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Updated living room intro

Silver Lake Hills Home Living Room Progress

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Hey everyone it’s Ginny checking in. We’re working on some really good design projects over here and this living room makeover for the Silver Lake Hills Home is one of them. We actually posted about this many moons ago but their kitchen project really became more of a priority for them which is why we only just finished it up. I thought I’d give you bit of a progress update and intro to the reveal, which is happening next week! It was a weird situation really because the room is pretty much designed. The clients had been reluctant to have us involved because, well, they already paid for a designer to do it, 4 years ago and it is totally pulled together and functional. But as you’ll see, they didn’t really feel that it was ‘them’ and now that we’ve done the rest of the house this room feels jarringly different.

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The problems were mainly that it felt heavy, dark, lacking in personality, and just not their vibe. We generally don’t like to be negative but there was just something generic about it that felt like a designer had designed it, sitting from their desk with a bunch of catalogues; no sense of person or family here. The room was rarely used because it was just so serious and not very family friendly. It looked like it had enough seating, but nobody really wanted to sit in there. All the furniture was comfortable, but not even the kids wanted to lay around and read in there. They said there was just something really off putting about the whole thing.

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But, there were a lot of good things happening in there. So much so that when Emily first did the rest of the house she kept telling them ‘don’t spend money here’. In fact there isn’t anything I don’t like in here. Every single piece is good in the right environment. But all of it together feels somehow impersonal. And dark. The sofa, side tables, frames, coffee table, chairs, armoire, other chairs … EVERYTHING is dark and feels so heavy.

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Our initial goal was to make it a space that people will want to spend time in, while changing as little as possible since they have already invested time/money into this room. The ask was ‘make it better, make it more us, but we don’t want to pay for a whole redesign’. Understandably so, so we proposed two options below. (As we got further into the design process some of their original pieces really weren’t working for both the and us so the scope expanded. They just wanted the space to feel as warm and inviting as the rest of their house. We were fortunate that some companies wanted to participate in the makeover by gifting some of the pieces, hence the expensive coffee table.)

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The first option involved reupholstering the sofa in a brighter (but still family friendly color), keeping the rest of the dark furniture as is (with new pillows). The wall color would go lighter (maybe not that shade, but something lighter and with more of a happy tone than the purple-gray that is in there). The room doesn’t get a ton of light so we wanted to go for a tone instead of bright white (read about the mistake of painting darker rooms white here).

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The second option would keep the brown velvet sofa and then refinish the side tables to be a lighter, prettier wood, and the rug would be more antique/aged to bring in some soul.

The photo of the brown sofa above is not good – it looks like the bad kinda brown not the rich luxe beautiful chocolate brown that it is (we photoshopped the color but you can’t really capture the pretty texture). Part of us wanted to keep the brown because brown velvet is rarely used so it would be a really fun challenge to make that sofa work. Plus that sofa is beautiful and new enough that we’d have loved to not put $1500 – $1800 of fabric/labor into it. But remember that if the sofa stays dark then the side tables would need to change to be refinished which is at least $300 each = $600 total – not exactly free, but less.

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We loved the idea of a vintage Persian rug which would bring in some depth, warmth, color and most importantly soul that we needed. We hunted high and low to find the perfect one that didn’t cost a fortune, but finding an antique Persian that is 9×12 and light in tone (aka,  not burgundy) for under $5k is virtually impossible, so we did consider buying a new rug (like in option 1). We also considered doing the overlaid look with a smaller 8 x 10 which would be cheaper and the sisal rug was still in really good condition.

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We memo’d a few options from a guy we know from the flea market but none of them felt right. They either didn’t pop off the floor and the tones just didn’t feel happy enough. That, and also we just really wanted a dope 9 x 12. Although now I thinking we should have hoarded the red and blue on on the right for Emily’s new house, it’s soooo purdy and beautifully worn!

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It was only when we took back these rugs that we found our gem! Worn, colourful Persian: Check. 9 x 12: Check. Price $2450: Check! Not exactly ‘cheap’ but pretty darn good.

