Hey all, it’s Ginny here. You may remember “way-back-when, ” when I introduced my living room as part of the EHD Makeover Takeover series?! No? Me either, it was SO long ago now (here is a recap if you need it). But after lots of um-ing and ah-ing, moving furniture around, and re-styling every single surface, I can finally say it’s ready to show off to you guys. Not only am I revealing my living room today, and my dining room tomorrow on EHD (which is already a huge dream in itself), but are also running the story… pinch me!
A brief backstory – we moved into our 1930’s Spanish style fourplex in November 2014 and everywhere was painted a dark charcoal colour, which I didn’t hate because it highlighted all the moulding details, archways, and fireplace. But what I really wanted was a blank canvas to work with, so I got the landlord’s permission to paint it in Benjamin Moore Super White.
We moved with just a few pieces of furniture that Patrick had accumulated over his 9 years of living here in LA, and most of which needed upgrading (in my opinion). The first major piece we bought was the sofa, which we absolutely love and you can read about here. It’s been the best $2k we’ve spent and, even though it has two puppies sleeping on it all day long, it still feels like new.
I wanted the room to feel calm, inviting, cosy, earthy, with a touch of my English roots in there. My style really is a mish-mash of different things, but I love mixing traditional pieces with mid-century and even modern and rustic… you can see I’m all over the map here. But I think it works.
And here it is! I definitely have a specific colour palette, and you’d only have to peek into my wardrobe to know that. In fact, two days before the shoot, I decided that I wanted to add a pop of something else in here to liven it up a bit. I narrowed it down to either mustard or coral. And coral won. I would have maybe used both, but whilst I do love colour for other people, I prefer a colder palette for myself. If you look closely you’ll be able to see that we actually painted the walls in here a light grey (Farrow & Ball Blackened). It’s very subtle, but in person it does give the room some character and makes the moulding pop. One of my favourite moments from this shot is the artwork that was done by the amazing Carrie Crawford of . I first learned about her work when I was shopping at for a client. I very rarely see artwork that I really love and instantly fell for these and just knew I had to have a set. The nature of how she creates these pieces means that no two are the same, which makes them feel even more special. I once read that you should only buy art that makes you smile everyday, and as cheesy as it may sound, these pieces do literally make me smile.
I found this little side table at the rose bowl flea market and it’s a true example of my love of traditional pieces. It could be easily dressed up and made to feel super granny, but I teamed it up with a from Rejuvenation, and some black and white accessories which helped to modernize it. I added a touch of brass with the bowl and some colour through the vase and flower so that it didn’t go too monochromatic. If you look closely, you can see a much younger Ginny with a fringe (bangs as they call them here in the U.S.) – I have no idea what happened to her because I do not look like that any longer!
I want to talk about the rug, which you can get a better overall view of from the first image. We have two dogs, and when it comes to choosing fabrics and soft furnishings it can be tricky. Nothing too dark or else you’ll see their fur shedding, too light and it’ll show up puppy licks, treats and just general doggy yuckiness. I’m pretty weird about cleaning their feet when they come in from walks, but there’s only so much you can do – they’re dogs and they can be grubby little buggers. I wanted a rug that contrasted with the sofa but also felt light with a low pile. I got a few rug samples from to try, some solids and some with more of a traditional pattern. The patterned rugs started to feel too traditional and like an older person lived here so we went with their in Atlantic, I also tried the Denim colourway which I LOVED, but it matched the sofa colour too much. For a darker sofa, I would totally recommend the Denim; it’s so pretty in person and not really denim-like at all, more of a light grey. This rug is perfect for having dogs though, and a low enough pile that I would use it in a dining room too.
I’m pretty into hand-made ceramics (some might say obsessed) and this tray was a total last minute impulse memo, that turned into a purchase. Full disclosure (because you’ll see it in the get the look further down) it was $800. Yes. The cost of a flight home to England, or there abouts. Am I crazy? Yes, probably. But in my defense this piece literally makes that hunky chunk coffee table feel way more elegant. I originally had a wooden tray on there and as much as I love mixing lots of different wood tones it really wasn’t working. I’ve also been eyeing that tray for months now, so this shoot was the perfect excuse. They come in three sizes and this was the medium, perfect for holding a couple of books (Anyone recognize that book there? Can you spot how many times I used it in the shoot?! 🙂 and a vase. Speaking of which, I’m also obsessed with the work of which is where the vase is from. He makes beautiful, earthy, rustic pieces which you should totally check out. The brass sculpture is from West Elm, we tried to find it online but couldn’t see it. Hopefully it’s in store because I know you’ll be wondering.
