Design Reveal: Charming Living Room in Alexandria

I told my family I was only going to be at this newly completed client home for an hour - hour and a half tops! It was relatively close in nearby Alexandria, and just a small living room. But as it goes, I just had the most fun getting to talk to my sweet client, Annie, in person for the first time since we started working together a few months ago! Five hours later, I did eventually get home. ;)

As we have proven here over and over again, remote interior design, (aka eDesign), is every bit as personal as in-person. We communicate very closely with each and every client regarding every decision on the space. And even though we develop a unique and individualized communication flow with each person, the months of FaceTiming, texting, calling and emailing always come to the same end result: a space that person truly feels is theirs and lucky to call home. As people who love people, this line of work is right up our alley! We adore getting to connect with others and put our heads together to create the very best home that suits their style and needs.

Today’s reveal is really fun because Annie’s style is very eclectic and she had the COOLEST stuff to start with! She has spent time immersed in so many cultures around the world, her collection of artifacts and photography is seriously impressive. So fun for a designer to play with! Want to see what the space started out as?

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Lots of stuff going on here, but also some really cool stuff. Our aim was to highlight the beautiful pieces Annie already had, add pieces that complimented those, and find a visually pleasing, inexpensive way to hide the rest! Take a look!

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One of our design concepts sent along the way. We had yet to decide on the coffee table and exact pillow placement, but that’s what a concept is - a check on the visual feel of the space. These are meant to help us know if we are heading in the right direction and what adjustments, if any, we need to make moving forward!

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Before you say anything I am fully aware that this is maybe the 4th or 5th time we used the IKEA Ivar cabinets. But you guys, at $70/unit, completely customizable, and only 12” deep, these babies are a small space small budget best friend. Not to mention ideal hidden storage for a small apartment with (almost) no closets. We hiked these Ivars up on black stainless steel legs which set them at a much more versatile height, and gave them a much needed layer of visual interest for this small space.

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Big fan of this chair in this space! It’s modern but rustic enough to pair well with the English roll arm sofa.

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This home wears the glow of Summer well. I may have to book some time here come February!

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That’s a wrap! Happy to say we are already locked in to work with Annie on her bedroom next! But before we start on any new projects I’ve got a few more weeks of Summer to maximize with the kids. Taking this season off has resulted in the best time with my kids. I love this age so much and have thoroughly soaked in this time together practically distraction free.

I hope you all enjoy these last weeks of Summer and amidst whatever your responsibilities are can find moments of joy and rest. Thank you so much for taking the time to come by today!

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Lighting of My Dreams || 2019 Flip List Item No.3

I have a secret weapon when it comes to introducing Caleb to new items in our home. See, my husband isn’t what I would call a fan of sudden changes. When I want to try something new in our home I follow a strict regimen of 1) casually mention the item in conversation 1-15months in advance 2) install it when he’s not home 3) call to warn him about it 4) tell him is just for a trial period if he hates it and 5) never disclose that the “trial period” is indefinite.

This method works to a point but it does not prevent him from griping along the way. So I have a secret weapon for that. The secret is to out-vote him 2-to-1. See, the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down is getting the dog to love it as much as I do. Think a living room rug is a waste of money? It’s totally worth it when the dog loves to roll around on it. Think a “decorative” old army cot is pointless? Not if the dog starts taking his afternoon naps on it. Think the old coffee table was just fine? Well now the dog can curl up at your feet under this one. Yeah, whatever I manage to drag in usually stays.

Now I have been campaigning for a better dining room light fixture for a year now but I’ve hit a bit of a snag. See, our current rental came with a mal-placed ceiling fan:

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To me - this would be the perfect place for the diy chandelier from our last rental. But how do you spin a chandelier as a dog-friendly addition? Needless to say I’ve come up empty.

And then we had a little swing vote this spring.

Somehow Caleb has managed to beat me at my own game. If Caleb hadn’t married me, he probably would have married a ceiling fan… and apparently like father like daughter. Huntleigh’s developing eyesight is really into high contrast these days. And a spinning fan is the equivalent of a high school quarterback. One minute she’ll be playing quietly and the next she’ll be giggling at it from across the room. The longer this flirtation goes on, the stronger Caleb’s position in the matter gets.

Well played Caleb. Well played.

So how do you get a cool dining room light without replacing the ceiling fan? You install this bad boy:

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I have actually admired this France & Son light fixture for a long time (did you catch that Chelsea used it in her latest eDesign reveal??). I used to sit in our last apartment and try to justify where I would use it but the scale just didn’t make sense in the bitty living room. When it became clear that this fan had to stay, I went back to imagining it in our new space and resolved to put it on my 2019 Furniture Flip Bucket List.

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Now I wouldn’t call my style traditional in any sense, but I do have an appreciation for an old-fashioned look with a twist. We embraced the “traditional” moulding in our rental by painting it (and the walls) in a creamy flat paint and kept it fresh with our unconventional art positioning and eclectic dining set. Then juxtapose a light with odd modern shapes and our cool take on a traditional dining space is complete.

