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A Rustic-Modern Living Room

Hi folks, it’s Melanie from the design team here at EHD (but Em and the crew call me ‘Mel’ if you’re like ‘ew, who?’ or new to the blog) and today we’ve got an E-Design for you that we recently wrapped up! Our e-design client Emma let us know that her living room was craving a family friendly seating area with enough room for her children to have dance parties. (She definitely has her priorities straight). We had a fun budget to play with and almost full range on switching out existing pieces, so we were really excited about it, and her only request was that we needed to keep was the Eames lounger and work it into the new design plan.

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Emma sent through a handful of pictures of what the space currently looked like and also let us know that she was drawn to spaces that are Mid-Century in style with soft touches throughout. She also mentioned that she wanted to see neutrals, black-and-whites and pastels worked into the color palette. With those requests in mind, one of our designers Ali started the E-Design by pulling together a handful of inspiration images based on what Emma had initially told us she liked and disliked, and what she wanted the vibe of the room to feel like, which as you can see in these pictures is calming, cozy and stunning.

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After sending off the inspiration and hearing great initial feedback from our client, Ali needed to take some time off as she welcomed baby number 3 to the family – CONGRATS! So, I took over the E-design and began designing based on what they had already established – which is why I am here now walking you through this post (in case you were wondering). We started by focusing on layout and textural elements and sent this off to Emma:

“The first design shows two sofas facing each other to create a conversation area with tons of seating. Light grey colors, wood tones and light pink accents speak to your inspiration images and create a cozy but styled living space.  The tall bookcase would go to the left of the fireplace and the Eames lounger would go to the right to make a reading nook by the window. The smaller console would go behind the sofa closest to the door, creating an opportunity for cute vignettes as you enter your home. The coffee table is an amazing vintage find, that is both unique and fitting for the style you’re after. “

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Tall Shelf | Black Leather Pillow | Pink Woven Pillow | Lumbar Pillow | Pendant Light | Floor Lamp | Mirror | Paint Color | Leather Accent Chair & Ottoman | Side Table | Sofa | Rug | Coffee Table (no longer available) | Tripod Floor Lamp | Throw Blanket | Set of 2 Accent Tables | Shag Pillow | Black Striped Pillow | Lumbar Pillow | Console | Plant Stand

As you’ll see in the floor plan below, two sofas which face each other create a nice seating area for her and her family and balances the room quite nicely. But the real questions – is there enough room for dancing?

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We also sent over a second option for her to review:

“This design opens the space a bit more and skews a little southwest. We removed the pink accents as black and white pillows best bring out the tones in this rug. The current chandelier is super cute, and would look great with all three designs but… we’ve included a more organic option just for fun! The softness of the light’s shape as well as the warm expansive light it will produce would help make the room feel comfortable and informal.” 

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Tall Shelf | Black Leather Pillow | Studded Pillow | Lumbar Pillow | Pendant Light | Floor Lamp | Mirror | Paint Color | Leather Accent Chair & Ottoman | Side Table | Sofa | Rug | Coffee Table (no longer available) | Tripod Floor Lamp | Upholstered Side Chairs | Set of 2 Accent Tables | Studded Lumbar Pillow | Black Striped Pillow | Grey and Black Lumbar Pillow | Console | Plant Stand

It’s starting to feel like there’s more room for dancing in this layout below…

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Option number three provides another seating layout and brings back the pastels Emma first responded to.

“This last option showcases a custom sectional with an optional extra chair. This sofa includes the Eames lounger a bit more into the conversation. Clad Home has two sectionals that would be great to customize for your space. The Belmont is a sofa with a chaise whereas the Murray has a back on most of the chaise. We recommend ordering free fabric swatches so you can see the colors in your home and feel all the different textures. Light grey linens would look great!”

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Tall Shelf | Black Leather Pillow | Pink Woven Pillow | Lumbar Pillow | Pendant Light | Floor Lamp | Mirror | Paint Color | Leather Accent Chair & Ottoman | Side Table | Sectional | Rug | White Arm Chair | Coffee Table | Tripod Floor Lamp | Throw Blanket | Set of 2 Accent Tables | Shag Pillow | Black Striped Pillow | Lumbar Pillow | Console | Plant Stand | Sectional |

This plan moves the Eames lounger back into a reading nook. The additional chair could potentially fit between the coffee table and the lounger, or be a seat to bring out for larger gatherings.