Once we got the rug in we had to make some dramatic changes to everything else. Even though it wasn’t the worst thing in the world, the brown velvet had to go and make way for something happier and younger. And now we had our rug so we could pull colours from that for the fabric. Close up, there are lots of subtle dusty greens and dark blues in the rug so we headed in that direction.

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The lighter dusty greens (bottom left) felt super pretty and calming but we really wanted to amp this room up since the rest of their house is so playful. Some of the blues tended to head in more of a purple direction which we definitely didn’t want to do. So we went with the top left. This has a good balance of green in it while staying true blue.

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We also painted the walls which was an actual disaster and you can read about it here. We wanted it to have a light tone grey to it but the colour we went with ended up looking baby blue. We did a ton of swatches before and the swatch we chose looked grey but clearly had blue undertones that we just didn’t see. It was a total bummer and one of those situations where no one person that was at fault. So we knocked off a few hours time which essentially equated to having the room repainted. Nothing makes me personally more sad than disappointing a client, and I’ll be the first to hold my hand up at any mess ups. The family was unbelievable sweet and more than understanding about the situation. Fortunately it was just paint and I do still stand by that it was grey!

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The next conundrum was whether to change out their chairs or not. Again, it’s not that we didn’t like them, we just didn’t love the positioning of them. They also felt like they weren’t really ‘in’ the room and not very conversational with the rest of the space. They also didn’t really have the need for the round dining table that was there before and liked the idea of bringing in a side table or smaller coffee table. Which meant that area was opened up even more. It was quite silly how long we OBSESSED over the location of the chairs and ultimately it came down to the fact they they just weren’t right. We wanted something more rounded, like a club chair, and upholstered so that it felt warmer and more cosy.

The only other major-ish changes we made were to the fireplace. We removed the decorative flourish from the surround and painted the bricks black. It took them some convincing with the colour but now it looks bigger, cleaner and more modern – a cheap upgrade that has made all the difference.

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Sofa | Art (right side) | Art (left side) | Blue Lamp | Blush Dot Pillow | Blush Stripe Pillow | Blue Strip | Cream Pillow | Black & White Pillow | Throw Blanket | Pouf | Box (no longer available) | Gold Burst | Blue Vase | Brown Chair | Sheepskin Rug | White Accent Table | Blue Chair (no longer available) | Black & White Accent Table | Gold Lamp | Gold Floor Lamp | Paint Color | Fireplace Tools | Log Holder | Mirror | Sconce

Tune in tomorrow for the full reveal but here is the finished moodboard and a sneak peek of the final photos.

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For those who have been following along with this house over the last few years – we just finished renovating their kitchen too. And for more of the Silver Lake Hills home check out here: Tween Girl Bedroom | 5 Tips to Design a Timeless Boys Bedroom | Dining Room | Office Turned Guest Room | Bright and Airy Family Room | Master Bedroom 

**Reveal photo: Zeke Ruelas

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  1. I really love some of these new pieces. But, the striped marble tables are $3700???? This family’s re-do is definitely not within my budget.

    1. If you love the look, you can always find something more budget friendly. Really low budget: search for DIY Bone Inlay tutorials, there’s a ton out there that you could use as inspiration. Or check out Butler Specialty’s Zanzibar bone inlay items for significantly less.

    2. I had the same reaction! Why would you worry about the cost of reupholstering the sofa, but not blink at spending $3700 on a side table?? Plus replacing the leather chair and ottoman with a not exactly budget-friendly new version?

      1. Ditto Shauna. I love the new leather chair and ottoman they picked, but it seems like it was a somewhat unnecessary additional cost. Really pretty though.

  2. The plan for the room looks great! I’m curious how this differs from a full-on design, though? It seems like maybe it started as some small tweaks but transitioned into a full-scale redesign. Also, if I’m dropping $1800 on reupholstering a couch, I’d consider getting a new one.

  3. I’m excited to see the full room, but I’m a little disappointed that you weren’t able to make more of the existing furniture work. Awesome for them that they were able to just pay for a whole new design and space, but I would have loved to see how y’all handled the challenge of keeping more of the existing items (especially since some of them were actually pretty good looking).

