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Creating your dream living room might involve lots of different ingredients, but one thing is certain: you’re going to need some great seating. For some people, “great seating” is a piece that is dramatic and sculptural. For others, “great seating” means something that packs in as many people as possible. And for still others, “great seating” could mean the squishiest, comfiest couch possible. Regardless of your perspective, you’ll need a place to perch in your living space that makes you happy.
In designer Ellie Baer’s apartment, which she shares with her fiancé, Tim, the key furniture piece in the living room was a giant sofa. “The space was overtaken by an exceptionally comfortable but aesthetically challenging couch that my fiancé had brought when we moved in together,” Ellie says. That big gray couch — which held court for three years — was by default the focal point in the room, and was tough to design around.
Ellie had been itching for a redo since she and Tim moved in together, but it was only recently that she was able to convince Tim that it was time to part with their beloved couch. “The couch held a special place in our hearts — a place where we constantly entertained, tasted wine with friends, played games, listened to music, and read tarot cards,” she says. But, she adds, a more modular setup would offer room for company, more flexibility, and a lot more style, too.
That wasn’t the only issue Ellie had with her living room, though. “There was a warm yellow tone to the eggshell paint on the walls, bringing out the stained wood floors in a way that felt garish,” she says. Plus, she adds, the room felt disjointed thanks to a combination of beautiful pieces gathered over the years that didn’t quite mesh.
Ellie’s redo started from the ceiling, with new (old) light fixtures gifted to her by her dad. The vintage chandeliers were originally gas lamps that have been rewired for electricity, and give the apartment a lot more character than the plain lights that were there before. For the walls, Ellie chose a soothing green (Farrow & Ball’s Vert de Terre). “The green is perfect during daylight and cozy at night,” she says. She also purchased picture frame molding (installed by a handyperson) that adds some old-school style to the walls.
As for furniture, new modular seating allowed Ellie to expand the once-cramped dining area while still making space for board games and cocktail parties. The biggest piece is a tan velvet sofa from CB2, but Ellie supplemented it with armless accent chairs from Crate and Barrel, a green velvet club chair from Soho Home, and a couple of stools. They’re all arranged around a glass-topped coffee table that makes the space feel more open.
On the other side of the room, Ellie kept the TV and console in place but added cord covers for a more streamlined look. The final reno step was installing two shell-shaped sconces from Burke Decor on the wall behind the sofa — easier said than done, since it turns out the wall was made of concrete. But with some trial and error, Ellie and Tim got the sconces installed and fitted them with battery-powered puck lights to avoid having to wire anything.
Ellie finished off the space by arranging decor she already owned and loved — a mix of new and vintage — and adding in some cozy touches, like a new, more subdued rug. The pieces that languished before have a chance to shine,” Ellie says.
Now, the new gathering space actually fits more people than before, despite looking so much less crowded. “Our larger coffee table allows ten people to play games together (with room for cocktails or wine),” Ellie says. “We went from having a beautiful home and a so-so living room to a wow-worthy space that guests comment on every time they visit.”
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