Happy Friday, and happy 3rd of July!! I am gearing up for a mellow weekend celebrating the 4th - BBQs, swimming, and fireworks of course - but before we get the long weekend started, I wanted to check in with you all!
As you know, my best friend just moved into a new apartment, and as she fills the new space with furniture, I'm here to help out and give advice where needed. I woke up this morning to a text from her saying that she doesn't love the couch she ordered, and everything just looks really blah and monotone (beige sofa, beige rug, beige walls).
PERFECT timing, because I'd started this post earlier in the week. Let's talk about what do do when your room is all one color... beige. I was going to title this "Decorating a Neutral Space", but let's call a spade a spade... everything in her apartment is beige, so it's now "Decorating a Beige Living Room". This is a big problem a lot of people run into but it's actually a really easy fix. Sometimes it's a case of the person being scared of color. Sometimes it's a case of them gravitating to the same color for everything they own.
Here's the room as it stands right now:
The good news is, the room has good bones. Not a bad "before"... am I right?!
The light in here is awesome... it gets really good exposure! I mean, a full wall of windows, and adjacent sliding doors to the deck. It doesn't get much better! And, the sofa looks SOOO good - it's the perfect size for this room. So excited to get started.
Ok so, with good light, open layout, lots of windows, and fabulous core pieces to build out from, it's just about adding some pizazz to all the beige (the walls, the rug, the sofa the console table). So let's talk about creating a calm, beautiful room based around neutrals, without it ending up being bland, beige, and boring.
Step One: start with a color palette
The key is to choose a color that you love. Look at your wardrobe - what do you wear? Do you look good in rosy colors? Does green make your eyes pop? Also what makes you happy - are you your best self near the ocean? In the woods? I happen to love blue, so that's the color I went with for this exercise, and based on Kira's pinned spaces (take a look at some of those here) these rooms are a mix of preppy, beachy, and rustic, and I think blue lends itself well to that aesthetic. Once you've decided what colors you're into, then move onto step two...
Step Two: Decide where to bring in color
I'm a HUGE proponent of keeping the most expensive things you own neutral, so that you don't tire of them as easily, and so you can change out the accessories when you get bored. If you had a big green sofa, it sort of limits your color options. But if we do colorful accessories (rug, pillows, curtains, throw blankets, art) on a neutral sofa, it's easy, and quite a bit more cost-efficient to get new pillow covers than to replace the big ticket items).
Step Three: Bring in live plants
The emphasis here is on the word "live" - we are not talking silk flowers. A room feels dead without anything in it that is "living". For a space like a living room, I'd recommend one larger green plant and one smaller plant (I like orchids - they stay alive for several months, saving you money on cut flowers every week, and they're just so pretty, what's not to love?!) Trust me - a plant or two in a all beige space really brightens things up - even without changing anything else.
So with all that said, I put together four variations of the same room.
The things that stayed the same in each room:
- The sofa (this is the exact sofa she bought)
- The side table (which she already owns)
- The art (similar to the gold leaf art she owns)
- The wall color (a very pale grey).
Ok, let's get to it....
Room One: Here, we brought in color through the navy curtains, navy stools, and patterned blue and white throw pillows. The rest of the room is very neutral, with a natural fiber rug under the oatmeal colored sofa she bought.
The key to pairing a neutral rug next to a neutral sofa... they need to be different shades (one warmer and one cooler perhaps), and different tones (one lighter and one darker), and very different textures to ensure one doesn't visually run into the next.
Room Two: Here I kept the blue curtains, but swapped out the natural fiber rug for one with a bold pattern and color, and exchanged the navy stools for a ivory bench.
If I had to guess, I'd guess this would be Kira's least favorite of all the rooms, because there more color in it than there are neutral tones, but I thought it was still important to see it.
I swapped the navy curtains for white, brought back the natural fiber rug, which means that the stools and pillows are the only source of color here. In real life, I think I'd recommend moving the gold leaf art to another room, and bringing in art with more color because the risk is still there of ending up with a borderline drab room.
BUT, maybe not... I'd just have to see it as it came together........
I like this one, but something about it seems a bit off - like it's bottom heavy. Having everything at eye level so neutral, and then the dark rug, I think the walls need something with substance as well. Maybe even having art in a black frame, or a really large wall mirror propped up against the wall behind the sofa with a big black frame. Just something to anchor the upper half of the room a bit more.
Ultimately, I really like all these rooms for very different reasons. I like number one the best because it feels really balanced, but I suspect Kira will want to go with lighter curtains, and with all the light that comes into her apartment, I wouldn't want a dark curtain panel blocking any of that out.
Because of that, I think we need to think carefully about what colors to bring in, what patterns to incorporate, and how to ensure its not only balanced, but that she loves it.
Next up, I want to talk about hanging curtains in a tricky spot...........