houses Print | Blue Dot Print | Out To Sea Print | Yellow Abstract PrintSofa | Yellow Throw Pillows | Brass Mirror | Repose Gray Paint | Patterned Pillows | Shibori Pillow | Bookcase | Lounge Chair | Brass Objects (no longer available) | White Vases (similar) | Brass Floor Lamp | Accent Table | Credenza Vintage | Rug | Leather Armchair | Coffee Table | Basket | Throw Blanket (similar


Drapes | Hardware | Three Houses Print | Blue Dot Print | Out To Sea Print | Yellow Abstract PrintSofa | Yellow Throw Pillows | Brass Mirror | Repose Gray Paint | Patterned Pillows | Shibori Pillow | Bookcase | Lounge Chair | Brass Objects (no longer available) | White Vases (similar) | Brass Floor Lamp | Accent Table | Credenza Vintage | Rug | Leather Armchair | Coffee Table | Throw Blanket (similar

Ali came up with the two options above, the only difference being the coffee tables: One is square, and the other rectangular. Here is what we sent them to accompany their presentation:

Sofa/Chairs: We kept your existing side chairs, but opted to add a sofa and a leather wing back chair in the space instead of a sectional. We feel it fits much better and allows you to take advantage of your fireplace. We picked this cool mid-century style sofa in a neutral gray color, which is nice for kids and is a good foundation for bringing in color and pattern with the use of different pillows. For the pillows, we picked yellow and blue options in patterns that coordinate nicely with the artwork. We also picked a lounger chair in a navy and aqua color combo as a fun addition for the kids.

Credenza: We kept the credenza in the same location. However, we shopped around and found this unique vintage credenza in a beautiful solid oak wood.  It is in great condition and sized perfectly to fit the space. It also allows for extra storage.

Coffee Table: To keep things warm and inviting, we gave you two options of a wood coffee table with built-in storage.  Both of these options work well for the layout of the space, with one being square and the other rectangular.

Rug: Went with a simple Moroccan style rug with a simple playful pattern. This feels very cozy, and will pop off the wood floors.

Mantle/Art Options: We might suggest adding a larger and thicker piece of wood as your mantle and then love the idea of switching out your existing mirror for a more simple option such as this round brass option. We also like the idea of accessorizing by leaning smaller art on one side, and possibly vases or another sculptural item on the other side. We included several different art options in brighter colors that all coordinate well with each other and the other colors in the room.

Bookcase/Built Ins: Because there are a lot of woods and color in the space, we like the idea of keeping things light and balanced, and selected this white parsons bookcase. On the other side of the fireplace, where you have built-ins, we suggest switching out those shelves to thicker wood shelves (maybe even using a reclaimed wood) as shown in the inspiration photos.

Drapes: Because the main window in the room is so large, we suggest doing custom drapes in a light colored linen fabric. Barn & Willow offers an easy way to custom order the specific size to fit your windows. (Note: the cost on the spreadsheet is an estimate) – (note: we always include a cost breakdown spreadsheet with links so that it’s easy for clients to purchase the products).

Walls: We have suggested that you paint the walls out in a gray, however the concept would work well if you were to paint the walls white. We would suggest White Dove as it has more of a creaminess to it, so it’s not as stark white.

They came back with a very lovely response to the presentation we sent them “Big thanks to everyone who worked on this project. Well done! We love the options and look forward to incorporating nearly all of the suggestions. The one piece that may not work is the credenza. Even though we love the style, uniqueness, and storage aspects of the piece, it wouldn’t work well as a media cabinet. If you have other suggestions for that specific piece, that would be great.  Otherwise the plans are wonderful and we appreciate all the hard work!”


1. Annex Media Stand | 2. Maggie 2-Drawer Media Center | 3. Mid-century Media Center | 4. Grove Media Cabinets | 5. Andrej Sideboard | 6. Siena 4-Drawer Cabinet

With our E-Designs we tend to offer one round of revisions included in the price, but this is depending on the extent of the revisions required. With this being a quicker update we were able to include this within our scope of works. We sent them 6 different options of media units that we felt would work with their design. I think our favorite, that’s most similar to the original credenza, would be #3 and #4.  Overall they were super happy with the results and are expecting the sofa, coffee table, and media unit this week!

