The Apartment Project: Lovely Living

The living room is the place where we invite guests to come, sit, have a cup of tea and share their troubles. It is where Friday night pizza and TV marathons take place. It is where we cozy up for cheap date nights, or take a nap on Saturday afternoon. Parties take place there, with Mario Kart tournaments and even Corn Hole being played. As the central, most visible and highly used spaces in our home, I knew it was worthwhile to spend most of my decorating energy (and budget) there.

TAP LR9In New York, we lived in a teeny-tiny apartment that didn’t have a functional living room, so we almost never had anyone over. We knew we wouldn’t stay in that place for long so we never settled in. It was not a home for us, it was a temporary necessity. In preparation for moving to Florida, I recognized that home is a choice. A mindset. A concept that we are free to embrace no matter where we are or how long we will be there. We have the power to transform our environment with whatever means home to us. We are the ones who endow a place or object with meaning.

With our new apartment, we made the decision to settle in and treat this as home, even though we only planned to stay for a few years. To us, home means comfort, serenity, a place to unwind, filled with love, good food, soothing smells, lovely colors, order, and of course, a flat screen TV with DVR.

The living room was essentially a bare, white box when we moved in. To add a sense of serenity we painted the walls Benjamin Moore’s Wedgewood Gray. A few pieces we already owned, like the coffee table, standing lamp and chair. The rest of the furniture we had to purchase.

The Pottery Barn Comfort Sofa- a gift from my mother-in-law- replaced an old futon, and what a welcome change it was! Of all the couches we tested it was by far the most comfortable, and reflected the beachy cottage/farmhouse style that I had grown to love in the Hamptons. Also from my mother-in-law, is the original oil painting that hangs above the couch. I made the throw pillows myself, with material I had picked out months prior while I was daydreaming about moving.

The side-tables were a Homegoods find. I couldn’t believe how well they matched the wall color when I brought them home. The mercury glass lamps add some bling to an otherwise casual space. Family pictures and accents in my favorite color (turquoise) help to establish a feeling of home for me.

Sturdy wood pieces in warm, dark brown hues add a cozy, farmhouse aesthetic. Size is a key factor to consider when purchasing furniture for an apartment. Some media cabinets are enormous, and could easily overpower a space, making the room feel lopsided. The X design along the sides of the bookcase were what attracted my interest when deciding what to buy. Varying up the shelf displays with differing book positions, pictures and objects is a great way to tell a little of your own story. You are what you read, right? So the things you choose to display reveal something about yourself. My bookcase says that I’m spiritual, artistic and imaginative. What does yours say about you?

Next to the media cabinet there was just enough space to create a little “moment” that suggests reading nook. Hal had inherited the chair and lamp from his grandfather. Rather than buying another side table, I used a pile of books to elevate a potted plant.

Our apartment living room was transformed into a piece of home through a coastal palette, comfy couch, dark wood furniture, and family photos. It evolved from being a stark, empty room into a relaxing, lovely haven. What does home mean to you and how does your living space embody that?


Revitalizing Old Faithful



In my parent’s living room, there stands an old bookcase that even in its prime was never impressive or special, but it has faithfully housed numerous volumes of books from a time when bangles and jellies were the norm. Now its contents are sun-bleached and forgotten, and its shelves are overcrowded with various objects that have no other place. (And yes, that is a ping pong table that you see in the picture. My parents have always valued family fun over designer appeal. You should have seen the swing that used to hang from the ceiling in the dining room.)

My mission today is to invigorate this bookcase with visual interest without spending a cent. My tactics will be to remove, reduce and reuse. I begin by removing everything from the shelves and thoroughly cleaning them. I believe cleaning is the best way to start any decorating project. You might arrange something beautifully, but if it’s covered in dust it’s going to lack a certain luster.



Next, I sort the books by color, which will be much more pleasing to the eye. Then, I significantly reduce the number of books that will be returned to the shelves. As you can see in the “before” picture, the books were bursting from the shelves, which can be overwhelming to look at.

Finally, I build little window-boxes with books and objects creating unique displays on each shelf. I vary the positions of the books, some vertical, some horizontal, and even create a sculptural element with a set of children’s encyclopedias. The books are balanced by items such as pictures, candles, a clock, and a trunk, to tell more of a story and personalize the bookcase.  So for those of us who can’t afford a brand new bookcase from Restoration Hardware, antique first edition books, and Jonathon Adler objects, sometimes all that is needed is to work with what you have and rearrange it in a fun and thoughtful way.