Reader Inspiration Board: Brittany’s Living Room

2 Jun

Every once in a while I will get an email from a reader asking for advice on a problem area in their home.  Brittany and I have corresponded over the our purchases of our Taylor sofas from Thrive Furniture.  Recently she sent me some photos of her living room asking for my thoughts.  I asked her if I could create an inspiration board with suggestions and we agreed on the following parameters: 1.  Budget of $500 or less.  2.  Apartment living means no painting the walls.  3.  No pink.  (Okay, that one’s not so difficult.)

So here are my initial thoughts:  Great foundation to work from.  Very cool mid-century pieces.  Of course, I love Taylor.  But I also love the surfboard coffee table and the Eames lounge chair and ottoman.  I think the shag rug and wool throw on the chair also add a great MCM vibe.  But as I look at these photos, what is missing for me is COLOR!  The white, tan and yellow are all warm tones that give it kind of an overall ‘beige’ feel.  She has a ‘Thrifty Orla Art’ piece inspired by this post with a great pop of blue color.  (I love it when reader’s actually find my posts useful!)  I decided to start using that as a base.  Blues and yellows are great together.  And as an accent, I thought maybe a little bit of green.  Below is the board I put together but I will go through each piece as well.

First, I wanted to suggest something larger for artwork above the sofa.  I had a similar issue with my recent living room artwork.  I looked through Etsy, one of my favorite MCM resources, and I saw these four prints.  (Click on any image to link to the resource.)

Mid Century Modern Lattice Inspired Art Prints - Set of Four 5x7s (coastal)

These Etsy prints come from the Niko and Lily store on Etsy.  The ones for sale are 5×7″ ($39.95) but I think they need to be bigger for Brittany’s room.  The store also sells 8×10″ individual prints for $14.95 each and I am sure they would make this set larger, which would be about $60 for the four.  Add in some Ikea frames that are usually $15 each and you have lovely artwork for $120.  Okay.  $380 left.  (You know, come to think of it, you could source some patterns in the same colors on the internet, print them out on a high quality color printer and frame them for even less!)

I really think the sofa and coffee table need some balance so we how about some end tables?  The ones on the board are from Etsy as well and a great deal for $89 for the pair.  They are Mersman, which I just bought a pair of myself at an estate sale.  I really like the MCM step style.  Brittany would have to pay for shipping, which I am sneakily not including in the $500 because I think with some patience, she could probably find another set of MCM end tables at a thrift store or estate sale too.  $291 left in the bank.

Mid-Century Danish Modern Step-Up End Table Pair / Lamp Table  -  Nice Eames Era Decor

I love the yellow pillows on the sofa and think they would benefit from a complementary punch of color as well.  I found these pillow covers on….you guessed it…Etsy and would suggest using them on two of the four yellow pillows currently there.  They are a little pricey at $30 each, but I think that they are worth it.  $261 left.

Mid-Century Modern Blue Pillow Cushion Cover 16 x 16

And to sit on the lovely end tables and coordinate with the sofa pillows, I love these yellow lamps on  They are $45 each, including shade, leaving us $171.  (I feel like I am on the Price is Right or something.)

Nothing adds polish to a room like drapery.  I like these blue linen panels from CB2.  Now they are $60/each, which is also a little pricey and if Brittany has any talent with a sewing machine, she could probably make them for much less.  I would also throw in a curtain rod, which is probably about $20.


 Eeek…that leaves $31.  Let’s rethink that.  These from Target for $11.89 each.  Much better!  With a $20 rod and the Target panels, we have $127 left.

Target Home™ Farrah Window Panel.Opens in a new window

And while you’re at Target, go ahead and pick up a simple white bookcase to put in the corner in place of the floor lamp.  The corner needs some brightening up.  The one I am thinking of is $54 and three shelves.  Grab a pint of paint and paint the insides a cheery yellow to get the effect of the bookcase below.