“As for flooring we recommend a nice medium toned wood. Similar to what Emily used in her own house.  We hope this helps you identify a direction but of course please order samples and see them in your space before purchasing in large quantities.”

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Emma’s response was positive and her feedback helped us hone in on the design and provide her with her dream living room:

“I really like designs 2 & 3. I actually tried the sofa arrangement from design 1 when we moved here, and while it looked really good, it didn’t have the flow and open feeling I like in this space. .  I’m leaning towards design 2 because it gives the most seating options and I love the sofa in design 2, but I’m worried about the linen. We have 3 young kids and a dog. Our current sofa has slipcovers that I wash often and it’s still trashed!  What about the same sofa in leather? Unfortunately, Anthropologie doesn’t have the that color sofa in leather, so I realize changing it may throw off the whole color scheme. 

Also, I love the optional ivory Anthropologie chair in design 3. Would 2 of those work as the 2 chairs in design 2? I know I’m taking myself over budget with these ideas, and maybe that’s a lot of leather in the room??! The drop chandelier is lovely but it only takes one 60w bulb and I had one like it but it wasn’t enough light. Any other suggestions?”

We took Emma’s feedback and came up with design number 4… increasing the budget is always fun! There’s nothing more helpful than hearing what a client has tried before and disliked. It helps us avoid a design that won’t work and move right along to a new option. If a client is okay increasing budget, a leather sofa is definitely the most sturdy option. (Although most linen upholstery fabrics are polyester and pretty durable). We really loved the Anthropologie sofa we initially presented but unfortunately it isn’t carried in a typical saddle leather which we think would look best. So we recommended the following West Elm option and as Emma guessed, this leather sofa and two leather chairs would be too much of the same. Luckily the chair we loved came in linen and we recommended Emma order swatches of a few to see what looked best in person.  Now that we have a sofa locked down we recommended 4-6 pillows of varying sizes and welcomed Emma to choose her favorites from the options we’d shown her so far.

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Tall Shelf | Black Leather Pillow | Studded Pillow | Lumbar Pillow | Ceiling Light | Floor Lamp | Mirror | Paint Color | Leather Accent Chair & Ottoman | Sofa | Rug | Coffee Table | Tripod Floor Lamp | Grey Arm Chairs | Set of 2 Accent Tables | Black Striped Pillow | Grey and Black Lumbar Pillow | ConsoleSide Table | Plant Stand

“For over the fireplace we were envisioning the large black mirror. We also saw one of the standing lamps paired with the Eames and the other more towards the plant (as you’ll see on the floorplan).”

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It’s so fun to see all of the options we sent to Emma in once place. Which one is your favorite? I’m loving the last one! We’ve yet to see updated photos but we’re sure the space looks great.

Don’t forget if you’re interested in more E-designs and Design Agony posts to check out: A Neutral and Eclectic Living Area,   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. Or if you have a design problem that you think we could help you on, head over to our design services area.

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7 years ago

This is amazing. I love the neutral warmth!

7 years ago

I think this might be one of my favorite “E-Design” projects! Whislt I probably woudn’t go that route with my place, I do love it. And you were so thoughtful and careful to include all of her requests and original ideas into all 3 options. I have to say I, too, was leaning towards number 2 – but I still had some reservations. The alternative you provided turned out incredible! It will look so good! I wish you could show us the results…

Congrats, Mell! And do more E-design posts, guys, it’s the best!

7 years ago

Wow what a fantastic post. Melanie you did such a great job!

Some e-designs feel very impersonal but you found a way to still engage with your client. Nothing cookie cutter about this.

Definitely going to keep you in mind if I ever get stuck with design decisions.

Have a wonderful day!

Emily S
7 years ago

Oh my goodness! We literally have the exact same West Elm leather sofa, Anthro coffee table, and that Anthro linen chair in indigo. I love this e-design overall (and it helped me feel good about my past purchases!)

7 years ago

Love it! Super cool but livable. Might have to copy Emma 🙂

(The link to the final sofa isn’t working, fyi)

7 years ago

Loving this look, I am obsessed with those Rhys chairs!

