Our Dream West Elm Living Room

Our current home is the third house D and I have lived in together. The first was our rented three story student terrace in a not-so-fancy area in the outskirts of Leeds. It was draughty and mouldy and had been pretty effectively ruined by the hoards of students who had inhabited it before us, but it was our first home together. We loved imagining how we would decorate and style it if it was ours and we didn't have to ask permission to put pictures on the walls or even change the light fittings.

After graduating, we moved back in with our parents for 18 months while we saved up to buy our first home, the tiniest little cottage which came with a huge amount of character and a whole host of problems: damp, holes in the roof, rattly windows and some very questionable half finished DIY jobs left behind by the previous owners. We therefore ended up ripping a lot of it out and decorating the entire house all in one go before we moved in. We made a lot of decisions really quickly, and when we finally did move in we realised that lots of them weren't necessarily mistakes, but that we wouldn't have made some of the choices we did if we'd had more time to consider them.

So, when we bought our current home, a three bedroom new-ish build with less character, but also none of the problems that come with an old house, we decided to take things really slowly. We planned to decorate one room at a time once we had spent time living in the space and working out how each room would work best for us and the way we live. We've been here just over a year now, the downstairs toilet is complete and the hall and dining room are almost there!

The house has been really well loved by the previous owners who had lived in it for almost 20 years. I think you can really feel the happy memories the place has seen, and although we knew we didn't want to leave a single room decorated in the way it was when we viewed, we immediately loved the feel the house has and feel more at home here than either of our previous houses. It's not to our taste at all so it feels lovely to finally inject a bit of us into the rooms and make it feel like our home.

Next on the list once we've added the finishing touches to the hall and dining room is the living room.  I can't tell you how excited I was when Blogtacular announced they were partnering with West Elm to give one conference attendee the chance to win their dream room makeover worth £2000!

We both love West Elm. They're a Brooklyn based company who design 90% of their products in house and are committed to using organic, sustainable and fair-trade materials. Although West Elm have shops in more than 85 US states and have begun branching out internationally too (including the beautiful Tottenham Court Road store in London) the local community and independent makers are still really important; each store sells a range of products made by local makers and the manager of each is given curatorial role in deciding what each shop sells.

We always enjoy browsing the London store and have amassed quite a collection of their smaller home accessories like throws, dinnerware, cushions and planters already. Our budget means that bigger pieces are often out of reach for us however, so I literally jumped at the chance to design our dream West Elm living room and enter such an exciting competition.

It's the largest room in the house and we spend a lot of time there, but the job of making it ours is a little daunting because it's the biggest room we will ever have decorated. It was actually this room that made us fall in love with the house when we viewed it. It has a wood burner, windows that look out over both the front and back gardens, double doors, which I immediately imagined throwing open on Christmas morning, and it's big enough to divide up into different zones. However, as you can see it's not exactly insta-worthy...

The living room is currently a mixture of our furniture, some things left behind by the previous owners and a few of my sisters things (she's currently living with us while she goes through the process of buying her own house). It's become a bit of a dumping ground too as we've decorated other rooms and the excess furniture and general 'stuff' has migrated in here. The previous owners REALLY loved red, and the huge flowery wallpaper and dark red walls and carpet combined with too many things make it feel too busy, overcrowded and chaotic - definitely not the feeling we're going for!

So - how do we want our living room to feel?

  • Light and bright, but cosy - Despite having two windows, the room isn't especially bright so it will need a little help in that department. However, in the winter I love to close the curtains early, turn off the lights and use candles and fire light to create a cosy atmosphere, so storage for extra blankets and cushions will be useful.
  • Calm and minimal, but welcoming - I think there's a fine line between considered minimalism and stark nothingness. I firmly agree with William Morris who said 'Have nothing in your home that you do not know be useful or believe to be beautiful.' We definitely need to streamline the amount of 'stuff' we have in the room, but not to the point that we remove any character. On that note, the final point... 
  • Inspiring and personal. We have a lots of prints that are hidden away waiting for homes, and we still don't have any of our wedding photos on display. The living room has lots of wall space and it's where we spend a lot of time so it's important for us to have these special things on display. 

I think it's really important for a whole house to work together so that one room flows naturally into the next. We naturally lean towards a lot of white and grey, with a few carefully chosen colours and metallic accents, mostly copper and brass. The colour scheme we have in mind for our living rooms looks like this...

Lots of white and grey, with some teal and inky blue (another regular feature for us) with some mustard yellow, blush pink and brass accents. 