Interested in having us help you out with a room layout or full redesign? Visit our services page for more details.

*** Design boards by Ali Henri for EHD with design direction by Ginny Macdonald, overseen by Emily Henderson.

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8 years ago

Lovely! I know this is an E-design and not something that you’re installing yourselves… but I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering if there’s anyway we could get an update sometime down the road? If the client is willing, of course. Even if we don’t get one… I absolutely love seeing posts like these! They are great inspiration.

8 years ago
Reply to  Maggie

I second that!

8 years ago
Reply to  Emily

I completely understand. Even if you were to send me a detailed description of everything I needed to buy/do for a room; it would still take me a very long time. Life, work, spouses and kids have a way of slowing these things down.

8 years ago

I agree with Maggie’s comment…we would love to see the implementation of the e-designs (even if not styled by you)!

rachelle bell
8 years ago

AHH i was scrolling anxiously waiting for the finished reveal! I know pro photogs for homes are super expensive but even an iPhone snap of how they implemented it would be rad! 🙂

8 years ago

Very cool! Thank you for showing the process for your E-design clients. It’s good that Ginny was able to visit the space in person to get the measurements. How do you work this way when the client isn’t in driving distance? Do the clients measure themselves? What about seeing the general light of the space?


Love those last two media center alternatives! And that living room inspiration is right up my alley.

8 years ago

Way to go Ali and Ginny!!!!! I am hopping on the final reveal bandwagon…..would LOVE to see pictures once they get everything in place.

8 years ago
Reply to  Emily

I’m one of your super slow installers. Ack! I’m so sorry! We ran into some issues with the windows in our bedroom when we tried to change out the blinds. Basically, a previous owner put up junky mini-blinds and then “sealed” them in by using corner trim around the windows. It’s causing a huge headache and now we have to replace all the trim around our windows just so we can upgrade the blinds. So annoying. That and having a baby slowed the whole project down. I’m doing my best to get everything else finished so we can send you at least some iPhone pictures. Thanks for being patient!

8 years ago

This room is gorgeous! This is literally everything I wish my living room was!


8 years ago

Oh my gosh! Thank you so much for including my Etsy shop, Glittery Moon Vintage, as a part of your mood board items in this post! I’m fan-girl freaking out here! LOL!

I have always been such a fan of yours and your style has inspired me with my shop and photography.

8 years ago

This is beautiful!

But also: white shag in a heavy traffic, kid-friendly room: how??

8 years ago

What a beautiful design. Thanks so much for recommending the Brasshopper floor lamp! The Davidsons will be receiving it very soon, so I am really looking forward to seeing the completed room!

8 years ago

Love this kind of post.

8 years ago

Love all of your choices as usual! Can you tell me where one of the coffee tables is from? In the Inspiration photo that had the piano, where is that glass/wood coffee table from? Thanks!

8 years ago

I want to see what they do in the end!

Also, I LOVE this kind of post. It really helps me to understand how a designer looks at the world and how they do their job. Love it all.

8 years ago

Maggie is so right. I love that old fashion media center #4.

8 years ago

This is random, but I have a tip to share on using furniture for media cabinets! We found this gadget thanks to a really old article on Design Sponge and it has changed my life forever: search Amazon for an IR Repeater! You install it with double sided tape basically and don’t need any of your boxes or electronics to be visible to use your remotes, so we hide everything inside a cabinet now that is never opened (granted we did have to drill a hole for cords out the back). The greatest $28 I’ve spent in a verrrrrry long time.

8 years ago

Hey Emily. Your blog is awesome.

8 years ago

Thanks Emily for your every blog. 🙂 (y)

8 years ago

Emily love your blog.

I came onto your blog while focusing just slightly surfing. Nice strategy, for the next time I will be bookmarking at once.

Just wow Emily!!!! no words .

8 years ago

great post thanks for share