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Giving Life to a Classic Space...

A Traditional Living Room Intro

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Hey all, it’s Ginny again with another room intro at the 1939 Georgian house we’ve been working on and showcasing here on the blog. The other week I talked about some of the changes we’ve made to the Sunroom, and today I’m going to talk about our plans for their formal living room. We often talk about which of our client’s houses we’d want to live in and this one falls high on our list. It’s spacious without being obnoxious, and has lots of lovely moments throughout, all which make it such a fun project to work on. Give me a bay window, a cup of tea and a good book and I’d be a happy camper any day of the week.

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When we first met with the clients they’d only moved into the house about 6 months prior, so they hadn’t really got that far with the decor. They’d started to place orders on a couple of pieces (the two blue sofas which you see in the picture above and a Beni Ourain style rug) but they needed extra help from us on pulling it all together and adding elements to finish the room. Initially our scope of work was to focus on the Sunroom and Master Bedroom, but as we got further into it and got to know the clients better, the list started to increase. We were more than happy about that since this house is a total beauty and we love working with these clients!

I know some of you will ask once you see the below pic… so in case you were wondering, the holes in the walls are for vents. They had just taken the covers off for maintenance access before we got there and these pics were taken.

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In addition to the new pieces they had ordered, they brought over a few items from their old house including the brown sofa, which happened to be their dog’s favourite place to lay down. This was only there as temporary measure and we eventually got rid of it… sorry Mabel! We wanted to replace the couch with a credenza so we could add some art and lighting on top of it. Lighting the room proved a challenge, as there were no ceiling or wall-mounted fixtures to work with. So we needed to design around finding the areas of the room best suited to house a lamp or sconce when the sun went down. We tried to talk them into adding a ceiling light but they didn’t want the fuss of breaking through walls and ceiling in order to get power up there, and I don’t blame them.

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We convinced them to add sconces on both sides of the fireplace. Lucky for us, they had two power outlets below that we used to chase up the wall, essentially creating new junction boxes. The original marble fireplace is beautiful and ornate – but subtle. Maintaining it’s simplicity was something we were all on the same page about.  Before they moved in they did have all their floors replaced with this mid-tone walnut which is stunning. They have a TV/family room in another area of the house so the double sofa facing each other works particularly well in here. It’s also a large room, so having lots of little bitty pieces of furniture would have felt quite fussy in here.

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Behind the sofa (and where you come into the room from the entryway) is a large expanse of wall space. As soon as we walked in we knew this area was crying out for a built-in bookcase and artwork on the walls.

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The bay window in here is pretty big (they popped the red sofa there temporarily since there was no where else for it to go) so we loved the idea of making that into a cute reading nook area with two chairs and a side table between. The rug they ordered felt too small in here, you can see that the back of the sofa is only just on it, so we had them return it and get a larger one sent over. I say that like it was a quick job but let me tell you it wasn’t. Luckily for us, but unfortunately for our client, it took months & months of correspondence between them and the etsy dealer to get the new rug delivered. Granted it was custom made overseas but it does show that you can’t get things good, fast and cheap – instead, pick two! The new larger rug is gorgeous though, and very soft and spongy under your feet (yes I did the test). Since there are two doors (into the sunroom) essentially flanking the sofas we had to be careful not to let the new rug size bleed into the walkways.

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We tried a couple of chair options in the window. I loved the blue but they did feel too formal and we wanted to bring some edginess to the room. We were generally going for traditional meets vintage 70’s mixed with Italian mid-century. Quite the style right? We found the white leather strapped chairs at House of Honey which added that touch of whimsy we were looking for. I spotted the exact same chairs last week at Mid Century LA in an olive green suede. Someone please snag them up fast and tell them Ginny sent you! They are totally not my style but I’m kind of in love with them and wish I had the perfect spot for them.

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There was some debate about what style of coffee table should go in here. They already had a circular coffee table for the family room so they ideally didn’t want to do another one in this room. With the sofas being on the boxier side, we liked the idea of a round or oval table or something more organic feeling, so tried out a few options (the glass and brass being one of them). This didn’t feel right because the lines on the rug clashed with the bars on the table base. It also felt kind of airy with the glass top. The clients really didn’t love the idea of an oval, so in the end we settled on a ridiculously beautiful live edge wood coffee table. You’re going to have to wait for a sneak peek into that one, but trust me it is good!

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Much like the built-in banquette in the sunroom, we wanted the bookcase to feel in-keeping with the house style. We made sure the carpenter copied the baseboard moulding to match the one adjacent, and added a rounded edge top that also had some ornate detailing to it to give it a more traditional feel. He did such a good job and it feels totally original to the house, while adding some storage.

