A Project with Sami and Anisa, Long Beach, CA

Sami-Anisa Living Room Main

The challenge:

Dealing with very different styles and complete confusion as to what we actually wanted, it was difficult agreeing on what the look of the living room should be. We had a grey couch and an aqua console table that took months of debating to purchase. The living room was a place where pillows came to die, or be piled high in a corner. There were several of all different styles that we liked, but none went together. The more we purchased, the further away from being finished we were. The money spent was wasted, there was not cohesive look. Curtains, rug and wall décor were impossible to decide as well. The apartment has high ceilings and the walls are beige, so figuring out how to make the living room “pop” without costly painters, was a dilemma. The bedrooms were to be done after the living room, so they never got started.
— Sami & Anisa

Summary:

Turn an apartment on a budget for sisters with two very different tastes into a place they both would love.

The Process:

Sami and Anisa are sisters and have lived together awhile, but never quite figured out how to create a living area they both loved because of their very different tastes. While both knew what they liked for their individual bedrooms, neither were ever able to fully execute their visions because the living room was such a conundrum, especially with the vaulted walls.

Pro Tip: If you have a huge, vaulted ceiling, don’t get overwhelmed. Rest assured knowing you don’t have to make sure a 20ft wall is styled from the very top to bottom. When there’s nothing on a wall like that, the eye draws up to the big open space because that’s the only place for it to go; however, once you ground your space with proper furnishings and decorate it with artwork (a large-scale piece, gallery wall, or otherwise) your gaze will stay at eye-level.

The good news is even though they’ve always had a hard time executing their visions, they each did have a good idea of what they liked -- it just took asking the right questions to draw it out. Sami likes things to be symmetrical, clean and balanced and she doesn’t love it when things are mismatched. She also loves purple. Anisa, on the other hand, is the exact opposite: embracing a more boho vibe, loving a more collected and found look, mixing colors and patterns. Those guidelines were good places to start. While there was a lot of pinning and idea sharing, these few images popped out as the main inspiration points for each space, with ideas on making the spaces their own.

Sami and Anisa loved the bright pops of color in this space, but they didn’t love all the beige and cream, especially since they already had a grey couch they liked.

Sami and Anisa loved the bright pops of color in this space, but they didn’t love all the beige and cream, especially since they already had a grey couch they liked.

Anisa loved all the colors and textures shown here, but she wanted a little more pattern, a little less of the country vintage and a little more modern vibe.

Anisa loved all the colors and textures shown here, but she wanted a little more pattern, a little less of the country vintage and a little more modern vibe.

Sami knew she liked purple and she liked symmetry. She didn’t love the white in the bedding shown here and she wanted to up the plum and lilac hues in the space.

Sami knew she liked purple and she liked symmetry. She didn’t love the white in the bedding shown here and she wanted to up the plum and lilac hues in the space.

Once we had the direction for each space, it was time to source furniture and accessories to create the initial concept. My gal Rachel assisted me here and was a huge help, since we were decorating all three spaces at once.

And here were the initial mood boards created based off of the inspiration -- as you can see, I always like to set up the mood boards in a way where the client can fully visualize what the end result would be.

There were plenty of edits based off of their feedback and then of course there are always snafus that come up like beloved pieces going out of stock. And in some cases, they ended up liking the original recommendations I made better. But after adjustments and refinements as needed, we had something fun to show.

The Result:

I love how much these two women embraced color. Check it out:

LIVING ROOM 2
 As a reminder, here's a "Before" of the space: a mix and match of furniture pieces, pillows, and decor.

 As a reminder, here's a "Before" of the space: a mix and match of furniture pieces, pillows, and decor.

There were a lot of compromises made between the two sisters and to their credit they worked extremely well together. For example, Sami allowed things like mismatched side tables while Anisa was fine choosing textiles with simple patterns even though she prefers multi-colored and bold. If you’ve got a roommate or spouse and you’re decorating a joint space, it’s important to give and take equally, knowing in the end that the final space is an equal representation of you both.

Originally, they had the idea of painting their vaulted ceiling in the living room because they wanted color, but I pointed out that their inspiration image had a very neutral base and all the color came from the accessories. They were worried that without painting a bold color on one or some of the walls that the space wouldn’t seem bright enough or complete, but choices like the bold pink mirror and a mixture of patterns with the textiles definitely give the space plenty of personality. Plus, they were relieved they wouldn’t have to pay a painter for a large project.

Another cool moment that resulted from this space: When I first met Sami and Anisa, neither of them had a strong idea of what they wanted or liked when it came to artwork or wall decor. Nearing the end of the project, they were buying some of their own pieces they found without me, and asking about other spaces and walls in their apartment -- in Sami’s words, “yup it had happened we are now addicted to wall decor!”

Even though Sami is still awaiting her new bed to arrive, she really wanted everything else to be put together, so here it is! Originally she wanted a deep plum on her walls, but because she wanted darker bedding, we went for a brighter lilac tone for paint. By breaking up the purple hues with black and white we were able to still get dimension and contrast. As I’ve mentioned, Sami is also big on symmetry, so bedside tables and artwork are balanced with identical prints. Accessories follow the same color and texture theme throughout the room.

anisa bedroom.jpg

Anisa’s room is one that makes you immediately happy when you walk inside. Deciding between a minty blue or minty green wall color, we ultimately went with the green to make the blue hues of the bedding, side table and chair pop. Unlike her sister, Anisa didn’t want things to be too matchy, but she didn’t want the over-layered and busy look commonly found in boho spaces. She loved the boldness of the bedding, so everything chosen around it had personal character of its own, but with a fresh and modern feeling. Choosing pieces with a little mid century mod feel helped us achieve the look, as well as artwork that complimented the space without being too matchy.

When all’s said and done, I love how all the spaces share a story of two sisters that really wanted to embrace color and style in their own specific ways. The project was challenging in many ways, but I’m extremely happy about the way it turned out. But that doesn’t matter as much as how the client feels:

Tess fixed all our issues and it was so much fun! Given the fact that as roommates (not to mention sisters) we have very different styles (as evidenced by our bedrooms), Tess worked miracles. She looked at the spaces and asked the right questions, turning chaos and confusion into three perfectly styled rooms. She was patient (we had lots of questions) and creative, while staying within budget. Looking around at a stylish apartment, there is no way we could have gotten here without her.
— Sami & Anisa

Feedback like that brightens my day more than any amount of color or decor. If you have a project where you need to combine differing tastes, or if you have a vision but don’t know how to make it come alive, contact me and I’d love to help.