Well, it’s done. After a whirlwind 7 months of being in our apartment we’ve finished putting it together. And so, it is with great pleasure (and exhaustion), that I present part one of my Makeover Takeover series – The Living Room.
FIRST let’s rewind real quick. Some of you might remember my recent introduction/ask the audience post, but for those of you who don’t, but are ready to move on with your life here’s the short introduction: My name’s Sara, and I’m the social media coordinator and in-house photographer here at EHD. This past September my boyfriend Macauley (an art director at motion graphics studio Gentleman Scholar) and I moved into this 1-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles together. We wanted the space to reflect us as individuals, but also have a strong sense of our shared life (gross, right?). All while looking pulled together, which at the tender age of 26 & 27 sounded nearly impossible. So we decided to start from scratch. We sold all of Mac’s heavier, black, ‘bachelor’ style furniture, and I didn’t bring anything from my parents house where I’d been living (see that room here).
The bones of our apartment are so damn good. Wood floors, huge windows, cool architectural moments, lots of space, and original tile from the 50s (not shown here, but my kitchen is mint green and my bathroom is pastel purple. Like very, very purple). So we really had a good blank canvas to start from.
This is where we left off in the last post. We had most of our big pieces in, but nothing to give the room warmth or character. Just lots of wood floors to slide around on.
Now it has so much more of everything. Warmth from the rug, personality from the art, and life from the plants. And we love spending time in here. In fact, last Sunday after the shoot we did almost nothing but lay on that couch and binge watch Legion and Big Little Lies.
We tried 6 different rugs in the space before choosing one (and asked all of you for your opinions on the blog). In the end we went with this Texa rug in Fog, from Article. While it might not be the most exciting rug in terms of color or pattern, it is the most comfortable rug. And it’s very pretty in person. It has this soft grey heather color which will hide our cat’s hair perfectly, and a thick woven texture that cozies up the space fast. With a lot of our furniture being on the darker side we wanted to go with a lighter rug so the pieces could ‘pop,’ but didn’t trust ourselves to go white or cream (and probably never will). So grey was a good compromise.
Our sofa is also from Article. The color of the leather is perfect, it’s super soft (in a cozy broken-in way), and it fits both of us comfortably. Lots of readers asked about the comfort of the sofa in our first post and I can definitively say that it is awesome. The coffee table was a vintage piece I picked up for free from an old job, which my dad refinished for me. Then it sat in a storage unit for almost two years because I didn’t have anywhere to put it, but I couldn’t bear to get rid of it. And those books on the table are bit sentimental, as they belonged to my grandfather. He was an equine vet, and had a lot of these beautiful leather bound, gold embossed horse books. When he passed away late last year I got ahold of these two – ‘Horses of the Desert,’ and ‘The Arabian Horse.’ The lesson here, between the table and the books, is that hoarding is 100% acceptable.
We also love everything on that couch – the top left pillow is made by interior designer and our friend Sarah Zachary, the throw blanket is made by Mac’s friend’s company PLTNC, the small linen pillow is from Cultiver, the top right pillow is from the wonderful Jillian Rene. The cat is pretty good too.
There’s a separate room next to the living room which is supposed to function as a dining space, but since we rarely sit down at the table to eat (shame, shame, shame), we felt like dedicating a whole room to a dining space wouldn’t really serve our needs. So instead we decided to put a small dining set in the far corner of the living room. It’s still there, and we can use it, but that extra room is now an office (stay tuned next week for that reveal), which is much more useful.
To the left of the front door we hung this polaroid piece I made, and had framed by Framebridge. A lot of people have asked me how I did it, and it’s insanely easy. I bought a piece of 32×40 poster board at an art store, lightly penciled in a grid (which was by far the hardest part), and stuck on the polaroids with double sided foam squares I picked up in the scrapbooking aisle. Not only is it a really graphic piece, but it’s super personal, and our friends love looking through the photos and seeing where they show up. I take a lot of polaroids, so I’ll probably have to make a new one every year now.