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We didn’t really do any progress style moodboards for this room because we knew we wanted to find one-of-a-kind pieces. The snap above is a little insight as to where we’re at with the space. We found a beautiful Milo Baughman style credenza in burlwood and chrome which you see on the side wall. We also painted out the walls in a very light grey and installed a gallery wall above the entry bookcase. The larger rug came in and is feeling so much better in the space. The new chairs you see in the foreground are stunning with their finely woven caned back, chocolate velvet seat cushion and aged brass detailing. If any, these are the chairs that the kids, pets or crazy drunk co-worker should not be allowed to sit on… I saw the price tag!

In the background you also get a slight look at the amazing wallpaper we did in the dining room. We are introducing that one next so stay tuned.

We’ve yet to fully style and shoot this house but we’re very excited for the reveal. If you’re into the look of the living room we’ve pulled together a final moodboard with links below. Let us know if you have any questions!

Emily Henderson_Griffith Park Home_Traditional_Italian_Mid Century_Living_Room_MoodBoard

Wood Framed Chairs (similar) | Credenza (similar) | Brass Table Lamp | Blue Sofa (similar) | Coffee Table (similar) | Rug | Mirror (similar) | Sconce | Dotted Stripe Fabric | Yellow Fabric | Diamond Fabric | Planter | Leather Strap Chairs or Leather Strap Chair (similar) | Rawhide Rug (similar) | Accent Table (similar) | Glass and Brass Table Lamp | Draperies

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  1. For the longest time I couldn’t quite figure out what my personal style was, but seeing this space, the moodboard and your spot-on description (traditional meets vintage 70’s mixed with Italian mid-century) totally gave me an “Aha!” moment, so thank you for that! Cannot wait to see the rest of this space – so I can recreate it in our 1930 bungalow, ha! 🙂

    1. Ha that’s amazing – you should totally send us photos when you’re done! And buy those chrome chairs!! They are SO comfy! xXx

  2. Not quite what I expected from the title (“traditional living room”), but I’m absolutely loving the look of it so far! I think what I love most is it looks like you were able to keep a lot of the items the owners already had (or had just purchased)–furniture, rug (sorta), fireplace…it even looks like you may have kept the drapes? Can’t wait to see the end result!!

  3. What a beautiful, beautiful room! You have amazing talent, Ginny.

    Can you please provide the exact paint colour? I absolutely love it and would like to have something similar in my own living room. May I also suggest adding the paint colour to the mood board on a permanent basis?

    Cheers from Quebec!

  4. Those caned velvet chairs are blowing me away!! I absolutely love this style. Out of all the houses I’ve seen on this blog, this is probably the one I would want to live in.

  5. Those caned back chairs are the very embodiment of traditional meets 70s meets mid century Italian. Absolutely love them.

    1. We hadn’t found any particular light fixture but probably something that didn’t hang too low and wasn’t too heavy, but had length. Not the Serge Mouille but something similar to that. xXx

  6. So many great things going on here, especially those cane back chairs! What’s going on with the doors on the burlwood credenza? Are they warped or is that a design detail?

    1. I’m not sure what’s up with the credenza, the doors do seem wonky on here but they’re not crazy like that in person. Thanks for pointing out though, I’ll be sure to take a closer look next time I’m there. xXx

  7. OMG that bay. So dreamy. I’m with you, I feel like I could totally move into this house. It’s so bright and spacious, but not in that obnoxious McMansion way.

  8. This is such a great mix of styles and colors and materials – congrats Ginny! I am struggling with a similar room, only I went for a larger sectional facing the fireplace, rather than the two sofas you have here. I’m really looking forward to the reveal, because I’m concerned that, with two pairs of chairs, a sofa, and an armchair, and two consoles, there is too much seating and not many tall things in my space. Did you have a similar concern? Is the art enough to bring visual balance?

    1. I second this question. I’m surprised the built-ins are low bookcases as everything seems to be the same level thus far. I’m sure the reveal will address this though

      1. Great question! We’ve added height through adding artwork on the walls and tall plants in the corners of the room (where the crazy vent holes are). There’s not a lot of blank wall spaces in this house so they really wanted to keep the bookcase low so they could display their art. xXx

    1. It’s a really fun collage of faces from magazines. The client had a great collection of art so we didn’t bring anything new in… yet 🙂 xXx

  9. I’m kinda surprised that both the cane chairs and the sofas have a solid color velvet. When I was picking out upholstery for the seating in my living room I had it in my head that the fabrics shouldn’t be the same. Say the sofa in a velvet, the side chairs in a linen, and the lounge chair in leather. Did I just make that rule of thumb up in my head? Are there things to consider when repeating fabric types within a single seating configuration?

    BTW something is up with the formatting of this site on a mobile device (samsung s7 android marshmallow). The photos are super small and if you try to tap on them to see larger it automatically tries to pin the image.

