Daria's Bohemian Living Room E-Design

A few months back, Daria emailed inquiring about the possibility of providing a long-distance design. She'd stumbled across my blog and loved the Grown Up Bohemian Makeover I'd created for the Whealys. By her account, It had been two years since she and her husband, their two children, and her mother had moved into their home, and she'd yet to really hang anything on the walls. She didn't have specifics in mind, but knew what she could really use was a "push" to get started.   

Daria's House Exterior

Situated on a heavily wooded lot in Western Pennsylvania, the house was built in 1970 and they purchased it from the original owner. Of course, I was instantly enamored with the 70s mid century vibes!

Daria was most interested in a cohesive plan for her living room; it sits right off the front door and is the first area seen upon entering their home. Despite it being spacious, she was stumped because it sort of felt cut in half since it was also the direct passage to the adjoining dining room. To get started, I asked her to send some photos and provide a little background on how her family used the space.    

Daria's Living Room Before
Daria's Living Room Before

With two young children, a dog, and her mother in a motorized wheelchair, Daria's main concern was that nothing could be too precious or expensive. It was also paramount the space be open and uncluttered to accommodate her mom's ability to move throughout with ease. This had a couple implications, but specifically it meant no rug. They'd had one before, but quickly discovered it always managed to get caught in the wheels of her mother's chair. 

Daria considered the below corner to be a problem area. At the moment it was a catchall for toys and books, and was the section of the living room the kids used for play. She wondered about turning it into a reading nook.  

Daria's Living Room Before

In general she liked the current color of the walls (a light off white), and wanted to keep her existing Ikea sofa, West Elm bookshelf, and possibly the leather lounge chair (though she did say if I found a great alternative to feel free to suggest it). They'd left twinkle lights up as they'd all grown to love the extra ambiance and cozy light they provided. Window treatments weren't really a necessity because of the privacy provided by the outside vegetation. She also wasn't sure about a coffee table since it was nice to keep the floor space open. Regarding budget, she was comfortable with $1500 spent over time, so I used that as my guide when sourcing product for her design.  

Daria's Living Room Before

After looking over her photos and considering the info she provided, I sent over a more design-centric questionnaire to get a clearer picture of her style. From her answers I gleaned she gravitated to bright and airy, layered and collected spaces with a focus on textures and color (Yes!). She enjoyed many aspects of Bohemian and Mid Century style, but didn't love clutter, so found the idea of incorporating some Scandinavian simplicity appealing. Warm colors like reds and yellows, compelling art, and nature-inspired influences were also important. Ultimately she longed for a room that felt cozy and welcoming, with a "come on in, and hang with us!" vibe. 

As I considered the design, I started leaning toward a Mid Century/Scandinavian hybrid over Bohemian for a couple of reasons. In general a large area rug is a foundational piece in most room designs, and I felt was an especially crucial element for a layered Bohemian look. When I thought about rooms that still looked pulled together and cohesive without a rug, clean-lined Scandinavian designs came to mind. But I knew Daria loved color too, so I wanted to find examples of rooms that exuded joyful color with a restrained and uncluttered layout. These were some of the inspiration images I sent her way to see if I was on the right track:

After looking at the photos Daria's response was positive! She liked the clean lines, simpleness and openness of the rooms, but wanted to see more plants and color. Based on her feedback I came up with this mood board entitled, Colorfully, Scandinavian:  

Colorfully Scandinavian Mood Board – M Pettipoole

This is an abridged version of the explanation I provided with the mood board:

I kept the same basic layout with two distinct areas; the lounge hangout section, and the corner reading nook because I think it works best for your need to keep the pathways unobstructed.

To address the “problem area” corner, I suggest keeping the bookcases in their current placement, but treating the top more like a mantel decorated with a collection of plants, a large leaning piece of art or a mirror, and interesting accessories. On the other wall I’d place a cute bench full of cozy pillows, then hang picture ledges above teaming with the assortment of cool prints, framed kids art, and family photos you’re anxious to incorporate. As the first thing people see when entering it would be very impactful.