And just incase you want to know exactly why that $800 tray works, here’s a quick coffee table styling how-to.
It took me quite a while to find the right chairs for the room. I knew I wanted a pair that were low backed so that they didn’t cover up too much of the window. We actually bought these vintage for a client and then she changed her mind so I ended up keeping them and recovering them. In fact, I had them in the living room for ages in their original, ugly, smelly, striped fabric, that the dogs loved (why do dogs love gross smells??) I’d toyed with the idea of ticking stripe, but with a predominantly white background that would be hell on earth to keep clean. I found this blue stripe and it ultimately came down to this and a dark blue linen. With the sofa being so big and solid, I liked the idea of breaking that up with a pattern, so the stripes won! You can see behind that the curtains (which I made and will never do again) are also striped, but horizontally. I LOVE STRIPES! I’m also going to call out here because this was the instigator of me bringing in some coral. Then I went with this simple from World Market that was just the right scale and size to fit in between the two chairs without blocking too much of the view or light through the window.
We found this cabinet at the flea market when Emily was shooting the book (page 45) and I snuck the blue lamp from the studio to add more colour to it. It even has some orange tones too, so it worked pretty well overall. I combined some more hand made pottery with the vase from Target. I love to get one-off individual pieces from makers, but sometimes the big box stores really outdo themselves. I think this Target vase is two years old now, but I still love it.
One of the main trouble spots of the room for me was the TV area – looking back at those progress photos that corner was like a sweaty, university living room. With a ton of speakers and the ugly media unit, it made me super sad to look at. I get a lot of people asking me why I didn’t put the TV above the fireplace and the main reason being that I wanted to be able to have art or a mirror up there instead. Not only that, but we don’t really do that in the UK. Most TVs (or tellys, as we call them) are to the side of the fireplace on a stand, and more at eye level than high up so you’re not having to crank your chin to watch the box. I found this and size-wise it’s almost like it was made for that corner. It’s crafted from beautiful walnut wood and all the ugly TV gubbins are hidden behind the cabinet. It’s also super sturdy because that TV is H.E.A.V.Y! It just really neatens that corner up, and whilst we can’t really escape having a TV in the room, it doesn’t feel like such a focal point or eye-sore anymore.
I kept it super simple on the fireplace and started with one major piece of art from I added some pillar candles to one side and flowers to the other to give it some height and landscaping. Does anyone else think hydrangeas are underrated?? I cannot get enough. I added some pops of colour here with the orangey-copper tones.
Those are t-light/taper candle holders on the mantel from . I have an unhealthy growing collection of them in different colours. They’re fun though because you can bring them out for different seasons.
I don’t spend enough time in this little reading nook corner, yet it’s actually the most comfortable seat on the planet. I originally had a blue wingback there which I love and still have (I’m hoarding it for the next house), I just felt that it made the room feel a bit too traditional/old. That and I also liked the idea of bringing in some leather to add another material and colour. It’s the perfect spot for snuggling puppies and as you can imagine they love the fur rug on the ottoman.
Another charming part of this style of apartments are the little arched bookcases. Since we don’t have any overhead light in here, this is the ideal location for a bookcase lamp. I have a weird collection of old English condiments jars that I get from the same guy at the flea market which you can see on the top shelf there. You might have spotted that I moved pillows around for different shots which is another thing I love to collect. I always wanted to have my own line of pillows, but there’s just so many good ones out there it would be hard to compete. This one is from Jillian Rene’s new collection.
I kept both bookcases pretty simple with a mix of books, art, pottery, and plants. It’s crazy how adding a few plants here and there really livens a space up – I got all the plants from which is really close to where I live. They were super helpful in there and even though I paid a bit more than I would going to the flower market, they did all the hard work and planted them up for me in the pots that I already had.
So there you have it – Ginster’s living room. Do you think my different mix of styles works in here? Would love to know what you think and in the meantime here is a “Get The Look” with most everything linked up. If you have any questions on anything else, then leave a comment below.
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Tune back in tomorrow for my dining room reveal and be sure to check out the article on My Domaine.
Love Ginny xXx
Photography by the wonderful