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Proud pup mom, type A creative, lover of the outdoors, Top Chef fan girl, and wedding and portrait photographer. Welcome to the blog!
HI, I'M RACHEL!
Last week I told you how I purchased my condo and about the renovation/decorating process. You’ve seen my kitchen and dining areas and today I get to show you my living room tour!
For a year I lived in my home without any real direction on how I wanted to decorate. Other than wanting the entire place painted white (Benjamin Moore, Chantilly Lace). In the past, my living areas have been everything from warm primary colors (reds, yellows, oranges) to bright colors and neon accessories, to black and white. And in the Virginia Beach home, I decorated with light blues, stark whites, mixed metals, and lots of live greenery. I would see something that inspired me and go from there. But this time, I felt stumped on the direction of the style and decor.
What finally helped was reading the book Style by Emily Henderson. (And truth be told I haven’t finished it yet!) I took the style quiz at the beginning of the book and it turns out I fall into the category of ‘minimalist’. That put so much of my life into perspective – not just related to home decor. I hate clutter, I love getting rid of things, I love organization, I always want things to be easy and efficient. I’m always looking for a way to do things with minimal fuss or excess. Even in my schedule I like minimal activity and lots of space for down time when possible. So seeing that I was a minimalist made so much sense!
In the book there is also a style pie chart, where all the types of styles are wedges of a pie. To keep things interesting, you’re supposed to find your style category on the pie chart and then mix in elements of the style directly across from yours. The style across from minimalist is ‘bohemian’. I am not really a fan of boho, and prefer mid-century modern or even traditionalist style. But when I looked around my home, I realized I had already purchased and styled some pretty boho pieces. I would call the items I picked out minimalist boho. Like they’re pretty simple but still have the boho vibe. I decided I was OK with being a bohemian minimalist and embraced that going forward in decorating.
The other thing that really helped push things forward was giving myself permission to purchase cheap wall art. Initially, I wanted to decorate the walls with art by small business artists. I wanted the art to really mean something to me. I already have a piece by Christine Olmstead, plus some smaller prints from other artists that I’ve purchased in the area or on vacation. I feel like these give my home visual interest and uniqueness. Plus I like supporting small businesses – especially artists. What I found though, was that I didn’t make time in my busy schedule to search out the art. Not having those key pieces for a couple specific areas in the home that I needed to decorate was holding me back from decorating at all. A year went by and I had exactly one thing hanging on my walls.
To get the ball rolling, I decided I could purchase cheap art and replace it later when I found something I really loved. Once I gave myself permission to do so, the flood gates opened! I purchased the pieces I needed, repurposed some framed pieces from an old gallery wall, and continued from there creating vignettes throughout the living room. Since I already had a lot of stuff from the VB house that was light blue, white, and mixed metals, I continued that theme. I’m really enjoying what I’ve done so far!
Something else that had been holding me back from committing on the decor was the idea that I wanted to bring in an interior decorator for guidance. I kept telling myself I didn’t know what I was doing and that I needed help. That was only partly true. Once I gave myself that permission to purchase cheap art and reuse items from the past, I realized I did have a good instinct for design. I could definitely use some help still, but what I’ve done is a good start!
So that’s the background info on how this room came to fruition, and now onto my living room tour! As in last week’s post, I’ll share the ‘before’ cell phone photos, taken in May 2021, followed by the current photos, taken in August 2022. I’ll list what I updated and what I still want to do. Enjoy!
This is one view of the living room. Again, I like the color of the floors and I love that this room is wide open and rather large. And I really like that little knee wall. I felt that had so much potential! That mess of wires was a challenge to remove. That white cable was stapled literally all around the entire condo! Throughout the dining area, across the stair threshold, throughout the living room (even over the closet door!), and into my bedroom. I removed it myself and am so glad it’s gone. What an eye sore!
