MY LIVING ROOM MAKEOVER
If you read Emily Henderson’s blog on a regular basis, then you know about our new series #MakeoverTakeover. It’s where we, the team at EHD, let you sneak a peek through the keyhole at all the trials and tribulations of decorating OUR OWN HOMES. The pressure is on! Cue me, Ginny Macdonald: Interior designer, Anglophile, and puppy whisperer. . .
For those of you who know of me, but don’t know me, in brief: I moved from London to LA in November 2012 to start a new adventure with my main man Patrick (or PC, as I often call him), an actor/writer and lover of all things Irish (and British, so it seems), and our two dogs, Bubba and Theo (or Ma-fweeeedo, as I like to call him). I come from a retail interior design background, and started working with Emily on The Fig House just a few short months after moving here.
Until a year ago, PC and I were sharing a house with a dear, dear friend. But after two years (and wanting a kitchen of my own), it was time for us to get the heck out of there and start fresh. Which meant I could start decorating! This month marks the three year anniversary of my arrival in the U.S., and the one year anniversary of PC and I moving into our first (and most current) home together.
When we were apartment hunting I wanted our new place to feel like something you’d find back home. The house I shared in London was a large Victorian terrace in Brixton (South London) with all original fixtures: high ceilings, detailed cornicing and fireplaces in every room. Pretty standard features in London (an aesthetic I miss terribly), and although we decided on a 1930’s Spanish duplex, it still has some of that old-fashioned charm that feels, to me, a little bit like home.
Funny sidebar story: Unbeknownst to us at the time, the previous tenants happened to be one of Brady’s best friends. We found out a few weeks after signing our lease. Small world indeed! They’d painted the living room and dining area a very dark grey (which I actually loved, especially because it highlighted the white cornicing and fireplace). I toyed with the idea of keeping it, but decided that painting the apartment white throughout would give me the neutral, fresh-start canvas I was craving.
I’m interested to hear what you think, whether you would have kept the grey or painted it white (or an entirely different colour altogether?)
What I love most is the amount of natural light we get from the large window on the front-facing wall. And even though it’s faux, I do love the detailed fireplace and the cute, built-in bookcase cubbies. The flooring is neutral too, and light in colour, which I prefer to darker-toned floors.
When I moved to the U.S. I literally came with four suitcases and nine boxes (shipped on those slow moving freight boats) that mainly consisted of clothes, books, and small accessories. And, stupidly, a Marks & Spencer’s all-season duvet insert, because you can’t buy duvet inserts anywhere in America!!! (of course I am kidding – but I couldn’t leave that sucker back home) One of the main differences of renting in England to renting here is that most places come furnished, so all you have to do is show up with your PJ’s, toothbrush, M&S duvet, and ’Bob’s your uncle‘.
When I came here our home had been furnished by PC and, well, for all his talents, let’s just say that his aesthetic was. . . masculine. As evidence, check out the sofa sectional above. I will say though, that the piece was super comfortable. It just wasn’t quite my cup of tea. So, the sofa was the first thing on our list of ‘in need of replacing.’
Next up, I bought the wingback chair and ottoman from an antiques mall in Pasadena, which I love, and the Target pouf (which the dogs LOVE to snuggle on). We also put up some dreadful temporary curtains because PC fell into a frightful panic of not leaving the inside of our home exposed while we were away for the Holidays. Is that a guy thing ? (Sorry PC, called out!)
Now, there’s nothing I love more than designing for a client, and since working with Emily I’ve had (and currently have) the sweetest clients on the planet. But when it comes to designing FOR MYSELF, I am, quite literally, my own nightmare client. PC will tell you. I buy things constantly and return them as quickly as they arrived. My preferences change as often as my socks. It might come down to the fact that I have an impulsive shopping habit (even that’s an understatement) and spending money on things for the home helps fill my soul. I’m working on it, I swear. When we moved, I made it my mission to have my house featured somewhere, a chance for me to showcase my eye for design.
I’m not naturally a very “showy” person, and the idea of putting out the work I’ve done on MY OWN HOME is still daunting. But when Emily suggested Makeover Takeover, I knew this was a great ‘kick-up the backside’ to get the apartment finished and featured!
When I started to pull my pinboards together, a certain theme began to reveal itself. Like a complicated math formula, the visuals boiled down to a canvas of whites, greys, and blacks. Linen, wood, and leather. And, it should probably go without saying, that I LOVE blue. Believe me, it’s not a prerequisite at EHD to love blue (but it helps!). I’ve just always, and will always, have a place in my heart for blue.
My eye is attracted to natural things, so I tend to like simple, organic materials like linens and woods. I’m an Earth sign after all, so I’m best suited for calming tones, serenity, and homeliness. There’s the flip-side of me too, where I love a wild, floral Liberty print (but I think that’s my English roots talking). I also have a rather strange magnetic attraction to all things coastal. I love stripes and have a growing collection (and obsession) with painted seascapes. Then there’s the country cottage look which I’m drawn to, and somewhere inside of me is a “shabby-chic” freak longing to be set free. And, lastly, Scandinavian that bodes white oak and clean lines, which gets me giddy every time. It’s like if that adorable kid’s movie Inside Out was governed by a cluster of interior styles, my head would be all over the shop!
Funnily enough, I recently took the quiz in Emily’s Style Book and got Scandinavian (if I said yes to liking clean lines), and Zen (if I said yes to decorative edges). No Granny-chic floral to be seen!
So, new-found friends – I encourage you to join me on my journey to finding out what my style really is, what it says about me, and whether Scandinavian/Zen is what I was able to achieve as the makeover unfolds. Join me next time as I delve into choosing the right sofa for the space and how I configured the layout of our living room! Starting fresh, how exciting!
Love Ginny xXx