We also had two pieces by local LA artist Anna Ullman framed and hung them over the dining table. Mac and I actually visited her studio to pick them out, and it was a very cool experience to pick out pieces for our home together, along with the artist, who could tell us the process and story of just about each and every piece. It made it insanely hard to choose just two…which is why we left with three. She sells her work entirely through Instagram, and is just generally a really cool human.
All the curtains and roman shades in our apartment were custom made by Country Curtains, who were obscenely wonderful to work with. We chose their washed linen curtains with a classic French pleat in the living room and bedroom to bring back in a hint of ‘traditional’ without being overwhelming. Oh, and those dining chairs were a steal at the Rose Bowl flea market. We got 5 of them for $50. What is life?
This picture makes it look like we live in a verdant jungle, but here’s the truth – almost everything was bought at the DTLA Flower Market that morning, and there’s really only a 50/50 chance they’ll survive the summer. IT’S NOT FOR MY LACK OF TRYING. I’ve since moved the Jasmine and succulents out to our patio for their dose of California sunshine, and I’ve done my best to figure out watering for everyone else. But they all look pretty happy in the photo, and that’s how I’d like to remember them. Alive, happy, and alive.
You can see how open our floor plan is from that shot above. Our living room opens directly into our office, which opens directly into our kitchen, which connects to our hallway, which you can also access via the living room. There aren’t any doors until you get to the back of the apartment. It all gives the place a very airy, spacious vibe, but also means it all has to feel cohesive.
That cute little cat bed is from Forma Living, and Lady likes to climb in there and use the walls as a scratch pad. Sometimes we’ll set it in front of the window at the other end of the living room so she can lay in it and look out over the world, or during the winter we’ll set it in front of the wall heater in our bedroom so she can lounge in the warmth. We just want to create a safe and loving environment where our cat is free to express herself and feel supported (#blessed #letthembelittle). We’re honestly the worst kind of people.
The art above the cat bed I think is hilarious, and by writer and artist Dave Eggers. Mac’s mom gave us those two pieces (plus one more in the office) and I’m really happy we could get them up on a wall. On the mantle is a vintage barrel label Mac found at the Long Beach flea market, and a little oil painting I did. I didn’t realize until I was getting everything framed that Framebridge does awesome canvas framing, so if you have a canvas piece that needs framing you should check them out. Let’s ignore the cool vintage bird ladder, since it’s Emily’s and I’m hoping she doesn’t remember I took it and never brought it back, and instead focus on those awesome wall sconces from Cedar & Moss. Replacing electrical components in this old lady was a nightmare, but installing these sconces were worth it.
Let’s take a peek into the hallway, shall we? Tessa made it look SO much brighter than it normally ever gets, but I’d like to pretend we get this much sun in here. That hanging piece on the back wall is actually a scarf from Block Shop that I decided to use as a wall tapestry (per Ginny’s suggestion). I created a hanging solution that wouldn’t damage the scarf, and felt very crafty and accomplished. I’m sure something pre-made and better already exists, but life isn’t worth living if you can’t make things more difficult for yourself. *Edit: A commenter below shared this link to this awesome option, if you enjoy sanity more than DIY.
What you can’t see from that shot is that next to the hallway shelving, there on the right, is a little nook…
Voilá. It used to be a phone nook, back in the ‘old days’ (is it crazy that I still remember the number to my childhood landline from 16 years ago?). Obviously we don’t have a landline, and subsequently were at a loss with what to do with the space. Then while Brady was over he was like ‘bar area?’ as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. This is why Brady needs to be carefully watched. He’s too good, you know? Suspiciously good some might say. It’s not normal.
