My living room

Today I'm opening the door to my living room, come on in! My goal was to create a cool inviting space, a touch bohemian, a dash rock'n'roll. I wanted to get the balance right between dark and fresh, eclectic and classic. I had virtually no budget, but sourcing free products and having to get creative with upcycling and making, fortunately, is something that I enjoy...

Exposed brick chimney breast

The groundwork

Houses here in England tend to be small and our living rooms have to work hard at being multi-functional. Mine is used as a TV room, study, music room and it's where we entertain, all in 15m2. So I had to plan carefully in order to make the most of this space. See my post on planning the living room here.

Here's a quick recap of the work I did on the room. I lifted the carpet, sanded, repaired, stained and oiled the floorboards. I filled in huge cracks on the wall. I had the door re-hung to the left, I removed the 1950s fireplace, the gas fire pipe removed and sealed off by a plumber. I stripped the chimney breast back to its bare brick and structure and had a wood burner fitted - read about this here

My living room in progress

Storage and organising

With hundreds of vinyl records, books, a hi-fi audio system and a TV to house, it made sense to make the most of the recessed spaces flanking the chimney breast and build alcove shelves. It was fun designing and allocating a dedicated space for everything, and my husband came up trumps, building the shelves following my plan. I opted for painting the pine boards the same colour as the walls so they blend in, giving the whole thing some lightness despite being a busy corner. There is even room to display some ornaments. 


Colour scheme

I love the velvety feel of Farrow & Ball paint, but it can be quite expensive. So I contacted an Oxford-based decorating business and asked if I could rummage through their used stock. Did you know that decorators don't re-use products for a next job and that it all goes to the dump? Luck would have it they had the exact paint I was after, two tins of French Grey. I painted the walls and ceiling in this mid-tone greeny-grey Estate Emulsion, the skirting boards and door frame in Mahogany Eggshell with the door in Dead Salmon Eggshell. I love how the door chimes in with the exposed brick of the chimney breast. I restricted the palette to purples, burnt oranges and greys. There is also the green of the plants and black accents. 

Leather sofa, dark floors, French Grey, Dead Salmon, Mahogany


I'm obsessed with plants and have filled the bay window with a wide variety. This room is south-facing so just about anything thrives here, I just have to keep a close eye on humidity levels. I arranged the plants around a Graham and Green mirrored console table (a piece saved from the dump!) which reflects the light and adds a layer of texture and some glamour to the room. The black leather chair was also a rescue from the street. See how I fixed the sagging seat here

Bay window filled with plants


I chose this classic chandelier for the room (bought in a French Emmaüs for 3 Euros) to which I added ordinary shades I transformed using black spray paint and cockerel feathers. To switch it on, what else but a vintage French porcelain and brass switch (found on eBay)? I added a simple ceiling rose and painted the ceiling the same colour as the walls. This helps the room feel higher than it is as all the lines blur in, it really works. I have four table lamps, a floor lamp as well as the light from the chandelier. As days are drawing shorter, the lights give a warm and cosy glow. 

Feather shades on chandelier with French Grey ceiling

70s lamp


I found the chest of drawers on the curb and you wouldn't believe the state it was in. But with a bit of TLC, it turned out super sweet. I love the circle theme going on here. The feathers in the frame on the left, the round metal objects (I don't know what they might be, do you?), the circles in the 1970s lamp base and the round mirror above. 

Upcycled chest and charity shop finds

I reupholstered this vintage chair some years ago, and although I love it in its current zebra outfit, it is due a new skin and I'm thinking snakeskin. But we'll see, I might be tempted by leopard print instead.

Claire Kidman's portrait photography

Wall art

A lot of my wall art is by various psychedelic poster artists, from the '70s and present day. Also on the wall the photographic work of my friend and artist Claire Kidman (check out her Instagram @c.kidman) who specialises in ancient developing techniques. The portrait of my son (above) looks both vintage and modern at the same time. Just wow. She's amazing. Definitely a great gift idea to a loved one.

Unique pieces 

Filling a space with unique pieces collected over time create depth in a space. I'm particularly fond of French flea markets and junk shops. I picked up these gorgeous 1970s (did I mention I love the 1970s?) artisan mazagran cups on holiday back in August and I can't stop drinking coffee, just so I can use them. The rustic oak trunk coffee table is a great way to store more stuff out of sight and is small enough for the space, although I might be tempted to replace it with a glass table if the right one comes along.

1970s crockery

Voila, an eclectic mix of curios, artwork, rustic and elegant pieces, plants, a soft colour palette and lots of texture all make this room the perfect retreat, because it feels like me. 

My living room

I'd love to see your living rooms and upcycling ideas, so if you're on Instagram use #bohorocknrolldecor. Thanks for popping by! Oh and if you like the cushion (above left), I've got some available for sale in the shop

M Logo Sept 2016




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