Our New Living Space

When I announced that we were moving back in December, I put together a design board that gave a general outline of the style and feel I wanted our new place to have. Lucky for us, our home has some killer architectural character – 14’ ceilings, intricate molding, floor to ceiling windows with natural light & various built-ins. The bones are easy to work with but it did have some challenges as well, including a narrow/awkward living room layout, minimal storage and an overall small space of only 800 square feet.


With three of us (including our Frenchie, Mela) living here, I knew that we needed our main living space design to achieve 5 main goals:

  1. A bright, neutral color pallet
  2. Added storage, mainly hidden
  3. Comfortable seating for at least 4 (+ pup)
  4. A distinct dining area
  5. An open & spacious feel

Here’s how I did it:

A bright, neutral color pallet: The walls are a very light gray, the trim, molding, windows & ceiling are all bright white. I stuck to a cream/white/gray color scheme for all of the furniture to keep it visually bright and light. I incorporated some natural elements (wood coffee table, woven baskets, eucalyptus) to keep the space from feeling sterile. Also, I mixed various textures to warm up the room and keep it interesting – we’ve got microfiber, linen, silk, velvet, faux fur & more. Texture was key here.


Added storage: Behind the sofa and in the nook are woven baskets that store extra pillows, blankets and various dog toys. The coffee table also has two secret drawers that store all of our remotes, candles, chargers, etc. The buffet was the biggest game changer in this room – we have over 30 bottles of wine and a full bar in there. We also use this to store cute cocktail napkins, bar tools & cozies.

Design Tip: We keep the buffet top styled on every basis (less clutter), but we display a few items on a tray atop the bar when we have friends over.

living room1

Comfortable seating for 4: Our sofa is only 72” and though it’s not long enough for someone to sleep on (sorry out-of-town guests, you’ll have to get a hotel), it fits 2 comfortably and 2 more can sit on the chairs. If we are expecting more or need more seating, we can easily push back the sofa and add a few ghost chairs (or ottomans) for additional seating. We’ve had 4 people hanging out in the space multiple times and it’s always plenty of room.

Side note: Our space is too narrow to mount the television above the fireplace so we decided to place it on the wall across from the sofa. We rarely watch tv, but when we do it’s usually just us two and this is the most comfortable layout.

dining area2

A distinct dining area: If we didn’t have that pesky radiator on the back wall, I would have tried a bench/banquette against that wall and a rectangular table; however, I think that this 42” round tulip table works perfectly. I opted for ghost chairs for a few reasons – first, they take up minimal visual space so the area appears larger than it actually is. Can you imagine if there were four bulky chairs there? Second, they’re light weight and can be moved around easily when needed. Also, we can push the table against that back wall when hosting to open up the walkway between the kitchen & deck and use the table more as a serving piece.

living room2

An open & spacious feel: A huge mistake that people make (especially when renting/moving) is not using furniture that’s an appropriate scale for the space. Our sofa is only 72” but it’s the largest we could go for this room, without the hallway feeling crowded. We purchased two chairs and anchored it all with an oversized rug. By centering the furniture in front of the fireplace, not the room center, we were able to create a “sitting” area and a “bar” area. We played with a few layout options here and this one works the best for sure. Note that we also went with low profile furniture so that the bright window light wouldn’t be blocked.

Design tip: Ideally you want 36” for any walkway in your home to allow for a comfortable flow.

 So, there you have it, our little living room / dining room / bar space. Brownstones are always challenging to design because they’re long and narrow but I think that we did a great job maximizing our space, highlighting the features of the space and making a warm, inviting home. We love it here!


An Alternative to the Bar Cart

Now don’t get me wrong – I love a good bar cart setup. In fact, I had one in my last apartment. They’re a practical, functional solution to a small space and they’re pretty perfect for apartment living when you don’t have an actual dining space. However, I also they’re they are incredibly overdone, too trendy and a bit too predictable. Here are a few  examples of bar setups that I really like that are not bar carts:


I love the masculine, rustic look of this bar cabinet


This DIY Ikea hack via Brittany Makes is so modern & functional!