As for the style we're going for, we've always been big fans of simple, functional, industrial style interiors. Recently, I'm finding myself drawn to more mid-century style pieces too, with softer rounded edged and tapered legs. A combination of these two styles, with plenty of texture thrown in to keep things cosy and realistic to actually live in as well as look amazing is what we're hoping to achieve. I've been pinning lots of idea to a Dream West Elm Living Room board, and this is how my mood board is currently looking...

I think the layout of the main furniture will stay roughly the same. We have two new sofas on order already, and one of them is seriously huge so will be quite a focal point in the room. The other is more of a statement/accent piece and will act as a divider, separating the cosy tv watching area around the fire from the music playing and reading corners we're planning to create. 

So, a little tour of our dream living room. As you can see, the area to the right of the double doors will house the piano. We currently have a double piano stool but as only one of us can actually play it makes sense to have a single stool, and also to have something thats a bit more of a playful statement. I've been seeing a lot of fur covered stools lately and West Elm's Mongolian Lamb Stool (1) ticks all the boxes with its tapered brass legs and beautiful blush pink wool seat. We definitely want to house some of our growing house plant collection in this room and I think floor standing planters (2) will make them feel like a considered part of the layout. 

In the opposite corner we're hoping to create a reading nook, with a chair to curl up in (4), a side table for tea and some simple shelving (3). I really love the geometric lines of the Gem Cut Side Table (6), and it would gently reflect the downstairs toilet and hallway which both feature hexagonal accents. To further 'zone' the different areas I love the idea of a round rug (5) in the corner to twist my toes into. 

If we were only thinking about the aesthetics of the room, we wouldn't have a TV at all - however we do like to relax in front of it in the evening so the next best solution is to make sure it's displayed on something amazing and that all the paraphernalia that goes along with it, DVD's and cables and remotes can be hidden away until we want to use them. It's not strictly a TV unit but I really love the Audrey Sideboard (7). It's got brass tapered legs, lots of space to store all the unsightly stuff and the subtle geometric pattern would tie in perfectly with the rest of the room and beyond. 

The sofa we've ordered really is large so it won't leave a lot of room for side tables. West Elm have some really clever little side tables that slot under the furniture making them perfect for small spaces. My favourite is the Charley (8) - it's soft pebble shaped top would be a lovely soft contrast to some of the hard lines in the rest of the space. 

We also feel that lighting will be paramount in creating the right atmosphere in this room. Allowing space for lamps so we can turn off the main lights will be really important, but I still want them to look amazing when they're not in use too! I think this yellow Bottle Shaped Lamp (9) definitely fits the bill, and how perfect would it be for our colour scheme! 

Lastly, a rug for the main area! D and I have differing opinions on rugs - I think they're the perfect way to bring a texture, warmth and colour to a room, whereas he feels they make a space feel cluttered. We both love the look of wooden floor, but if we're honest we both prefer the feel of carpet underfoot so we'll probably go with something mid-grey and fairly neutral then layer on some colour and texture with rugs. West Elm have two that I adore, the Christopher Wynter Wool Rug (10), which is geometric, abstract and could be used on it's own to convey the colour scheme we want in the room it fits so perfectly! However - I will always be drawn to those things that remind me of the sea, and the Mural Collection Cliffside (11) rug does that beautifully. 

Here's a little illustration of how the pieces I've chosen would fit into the space. As for the rest of the decorating, we're planning to have bright white walls to lighten the space and provide a backdrop for some statement furniture, art and special photos. The fire surround will also be painted white, and the hearth removed and replaced with a new brick one. We're planning on bringing some colour to the chimney breast area by painting the space behind the woodburner itself a deep blue, and maybe painting the chimney breast grey - this might be the very last decision we make though as although I think the space might need a little more colour, I'm not a usually a fan of a 'feature wall' so the prints and photos we decide to put on the wall might be enough. 

It would be so amazing to win such an awesome prize, but even if I'm not lucky enough to win, I've really enjoyed making a proper plan for this space. It's such a big part of our home both in terms of the physical space it occupies and because we spend a lot of time in here. I think once we've properly made it our own the whole house will feel even more like home. Allison Sadler and I had a long conversation during my mentoring session last year about the importance of making the space you live a place that makes your heart happy, and while I wouldn't say the room makes me unhappy - it certainly doesn't fill me with the same joy that our completely refurbished downstairs loo does! Given that it's a bit impractical (not to mention weird!) to spend any time in there at all, it will be amazing to feel that way in the rest of our house too! 

Thank you thank you thank you to Blogtacular and West Elm for running such an exciting competition - the winner will be announced next week at the conference - wish me luck! 


  1. Good luck! Love your colour palette! I'm also dreaming to buy shelves that looks like a ladder <3

  2. HOW LOVELY! you've got a knack, girl! haven't you thought of trainning/working as a decorator?
    i really hope you win! if not , still can't wait to see your future living room!