Ania’s Design Dilemma

Ania’s living & dining room is ready for a major style overhaul. Here’s her letter:

Woohoo! I feel like I won something to score one of your fast selling custom mood boards! I need advice for my living room/dining area. My husband and I dig modern, contemporary, glamorous, and beachy styles. As for stores, we love Anthropologie, CB2, West Elm, Z Gallerie, Macy’s (where we have a major gift card) and Crate and Barrel (where we also have another big gift card). I absolutely want a new longer media cabinet. Between the sectional, coffee table, side table, and dining table, I feel like our furniture is oversized and I don’t like how everything is boxy. Any of those items can be replaced as you see fit. I also don’t like how our sectional is pushed up against the window and I’ve recently developed a crush on white circular pendant lamps and capiz chandeliers. I’d love some art for the walls (the paint color should stay). I LOVE teals, blues, oranges, greens, and yellows for accessories. I really like your use of modern patterns (like the geometric duvet in your master bedroom). I also like white furniture but need help mixing it with my espresso/mahogany stuff. We really want this room to be the starting point for our entire house, so we’d love if you could make a paint recommendation for the kitchen (which is also open to the living/dining area). We’re in the middle of replacing the window casings (which is why our windows have paper on them) but we do have white wood blinds for them. Thanks! We are soooo excited! – Ania

Here’s the plan:

And now for the mood board breakdown.

1. Ania’s brown, tan, umber, sunshine yellow and white color palette is inspired by her love of mixing and matching different wood tones with white and bringing in some pops of one of her favorite accent colors (yellow) in the accessories. We’ll take her furnishings from brown-brown-everywhere to a bit more diverse collection of pieces, and we’ll bring in some breezy patterns and prints to keep things feeling layered and textured and oh so chic.

2. We’d love to see Ania’s large sectional pulled at least 18″ away from the walls (we can ground it on a floating rug to make sense of the new floor plan) for a less crowded feeling (this will also allow Ania to use some of the central space in the room instead of pushing everything up against all the walls). Then tossing a few of these delicately patterned yellow and soft tan pillows around the sectional will further break up all the brown in the room for a more layered and luxe feeling in the space. And for extra credit when it comes to the room’s function, Ania could slide a sofa table like this behind it (since we’re replacing her existing coffee table and removing her current side table it will give her another place for guests to rest drinks and things beyond the new coffee table).

3. Ania was speaking our language when she mentioned she loves capiz chandeliers, and we dug up this super dramatic extra long one for above her new dining table to create a beachy chic little nook to dine with style to spare. It’ll really soften the entire space and the curved shape will be a nice counterpart to the more linear items like the sectional and the flatscreen TV.

4. We’d love to see an asymmetrical wall of frames on the L-shaped wall behind the sectional (check out this video for tips on putting one together). An example of something we’d love among the frames would be this cute yellow and umber ginko print (such a steal) and a few other ideas would be to frame anything else with tan, wheat, yellow and brown tones for a mixed and matched yet totally layered and lovely look (a square of yellow construction paper, some cool patterned fabrics, even pretty honey-toned scarves- the sky’s the limit!).

5. We always love to see something light, round and reflective above a boxy big screen TV, so this capiz mirror (on sale!) will really bounce light around the room and soften the TV corner while tying into the capiz chandelier on the other side of the room.

6. These breezy printed medallion curtains will really dress up the dining nook when they’re hung on either side of each window to create an elegant and enveloping effect- and the texture and interest that the pattern will add to the entire space will be priceless.

7. Ania mentioned that she wanted a longer and more solid TV stand to help her hide those unruly wires so we dug up this extra long one to easily house her big screen TV and hide all of her cords and components behind a chic combination of solid and frosted doors. Best of all, the modern metal legs will tie into the new dining room chairs that we’ll be bringing in, so stay tuned for that…

8. This large 8 x 10 rug will instantly ground the sectional that we’ll be moving at least 18″ away from the wall, and will help fill out the rest of the living room and create a welcoming and warm vibe. We love the tone on tone pattern that it adds to the space, and it even picks up the colors in the curtain medallions and the new coffee table that we’ll be introducing for a mixed yet totally cohesive vibe in the entire open area.

9. We’d love to see a chunky and traditional white pedestal table (a steal from Ikea- plus it expands to seat six!) paired with some modern metal-legged bentwood chairs to replicate the old meets new look that feels eclectic and collected over time. Not convinced? Check out an extremely similar pairing in our sunroom pictured here and here (somehow old with new just works when they’re in the same color palette- and the white will really break up all the other brown pieces in Ania’s space).

10. Ania thought her furnishings were all too dark and square, so we love the idea of bringing in a round capiz chandelier and dining table along with curvy dining chairs and even a round mirror over the TV. The last round element we’ll introduce is this rich walnut coffee table (on clearance!) which is a bit of a lighter toned wood that still ties into the other darker furnishings in the room thanks to the rug (which has both tones within it, thereby marrying everything together). This curvy little addition will add tons of flow in the living area (our favorite pairing with any sectional is always a round coffee table or ottoman), and since the old side table, coffee table, dining table and chairs will eventually be updated, Ania can Craigslist them to make some major loot (which she can put back into the space to complete the room).