Obsessed with this gorgeous laquer cabinet that Bree has styled so perfectly!


This organized & stylish bar cabinet is practical yet mature


Another masculine bar cabinet via Frontgate – love how sleek it is

So when I was looking for a solution for where to put all of our wine / booze / bar items, I quickly ruled out the bar cart. I decided to go with a bar cabinet. It’s kind of the bridge between bar cart and dining hutch. Think of a classic buffet like your grandma has, but with modern design & trendy decor. I had my eye on this piece (this one too) but it was a bit too pricey so I opted for this one. The piece is scheduled to be delivered next week and I’m on the hunt for a new abstract art piece to go above it. I can’t wait to have it in our home so I can finally empty these last few boxes of booze and style this piece. Stay tuned for some updated pictures to come!

What’s your preference – bar cart of bar cabinet?!

Winter Mantle 4 Ways

Happy Monday Y’all! I had a super productive weekend so I’m feeling very fresh and inspired this morning! I was able to sell a few pieces of leftover furniture to make way for our new buffet, set to arrive this week! For now, I want to chat mantles. One of the pieces that sold me on our new brownstone is the fireplace and oversized mantle – I just love it so much! But once I took all of the Christmas decorations down, it immediately felt so bare & empty! Now, y’all probably know that I’m a less-is-more type of gal and I crave simplicity, especially in home design. Here are 4 simple, tasteful, charming ways I’ve styled our mantle. Given that it’s winter, I stuck to neutrals – white, gold, gray – and some wood + greenery to help warm it up a bit. As you will see, I kept the eucalyptus in every option as we need the height (16′ ceilings) and I just love it!

Option 1:

IMG_1593 copy (1)

Option 2:

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Option 3:


Option 4:


Now that you’ve seen all four options, help me decide which one should stay.

10 Gorgeous Holiday Mantles

With Christmas only one week away, I wanted to share 10 of my favorite mantles. Whether you’re hosting Christmas day, throwing a holiday party, or simply enjoying the comfort of your own home, mantle decor is a fun way to switch things up. I’m constantly redecorating mine and adding new pieces. Hopefully this will inspire you:




Which is your favorite?!


Our New Living Room

I hinted at some exciting news on Friday and here it is…South End Style is moving! We’re not going far but we are headed back into a through-floor brownstone in the heart of the South End, my favorite neighborhood of Boston. We’ll be a few short blocks from all of my favorite local spots, including Picco, Hudson & Blackbird Donuts. I can’t wait!


the adorable front staircase at our new home!

So with moving comes…you guessed it, redecorating! I’m actually selling a LOT of items so you local folks be sure to check it out (armoire, tufted bed, wood bed, tripod lamp, kitchen table, kitchen cart, gold side table, set of lamps, round mirror & nightstand)

We will be keeping some of our current living room furniture, selling a few pieces and adding a few to the mix. Our new living room has beautiful 13′ ceilings with detailed crown molding, a large fireplace, three huge windows & a whole lot of opportunity.  I’ll share more about our master bedroom & back deck (finally!) later but for now here is my design board for our new living room:

I’ll be keeping our current setup with this sofa, these two chairs, this coffee table & my new favorite rug (mine is similar and a killer Safavieh steal from Homegoods!). I’ll be switching out our current ivory/tan/gray pillows for a pair of velvet navy + some contrasting blush pillows for a little more color. I’ve also got a great neutral faux fur blanket that I’ll add just in time for cold weather. A gold + glass accent table will go in between the two accent chairs for additional surface space.

Our TV will be mounted on the wall (not above the mantle) so I’m still debating putting a thin, white console table to balance the space. Above the mantle I’ll likely style this round, gold mirror with a pretty vase and some eucalyptus branches to add some color. I’ll fill in with various white, wood & marble pieces.

