Impromptu Living Room Design Refresh

How Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference

Article by Jennifer Riley

Impromptu Design Refresh was originally published in Hohm

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I was tooling around the house on a lazy Sunday, and the mood struck me to finish up an idea I had from a couple of weeks ago.

My living room has become quite the sanctuary for me; formerly it used to be my bedroom, but I have been working on this living room, slowly and surely.

Frankly, our whole house should be a delicious sanctuary.

And, my living room has been through quite a style evolution in the past seven years. Most of my design, (in my home) is intuitive, and instinctual—with ebb and flow so that it happens quite naturally.

When I say naturally, a quick example would be the orange velvet sofa that now resides in my living room. I ran across it a local estate sale, and I decided to purchase it on the last day: for half-off. I didn't plan on getting such a colorful sofa. But I love it and can't imagine the living room without it now.

I realize my design approach might not work for the masses but I love it, and I love the serendipity that ensues.

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Back to the refresh. My idea was to move the stacking lawyer's bookcase out of the corner, and out of the living room. This, in my mind, freed up more visual space and also highlighted the enormity of my 7-year-old fiddle leaf fig. And, I was 100 percent correct. Some designers believe in focal points, and (probably) one large focal point in a room.

I don't really adhere to any particular rules. I go with that visceral, gut instinct. So, now, when you enter the living room, the focal points are a tie. The fireplace is a major, gorgeous focal point; and also now my fiddle leap fig, in the far left hand corner; and the huge bay window that invites the eastern light in. I like bucking convention.

I love in design that you can change the look of your room without really spending any money. I moved the fiddle where the bookcase was, I laid down a new rug where the fiddle had been, I moved around a lot of my small tchotchkes in the room (easiest trick to trick your eye and get a fresh look), moved a few other plants around as I watered them yesterday, and lastly I took out a bunch of stuff as it was feeling too crowded.

I like to look at a lot of beautiful things, but there comes a point where it gets too cluttered. My recommendation is to always assess your visual spaces. I recommend to edit, and curate your spaces frequently. It helps me. I was so happy after yesterday, and I didn't spend a dime making the living room look top notch.

Next up for the living room between now and the end of the year is hopefully acquiring a new coffee table, painting the living room (it needs a refresh after the same paint for 20-plus years), moving the roll top desk and the large file piece into storage, and hopefully getting a bench for that area, and maybe another large plant to match the size of the fiddle leaf fig. Other than that, the living room is done, and I love my "California Casual, meets Eclectic Decor," with a pinch of Victorian and vintage thrown in there for good measure.

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Oh, and I forgot, I want to replace the baby blue velvet curtains eventually, and possibly a new more modern lamp someday for my console table against the wall. If you haven't noticed a trend with designers, it's that we're always tweaking everything, to a small extent.

It gives us joy because we live in the world through our visual senses. 

Follow Jennifer Riley @__hohm__

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