    1. The two velvets are slightly different, one is solid and one has a slight lined texture to it. I personally don’t see anything wrong with mixing velvets but understand why people would worry since velvet is a strong fabric. Think of it this way, would you be opposed to mixing two linens?! We’re working with another client now that has cats and is concerned about then snagging the fabric so we’ve gone for a velvet sofa (which she already had) and a velvet side chair mixed with other leather chairs. I think if you started to add velvet pillows in the mix then that might get a little over the top 🙂 xXx

  10. LOL This is Modern meets Vintage, nothing traditional here. Sofa’s are classic but modern, Table is modern, Credenza is probably mid-century or art deco, but it’s a more modern version because of the rectangular shape without ornaments. The only traditional thing is that built in bookcase and then wallpaper in the dining from what I can tell. This is a much more modern room than EH new house.

      1. Agree, the house is traditional and I understand how big of an impact it has on the entire look and feel of the home. Most of us in the US are plagued with traditional architecture. However, a person chosing traditional furniture and decor will have a much different look and feel comparing to the featured house. I was commenting about the decor and furniture only. I love the choices by the way, I just find the “traditional” in the title depressing.

  11. I’m excited to see the finished product! we have a blue velvet chesterfield the exact same color as those sofas, and we used to have a beni ourain-ish rug from target under/around the sofa similar to this room too… so excited!

  12. What a gorgeous room, I can’t wait for the full reveal. Can you also give us details on the brass and glass coffe table that wasn’t quite right? Thank you!!

  13. We just bought a similar, though much less expensive, rug by Safavieh for our living room and it’s REALLY GOOD, especially for the price! $265 for an 8×10! It’s super plush and soft and I’m so pleased with it. Also, 2 day free shipping for a rug on Prime is like, what??? Amazing.

    https://www.amazon.com/Safavieh-Hudson-Collection-SGH281A-Square/dp/B00PKXWIPC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1490297958&sr=8-2-spons&keywords=hudson%2Bshag%2Bsafavieh&th=1

    1. For anyone considering the same purchase – I think that exact rug is also on Overstock for $220 – I know this because it’s been in my cart for weeks! Really positive reviews on both websites. I saw a smaller one at Homegoods and while it’s definitely got more beige/brown in the “ivory” than the gorgeous rug above, it seems like a good budget substitute.

    2. It is good to notice that the rug on Amazon is made of polypropylene, not wool. For some people – not a problem, but for some, it is a deal breaker.

  14. Love this house, and the design style. Also really like seeing the design process. It’s great to see the design evolving and to also see why some things don’t work for various reasons. I find this so much more informative and interesting than a mood board then straight to a picture perfect vignette. But now seeing the back ground work can’t wait for the big reveal!

  15. This room is just so cool. I love everything about it. We live in a traditional Midwest suburb, so from the exterior, our home says “ubiquitous”, but I’m trying very hard to keep on track with a more unique look. Tough to do with our limited choices in furniture options. Just love seeing these ideas which flow so well.

  16. I’ve been on the hunt for those exact caned-back chairs. Can you share the vendor (I thought I had it in my notes – alas I can’t find it anywhere!). Thanks!

  17. The room doesn’t seem to go with the “traditional” in the title of the blog. Very modern. Not at all “traditional”. The blue sofas are great and it’s too bad about the blue chairs in the bay window because those were great too (and better than the 70s chunky things). Overall nice so far.

  18. I forgot to ask. How/why did you decide to put sconces by the fireplace, and how high up and what kind etc? Lighting seems to be a tricky art to master and one that I do not understand.

    You said it’s a large space without overhead lighting. What do you do with such a room? How do you go about figuring out the lighting?

  19. Thanks for sharing, it’s great to see a personal touch about why you chose certain things. That curved window area makes the room for me!

  20. I’m trying to talk my husband into putting a ceiling fixture in our living room, because it’s long and fairly narrow and needs a ton of table lamps to be well lit at night. Well, not exactly a ton, but you get my meaning, I’m sure. I’d be easy, too, I think. It’s a single story house with an unfinished attic.

  21. My parent’s house also has a formal living room with no ceiling lighting fixtures. I’m super interested to see how you light this space! Looking great so far!

  22. in mood board form it doesn’t look right, but i can see it in my head with the progress photos you’ve shown. i love that credenza and those chairs no one should be allowed to sit on!! italian mid century + 70s is my FAVE! excited to see the full reveal. go ginny!

  23. Amazing set up! I’d suggest checking out some of Furnishr’s designs; bedrooms, living room and dining room. Love their work!

  24. Love Love Love. And I will probably be approximately the 15th person to ask about the paint color. The closest I can find is Ben Moore Patriotic White(2135-70). Do you happen to know? Love it’s subtlety in this room.

  25. For the longest time I couldn’t quite figure out what my personal style was, but seeing this space, the moodboard and your spot-on description (traditional meets vintage 70’s mixed with Italian mid-century) totally gave me an “Aha!” moment, so thank you for that! Cannot wait to see the rest of this space – so I can recreate it in our 1930 bungalow, ha! 🙂

  26. I know some of you will ask once you see the below pic… so in case you were wondering, the holes in the walls are for vents. They had just taken the covers off for maintenance access before we got there and these pics were taken