Oh and we can’t forget Ania’s request for a kitchen paint color, we’d actually suggest painting it the same color as the living and dining room (since they’re so open to each other it will really keep things expansive and airy) or even sliding one shade darker on the paint swatch and going for that tone in the kitchen which will make for a coordinated yet slightly varied look with dimension and ambiance.

So there you have it. A living and dining room full of chic and modern style. We can’t wait to see what you guys think!

Update: Ania sent us her after pictures and they’re nothing short of amazing! Check them out right here.

Update #2: We sadly can no longer find the time to take on client commissioned mood boards (we now whip up general inspiration boards instead) but if we ever reinstate them we’ll make a big announcement!


  1. Amanda says

    Good call on keeping the sofa dark. Pet hair on white furniture is a beast to clean! And those pups are just too cute to be banned from the living room!

  2. says

    The Rug from Crate and Barrel is a little deceiving on line. It actually has teal in it as well. I was looking at it for our living room at the store. But I still think it goes with the room!

    Btw, her doggies are so cute!

  3. Amanda L says

    I think this is a wonderful design. I am in love with the media cabinet/TV stand. I also like the table. My parents have a wood table from the 80s that is the same idea, just a little chunkier in the base and legs. I would love to use it (and save the expense of buying myself a table), but it doesn’t match anything we have. Do you think with a few coats of paint we could make it functional?

    • says

      Hey Adria,

      So glad you’re digging our latest mood board! In her letter, Ania asked that the existing color on the walls stay, so we didn’t recommend anything new (plus the existing color will work perfectly with the items we hunted down). Hope it helps!


  4. says

    I loooooveeeeeeeee {Extra o’s and e’s mean I AM SERIOUS} the MOOD BOARD! The color scheme is amazing, and the furniture pieces are perfectly eclectic. Thanks GUYS.


  5. julia says

    Great mood board! Do you recommend the sofa table on the right wall or the back wall behind the sectional? Also, same question with the wall of frames.

    Also, would the curtains be hung on the windows near the sectional too?

    If the rug has teal in it, I definitely think that would look great to bring in some teal accents too. It would complement the beachy theme (teal=water, yellow=sand). Maybe some teal throw pillows and other objects?

    • says

      Hey Julia,

      We thought the sofa table would work best behind the back of the sofa (not the right wall on the side) but the collage of frames will actually travel across both walls just like the shape of the sectional (it will be L-shaped, and oh so crisp looking). As for the curtains, they’ll also be hung near the sectional since we love repeating the same ones in all the windows in open spaces to make them feel seamless and expansive, and as for the pops of teal we think they’ll work swimmingly so we totally support adding some accessories or even a throw in that tone. Love it!


  6. says

    love those curtains you picked! might actually need to pick those up!
    also…I went to TJMaxx today….and ran across SEVERAL of the ceramic wine bottles that you had shown on your trip in some boutique. I picked up 3 of them in different sizes (off white and a great brown) for under $12. I am in love!!!

  7. Kristen says

    I had to comment-
    I own the liatorp table you chose and it is garbage. It chips like crazy immediately after purchasing it, and it stains whenever anything colored sits on it for more than a few seconds. It also is so tippy with the leaf in-if one person is sitting at the end and rests their elbows on it, the entire table tips.
    We regret buying it and it is so unsafe with the leaf in we had to take it out. It it chipping badly and looks awful, and is less than 2 years old.
    It is adorable, but sadly it is awful quality.
    I am not trying to bash your mood board, just letting you know so you can possibly suggest a different table to her so she doesn’t waste her money like we did.

    • says

      Hey Kristen and Patti,

      Good to know! So funny that you have varying opinions but it sounds like the fact that the paint chips is pretty much an across the board complaint. Thanks so much for weighing in! Ania can definitely take that info to heart and snag a similar table somewhere else if she’d like (since we can’t possibly own every piece that we suggest, our finds are just a jumping off point so if the design evolves over the course of redoing the room we’re never mad not to see people follow our suggestions word for word). Heck maybe she can even find a pedestal table on craigslist and use our furniture painting tutorial to make it over like Tristina did in our last Design Dilemma. Hope it helps!


  8. Patti says

    We have that table and love it but I would warn that the paint/lacquer does chip and scratch a bit. That being said, we do love it and the leaf storage under the top is wonderful.

  9. Jennifer says

    Very nice mood board! I hate to bother you with a question, but I also have trouble trying to figure out how to incorporate white furnishings in with my darker wood furniture. Is it always okay to add a piece of white furniture in with darker wood, or do you have to balance it out with equal white and dark furnishings?

    • says

      Hey Jennifer,

      Good question! You can certainly have one piece of white furniture in a room with darker pieces (for example we have a white pedestal table in our bedroom but the bed is dark wood along with the large leaning mirror and the hamper). The key is just to have other items of that color in the space, even if they’re not furnishings (in our bedroom we have white curtains, pillows and frames which tie in the white pedestal table seamlessly- and in our den we have another white painted table with a white armchair across the room to balance it so it makes sense with the other darker wood pieces in the space). Even objects like pillows, lamp shades and other accessories can add more of that white so your piece doesn’t feel out of left field. Hope it helps!


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