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  • Tara

living room: all grown up

Kelly and Shaun came to me with a problem that so many of us in our 30s experience - a case of the space rut. In our 20s we are eager to get our lives going and building up a bank account (or having some bar money) so we will take any hand me down / garage sale / Craig's list / IKEA pieces we can get to begin to build our grown up place.

But then time goes on, and maybe we get a bit more money, and we want to entertain our friends at home rather than bar hopping, and we suddenly find ourselves embarrassed of our furniture. It's ok. It happens to the best of us.

Shaun and Kelly were looking for a fresh start. But the only thing they could agree on for their new space was that they needed to bring in a pro (smart move!) because they wanted the end result to look well thought out and intentional. My diagnosis was a refresh of their current layout and new furniture to fit their life of watching the game with friends while gaggles of children run about. Classic but fresh. We wanted to utilize some of their great heirloom treasures and add in some youthfulness with new, contemporary pieces.

In short, no more slipcovered sofas.

The current layout was actually pretty close to ideal, but lacked the right pieces to pull it together. We needed more (and better) seating. And accent tables. And a rug. So kind of a lot. :)

My goal was for the end result to feel collected rather than ripped from a catalog. My best trick for creating that effortlessly chic collected feeling is to NEVER BUY THE SET. Avoid the draw of the Rooms-To-Go promise that you can buy a set of furniture and voila! It will get the job done, but if an elevated style is what you're after, you have to mix it up.

And here, for free, is my go-to combination for living room upholstered furniture:


This combo works for any style. Modern, traditional, coastal, industrial. It always works. Here's how it turned out.

For the main seating area, we started with a clean-lined gray sofa as our foundation. Then we added in a leather loveseat and woven back chairs to create the Lenney Trifecta of upholstered furniture (I just made that up and I think I'll go ahead and use that forever. Trademark!)

To help pull all of these pieces together, I chose an oversized square coffee table. When it first arrived, Kelly and Shaun were a bit freaked out by its size since it was SO much larger than their old one. But they took a breath and trusted the process, and when the rest of the furniture arrived it felt perfect.

The length of this living room called for a secondary seating area. I decided this would be the perfect place for a grown up zone complete with swanky leather chairs and a bar. This is the perfect place to kick up your feet with an adult beverage after the kiddos go to bed.The plan is to add doors to the center unit of the built in once the kiddos are a bit older, but for now we will keep these pretty bottles on display.

As for the end result, Kelly and Shaun are thrilled to have a space that is grown up enough to entertain their friends, but comfy and friendly enough for them to enjoy with their two little boys. They shared that the joy of their new space has been contagious and that their kids are benefiting from the happiness they naturally feel in their space. When I asked what their favorite part of their experience was, Kelly shared was "realizing you picked up on subtle cues from around our home that instantly made the spaces feel like they were a part of our story."

This is what it's all about, people. Happy homes. Happy families. Spaces that tell your story.

If you'd like to see more, I invite you to check out the full gallery here! And thank you to Shaun and Kelly for letting me into your home and allowing me to share your story.

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