He helped me set it up (which means I let him set it up, and gave him positive affirmations while I watched), and it does look good. Right under that pretty brass flower sconce is the prefect place for my random lady oil pastel portrait too. Mac isn’t the biggest fan of her (something about having portraits of people we don’t know being weird), but I’m in love. So now she’s tucked away, but I can still go visit whenever I want, chat about my day, and share a
nightly occasional drink with her. This is a much classier set-up than the ‘random dusty bottles on top of the fridge’ look we previously had going.
We picked up that little entry console at the Rose Bowl, after I stalked it for several months. I’m not exaggerating. Every 2nd Sunday, for 5 months (or more) I would go ask the vendor how much it was. It started at $420, and I finally bought it for $280. Was that incredibly risky? Yes. But sometimes you’re poor and risks are all you can afford.
Also featured here is a another plant that will surely die, my favorite Target mirror, an awesome leather CB2 runner, and a peek at our vintage German anatomy poster (which you’ll get a better look at in the bedroom reveal).
I quickly want to point out that we also swapped out the ceiling light in the hallway and installed this much prettier piece from Schoolhouse Electric. It’s a small change that just makes everything in the hallway looked pull together. Especially since it matches all the knobs and it matches the sconce in our bedroom vanity nook, which you’ll see soon. So it’s kind of this nice threw-line (BUT I forgot to tell Tessa she needed to shoot alllll the way up, so I took this photo above really quickly before work so you could see!).
I can’t really put into words how relieved I am to have the apartment fully furnished. It feels like a dream to have it looking this pulled together and we’re so lucky to have had the help and support of the EHD team and all the sponsors who worked with us on this project. A big shout-out to Mac, the world’s most patient boyfriend, who kept his cool even when I asked for his opinion and then ignored it time and time again. Stay tuned for two more posts – the office, and the bedroom. And if you’ve got any questions pop ’em down below and I’ll do my best to answer!
1. Navy Pillow | 2. White Mudcloth Pillow | 3. Leather Pouf | 4. Matches | 5. Cement Candle Holder | 6. Sconce (in architectural black) | 7. Curtains | 8. Curtain Rod | 9. Ball Finials | 10. Brass Photo Stands | 11. Sofa | 12. Side Table | 13. Black Vase | 14. Brass Cup Candle | 15. Frame | 16. Chair | 17. Gray Rug | 18. Coffee Table (similar) | 19. Smoke Grey Pillows | 20. Media Console | 21. “Yellow Agate” Print | 22. “Pyrite 2” Print | 23. “Untitled, Don’t Cry for this One He Went to Law School” Print (similar) | 24. Black and White Throw Blanket | 25. Dining Chair (similar) | 26. Dining Table (similar) | 27. Pet Bed | 28. Blue Scarf | 29. Brass Letter Organizer | 30. Stone Eye Dish | 31. Burgundy Rug (similar) | 32. Mirror | 33. Copper Cocktail Shaker | 34. Black Flush Mount | 35. Glass Drum Shade | 36. Black Cabinet Knob | 37. Black Drawer Pull | 38. Brass Flower Sconce | 39. “The Essential New York Times Book of Cocktails” | 40. “Cocktail Techniques” | 41. Runner
**Photos by Tessa Neustadt
For more of Sara’s Makeover Takeover : Office | Childhood Bedroom | Living Room Update | Bedroom
SOOOOOO good, Sara!!! I’m obsessed with every detail (especially your cat)…
Amazing! I will confess I wasn’t originally on Team Gray Rug, but I’m shaking my pompoms for him now.
Sara – I love how it all came together and you definitely have a great eye for detail. My only suggestion is that blank space that used to be a fireplace seems to be screaming for something. I’m all about hanging art at untraditional heights and this would be the perfect application of that. worth a consideration, maybe?
And my favorite detail is the scarf hung at the end of the hallway. LOVE IT!!
GUYSSSS. I’ve been wanting to hang a Block Shop scarf forever, you can’t leave us hanging (ha) about how you hung it. NO FAIR.
True. I am already scheming, but she should do a DIY.