And we have $73 left.  On the board, I included photos of some object d’art for the end and coffee tables that say mid-century modern to me.  They are green glass vases from Target for $25 each, a blue bowl from Etsy for $19.99 and an Eames-like bird on rockers from West Elm for $29 (which I may just need to buy for myself).

Green Glass Vase-Bell.Opens in a new windowMid Century Modern  Ceramic Covered Dish Blue Teardrop

Rocking Birds

So the grand total is $526, a wee bit over.  However, I think that the green glass vases and the blue bowl are things you could find at thrift store for way less, so let’s just call it $500 even, shall we?  I hope Brittany likes the inspiration board and I am sure she is open to your comments and suggestions as well.


10 Responses to “Reader Inspiration Board: Brittany’s Living Room”

  1. David Fitter July 1, 2012 at 4:04 am #

    The Mersman End Tables are wonderful and can be found, with many other MCM items on Etsy under – MODERNMIDCENTURYFURN

  2. Jacque June 2, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

    In my opinion, the small rug is making the space look smaller, because it firmly defines the area in front of the sofa. If the rug was to be removed, the carpet would spread your field of vision wide in the room. One rule for small spaces is to keep the flooring changes to a minimum.

    The tiny picture hung above the center of the sofa doesn’t help.Large, tall art work that runs in a series along the wall behind the sofa would really broaden the space. This can be easily done with fabric stretched over 4′ by 8′ frames that are hung side by side all along the wall. These could go floor to ceiling with the sofa in front of them. They provide a strong anchoring wall and act like wall paper/art work/paint….call it what you want. This solution is great for a rental space because its totally temporay.

    Of course, we would all love Marimekko, but that’s WAY expensive. We did something similar to this in our current house with fabric from IKEA. It was 7 bucks a yard and has made a huge impact in the space.

    Its also important to keep in mind that homes in the 50s and 60s weren’t stuffed full of mid century modern furniture. That’s just not how people lived then, or now for that matter. They had some older stuff they had acquired in the past, along with period pieces. It was ecclectic and livable and made up of what people could afford. Don’t be afraid to throw in some whimsy, and don’t be afraid to use furniture you like that may not be “mid century”.

    Lastly, DON’T BE HATIN’ ON PINK! Pink was huge in the 50s and 60s. One of the homes we renovated (built in 54) had pink toilets, pink sinks and pink bathtubs, all tiled with lovely green 4 inch tiles. I loved the pink so much that we renovated around the fixtures, keeping them all.

    • Brandy June 2, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

      How nice of you to give so much thought to Brittany’s living room! Some great ideas there. Thanks!

      • Jacque June 2, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

        I don’t know how to post pictures, or would give some examples. I think Brittany is off to a good start. Its always hard to tie a room together because we are afraid of spending money on something and then finding out it was a mistake.

  3. Brittany June 2, 2012 at 10:19 am #

    Wow!! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!! There are so many great ideas in this post, I especially like the bookshelf and the end tables! I also love the art for above my sofa. Excellent work putting this all together for me, Brandy. Now you’ve got a fire started under my rear to finally finish my living room. Many thanks for sharing this and for taking the time to brainstorm some amazing ideas to accomplish the look I’m going for. I’m SO glad I found your blog a few months ago! 😀

  4. Rebecca June 2, 2012 at 7:35 am #

    Wow nicely done. You could provide a valuable service for people as a side-business. Virtual re-decorating plus you do all the shopping research. First thing I thought too was she needs a huge piece of art over the sofa. Perhaps nose around consignment stores and eBay, CraigsList etc. for something.

    • Brandy June 2, 2012 at 8:03 am #

      Thanks! Though I am not sure I would be good at the side business. People like a prompt response to things and Brittany and I talked about this over a month ago!

  5. James June 2, 2012 at 7:17 am #

    Excellent ideas!! Love the etsy prints! Those pillows are way cool! And the best advice of all was the yellow paint in the bookcase…… Great pop when painting walls is not an option ……

    • Brandy June 2, 2012 at 7:30 am #

      Thanks, James! Wish I could take credit for the idea. Just passing along inspiration!

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