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Caleb and I often disagree over form vs function. I always seem to fall in love with pretty things that aren’t always… practical. And Caleb will fight tooth and nail to keep something butt ugly… as long as it’s comfortable. Ha! God knew what He was doing when He paired us together. A marriage of opposing forces sometimes means conflict, but mostly it means compromise. Sometimes Caleb lets me do something he has deemed crazy (like two coffee tables) and other times I try to find an option that is both beautiful (for me) and functional (for him).

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This wall-mount light is fully articulating so I can swing it over the dining room table when I want to pretend I have a real chandelier…

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And Caleb’s precious ceiling fan can stay.

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The oversized wall sconce also adds light to the adjoining living room.

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This space is where we spend the majority of our time - which means I can stare and giggle at this light fixture as much as I want (like daughter, like mother). Let me give you a quick tour:

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Even though our landlord let us paint the whole space, we didn’t want to wager that he’d be ok with us hardwiring a bunch of things into the wall. The swing arm sconce is a plug-in that we can take with us when we leave. And the TV is surface mounted above the fireplace with a hidden cable box. Can you spot it?

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We used a HIDEit Mount to conceal the cable box behind the TV so we wouldn’t have to live with this electrical eyesore:

 
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If you’re renting or don’t want to hassle with running wires through your wall, I highly recommend giving their affordable gadgets a try.

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Across from the TV is a lucky $10 find - a mid-century arm chair with mustard vinyl cushions.

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He’s guarded by a 20-year-old rubber plant I found on Facebook Marketplace. I knew I’d never be able to grow something this mature from seed so I’m hoping his age means he’ll mostly take care of himself. Maybe just do a load of laundry every now-and-then or need to be let in if he forgets his key?

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Baby and dog abstained from voting on the plant, so I resorted to bribing Caleb in order to keep him. Now Caleb has the plant naming rights - and he’s been torturing me with some hilarious (and obscene) titles but mostly we just call him BAP (Big Ass Plant).

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Behind BAP are the stairs to the top level and a pair of cabinets from the US Patent Office. I bought them off a retired employee who even had the original patent paperwork for the uniquely designed drawers!

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Beyond the dining room, you can see the stairs to the lower level and our sunny kitchen.

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And that concludes our main level tour! Like I said before - if he hadn’t married me, Caleb probably would’ve married a ceiling fan. But if I hadn’t married him, I probably would’ve married this light.

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That’s a wrap on this year’s bucket list - with 6 months to spare! I can’t promise I’ll be that efficient next year, but I’m already dreaming up some new goals to meet and challenges to tackle.

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Five down and that’s a wrap! Catch up on the 2019 Furniture Flip Bucket List.

Design Reveal: Prospect Park in Brooklyn, NY!

We’re in Brooklyn!! This project represents a long time dream - designing in New York City! What can I say, I’ve always been charmed. This was actually my sixth or seventh design job in the Big Apple but the first one I’ve had the opportunity to take photos of. Coincidentally, I am working on two more apartments just around the block from here, (one being a generous word of mouth recommendation from these home-owners!).

When these adventurous globe-trotting clients approached me with little more than a random piece here and there in each room, I was so smitten with them, the stunning archways in their home, and their goldendoodle, Nala, that I couldn’t wait to jump in. Over the course of six months we worked together room by room, item by item, detail by detail. Oh how I have looked forward to this day!

It all came together SO well and I can’t wait to walk you through! The MO with this home was to achieve a simple but eclectic look with a balanced global vibe. With space being limited, we enlisted the help of local contractor Ethan Abramson to design and install storage in every room. I’ll point out his work as we go along but I can’t tell you how fun it was to work on custom pieces with such a skilled craftsmen. Would highly recommend Ethan to anyone in the area! Let’s head in, everyone!

Entryway

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You walk into this apartment and immediately enter a long hallway. Creating depth of view is one of my favorite design elements - giving you something to see down the length of a space from either end. A personalized curated gallery wall pulls you into the home, while a graphic wallpaper, and architectural accent chair bid you farewell. (If you’re interested in the sources used throughout this home, please see our list at the end)

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When less is more, I like to use interesting pieces. A single accent chair by itself had better be something special, otherwise, why?

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The wallpaper was possibly one of the first decisions in the whole home! This is the only place it’s used which I think just makes it that much more dramatic.

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Speaking of dramatic…

Dining Room

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We were so intentional with every detail in this space I can’t help but look at the collective whole and remember the conversations and design renderings created for particular elements. It is a process of pure creativity that I have fallen so in love with over the years.

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The clients had this idea for a gallery wall here and my gosh did they hit a home run. Notice the continuity among the frames - all thin, and either black, white, or natural wood. That’s it! There is nothing visually connecting the actual images, but the carefully collected frames create cohesion and freedom to display whatever suits them.

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The light fixture was actually left by the previous owners and totally works for our purposes. Its thin and the right scale and the only brass used throughout, setting it apart as the primary decorative accent in the dining room. With the cutout looking into the gallery wall hall, I opted not to add anything else to the wall space surrounding the table, so this visually impactful fixture works beautifully.