Hey guys! So to hang it I bought two pieces of plywood at and art store (I don’t really know how to describe them other than than they were about an 1 1/2″ wide, and maybe like 36″ wide? I found them in the “wood” section where they have bird houses and stuff. Then I stained them a darker brown color with some wood stain I picked up at the hardware store and drilled holes on either end of each piece of wood to hand up with string. THEN I bought some strip magnets and glued them onto the inner faces of the wood pieces, that way I could sandwich the scarf between them, but wouldn’t have to damage the scarf. So it went wood, magnet, scarf, magnet, wood. If that makes any sense…which it might not? Words are hard. I wanted to do the same thing for the bottom to weigh it down, but the art store was out of the wood strips, so I just whip stitched a small dowel into the bottom of the scarf, which caused minimal minimal damage.
Could you just use a skirt hanger or two to create the same effect? You could remove the hook and hang string if that’s your thing. This is the style I mean: https://www.uline.com/Product/Detail/S-19124/Hangers/Deluxe-Cedar-Hanger-Skirt-13?pricode=WY875&gadtype=pla&id=S-19124&gclid=CLqV4d7Js9MCFdRKDQodAIYNLA&gclsrc=aw.ds
Or, ifyou are lazy like me, buy something like this: https://www.amazon.com/Modern-Painting-Magnetic-Printing-Art-40cm/dp/B01MZX0LPO/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1492710180&sr=8-2&keywords=magnetic+poster+hanger
Thank you! Great idea on the magnets!
Loved the blog post and the living room, can’t wait to see the rest of the house!
Here’s something ready-made https://parabo.press/wooden-rail-48/ to hang a scarf 😀
SO GOOD! I just added this link to the post.
THANK YOU CATARINA!
Thanks for the play by play. I love this so much! #stealing
I absolutely agree. There is something almost unsettling about that blank fireplace. Like a face missing a mouth. Am I overreacting?
Haha! Nope. I feel the same way when I see a semi truck without the trailer!
This looks so amazing! I love everything about it. Strong work!
I love how all of the darker pieces balance out the brightness in that room. I love the couch!
This living room is probably one of my favorite rooms I’ve seen. Great work! And I looooove that couch!
Beautiful! The hallway shot is my favorite. Can you explain what you used to hang your scarf? Love it!!!
I second this question about how you hung the scarf! I’ll probably use whatever it is you did.
a 3rd request for this…may even buy the same scarf….BRILLIANT
I too had that question and I found this on urban outfitters that has a similar vibe and I know that etsy has similar things for larger pieces…
See above! I just ranted a long comment, which hopefully helps!
I like that mantel arrangement!
Congratulations! 7 months for your whole apartment being pulled together at ages 26 & 27 is a MASSIVE accomplishment! At 36 I still haven’t managed that, so bravo! It looks fantastic, fabulous job Sara.
Aww I love your little cat bed that doesn’t look tacky at all! I feel like most pet products are automatically tacky looking for some reason, good on ya for finding a design-worthy cat bed. Nice decision on the rug, I love the balance! Those Dave Eggers prints add the perfect amount of quirk. Thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to see the bedroom reveal!
Where do you put shoes and coats? Is there another entrance?
We have a closet in the hallway (you can see the door next to the cat bed area) where we hang all our coats, not that we need many here in LA, haha. And we keep our shoes in our bedroom closet. We tried to be those people who took off their shoes in the house, but it turns out we’re not. Sad.
Ha! There is freezing rain outside right now…I forget there are places where people don’t wear coats 10 months of the year. Also, where I live near nobody ever wears shoes in the house. Your apartment is beautiful!
Looks great! It’s definitely a billion times better than what I had when I was in my mid-20s. I’m in my mid-30s and I’m still working on replacing my Ikea with all the pretty things!
