When my fiancé and I moved into our South Laguna Beach rental, our priority was putting together our main living space. Because it contains our living room, my office and our eating/dining area, we wanted to be strategic about where we placed things. We also wanted to make sure that everything was very functional—and stylish! Besides configuring the main living space, one of our other challenges was making sure we incorporated as much storage as possible throughout the entire apartment. This was at the forefront of our mind as we put together the living room.
Overall Design Concept
Being a beach home, we wanted the space to feel light and airy with lots of different natural textures. We also wanted to make sure that there was some color incorporated with the design without feeling too loud or bold. Because my fiancé, Chris, has lived his entire life on the East Coast and I’ve spent a large amount of time there, we wanted to have the space blend our East Coast and West Coast styles together. We knew we wanted to incorporate some new pieces into our living room. However, it was very important for us to be able to use a lot of the furniture and décor we already had. We collected most of our furniture throughout the years, so it had a lot of meaning to us. It was also important for the space to feel personalized and like “us.”
Fireplace & Faux Built-Ins
It’s maybe a weird thing to be excited about, especially because we live in Southern California, but we really loved the big brick fireplace in our new place. I think it must be the New England-style in us because we’ve both always dreamed of having one in our space. We ultimately decided that the television/entertainment area would be best placed on that long large wall by the fireplace. However, we wanted to make the wall look uniform, sleek and organized. We also did not want it to encroach on the rest of the living room space.
I browsed Pinterest and came across the idea of adding shelves to look more like “faux built-ins.” I found a great option on IKEA, and we purchased three of the Billy bookcases to put side by side. It ended up being the perfect cost-effective solution for the area. It was also a great solution for holding a lot of our books and photos in an organized manner. To finish off the actual shelves, we decided to buy a piece of wood from Home Depot, stain it and place it on top of the shelves. This created more of a custom look and less like we just bought them from IKEA.
Challenges: We originally wanted the shelves to span the entire wall on both sides of the fireplace. However, we couldn’t find an exact way to do that unless we custom-built all the shelves. I’d like to think Chris and I are pretty handy, however, that was a little too much for us to bite off and chew. Another challenge we faced was that we didn’t realize that the shelves covered the only outlet on that wall. That was a problem because our TV was over there. Chris ended up taking a saw and cutting a hole in one of the bottom shelves. That way, we could feed a power strip through and have the shelves against the wall.
Styling notes: After gathering most of our books and shelf items together, I thought that color-blocking the shelves would look really fun and pretty! Along with our books, I added in some of our shell collection (all of which we’ve found here in California), some greenery, picture frames and other things we’ve collected over the years. Some of the items were passed on to me from my grandmother, while others were found in thrift stores. The blue ginger jars are a few of my favorite pieces (I scored them for $4 at a Salvation Army!). They remind me of my grandparents’ old house on Cape Cod.
For the wall prints and mantel, I was particularly obsessed with these prints from Minted (1,2,3). I discovered them after doing my wedding invites on the site. Originally, I had all of the prints layered on the shelves, but ended up moving the ferris wheel over the mantel. I then layered it with one of our engagement photos and some palm leaves. While all the prints are layered, to me it doesn’t feel too cluttered. I generally like the layered look, but because we rent this space, it also helps us not to put too many holes in the wall.
Choosing The Perfect Couch
Choosing a new couch was one of the things I was most excited about when moving into the new space. I made no secret for my distaste of our couch in our old place, which was a bulky dark brown double recliner. Perfect for a future man-cave? Yes. Comfortable and stylish for our main living room? Not so much. For our living room, Article was kind enough to work with me to find the perfect couch for the new space.
If you aren’t familiar with Article, it has the most beautifully designed mid-century modern and contemporary pieces for a lot less than what they would normally cost if you purchased through a traditional brick-and-mortar store. There were several couches that I was interested in. However, I really had to look at what would work best in the space, with the pieces I already had and for my lifestyle in general. A white couch, which I was in love with was quickly tossed out when factoring our pup, Nellie! At the end of the day, our decision was relatively simple. We ended up going with the Timber couch in Rain Cloud Gray. It fit the space perfectly in terms of length and size. It would also hide most dirt and any acquired stains.
I was initially afraid that the couch would look a little bland with the beige wall (which we can’t paint). However, it’s the perfect base for any pillows or fun throws. The ones I currently have on it are from HomeGoods and Target (currently out of stock). In the long term, it will also be more likely to work with any other future place or space.
As soon as the couch was delivered, I was certain we made the right choice—and Nellie agreed. The couch is deep and comfortable without being bulky. It looks chic and sleek and really fits the overall vibe of the room. I love that it acts as a separator from our living room and the overall main open plan living space without interrupting the overall flow of the room. It’s been so nice to have a couch that I actually want to spend time and relax on because the cushions are so soft. I foresee this being a piece that we will have for a very long time!
About The Rug
I was originally going to put my Elodie rug from Lulu & Georgia in the living room. But, after laying it down, it seemed like a better fit in our bedroom. We decided to go for a slightly larger and different patterned rug for the living room. I’ve always love the Mirabelle rugs, but was initially unsure whether the print would be “too much” with everything going on in the space. I decided to trust my gut and go for the Mirabelle rug in Cream and Mint. I’m so glad I did, because I really love how it looks. It still feels really light and fairly neutral, yet brings out the teal and mint colors that I have going on in the space. The pattern is beautiful and interesting, yet doesn’t overwhelm the room.
The Other Pieces That Bring It All Together
The Surfboard: The surfboard is one that my fiancé got when he was studying abroad in Australia. It actually has his initials on it. I’ve always loved the idea of decorating with pieces that aren’t prints. I think the surfboard adds such a cool beachy element to the living room.
The Wall Hangings: The woven wall hanging is from Urban Outfitters (currently out of stock). I got it for Christmas. It’s one of the few presents that were sent to my last apartment that didn’t get stolen. I also love the “California” wall hanging, which Maptote sent to us!
The Bookcase: Obviously not all our books fit in the color-blocked shelves. Therefore, I put them in this piece, which was passed on to us from my fiancé’s grandparents. It originally looked a bit cluttered, but Caitlin suggested that the binding face inward instead of out. It looked so much more clean and uniform. I thought that was a great tip!
The Coffee Table: A lot of people have asked about my coffee table. It’s actually a piece we found on the streets of Brookline, Massachusetts. We’ve been meaning to refinish it, but we’ve also been saying that for three years now.
The Trunk: We found this beautiful wooden trunk at the Salvation Army for under $100. It’s the perfect size to hold a lot of our linens and extra blankets. I styled it with a blanket from aden + anais and some succulents, which I’m actively trying not to kill.
Couch: c/o Article // Rug: c/o Lulu & Georgia // Bookcases: IKEA // Books: Beaches, Sage Living: Decorate for the Life You Want, How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits, Living in Style: Inspiration and Advice for Everyday Glamour, Bright Lights Paris: Shop, Dine & Live…Parisian Style, Influence // Prints: c/o Minted // Lanterns: Michaels // Wall Hangings: Urban Outfitters & (c/o) Maptote // Lamps: IKEA Hack (tutorial here) // Pillows: HomeGoods and Target // Floor Cushions: Urban Outfitters
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