Last Summer I took part in a bloggers challenge to style a living room and dining room on a newly renovated house as part of the House that Bloggers Built (see more here). One Brighton house, seven bloggers, three weeks to design and style. What? Three weeks you say! Ok, no problem then. Except my biggest challenge was to create the whole scheme in three weeks with no budget. Meaning that all the products had to be loaned. It was a huge learning experience for me because while I have designed many spaces, I’ve never had to do it without a budget before. But I’m never one to shy away from a challenge, and definitely not one where the aim is to style a living room.
It was a fast-paced, constantly moving and changing design. This was as a consequence of pieces of furniture not being available or not being able to track down something suitable for a press loan. I spent an awful lot of time on the phone and sending emails. But a well-designed interior, with gorgeous furniture and furnishings and a complete property transformation in three weeks, was always going to need some design elbow grease. I just imagined it would be more of the drawing and mood board kind.
There were elements that from the start I knew I wanted to include. I had my heart set on a yellow velvet sofa, but no one had one available for a loan. So I tweaked the design and searched for a yellow velvet high backed chair, I found a gorgeous one at DFS in their capsule collection. But alas it wasn’t to be. Finally, the lovely people at Rocket St George leant me a lovely gold tub armchair. It wasn’t the shape I was originally after, but I think it worked better in the end. Instead of the yellow sofa, I found an amazingly good value navy blue sofa from Dunelm. It became the backdrop to some rather colourful cushions. The teal coloured armchair wasn’t available and so teal slowly disappeared from the colour palette. Instead, I introduced small elements of pink.
Creating a comfortable and colourful contemporary living room with finds from the high street was my goal, but I also wanted to include some higher end pieces. Two items particularly made a difference to elevating the scheme and quite frankly made this style a living room challenge. One was the absolutely beautiful silk rug from Floor Story. It was the lynchpin of the design and really allowed me to play with colour. It was one of the items I wholeheartedly coveted when I was dressing the space. The other was by introducing original art which I sourced from Abigail Bowen, a local Brighton artist and a good friend. Her Slip painting had pride of place over the sofa. Abi wasn’t the only creative friend I asked if I could borrow pieces from. My friend Stuart Rodgers designs wallpaper, and although I couldn’t wallpaper the room (it had already been painted pale grey before I joined the project), we came up with the genius idea to create a wallpaper screen. Stuart then built the screen for me from a kit purchased from B&Q with his wallpaper. Another friend Ali Mapletoft the designer for Age of Reasons Studio lent me the silk cushions for the sofa from her cushion range.
Good value contemporary styling from the high street is there if you know where to look and are prepared to put in some research legwork. There were some really amazing high street gems in my design. The one that shocked absolutely everyone I told, was that the two copper and mirror coffee tables that I styled interlocking, were from Argos. As was the mirror above the fireplace. Many of the accessories were from Abode a local store in Brighton including the faux plants, glass vases and the planters. Launched this year, new lifestyle brand Geometrie loaned me their prototype side table in birch plywood, which I styled with books, candles, vases and lots of plants. Lighting I sourced from Rocket St George, Vitamin Living and my own Jelde yellow articulated Loft lamp.
I was also keen to incorporate scent into the room as I am never without a candle at home. While you can’t smell how good the scent is from the Melbourne based Scent of Home candles (stocked in Brighton at Workshop) I am sure you can appreciate how pretty the copper candle is. No self-respecting living room should be without a bar, I think it might almost be a rule now. I just couldn’t style a living room without including one. I wrote last year about the ones I spotted at the trade shows here. There are a few elements that you need to consider to make sure a bar cart is not just practical but also stylish. It’s a great little space to show off your styling skills and always be cocktail o’clock ready. Firstly I added a few gorgeous bottles of alcohol, and yes I did choose them for how they looked. In fact, the lovely people of Brighton Gin lent me two bottles (empty….. I know, such a shame!) so that I could style them on the bar cart. Then some really lovely champagne coupes from Rocket St George, pretty glasses are absolutely essential. I always add something quirky to give it some personality, so I included the playful lamp and added my own vintage “legs” nutcracker which I found in a Paris flea market. I wanted to include either a vase of flowers or a plant and used one of the faux ones from Abode. The copper clock that started life on my mood board was another favourite piece which I borrowed from Rocket St. George and hung above the bar. There were a couple of things that I would also like to have added – a cocktail shaker, a decanter, ice bucket, cocktail stirrers, paper straws, paper napkins and some mixers. So what do you think? Any items that stand out for you? I’d really love to hear your thoughts.
Below is a full list of items and brands who contributed to this style a living room challenge:
- Sofa – Belgravia button back sofa from Dunelm
- Chair – Gallery Velvet Cocktail Chair in Golden Glow from Rocket St George
- Rug – Northmore Rug designed by Flock for Floor Story
- Coffee Table – Collection Round Mirrored top Coffee table by Argos
- Side table – Collection Round Mirrored top Side table by Argos
- Side table – Geometrie Side table in birch plywood
- Bar/Console – Hello Storage table from Wireworks
- Artwork – Slip by Abigail Bowen
- Screen – Carnival Block Wallpaper by Stuart Rodgers
- Pendant lamp – Pitch Pendant by Vitamin
- Table lamp – Terracotta K lamp by Vitamin
- Table lamp – Seletti Monkey table lamp from Rocket St George
- Floor lamp – Mustard Loft D9406 lamp by Jelde (Mary Middleton’s own)
- Silk Cushions – Silk cushion selection from Age of Reasons Studio
- Velvet Cushions – Deva velvet cushions by Abode Living
- Throw – Mustard Tana Stonewashed throw Mais by Abode Living
- Blanket – Geometric blanket by Habitat
- Vases – Various of glass vases by Abode Living
- Champagne glasses – Vintage Style Champagne Saucers by Rocket St George
- Faux plants – all by Abode Living
- Candles – Grace Le Rose candle by SoH from Workshop
- Brighton Gin bottles supplied by Brighton Gin
- Books, Nutcracker, Alcohol, Mirrored tray – Mary Middleton’s own
A massive thanks to the brands that worked with me on this transformation. To see more about the House that Bloggers Built visit here.