And this is what the area looks like now! I had the entire room, including the stairwell, painted white (BM Chantilly Lace), and that’s about it! (I chose white because I wanted a super serene and very bright vibe for the whole condo.) Those two pieces of art hanging vertically are from Target (Threshold; no longer available). I wanted to find some cheap art that coordinated with the little rug that’s in front of my balcony door. I found these via a google search and was so excited because they coordinated perfectly! Little did I know I would be on a scavenger hunt for them! I kept purchasing them online, they said they were available, and then later I’d get an email saying they actually were not available. That happened three times! Finally, I was in a Target I rarely go to after a photo session and decided to check the art section even though online it said they weren’t available. And there they were! I snatched those babies up so fast! They fit perfectly on that wall. And they were less than $50 if I’m remembering correctly.
Someone on Instagram suggested I use the knee wall for plants, and that was such a great idea! My pride and joy is that Greek Oregano (which I still doubt is actually that type of plant). I searched high and low for the perfect minimalist bench for that wall and couldn’t find anything I liked under $400. Finally I came across this one at Target – Target for the win again! It came with a puffy cushion on it, but I removed that and love how it looks here! That pillow is from a Coral Cove in Rehoboth, but I’m not a huge fan of it. That plus the bench read a little too boho to me and I don’t feel it fits with the rest of the room. But it’s staying until I find something else.
I eventually want to get a taller credenza for the TV area and then get one of those framed art TVs to hang on the wall. For now, this works!
This Ikea rug is one I had in Virginia Beach, and it fit that space much better than it does here. It needs to be slightly wider, so I’m on the lookout for a similar one that’s larger. I’ve had that couch for almost 9 years now and while I love it, it’s definitely seen better days! It’s more of a mid-century modern vibe too, and I want something a little more current. (All pillows are from Home Goods.)
When I first moved in, I just put that white Ikea shelf under the window because it fit there. And same with the bar cart (candlesticks are from Amazon; lamp – old, Home Goods). I plan to replace the white shelf with something nicer, but I like the look of it with the little ottomans in front of it. I wanted something that didn’t take up a lot of space but still offered good seating options – for the two times of year I have people over! haha And the bar cart – I don’t really drink anymore, but I love the design of it, so I repurposed it as an end table and really dig it. The white cube thing in the corner is a Coway air purifier, which I really like! It works well, it’s just a little loud for a few minutes when the air is really dirty (like if there’s smoke from the kitchen or I blow out a candle nearby).
If you follow me on Instagram, you likely remember the drama of that little framed piece of art. I got the art at my fav shop in OBX, Sea Green Gallery, and was on the search for the perfect gold frame. I found the frame at a thrift shop in Old Town. But it already had an old photo print in it. Turns out it was a custom framed piece from like the 60s! I had to tear open the back of the frame and take out the old photo. I cleaned up the glass (or replaced it, I forget), put in my new piece – which I had to cut slightly to size, and voila! I tried it in the corner with the mirror and the plant, but it didn’t look right. So it wound up here in this random little place. And I love it! The frame is definitely more traditionalist style, but I still like it in my boho minimalist home.
For that little corner with the mirror and plant, I originally wanted to put a chair there. But the closet door opens into that space, so I wanted something smaller that I wouldn’t have to move whenever I opened the door. I got this plant at Home Depot and the planter there as well I believe. And the mirror was from Overstock.
The coffee table is from Overstock. I originally wanted a marble top or even an all white one. But I spend *a lot* of time in my living room on my couch. I eat, rest, nap, snuggle with Milli, watch TV, and work there. That coffee table was going to get a lot of use and abuse. I decided I wanted a cheap yet stylish one that I could be hard on, that wouldn’t get ruined/scratched, and that I could replace if it got too gross. And like the dining room chairs, I like that it’s see-through and kind of low profile so it helps the room feel larger. So far there are no scratches. It definitely gets smudges easily but it cleans up beautifully with a little glass cleaner. And you’ll note my beautiful painting by Christine Olmstead hanging over the couch. The marble tray is from Target. Plant pots are from, guess where… Home Goods!
(Also can we laugh at how non-interested Milli was at this photo shoot?)
