His And Hers: The “Preppy World Traveller” Warm Modern Living Room

This past year it’s been really difficult to get any project completed with pandemic delays putting a wrench in what seems like everything.  Finally, with some of the restrictions having been relaxed we’ve been able to get products and have a few living room installs underway with more of our larger-scale projects involving kitchens, baths, and remodels are beginning to move along again.  I can’t wait to be able to share everything we’ve worked so hard on the past 6 months with you all finally!

This past weekend we were set to install this beautiful warm modern living room space.

The clients on this project are truly a sweet couple who live an active lifestyle full of travel (in normal times) and fitness.  They needed help in solving the layout of this room because the majority of the space was filled with openings making it very awkward to try and layout.  They also wanted the style to better reflect their casual lifestyle.

The clients decided to start fresh with our 1 Room 1 Price package which included all of the furniture and decor for one flat fee

After our initial measure and discussion about their needs, we decided that we would do a mix of high quality and budget items — the sofa, rugs, and some cabinets being a nice quality that would last and we mixed in some Wayfair and Homesense finds to keep it more budget-friendly.

Step 1 is always our unique Style Profile exercise.  We do an extensive questionnaire with the clients to learn about their reactions to colour, texture, artwork, patterns and learn a lot about their lifestyle and functional needs.

Then, I take what we learned in that first meeting to compile a Style Report that names and claims their aesthetic and becomes the guiding light for the project.

We coined this client’s style The Preppy World Traveller.  They have a great collection of photos they’ve taken while travelling the world.  They love the warm modern look you see on Instagram and Pinterest right now, but we wanted to marry that with the transitional style of their home and bring in more worldly elements inspired by Spain and other destinations abroad.

Here was our initial visual representation of their style:

We decided to incorporate a lot of neutrals in this project.

Now, you guys KNOW that if I’m going to do a neutral room that it’s going to be chock-full of texture and interest.  There are WAY too many white-on-white rooms falling wayyyyyyy flat online these days.

Neutral rooms are not only safe, but research has shown that they can be damaging to our mental health.  Colour, nature, and texture are things that allow our minds to find focus and interest in a room and reduce anxiety.

That said, we can absolutely produce a healthy, happy neutral room so long as there are places for our eyes to come to rest and it doesn’t feel like a hospital!

Below are the before photos.  You’ll see that the layout is a challenge.

The TV needed to stay on the long (and only unbroken) wall so that it could be viewed from the eat-in kitchen area, but you’ll see that a sofa doesn’t fit across from the TV which is a big reason these clients decided they needed some help!

The easy solution would have been to put the TV on the wall you see above that had the 2 pieces of art.  It looks like a previous owner had it there because that’s where the cable was wired.

That would allow for the sofa on the long wall since the wall across from the TV right now isn’t long enough for a sofa without impeding walkways.  But that would have also made the room feel really empty and enhance it’s bowling alley long and narrow shape.

The other challenge is that both of them wanted a place they could stretch out and lie down.  Their current sectional was too oversized for the room and didn’t allow both of them to fully extend.

We decided on a his-and-hers style layout with a pair of everything:

– 2 sofas

– 2 ottomans

– 2 shelves

– 2 cabinets

Allowing both of them to have their space in the room.

This is what we decided to do when it came to laying out the room:

Better, right?!

By shifting the TV off-center it allowed us to create a separate zone with two narrow cabinets in order to store the client’s yoga mat, resistance bands, and other wellness equipment that she often reaches for in this room.

We knew we’d have to keep the coffee table and ottomans lightweight in order to move them easily when the client wanted to stretch.

This layout allows them to have up to 8 people in this room when company is over or for both of them to be fully laid out when enjoying a movie.

We decided to keep the wood blinds and the TV stand in order to save on budget in the space.  We also reused their great map prints of Paris and London, but instead of side-by-side we would hang them vertically to add more height to this room.

We also brought in two arched cabinets.  Again, this was in order to create more height in the room because the tray part of the ceiling was quite low.  The arches were reminiscent of Spain and broke up all of the rectangular lines.

By floating the furniture in the room we were able to incorporate an oversized print of one of the client’s travel photos on the wall where the sectional used to be.

The clients loved the layout so we moved into creating the scheme and choosing the furniture pieces for the room.

The first thing that I wanted to do was to create more depth inside of the tray ceiling.

Knowing that we wanted to go to a lighter off-white on the walls, I suggested that we do a linen wallpaper on the ceiling.  This would bring back some warmth but brighten up the space while adding a ton of interesting texture. 

This definitely took some convincing!  The clients weren’t sure about it at all.  I suppose Wallpaper on the ceiling (or anything other than white) isn’t commonplace.  But, when you’re hiring a designer, you can expect to get some creative ideas to elevate your room and, let me tell you, this one made their room feel SO much more luxe and expensive for not a whole lot of money.

We decided to anchor the seating arrangement with a natural Bleached Jute Rug.  This one is from our boutique and is a best seller.  It’s more of an off-white than your typical Jute rug that has a strong yellow tone to it.  This is my favourite rug to use when we are going to be layering.

