Rustic Modern Living Room: Five Tips for Starting Over in a New Home

Last May we moved into a 1953 ranch-style house, our second and hopefully last home. With an open layout, wall-to-wall windows, and mid-century charm, I couldn't wait to start decorating. Although it is still very much a work in progress, I wanted to share a few tips I've gathered from the experience of starting over in a new home.

May 2015

May 2015

February 2016

February 2016

Have a dream

Although it was a ton of work to move with a seven-month-old, I was excited for a fresh start.  My style had evolved since decorating our first home five years ago and now I dreamed of a simple, modern living room with a natural, warm feel. I obsessively looked at interiors online and collected pieces in the shop that captured the rustic modern look I was going for.

After all of this daydreaming, I had a few key pieces picked out before we moved in: sailboat art, blue cube chairs, a geometric rug, a giant peace lily and a vintage vinyl sofa that would act as a stand-in until my dream of a camel-colored leather sofa came true (still waiting on that dream).


Only pack/unpack things you're obsessed with

It was Daly who drilled this into me. Why have things in your home you don't love? You shouldn't. I know this and yet I still struggle. Moving is the perfect time to purge unwanted or unused belongings. Although we got rid of a lot when we packed, I somehow still opened boxes of decor that I wasn't ecstatic to see in the new house.  

Case in point: I opened a bag of ten throw pillows and was only happy to see three (estate sale finds, go figure). I arranged my favorites in the living room and forced myself to get rid of the other seven. Paring down to owning only things that matter is an ongoing process in our home.


Sometimes doing nothing is better than doing something

It's easy to fall into the trap of wanting to get everything done quickly, even if that means making design decisions you're not completely happy about. This was a hard one for me, but it's so true that sometimes doing nothing and waiting is the right decision. Making a hasty decision because you want the satisfaction of a finished space will only lead to regret.

For example, Patrick and I both loved the sailboat art, so we hung it above the sofa. The wall didn't feel complete and I really wanted to quickly hang additional art to fill the wall, but I left it alone. Better to add nothing than something I didn't love.

Much later, I ended up adding a vintage mirror, my grandmother's framed scarf and a watercolor piece painted by a friend. Because I waited, I was sure of my choices and loved the outcome.


Live in your space to help inform your design decisions

Again, this goes back to patience and delaying gratification of a finished space. For me, living in our space for a few months helped with two key decisions. First, I knew I wanted to change the paint color, but forced myself to live with the current green color for a while. By waiting I got to see how the sunlight looked as it moved throughout the room during the day and how the large decor pieces looked together as a whole. Finally, we decided on a very light gray (nearly white) to lighten up the room while maintaining warmth through wood tones and other natural elements.


Second, after living in the room for a couple months, I realized the layout wasn't quite right. I couldn't easily prop my feet on the coffee table from both the sofa and the two chairs. Then one night it dawned on me to float the furniture. Shifting the whole layout to the middle of the room not only allowed the space to function better, but also made it seem larger. Double win! Also, I decided to slowly add side tables to make coffee and water drinking a bit more comfortable and fun.


Plants make everything better

Seriously, plants make everything better and moving means new lighting and a chance to try something different. For me, a giant yucca tree that would have dwarfed my old living room was my new venture in plant ownership. From aloes to air-plants to giant yucca trees, adding a little (or a lot) of green to your room brings instant warmth, interest and calm, moving your space from house to home. 


And there you have it. My two cents on starting over in a new home. I'd love to hear tips you've discovered when moving too.

Next up, the dining room!

-Ashley Palmer

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