I’m excited to share with you some fun design suggestions I’ve been working on for one of Husband’s co-workers, Jenn.  In a new apartment, she was looking for some decorating advice on the cheap for the whole shebang – living/dining room, bedroom, and bathroom.  Here’s her email:

I literally am overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin with this decorating thing, so you are pretty much going to be leading the blind here.  The apartment is definitely not that big, but most of the stuff in the living room I am not attached to and/or already planning to send back home to the parents.  Currently, it is a lot of tan…with too many shades of pink thrown in here or there.  I absolutely need new bedding but, again, don’t really know what I want or need.  The bedroom esp is pretty small and..as far as I know…there’s not a lot of room for re-arranging what is in there now. No judging. I think my priority right now is getting the living room looking pretty, the walls are desperate for something.

Bottom Line: Help!

the living/dining area, viewed from the kitchen

the living/dining area, viewed from the kitchen

current dining nook

current dining nook

the living/dining area, viewed from the sliding doors

the living/dining area, viewed from the sliding doors

the rest of the 180, looking toward the TV and bedroom

the rest of the 180, looking toward the TV and bedroom

I’m so glad she asked!  Working with a lot of the pieces she already has, and adding some fun *pink* flair, this is going to be one fab room to lounge in.  Let’s get started with the plan, shall we?

Jenn's Apt - Sketch

  • The configuration Jenn currently has going in her apartment will largely remain as is – with just a few little tweaks here and there.
  • We’ll keep her brand spankin’ new couch, as well as the existing wood coffee table and TV console.  The rest of the furniture in the room is heading home to her parents’ house.  She has the option to keep the existing table and chairs, or replace them with some of my suggestions.
  • Although this is an apartment (read: temporary and un-paintable), we’ll inject it with fun, colorful pieces that can be carried through to her next place – WITHOUT breaking the bank.  AND we’ll add valuable storage and make the room serve multiple purposes.

Now it’s time for the break-down (don’t forget to click the picture for a bigger view):

Jen's Living Room v2

  1. Jenn will move her sofa out from the wall about a foot and then mount behind the sofa this 74″ shelf from IKEA at sofa table height.  Not only is this an inexpensive way to add much-needed surface area to the living room for drinks, but it saves space on either side of the couch that she frankly doesn’t have.
  2. Centered above the couch and about 10″ above the sofa shelf is this horizontally hung beauty of a mirror.  Its placement will reflect light from the sliding door, making the room feel bigger, as well as add a serious glam factor to the room!
  3. On either side of the sofa shelf are a pair of matching white table lamps with punchy pink shades (both on super sale!).  This will add some much needed color to the back wall, as well as lighting to couch dwellers.
  4. Grouped on the sofa shelf next to one of the lamps are a trio of cute vases (here, here and here) in varying sizes and shades of pink.  She can add cut flowers to them (hint, hint, boyfriend!) or just leave them as-is.  She can also stand next to the other lamp a framed pic or two in black frames (with white mats) to personalize it.
  5. On the existing tan sofa, we’ll sew (scratch that – I’ll sew) a pair of pillow covers in this super fun and color scheme-inspired floral fabric.  This fabric will be carried elsewhere in the room, stay tuned!
  6. Grounding the room (the front feet of the sofa about 6″ onto the rug, please!) is this steal of a 6×9′ fluffy flokati rug.  Does it speak girl glam or what?!
  7. Centered and about 18″ from the front edge of the sofa is her existing coffee table.  On it she can put a bright white tray to house coasters and remote controls, and in the cubbies below she can find bright white baskets to hide other household items.
  8. Facing the sliding doors and centered about 18″ from the coffee table, Jenn should add a pair of these woven storage ottomons, again adding more storage options PLUS extra seating when she has friends over.  They’ll help pull in the brown tones of the coffee table and TV console, balance and contain the living space, and can easily be stashed against the wall or in her bedroom if she needs more mingle room.
  9. The existing TV console should be centered on the wall and with the sofa and coffee table.  Flanking the console is a pair of these inexpensive dining chairs, which will be recovered with that same spunky floral fabric used on the sofa pillows.  They’ll help balance that side of the room, as well as add extra seating for game nights or at the kitchen table (more on that later).  [Instead of springing for the chairs, she can always keep her existing kitchen chairs and paint them black or white, then toss on a lumbar pillow in the same cute fabric!]
  10. Centered above each of the chairs are these super cute and affordable mirrored sconces (sourced from and featured on This Young House, of course).  She’ll hang them with the top of the sconces about a quarter of the way from the top of the TV.
  11. Hanging close to the ceiling, swagged about a foot in front of the TV but centered with it and the sofa and coffee table is this super cute capiz chandlier.  Not only does it mimic the rectangular tiles of the mirror, but it adds more glam and light to that side of the room!
  12. Hung as wide as they can go is this pair of fun orange curtains hung from this white curtain rod, framing the sliding door and adding more much-needed color.  Good thing she’s a UVA alum – she bleeds orange!
  13. Remember the funky nook in the corner of the room?  That area will become instant storage for things like filing tubs, boxes of pictures, and other miscellany that needs to be stored from view.  She can hang inexpensive storage shelving (like from Home Depot), and then hide the nook from view using another orange curtain panel (or a white sheer if she prefers), this time hung from a tension rod.
  14. Hung between the sliding doors and the funky nook is a pair of these colorful pink and orange prints, one on top of the other in black frames (with white mats).  The top should be at eye level and the bottom hung 2″ below.

Think we’re done yet???  There’s still a little dining nook/office area to talk about!

Jen Dining Area

  1. In place of her existing kitchen table, which is shoved in the corner and a bit of a catch-all, we’ll replace it with this super stylish and functional parsons desk (in white), centered between the kitchen pass-through and the back wall.  Her current desk is located in her small bedroom, so the goal here is to keep the bedroom restful and relaxing, and make use of a little used spot in the apartment.
  2. She can top the desk/table with a cool lucite tray, filled with a pink glass cup full of pens, tiny dishes for paperclips and the like, and a small mail sorter.  Other office-y stuff can be stored in this set of slim white drawers on casters (which can easily be moved elsewhere  when using the desk as a kitchen table), and in the funky storage nook we talked about above.
  3. Remember the pair of re-covered chairs flanking the TV?  She’ll get a third (also re-covered) and use it as an office chair!  That way, when she has some friends over for dinner, she can easily grab the pair by the TV and group them around the desk/dining table for din-din.  Talk about multi-purposed perfection!
  4. Hung and centered about 10″ above the desk/dining table is this super cool vintage print, framed in an inexpensive black frame from IKEA.  Just getting some stuff on the walls will totally transform this room!
  5. Last but not least (and to help her with storing things when she gets home from work), she can hang this hook rack by the front door – keeping jackets, purses and umbrellas neatly stored.

So there you have it, a totally new look for Jenn’s new apartment.  Soon to come is her bedroom/bathroom design makeover!

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