Katy DeBardelaben
7 years ago

I would have liked to see at least one layout option that incorporated the Eames lounger instead of being relegated to the corner in each one. It seems like it was left in there just to suffice the client, but not actually be included in a real way. We have an Eames lounger and it’s so comfortable and so classically beautiful that I can’t imagine shoving it in a corner where it wouldn’t see much use.

7 years ago

Hi! I love the leather couch in design 4 and want to know where it’s from, but the link is broken 🙁

7 years ago

Love that coffee table in Option 3 and 4!! Is it the same one Emily has in her current Living Room?

Also – the link looks like it’s the same 1st Dibs link from the first two rooms. Hoping the second one is from a more mass-market source?? Could you update the link?

Love this whole vibe!

7 years ago

LOVE this! Wish I would have seen it a year ago when we did a similar upgrade at our place. this is beautiful.
For those interested, we recently bought a ‘inspired by’ eames chair from here (this is NOT an affliate link):
much lower price, but love it. quality has been great and has been put to the test by 2 kids and a dog.

7 years ago

LOVE these posts and the blog! I am in the middle of a remodel and they are SO HELPFUL.

One thing I would love to see with these e-design posts is to see how the client ended up styling the room themselves. They could maybe send in their photos? Just a thought since who doesn’t love a good before and after picture?!

Love the blog- keep up the amazing work!

7 years ago

I love it! I just want to say that I had that Anthro coffee table, and while loved it, it was too tippy and not good with my 1 and 4 year old. While heavy, it would have toppled over if one leaned or climbed on it. Also, the shapes are all so different, and mine came with so many jagged edges and it didn’t seem like a family friendly table. Too many opportunities to fall and get a corner in the eye! I ended up with a RH russian oak coffee table that looked great with my rustic modern look.

7 years ago

I bought a West Elm sofa few years back and have never hated anything so beautiful so much. I could have endured WE’s horrendous customer service if the couch weren’t offensively uncomfortable and unfunctional, but I ended up selling the couch a year later because it was almost impossible to sit on. Has anyone else had this experience with WE sofas?

7 years ago
Reply to  Laura

Yes Laura. I also had the matching experience with customer service.

7 years ago
Reply to  Jessica

I have that same couch that I purchased a year ago. I don’t find it uncomfortable at all! Not sure if they’ve updated it or I’m just not as picky. 🙂

BUT what I will say about it is that it is aniline leather so it absorbs every little thing. I now have pen, marker and crayon all over it, thanks to a little artist in my family. It also scratches very easily. The marks slowly start to fade over time, but they’re there for good. So word of warning if you have kids…It’s actually not super kid-friendly.

7 years ago

You just know my heart! My husband is born and raised in Africa and it has been difficult to find the aesthetic that really represented our white, bright, neutral style but still felt like Africa. This look so just right!

7 years ago

This might be my Danish sensibilities talking, but what if the chandelier was hung a bit lower? It is centred on top of the coffee table, so I think it would create some coziness and intimacy around the seating area. (perhaps it could be in the way during dance party situations if the furniture was removed).

I love this room! Question about the final chandelier chosen: Any idea if it really provides a lot of light? Do you think it would suffice to be the main light or even single light in a small room, such as a kitchen?

7 years ago

LOVE this space! And love reading through the whole process. I have never considered hiring anyone for e-design, but this post is making me reconsider.

I recently purchased the light fixture in Option 4 (the Marimba LED Chandelier) but unfortunately I think it is the wrong scale for my space. If anyone is interested, I will sell it to you at a discount! Still new in box.

7 years ago

Ya, the natural feelings are present! Love it!

7 years ago

Very nice! Since you guys buy a lot of furniture can you provide a couple of reassuring words about Anthropologie furniture? I love a lot of their stuff but the few reviews I’ve found online say the qualify is truly terrible especially of couches etc.

7 years ago

Love the striped chairs in option 2!

7 years ago

Love your blog (I actually first fell in love with your designs on HGTV Design Star). Plus, these posts that provide great product recommendations that I can apply at my own house are super helpful. It is especially helpful that you include budget-friendly options because we just bought our first home and don’t have a ton of money to decorate. Thanks for the design help!

7 years ago

Awesome Post.. Living Room

7 years ago
Reply to  Mantra

Awesome Post. Thanks for sharing

7 years ago
Reply to  Mantra

Awesome Thought Emily.. Thanks