To the right of the fireplace is a pretty large alcove (about 6’X13′) where I’d like to put a bar cabinet. I’m not sure which one yet but I’m liking this midcentury modern piece, this green glam piece and this classic, natural piece. Atop the cabinet, I’ll style with a pair of lamps and some bar accessories, like this mixer set. Above the cabinet, I’m debating between an oversized framed fabric piece or a light aerial beach print (I have one framed in white – will decide once I pick a cabinet).

So what do you think? Any suggestions for bar cabinets?

White Painted Fireplace: Before & After

Fireplaces can be one of the most beautiful, anchoring pieces in any room. They’re grand, warm, inviting & often the centerpiece of the room. While there are many styles of fireplaces, we often find that when doing a home renovation, the fireplace has to be updated as well. An inexpensive, but impactful option for updating a fireplace is to paint it white. Now this certainly isn’t the best option for every space but if you’re trying to update your traditional home to a more modern, bright feel – this may be just what you need. For instance, take my most recent home renovation project with a family in Georgia. See this beautiful white washed fireplaced with shiplap all the way up to the ceiling:


cabinets still need doors (going on this week) & shelves need to be styled

Well, this was the before:


That tv is blocking a half-built shelf. And that undersized mantle? This room was screaming for a makeover!

What a transformation, right?! When my clients wanted to make their large, vaulted ceiling living room feel more modern & bright, while keeping it family friendly, I knew exactly what to do. For starters, we painted the entire home interior (yup, every last bit) SW Repose Gray (the perfect greige!), added crown molding where needed, evened out those massive bookshelves shelves, also painted them white, and then revamped the 1990s looking fireplace. We first added shiplap the entire way up (and wrapped it around the sides), we added an 8′ reclaimed wood mantle & lastly, we had the fireplace white washed. The clients are so, so SO pleased with the finished product. And we had the entire project done in under 1 week!


 Progress pics of the shiplap – don’t you love the dark bookshelf backdrop we did?

Here are some more examples of beautiful white brick fireplaces – there’s a mix of white wash and full white paint.


{ 1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 5}

What do you think of white painted fireplaces? Are you impressed with this before & after?

Coffee Tables + Coffee Table Books

Lately, I’ve been helping a few friends who are moving into new spaces with their living room tables. Coffee tables have been an increased topic of interest, as this is typically purchased after their rug & sofa/chairs are selected. It’s often an afterthought of living room decorating but luckily it’s pretty easy to find one that works. With thousands of options out there, I selected quite a few that hit a variety of needs, including a couple for dual usage/extra storage. Typically, I prefer that the table doesn’t match the end tables. For example, try a wood coffee table with a glass end table.

Ottoman-style coffee tables are great for those with children, those with small spaces & those who need a place to prop their feet up (let’s be real). These type coffee tables can also serve as additional seating if needed. I recommending using an oversized tray atop the ottoman to group & level items (i.e. candles, vases, books).

Here is a roundup of coffee tables that I recommend:

{ expandable |tufted | black laquered | leather | round tufted | large wood | reclaimed wood + metal | round glass | acrylic }

Of course, we can’t talk about coffee tables without mentioning coffee table books. I mentioned on Friday that these are a great hostess gift and in fact, I think they’re just a great gift in general. I usually get a few every Christmas to add to my collection. In fact, you may want to go ahead and pick up a few to keep on hand for upcoming holiday gifts – there are a couple below under $20. A small price to make a big impact.Beautiful books can be used in various ways – on table display, to add height, to anchor another item, to fill space in a bookshelf, etc.  A roundup of my current favorites:

{ Tom Ford | McQueen | Southerner’s Handbook | Beaches | Living with Pattern | Styled | Nate Berkus | EOS | Kate Spade | Underwater Dogs | Ultimate Travel }

What’s your favorite style coffee table? What’s your favorite coffee table book?