    Maybe in the future you could take on a project wherein you had to do a redesign utilizing more of someone’s existing furnishings?

    1. I had the same reaction! I was so excited to see the challenge of working with existing furniture, especially since I have mad some of the same design mistakes. I have to live with them for now but would love some pro tips on how to do a refresh.

    2. My thoughts too. I was surprised they were considering reupholstering the sofa they said had such beautiful fabric color/texture (even if it was brown). It sounded like this project would be re-tweaking (like new cushions on the chairs, wall paint, re-arranging furniture and art, adding the personal touch) not re-designing (re-upholstered sofa and mostly new furnishings). My last apartment was furnished for less than the striped table.

  4. This looks so beautiful and fun! I can’t wait to see the reveal pictures. Definitely looks like it’s going to flow with the rest of their house.

    I am sure that color was gray. Gray has 4 main undertones: blue, green, blue/green and violet. I have SW Sea Salt in my home which is a blue/green gray, but it looks pretty blue in my home because my wood floors are a bit orangey. Orange was apparently the wood color du jour in the mid nineties. Blech!

  5. Big fan here, Emily, but NOT a fan of this post.

    “The ask was ‘make it better, make it more us, but we don’t want to pay for a whole redesign’. Understandably so, so we proposed two options:”

    Not sure how the above statement is relevant, when it’s clear that this is a redesign of the entire room. Maybe I’m being unfair. Perhaps the above was the intention going into the design, and things evolved from there; I understand that happens.

    What I don’t understand (and find unfair), is how this post is disguised as a “budget friendly solutions to common design mistakes” when that clearly isn’t the case. I think that’s what your readers were expecting/hoping for.

    1. Hi Douglas,

      Sorry if this does come across as mis-leading. You are right, the scope did change throughout the process which you’ll read more about in the reveal this week.

    2. Must agree with these comments — I was hoping for far more affordable redesign ideas! Ideas like fresh paint, new plants, slipcovers, lamps, moving the existing furniture around the whole room, new artwork/photos — to help this room blend into the new design scheme for the whole house.

  6. This was a major redesign as far as I can tell. You kept the sofa, I guess, but if these people can afford to get rid of perfectly lovely 4 year old furniture (those cane side chairs were cute) then it’s not much of a lesson for the rest of us without the budget. Would have loved to have seen a bit more ingenuity in reusing the pieces.

  7. I love it and am looking forward to the reveal.

    But maybe the reason they weren’t using the living room much is because they have a family room! The very concept of having a living room and a family or den room has never ever made any sense to me. Very American :). But seriously if you have one room with a comfy sectional and a tv and decent lighting why would you for any reason go to the other room with the sofa? I mean, occasionally if someone is watching tv and someone else want to socialize I guess but I just don’t see that happening in a 2/3 kid family (versus lots of kids or extended family). If you decide to have a formal living room separate from a family room… it’s going to get used for entertaining and pretty much nothing else no matter how it’s designed IMO. Unless I entertained a lot I’d make one of the two rooms an office for everyone or a music room or something with a separate purpose and function instead of a duplicate one. No matter how much someone likes “space” you can’t inhabit two different places at once and fewer decisions are better/easier (like which sofa room to lounge in).

  8. Hi Emily!

    I am a huge fan and absolutely love this design! Quick q: what platform/tool do you use to create your collages like the living room above? I would like to start creating inspiration boards/collages of my own and am looking for a great tool in order to do so!

    Thanks so much,
    Ellie

  9. Omg! Omg! Omg. This is my favorite house ever of Emily’s work. One of your room inspiration pictures in my favorite too. I can not wait to c this.

    Any chance a smaller Persian on top of a sisial rug could work? I’ll never find/afford a 9×12.
    Getting ready to try and copy this!

  10. Where is the reveal? It would be interesting to get an idea of what the budget was in the end….they are adding a whole room to their house if it is friendly now and they use it. Design mistakes are expensive…good lesson on making sure you and the designer are on the same wave length before doing major rooms. Start small… and get a feel before making a major commitment.