Also “life isn’t worth living if you can’t make things more difficult for yourself” is pretty much my life’s motto. I think it’s the curse of creatives. I’m all “I have an art degree! Why would I buy this fabulous version of something when I can make a less cool, probably more expensive version myself?!?!”
This is 100% true, from one art school graduate to another xx
“But sometimes you’re poor and risks are all you can afford.”
Ha! So, so true. I love every element of your space Sara. It is beautifully airy and warm and it looks considered but also like a loved, and lived in home. I look forward to seeing the rest!
!!!! Yes, the room is beautiful, you guys knocked it out of the park yet again, but please, please, pretty please have Sara write more posts. Hilarious.
Really well done!
Great job. I just have one comment … I thought it was funny you referred to Dave Eggers as an illustrator. It is probably one of his least known “accomplishments” given his work as an author, a TED Prize recipient, McSweeney’s founder, screenplay writer, etc.. To me, I think of him mostly as the co-founder of the non-profits 826 Valencia and 826 National; you have your very own 826 LA. Here in SF I’ve volunteered and worked with 826 and given you already like his work, I strongly suggest you check them out, they have locations in Echo Park and Mar Vista (with a Time Travel Mart, here in SF its a Pirate Store!). 826 supports students in low income areas with their creative and expository writing skills and also helps teachers inspire their students to write. Writing is a gateway to future success and it is wonderful to see the creativity that these centers inspire in their students.
Ha, Mac texted me about that too this morning when he read the post at work, so I’ve updated his description!
LOVE the room. And LOVE your writing style. So fun.
What kinds of trees are those?
I wish I knew! I think it might be some sort of ginko…but I can’t be sure.
Your place looks great! I love the scarf turned decor idea. I’m now on the hunt for a pretty scarf to do this same thing 🙂
Some really great details in here! Love it. Also, PS, this was really well written and legitimately funny.
I legitimately appreciate your comment (so much) xx
Looks so good and I LOVE that couch! My friend just impulse-purchased the same one but in green velvet and it’s amazing. https://www.instagram.com/p/BSoRHOABbKp/?taken-by=michellekowalski
Of course, that pushed her living room into a v colorful zone, but I’m loving yours in a more neutral setting.
I really did push for the green velvet at first. A lot. But Mac was firm on the no velvet thing, and for our space he was 100% right. But one day I WILL have a green velvet couch.
Friend with the impulse green velvet couch here, I’m obsessed with it and also terrified that I’m going to ruin it, so leather might have been the more durable choice. Good news is that my cat doesn’t seem to want to destroy it and mostly just curls up for naps on it. Also, this post was amazing, please keep telling us about your kitten and your friendship with the random lady in the painting.
ooooooh, insider information. Thanks!
Love seeing a pretty room, but love a good storyteller even more!
More of this girl please, the cat hashtags (#blessed #letthembelittle) and running commentary had me laughing on the subway. I have a beloved pup, we too are #blessed.
Keep it up!
Sara, it just looks amazing! I love how everything has come together in such a nice way. I love your cat bed.
This looks amazing! I love that little hallway bar nook.
P.S. You have such a clear writing voice!
Amazing! The bar is inspired! The fireplace is suspiciously bare, have you googled “antique fireplace cover” it’s a fancy cast iron screen that looks like a real vintage fireplace without being obvious. Manhattan Nest built an awesome faux fireplace using one. Think about it 😉
I am so tempted to order that couch right this minute
THAT IS THE MOST ADORABLE NON-PET BED PET BED. EVER. My puppers is a bit too long (hes only 25lbs but dog equivalent of supermodel tall when it comes to length. Future blog idea: round up of good pet beds that don’t scream pet bed?!
But I also legitimately clicked through to every link to see how I can live more like you. Cue the packages. Thanks for the inspo!
Looks amazing! I love everything about the room especially the sofa. How do you make leather work with a cat? Our cats scratch the top of our leather chair.
