Earlier this year I drove out to Grand Rapids to design a living room for a newly married couple and their soon to be baby. Our task was to design a living room space that would be calm, comfortable, safe, and durable for their growing family.
While they'd tackled a few other rooms in their home, this particular space felt challenging, I think especially due to the longer, narrower footprint of the room, the bay windows (which were beautiful, though challenging to design around), and the semi-open concept to the living room.
I'll walk you through our conversation and what we came up with. Let's jump in!
Style + Function Discovery Conversation
My clients didn't collect a ton of inspiration images, but the few they did select were consistent, and had one main detail: a dark blue velvet sofa. LOVE IT. So we knew we wanted to design around that for our sofa.
The rest of their house was fairly neutral with a few pops of color here and there, so we knew the rest of the space would remain fairly calm and neutral to make sure it flowed with the style of the house.
We wanted to avoid sharp edges where possible since they would soon have a little one running around the house, and we didn't want to go with anything too light, since it would potentially be a target for sticky fingers or spit-up.
Another thing to consider would be the placement of the TV. This wouldn't be their main movie/show watching room, but they did want to include one in the space. Just as a reference, the below image, while not their living room, has a very similar setup on the fireplace wall:
My clients also requested a bar cabinet somewhere in the space, along with someplace to house a very cool vintage record player.
Other than that, these clients were super flexible about design choices and sort of let me run with it. They had a few pieces in their house from West Elm, so I knew they were fans of the midcentury style and cleaner lines, and I let that guide some of my choices as well.
Creating The Floor Plan
When I arrived at the house, their living room was arranged with the sofa facing the fireplace, a large, multi-level hutch on the lefthand wall, and a long console table on the lowest wall (see below):
Now, I actually commend these clients for floating their sofa away from the wall. So often, shoving a sofa up against the wall is our first instinct, and in a lot of cases, it's not the best choice. In this case, however, it felt like the sofa created a big barrier, splitting the room up into two areas. In its current location, the entire area behind the sofa ended up becoming underutilized.
I decided to place the sofa tucked into the bay window to allow for a much more open layout and better flow. This also allowed us to make full use of the living room footprint. On either side of the sofa, I planned for one side table with a table lamp, and one floor lamp with a small drink table. To the right of the entrance to the living room, I tucked a small bar cabinet.
On the left wall, I planned for a very long console that would house the record player, and above it I wanted to place an oversized mirror. This would reflect light from the beautiful bay windows, making the room feel larger and brighter.
I planned to use two different accent chairs: the first would live just beside the sofa, and the second would be a swivel chair that would sit just beside the fireplace. A swivel would allow this chair to easily turn and face the dining room, which helps the two spaces feel more connected.
We decided the TV would live over the fireplace, and since it wasn't their main TV watching space, it wasn't an issue for the sofa not to face the TV.
Lastly, I made one small recommendation in the dining room, which was to move a rather large existing sideboard from the lower wall to the top wall. The doorway on the lower wall goes into their kitchen, and the door way on the left wall goes into their family room. By moving the piece to that top wall, it creates an easier flow from the living room through the dining room to either of those spaces.
Selecting The Furniture
For their furniture, I started with the velvet sofa as my jumping off point. I went with one that was really more of a charcoal blue than a navy, since the rest of their home was more muted tones. After this one bold piece, I wanted everything else to be tonal, but textural. For the accent chairs, I chose a beautiful leather arm chair with a unique shape, and a knoll style boucle swivel chair for my other.
The space would be grounded with a neutral tone area rug that had lots of variation and texture to hide any spills or dirt, and topped with an oversized round woven coffee table. We liked that this piece brought in texture, but it was soft, so wouldn't bonk any baby heads if or when they took a tumble.
For accent tables, I chose three very different shapes and materials: a MCM style mid-tone wood end table beside the sofa, an hour glass side table in natural pine beside the leather chair, and a black metal pedestal table (discontinued) beside the swivel chair. For lamps, I contrasted a brass and walnut tripod floor lamp with a ceramic ombre table lamp, and for curtains, I went with a textural neutral tone (via West Elm).
We also wanted to select a new dining room light fixture, so I found this vintage inspired drum light in an antiqued silver. For the bar cabinet, I found a metal and black oak bar cabinet with a glass door to beautifully display their bar items and wine bottles. We also chose some geometric and colorful artwork to tie in the blues and blacks. Lastly, we chose a long MCM inspired media console in a warm wood tone which would be accented with a large arched mirror along the side wall (this particular console is discontinued, but I've included some similar options here).
The Wrap Up
All in all, this space came together so beautifully! And the best part is that we were able to create this entire design all in a single 5-hour session, which my client can then execute on their own timing.
When we set aside this focused time, I find that it helps my clients to get really clear on their desires and come to our session very prepared, and it also lends to making decisions more, along with coming up with some very creative solutions.
For this particular project, my clients left our session with a style board showcasing the exact pieces I recommended, a link to their custom collection of furniture which they could order using a one-click checkout, and a to-scale floor plan of their living and dining rooms so they know how to set it up when everything arrives at their home.
Our Designed in a Day service is definitely our most popular option with clients, 1) because it's incredibly cost/time effective, and 2), because it is an incredibly versatile service as far as the kinds of projects we are able to tackle. We cover anything from furniture and decor, to space planning, to window treatments, to making selections for a renovation project, or even just working our way through a list of design woes.
SO, if you find yourself wondering whether your own project might be a good fit for a day session, click here to view more details about the service. There's some great info there, or simply complete our project intake form here and I'll reach out to schedule a discovery call to discuss your project.
PLUS, did you know that it is good for your mental and physical health to live in a space that meets your needs? You and your family deserve it, and I can't wait to help you create a space that works for you!
Thanks for visiting my little corner of the internet!