For the window in this room, I want to add a bamboo roman shade and perhaps white drapes. We’ll see! The blinds in all the rooms are super drab and need to be replaced.
This is the series of ‘before’ photos of the other end of the living room. What’s prominent here is the fireplace. I love that I have a fireplace! What I don’t love is that it’s pretty blah and has zero character. There isn’t even a mantle there! I eventually want to add a mantle, but haven’t made it that far yet. You’ll also notice how the electrical panel is on that wall to the right of the fireplace. Not the most convenient spot for it!
This is how that area looks today! As you can see, I painted the fireplace. I did that around Christmas time when I wanted to decorate the area. I simply painted it the same white as the walls. Eventually I want to tear all of that up, get some kind of marble or stone for the area in front of the fireplace and the surround, and then add a mantle. I obviously don’t use it to make fires. I toyed with the idea, but I really don’t like smoke or soot. Instead I added these flameless candles (Home Goods) and I really like the effect. (The glass jars, lantern, framed white canvas print, and beads are all from Home Goods.)
I spotted that little white end table on @adayinthelalz stories on Instagram and asked her where it was from. It was from West Elm! I love the design and feel it’s the perfect mix of minimalism and boho. That little basket is from Target and I had wanted it for forever but never had space for it. I happened upon it on sale and decided that was a sign! So I added that Lauren McBride blanket that I used to have on my bed, and voila!
And now for the most styled place in the condo! haha This side table and gallery wall! This console table is from Target and it fits perfectly in this space! I styled it with a lamp and marble links from Home Goods; a pot from the Target dollar section + plant from Home Depot; books and small canister from a thrift shop in Old Town; an acrylic book holder from Amazon; a vase from Home Goods; and Tibetan Tingsha bells from Om Tibet in Old Town. Side note: the vase and canister are from two different places but the patterns look almost identical!
The wall features artists from St. Michaels to Old Town Alexandria to Savannah, Georgia. (Notice my clever arrangement of the DC map over the electrical panel that easily moved!) My fav piece is of course my watercolor of Milli by The Welcoming District. I also made a piece of art myself so I could display my fav passage from Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth (it’s about flowers!). The basket under the table is old, from Home Goods; the blanket is from Amazon; the pillows are old from Home Goods. Basically HG is my jam.
In the photo all the way to the left you can see how the room leads into the dinging area. You can also see my tall cabinet (old, Ikea) full of Milli’s stuff! The white wicker baskets are old, from Target. So is the clock, the white basket, and the plant stand. The silver pot is actually an ice bucket (Home Goods) that I turned into a planter! It’s pretty obvious in these photos that I also decorate a lot with plants! I love plants and try to find an excuse to get a new one anytime I can! They’re my plant babies <3
The print hanging on the wall outside my bedroom can be found in my print shop under Winter Sunset. That sconce will be getting replaced!
And finally, another pretty thoroughly styled place: the shelf under the living room window. I rotated each cubby with either books (by color) or a decor item – sometimes both. And the top is filled with my beach photos (one is in the print shop), of course, plant babies, wooden bead strings, and Voluspa candles. Voluspa are my favs because they are coconut wax, smell divine, and the glass containers are so beautiful! This one is Bourbon Vanille, which was a fav last winter. And then I popped a small Kalahari Watermelon inside the old glass because I liked the white so much. The vase is from an antique shop in Berlin, Maryland. And then of course there are a few shells I’ve collected on my beach travels. And all crystals you see are from various shops between Outer Banks and eastern shore of MD.
Whew, that was a lot! I feel like I should’ve broken that up into two separate posts! Come back next week to see my cherry blossoms bathroom and my bedroom.
Did this post get you excited to book your own photo session with me?! If yes, send me a note and we can chat about what you have in mind: contact me
Hi – I’m Rachel! A wedding, engagements, and headshots photographer in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and northern Virginia. I love taking photos of elegant people who love to laugh, as well as of much in-love couples. If you’re a dog owner, that’s a plus! I’m currently booking 2022 portrait sessions, as well as 2022 and 2023 weddings.