We just make sure we have enough other things that she likes even MORE than leather. We have a scratch pad she loves, and scratching post, the cat bed, and we don’t stop her from scratching at the rugs as they hold up to it a lot better than the couch. She tried once or twice when we first got it, but we flailed our arms and made loud noises, so she seems happy to stick to things that don’t get that reaction from us.
I too want to see how you hung that scarf – so gorgeous! Laughed through this while post. Please write more!
I commented up above a bit about how I hung it!
Excellent! Great job Sara and team! You all work so hard and it must be exhausting sometimes to constantly put out incredible material – but the perks are incredible! Borrow/steal props from Emily, take wall hanging advice from Ginny, have a personal bar area set up by Brady… I’m extremely, extremely jealous! I look forward to seeing the rest of the apartment! You have a great eye!
Sara, can you share where you purchased the basket holding your large plant? 🙂
It looks beautiful! How does the sofa do with your cat’s claws? I’ve been considering buying this sofa but have been worried our dog would inadvertently leave scratch marks.
It does scratch, like most soft leathers, but a little leather oil (or whatever you use) clears it right up.
honestly everything is spot on! amazing!
First of all, Yaaaaay! You chose the rug that I voted for. Article’s stuff is just so good. Second, that runner from CB2 is sooo good. Everything turned out great and I can’t wait to see the other rooms. I saw glimpses and it looks like they don’t disappoint.
Please share your scarf hanging solution! I have many scarves hanging but this way is so much better.
Girl, I’m awed and inspired. ??? You give us apartment-dwellers hope. Also, I want a mantle-styling tutorial from you (Sara). I’m talking you style like ten different mantles. I need serious assistance. ?
****What about switching out the bar in the built in vanity, to the hall cabinet. Swap it all (mirror too)–except for the plant.
Love the space and LOVE your writing! “But sometimes you’re poor and risks are all you can afford.” GOLD!
Beautiful! I love it! We bought a similar sofa for our apartment. I would like to use your living room as my inspiration. I have a question. I can’t paint the living room white. The room has only one window and I don’t have a lot of lighting in the space. What color paint would you suggest for my living room with the cognac sofa? I would love to hear from you. Thank you!!
Maybe try a soft tonal color? We’ve done a few posts about it:
Thank you so much!! I read your blog everyday. I appreciate learning from your talented team and I love the work you do to post affordable options. ❤️
Sara I love your design aesthetic and your voice. More posts from Sara! Also please come do my living room and hall. And rest of house. I’m in Colorado. You’ll love it here.
Love your space! And I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again, but I’d love it if you’d take pics during your monthly visits to the Rose Bowl and write a monthly post. I only get out there once a year so I’d love to live vicariously through Team Emily visits!
Cosign! I LOVE this idea! I miss the craigslist finds posts so this could be us living vicariously as to what is at the rose bowl flea.
Great post from Sara – she has a great writing style. Excited to the rest of her home.
All sorts of gorgeous! Looks really good! I love all the sconces and the positive affirmations comment had me snorting. I do this to my husband all the time and he still hasn’t quite figured it out.
It looks great! Love it! I ask my husband’s opinion on home improvement stuff and then follow it up with “you know this is just a formality, right?!” Of course he knows!
Chiming in as well for more posts from Sara! Love your aesthetic and the fact that you’re also a broke 20-something, but I especially love your writing/comments.
This is lovely! It is my fondest wish to see the mint kitchen and lavender bathroom. Any chance you will shoot them as well?
This living room is gorgeous! Totally what I want going on in my own home!
love this post, seriously funny and love the way you write!! Also the room looks awesome
Looks great ! I especially love the hallway with its dark accents. What type of plant is the large one in the corner in the lounge room?
Pretty sure it’s Ficus triangularis
Love this living room! Wondering where the desk in the room between the living and kitchen is from!?
It’s from World Market, and I’ll be sharing all about it this week!
Sara, I love your style and really enjoyed reading about what you’ve done!