When U.K. blogger Emma Jane Palin (EJP) and her partner Josh (JJP) moved into their rented South West London flat, they quickly set about filling it with the key pieces. A few years down the line, after having lived in the space (dubbed “The EJP Abode“) and getting used to it, their open-plan living area felt awkwardly configured and Emma could see the potential for it to be much more functional and beautiful. So, they decided to give it another go.
A self-professed “more is more” person when it comes to interiors, Emma aimed to marry her bohemian style with Josh’s mid-century, Erno Goldfinger-inspired aesthetic. The result is a dreamy mix of vintage furniture and sumptuous textures on a backdrop of eclectic artwork and a bespoke, hand painted mural which bring Emma and Josh’s personality front and center.
Read Emma’s thoughts on her eclectic living room below! See more on EmmaJanePalin.com.
Hi, I’m Emma Jane Palin!
When we first moved into The EJP Abode, the first room we set about tackling was the living room. Having come from previously furnished apartments, we didn’t have any furniture and quickly set about kitting out the room with whatever we could. At the time, I quite liked our quick set up. However, as time went on, it still felt typically rented and much more like our younger selves. Thanks to a wide open-plan space, the layout was awkward and we didn’t really know how to get it right with the furniture we had.
Getting your home “you” takes time. The only way you know what works is by living in it. I firmly believe that you need at least a year to settle in and really get a space right.
JJP and I have similar yet sometimes differing styles; I tend to veer down a more boho look, where he’d rather keep things as Erno Goldfinger as possible. We’re quite good at meeting in the middle, but I’ll admit that I often just order things without asking to get the “more is more” look that I love. It can be difficult to merge our mid-century and bohemian style, as well as incorporating the eclectic art that we’ve collected over the years but I think we’ve nailed the contrasting looks in our living room makeover.
If I want to prove anything, it’s that you can make a white shell different. You don’t have to settle for nothing on the walls. There are so many ways that you can create textures through furniture and textiles. The living room incorporates an eclectic mix of styles drawn together with burnt orange, dusty pink, rattan and brass detailing. It’s a labor of love and I guess will always be a slight work in progress. The last six months has demonstrated that.
Oh, hello to the holy grail of sofas. Dusty pink distressed velvet, a mid-century frame and simple solid wood legs. Perfect for small spaces, this Auburn sofa has removable arms and folds down flat for easy transportation. If you have tricky access points, as we do, this is literally the dream. It clips into place and voila. Soft to touch, firm and comfortable; I’m head over heels with it and have been pretty much telling everyone I know about it ever since it arrived. We would certainly think about adding the matching Auburn chair if we ever moved anywhere bigger.
Our second sofa is a vintage piece purchased from eBay. Yeah, granted, it’s probably meant to be for a conservatory, but there was something about this rattan piece that I just wanted to include it in our living room. It’s got a sixties shape and looks great surrounded with plants. Surprisingly, it’s also quite comfortable. At some point, I’d like to spray paint the legs black to modernize it a little more.
I’ll admit it, I’ve got a thing for swivel chairs. When I saw the Luther chair from West Elm, I couldn’t get it out of my head. Mad Men set designers, eat your heart out. The wood panelling on the outside makes a real statement and justifies the slightly higher price tag. This is without a doubt my favorite piece in the room. It’s also super comfortable; you can cross your legs in it and swivel from side to side. What more could you want from a chair? I guess just the perfect Bella Freud cushion to pop on it? TICK. I’m already dreaming of a bigger lounge to fit in another of these bad boys.
While we didn’t want to change the entirety of the wall color in the living room, we did want to add something a little special to the room in the form of a mural. As lovers of leopard print, I had the idea to create a focal point above the fireplace – yes, that’s right, it’s only a bloody leopard pattern circle. It’s a lot easier than it looks and simply involved dotting paint around and creating abstract shapes and lines. Great for beginners. This can easily be painted back to white when we leave the rented abode, but still gives enough of a creative touch for while we’re enjoying our time here. I finished the look with a vintage-style rattan mirror from La Redoute to add texture as well as a number of my favorite things to add layers to the fireplace vignette.
We’ve collected artwork for a really long time. Probably for the last ten years. I wanted to get a little bit more of a grown-up look for the art on this occasion though so ended up swapping some more film photos in for some of the quote artworks etc etc. I also framed everything in black frames to give more of a cohesive and slick look.
The star of the show is the orange poster from Surface View. Tying in the orange accents of the room, the poster is the ideal ode to the seventies. Surface View is a recent discovery and have an amazing selection of old school posters, canvas and framed prints.
Never underestimate the power of good lighting. Incorporating more than one light source into your room setup helps to create a mood. As we have a few little corner areas in the living room, each area also has a lamp. In the evenings, we tend to put on the table lamps as opposed to the main ceiling light. These create a warmer glow in the room instead of a harsh light – it’s perfect when accompanied by some soft candlelight.
Another plus point for adding lighting is how it helps to zone a room. Just look at how the globe lamp from West Elm adds some extra va-va-voom to the mid-century cabinet. We love whacking on some vinyl in the evening, and when accompanied by the glow of this lamp, it’s a pretty seedy ambience.
The Bar Cart
A bar cart has always been of huge importance to us here at the EJP Abode. We love entertaining so having a home for our cocktail making equipment is pretty high on our priority list. This particular bar cart is compact and fits perfectly into a strange corner of the room while still looking glamorous and a tad whimsical. The graphic marble top brings something a little different to the room and upscales it in terms of finishes. It’s definitely a forever piece and I can’t wait to move it from home to home along with us.
The Soft Furnishings
Oh, how I love a soft furnishing. Every time a new cushion makes its way into our home, I think JJP dies a little inside. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do though. In the living room, we’ve focused on layering rugs to create different textures against the wooden floor. West Elm’s Souk rug is soft and elegant underfoot and creates a much needed balance of colors in the room. Sidenote: it does malt for a good few months so don’t buy it if you can’t handle a bit of extra fluff around the house while it settles in. I paired it with that French Connection rug for a pop of pink to bring out the color of the sofa.
On the cushion front, there’s a real mix. I picked up a lot of the cushions seen on the rattan chair at a Jonathan Adler sample sale last year which really add some more neutral texture to the space, while the main sofa cushions are more focused on being squishy and comfortable. I’m always drawn to velvet and the pink patterned cushions using Abigail Ahern for Hillarys fabric are a personal favourite.
The Finishing Touches
The finishing touches for me includes incorporating all of the things that I love to look at. Things that I’ve collected on trips away, books that I’ve enjoyed flicking through, random objects that I’ve picked up in the charity shop; it’s all the little things that bring me joy. We were lucky enough to have shelves incorporated into the living room when we moved in and this is certainly something that I’d love to bring with me anywhere we move to. I love being able to see all my trinkets, right down to the vinyl covers I adore.
To finish the reveal off, while I know that of this was our own home, there would still be so many ways to improve on the scheme, it certainly brings both JJP and my own personality front and center – something that everyone should aspire to, right?! It’s a room that gives us a warm cozy hug when we come to sit in it and that’s all we can ask for in somewhere that isn’t our own.