Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Reader Request: Modern, Low Cost Living Room

As you'll see in the call for requests post, my friend Leah has asked for help setting up the small living area in her new apartment with a modern look and limited budget.  She likes earthy tones and wants a cozy feel without it feeling like an old person lives there.  I've never done a room request before, but here goes nothing!

Leah doesn't have a large space to work with and thanks to the open plan, lacks a lot of wall space.   Here is her floor plan:

I'm thinking that her flat screen TV should hang on the solid wall behind the refrigerator (hopefully it's wired for that).  Underneath it, I think she needs some kind of long, low storage unit to house books, dvds, the Wii and whatever else.  I like this one from Target.  Since it's not going to be bearing anyone's weight or get moved around much, I think it's fine to go cheaper on a piece like this.  If more storage is needed, I love the look of these ladder shelves from JCP that she can use to arrange stacks of books and cute storage boxes.  Plus, when she moves out, they'll easily adapt to an office or other new space.

Since she'll be needing a couch, I think Leah should go ahead and get one she wouldn't mind sitting on for the next 5 years.  Rather than trying to cram a couch/loveseat combo into a small room, I think she should get an L-shaped couch that will offer enough seating for multiple guests and is long enough to serve as an extra bed if needed.  I like this one from JCPenney since you can pick from a variety of fabrics in several colors and it's 84" long.  However, the best part is that you can reconfigure it by moving the chaise cushion to either end and sliding the ottoman unit over.  This would be placed against the wall opposite the TV.

When it comes to choosing a coffee table, I think that limited space means you need to select a table that offers some storage.  My favorite new site is and I think their Jackman coffee table is really chic but still offers room to store baskets with blankets, books and magazines.  (It's espresso but the photo looks black).  I think Ikea is a great place to look for end tables like this one because they look good enough to sit in the corner and are about $50 cheaper than other places.

In addition, I think Leah would appreciate having a chic upholstered chair with modern lines that she can take to her next home and recover as needed.  To be practical, I think she should look for one with some cushion since nobody wants to watch football games perched on a hard chair.  In this apartment, I think it would go near the door facing the television or next to the credenza by the TV, depending on how much space there is.  I like this chair from as well as this one, which has a more casual feel. 

By now, I know you're thinking "where's the color?"  Here it is - in pillows and in accessories.  Since Leah's budget is limited, I think she should only invest in neutral pieces that can be easily integrated into her next house or sold online.  In my opinion, pillow covers are the cheapest way to bring color into the room.   Modern prints like the ones offered at Willa Sky Home, Mariescosycushions, Mod Diva, and Lynne's This and That are inexpensive and can be made to fit pillows you already have.  Four pillows on the couch and one in the accent chair will make the room plenty colorful.  A colorful throw will also add some color to the beige room since painting is impractical (unless she plans to be there a long time).

I've said before that I think JCPenney and Target are the best places to shop for lighting since they don't demand $150 for a basic table lamp.  I'm a fan of this classic glass lamp as well as this silly 60s shape.

Finally, Leah will need something for the walls.  Since she doesn't have lots of open wall space, I think she can compile a collection of interesting photos and unify them with matching frames from Ikea or Target.  I think Feyhandmade and (of course) Etsy are the best places to collect unique prints over time.  (These are examples, I wouldn't hang them together!)

And finally, for the mandatory touch of ridiculous in the room, a flying pig bank.  Done.

If you'd like me to do a post for you, send me an email or leave a comment.  I enjoy it!


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Nice! The pillow, pig bank, & Etsy prints (I also vote for a thrifted original oil painting) will rescue it from looking too catalogue-direct.

    I would only caution you that those dark tables will show Every. Speck. Of. Dust. ;)

  3. Love the suggestions! You have a nice touch.



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