one living room, two ways

This time of year, I'm always trying to figure out how our living room can function and look better for the next few months of nesting indoors. Once the Christmas decorations are put away and the tree comes down, I spend a day or two (or more) moving furniture around, vacuuming up pine needles, and moving things some more.  Since I'm still midway through this process,  I thought I'd share a living room design that's a bit more fresh and inspiring.

A few months back I designed one living room, two ways for a local e-Design client. She truly had a blank slate for me to work with, but had no idea where to begin. As much as she might disagree, my client had good taste and a home with great bones (they had previously gutted and opened up a very chopped-up floor plan). Like so many of us, the dilemma was that she didn't have the objectivity to move forward, so she lived with a pretty unfinished shell that functioned poorly for everyone. 

With two small girls and a dog, this busy young family needed a space with practical, durable finishes that could withstand some abuse, and handy but hidden storage for toys.  She also craved a grown-up space that was interesting and chic and incorporated her love of unfussy, clean lines and a crisp grey and black palette. This became my jumping off point and the thread between the two different options I created for her.

Option A is definitely the most traditional and buttoned-up of the two designs. If you're unsure of your style or where to begin, you can never go wrong with tailored, classic pieces, but that doesn't mean they have to feel old-fashioned. Here the upholstered pieces have traditional forms but feel contemporary because of the fabrics, patterns and finishes. A good tip when working with a room full of geometric shapes and boxy lines is to balance them with a few rounded shapes and patterns like I did with the cocktail table, lamp and coral pillow. The round table also allows for more room to circulate and eliminates sharp corners for little heads and knees. To keep this room from feeling too formal, I added texture and softness with an area rug and draperies that lend a casual vibe to the space.

aqua pillow / coral pillow (similar to) /  sofa / cocktail table / accent chair / media unit / end table / lamp / drapes / rug

Option B is still grounded by fairly traditional, clean-lined pieces, but it was my opportunity to inject a fun, youthful, yet still chic quality to the space and give my client a slightly unexpected design. The two colors she mentioned wanting to incorporate in small doses were red and aqua/blue. As soon as I found the oblong, Schumacher Chiang Mai pillow, I knew where I was headed. A tufted ottoman in a blue pulled from the pillow has a feminine shape and can function multiple ways. I sourced wood finishes that would relate to the nearby dining table which add warmth and a causal feel, while providing great storage. To add more levity and contrast to the room, I chose a few mid-century inpsired pieces inspired by the sofa. They blend well, creating an eclectic, but really livable space to relax, play and entertain. 

sofa / ottoman / accent chair / media storage / console table / end table / standing lamp / table lamp / rug / mulit-colored pillow / aqua pillow / red pillow / drapes

The beauty of this kind of project and having more than one option, is that it gets the wheels spinning for my clients and it can for you too. Whether they choose to purchase all or none of the pieces I source, it gives them a road map and can serve as inspiration to take matters into their own hands as their time and means allow. At the end of the day, I truly believe that designing for real life and all its challenges can still be functional and stylish.

What's the biggest challenge in your living space? I'd love to hear some thoughts on the design dilemmas you face.