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Living Room

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I can’t move on without pointing out the trim. First of all, so thick, old and regal. I’ve never ever painted trim a contrasting color, but the clients had this idea to do something different and accentuate it. In the early renderings I used black and that felt too stark. Gotta start somewhere, right?! After doing some research on similar architecture I found three images with white walls and beige trim and fell. in. love. I sent over three color options, the clients tested, and we came to a unanimous decision to use Clay Beige, by Benjamin Moore. Walls in Swiss Coffee, BM.

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The first of Ethan’s pieces - this wall unit! He built the cabinets and shelves above, using Rejuvenation brackets we selected.

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The triptych is just the bees knees! The clients found the street artist, Dede, in Israel and looked him up upon returning to the states. They commissioned this special piece for their last apartment and were not sure it would have a place in this one. My top choice was over the sofa if the dimensions fit. It’s just the right kind of drama needed for this room! Still so thankful this installment fit!

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I honestly don’t believe we ever considered any other light! We had started down this road of edgy pieces with a subtle flair of drama. I’ve used similar sconces before and this France and Son number was just right for our far corner here. Can we also take a moment to acknowledge the clients incredibly green thumb - I’ve been loading up on her generous tips!

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Bedroom

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Hold on, scroll back up and take in that pocket door pull. The details of this home are just incredible! What a privilege to work on such a fun space!

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You’ll notice in this room as well as the office coming up next that we opted for reverse walls - beige walls with white trim. They’re itty bitty spaces so it just felt like a fun opportunity to try something different in this home.

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The bedroom is a story of small business owners. You may recognize Ethan’s work in the bedside tables, (inspired by similar I found on Etsy). You may also recognize some items StyleMutt Home has used before! The Marylou sconce from our friends at Rough Luck Studio, and the fibre art by a favorite, Designs by Filia.

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More small businesses are represented on the bed. Pillows from fair trade global artisans, The Citizenry and Mae Woven, as well as Brooklyn local business, Brooklinen. The bed itself, as well as the office desk, (coming up), and the olive tree stand, (living room), are from Floyd - a company establishing the standard of modern-day furniture. They make furniture that is easily portable to those often relocating, but without sacrificing quality. West Elm recently partnered with them so I’m sure you’ll see more of them soon!

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Curious how New Yorkers manage such tiny spaces? Epic closets. These were installed by the previous owners who gambled some solid square footage in the room. And worth every inch, if I do say so! Who could deny those leather pulls…

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Office

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We have two fine installments from Ethan in this space - a cute corner shelf that I wanted to use to soften the deep narrow space,

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and the coolest bookshelves I ever did see!

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This is artists work right here, people. The detailing is just everything!

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And that’s it! I had so much fun working on this home I feel guilty calling it work - not every job feels that way but this one was a joy every step. The clients were beyond amazing and, as always, I am so touched to be trusted so fully with their home. Designing someones home is an honor I don’t take lightly, so when it’s all said and done there is definitely a bittersweet feeling left that it’s all over.

We have worked so hard to get here with StyleMutt Home Design but it still feels surreal to be sought after from around the country. It takes so much time and strategy to establish yourself not only as capable of doing the work, but as the top of your field. I don’t know what is next for us, but I have had this desire for some time to dig into how we got to this point in our business and use what we have learned to help other aspiring designers. With the completion of this project and wrapping up a couple others this week, my plan is to take the rest of the summer off from design projects and eat up the time with my babes. With design work on hold until September, I’d like to dabble in some writing to publish an eBook loaded with all the info of how we got to this point from scratch. It’s so much more than just dreaming big and I am really excited about creating a guide to help others reach their goals! If you’re interested in doing interior design and/or eDesign, shoot me an email at chelsea@stylemutthome.com and I’ll be sure to send you a note when the guide is complete!

Thank you all for coming by today! It’s always so fun to get to share these projects with this community and I truly am so grateful for you.

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Some more photos of the trip - Matt and I went up together and had the BEST weekend celebrating our 13 year anniversary! I still can’t believe our marriage is a teenager now. There is absolutely no aspect of our life now that I would have guessed for us on the day we got married, and I think that’s just what makes it feel so grand. Making a life together with this man has been the adventure of a lifetime, that’s for sure!

SOURCE LIST
Entryway:
Sideboard - Article
Lamp - CB2
Rug - Loom and Kiln
Runnger - Etsy
Chair - Stowed Home
Wallpaper - Etsy
Tassel wall hanging - Holistic Habitat

Dining Room:
Table - Room and Board
Chairs - Serena and Lily
Linens - Parachute Home
Rug - AllModern

Living Room:
Rug - Serena and Lily
Sofa - Article
Coffee Table - Anthropologie
Table Lamp - AllModern
Sconce - France and Son
Pillows - Serena and Lily, Mae Woven, Anthropologie
Planters - Holistic Habitat

Bedroom:
Bed - Floyd
Duvet - Brooklinen
Pillows - The Citizenry, Mae Woven
Fibre Art - Designs by Filia

Office:
Desk - Floyd
Desk chair - Urban Outfitters
Yellow planter - West Elm
Pillow - Mae Woven