Natural fibre rugs like Jute and Sisal aren’t exactly the softest in the world, so on top of the base rug, we decided to layer in even more texture with this gorgeous greige hyde rug.  This rug is also available through our boutique.

The clients really wanted to incorporate caramel leather into their room.  We looked at doing one sofa in leather and the other in fabric, but ultimately it felt a little too heavy on one side.

So, we ended up doing two round lightweight ottomans in a stunning Top-Grain Leather.  These ottomans were custom through the Comfortable Dwelling Boutique in Tilbury.

Also sourced from our boutique were the Academy Sofas (our best sellers!), some amazing mid-tone narrow cabinets, the silver console table, and some of my favourite lamps I’ve ever sourced.

Isn’t that Alabaster stone lamp just incredible?  When I saw it arrive at our warehouse I full-on SQUEALED!

We rounded out the furniture pieces with some Wayfair finds for the shelves and coffee table. 

The fabric that we went with on the sofas was off-white.

For this reason, we needed to ensure that it was SUPER stain-resistant even though there aren’t any kids and pets in the house because the couple eats in the room sometimes and drinks red wine.

So, we went to a favourite line of mine that we carry: Revolution Fabrics.  It’s bleachable.  It’s modern looking.  It’s chemical-free.  And you don’t even have to re-apply it under normal circumstances!

We went with the Hailey fabric in the Snow colour (I think it’s since been re-named to bone):

This is where I need to interject a Designer Tip: notice that the different tones of white we have here range from pure-white to off-white and that the off-whites range from yellow to greige to grey undertones.

You do NOT have to match the whites in your room.

In fact, I highly recommend that you DON’T match all the whites in your room if you’re using a lot of it.

Varying shades between off-white and pure white is a great way to add more interest, warmth and texture to a room.

That said, when doing white, you can’t use just ANY white.

Had I added a blue-white like Carrera marble or a Cream, it wouldn’t have worked.  Blue-White would have been too cool and Cream would have looked dirty with the Pure White in the lamps.

This gave us direction for the paint colour in the room (which, by the way, we ALWAYS choose LAST).

We settled on Alabaster by Sherwin Williams.  The colour code is SW 7008.  Alabaster was the perfect off-white because it has a slightly warm yellow undertone just like the floors and sofa fabric. 

The accessories in this space are very important because of all the shelf space.

The look can completely shift depending on how we styled those shelves and table.

We wanted something that spoke to the Preppy World Traveller look that we were seeking.

I had a truck full of accessories for this and other jobs just not show up, so I had to hit the road and shops in order to bring the caramel, black and white colour story to life.

Are you ready to see how it turned out?

This is what the TV wall looked like before:

And here is the same wall after!

Scroll back up and take a look at that wallpaper on the ceiling!  Definitely the right choice!

Here’s what the window wall looked like before.  This side of the room had a lot of wasted space prior to us creating a more functional arrangement.

Now, instead of one person we can sit 3 on the sofa and 1 more on the ottoman by putting a toss pillow behind it!

Notice how I did the pillows on this side.  Instead of your traditional square and lumbar pillows, I did an extra-long lumbar along with some textured side pillows.  This provides support when seated to the lumbar area (and looks wicked cool)!

Let’s look at the other side of the room that is open to the hallway…

Remember how we rearranged the art to stack them instead of hanging side-by-side as you take a look at the after:

I did the pillows differently on this side pulling the green and charcoal tones out of the artwork and accessories around the room.

Here are some more pictures so that you can see the details.

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The furniture, decor, paint and wallpaper totalled $14,500 (not including the paint and wallpaper labour).

For that, they received:

  • 2 high-quality sofas done in an ultra stain-resistant fabric
  • 2 oversized rugs that we layered into the room
  • 2 top-grain leather ottomans
  • 2 arched etagere shelves
  • 2 narrow cabinets in solid wood
  • A high-quality console table
  • A light and airy coffee table
  • 4 really luxe lamps
  • 2 Throws
  • 8 Toss pillows done in designer fabrics
  • 2 custom planters
  • 1 palm in a beautiful sturdy planter
  • 1 oversized piece of art
  • The paint and wallpaper for the room (labour not included)
  • And $1,500 worth of accessories and decor purchased from a bunch of different shops.

On top of that, because they did our 1 Room 1 Price package, their room ALSO included:

  • Layout
  • Cohesive lighting plan
  • Cohesive colour plan
  • Full design of the room including all of the sourcing
  • Introduction to trades who did this stunning paint and wallpaper job
  • Working drawings so that everything was completed to our specifications
  • Procurement and storage of all the items in their room
  • White glove delivery
  • Professional installation and styling

Usually, a room this size in the quality we put in would be closer to $20,000.  However, we saved a lot of money by reusing their blinds and foregoing custom millwork using inexpensive Wayfair shelves rather than a custom built-in for the TV.  We also didn’t have a fireplace to do which helped a lot!

The project took 6-months from beginning to end, however, it would normally take closer to 4 if it weren’t for pandemic delays.