Accenting the wall connecting the living room and dining room in a yellowy citron color would be another way to add some bright and colorful interest. I chose citron because while it is a warmer color, it’s less aggressive than a red or orange might be. For the furniture I suggest all light weight, small, and easily repositioned pieces that can quickly be moved out of the way when necessary. Two smaller nesting tables instead of a traditional coffee table would help keep the space open.

Throw pillows are one of the least expensive and easiest ways to incorporate color and pattern. Since most of the furniture is solid I thought you could go a little wild with those. And though curtains aren’t a necessity for privacy they still go a long way in making a room feel layered, cozy, and complete. I like the idea of incorporating something with texture and subtle pattern.

Well....unfortunately, after sitting with it a while, Daria responded by saying she wasn't sure the mood board was really what she was looking for. Particularly, it felt too cold, and maybe a bit too modern. She really had hoped to incorporate more reds and oranges, plants, and textures and she attached several inspiration images from The Jungalow Instagram to show me what she liked. Basically, she wanted Bohemian, and I had departed too far.

Specifically, she didn't see the need for curtains, and she actually wanted to replace the two white bookcases she currently had with something nicer. She also didn't think they'd use the bench in the reading nook, because what they really needed was kid-friendly storage. Also, she wasn't keen on the picture ledges so close to the books because it might look too cluttered.   

So after I picked my pride up off the floor, I got to work on another design. 

Scandinavian meets Bohemian Mood Board – M Pettipoole

The major elements were all still the same, but this time I really tried to amp up the plants and warm color palette. Overall, it was a more balanced Scandinavian meets Bohemian design, with the elements of both styles she really enjoyed.

And great news, she loved it! 

Once I received her approval on the mood board revision I sent along a source list with links to all of the products I'd suggested. I also included several 3D renderings and floor plans of the room so she'd have a clear understanding of where everything would go and what it would all look like. 

Daria's Bohemian Living Room Rendering – M Pettipoole

Like the original mood board, I included several patterned and colorful throw pillows, but I also came up with the idea of hanging a rug on the wall like a tapestry. Draped over a birch branch, it's such a cost effective way to incorporate pattern and texture in a big way.  

Daria's Bohemian Living Room Rendering – M Pettipoole

I nixed the window treatments in favor of unobstructed views, but suggested the idea of hanging a cluster of plants off center in front. Remembering the Christmas lights, I thought hanging a couple strands of textured orb lights would provide the same kind of whimsical glow, and be appropriate year round.

Instead of two small nesting tables I changed to one small scale coffee table that, again, was light weight and could be moved easily. 

Daria's Bohemian Living Room Rendering – M Pettipoole
Daria's Bohemian Living Room Rendering – M Pettipoole

For added toy and play storage, I suggested open white shelving with bins, or a credenza if she felt it would provide enough storage for her needs. In the course of our communication she mentioned she had a large 20 x 30 wood frame she'd like to use, and a god's eye her mother in law had made in the 70s. I suggested adding both, along with more plants, and a reading lamp atop the credenza or shelving. Since the toy storage would be low, I thought a tall bookcase on the other wall would be more balanced. I still loved the idea of incorporating those picture ledges so I suggested trying them out in the dining room either on their own, or with a credenza below. 

Daria's Bohemian Living Room Rendering – M Pettipoole

Since receiving her custom design, Daria's been hard at work updating her space. She purchased the bookcase almost immediately and loves it, as well as the yellow West Elm lamp shown in the renderings! She did ask for a couple more hanging rug options because she wanted it to have a little more southwestern vibe with reds and oranges, instead of the modern block vibe of the one in the mood board. After providing her with several different choices, she purchased the rug pictured in the renderings from Urban Outfitters. Instead of going with the open shelving for her toy storage, she scored a beautiful smaller-scale vintage credenza that fits the corner perfectly. 

I'm so happy Daria reached out to me! It was a thrill to provide her with a comprehensive guide for transforming her living room into the warm and inviting space she hoped it could be!