How Ajai Transformed Her Parent’s Dark And Cluttered Living Room Into Their Dream Minimalist Mid-Century Glam Oasis
As many of you are aware, earlier this year, my husband and I moved from Atlanta to Los Angeles and in with my dad and mom for seven months while being pregnant (to try and build our savings). This entailed my mother parting with her coveted “girl-cave” to make room for us. Well, fast forward to now, we have moved into our own apartment but my agreement to design, source, and furnish the living room in exchange for a free place to live remained intact, so that is what I have been doing the last several months. The plan was always to make this space an oasis for my mom, (since we took over her aforementioned “girl cave”) and to incorporate her self-proclaimed “minimalist meets mid-century glam” style she so desperately wanted.
During the design phase, my mom also mentioned she really enjoyed the mood boards I had for my own home but wanted to lean into a minimalist-glam-mid-century look (by the way, she believes she coined this style lol). One thing you should know about me is I believe the best designs are the spaces that truly reflect the people who live in them. That said, I was willing to partake in my momma’s newly created style, but as is the case for most design projects, there were a few challenges along the way when it came to achieving her desired look.
Here is what we started with:
Challenge #1 TOO MUCH CLUTTER
Since the stay-at-home orders began in SoCal, my mother has mentioned a desire for a more tranquil and airy space. However, her existing furniture did not provide that aesthetic. She was looking for more of a minimalist approach and she wanted less clutter. Over the years, she’s acquired quite the collection of items and furniture, and was finally ready to lighten the load.
Challenge #2 OPEN LAYOUT WASN’T FEELING COHESIVE
One of the challenges presented by the living room was its layout and that it also acts as the dining room, and I had to keep this in mind while sourcing furniture that wouldn’t take up too much space.
Challenge #3: FURNITURE WAS NOT UTILIZING THE SPACE WELL (AND MADE THE ROOM FEEL DARK)
My mother wanted to keep her mid-century dining set, so it was important we keep her existing table and chairs in mind. The rest of the furniture had to go, as it clashed with what my mother was looking for. The furniture my mom had before was quite large, and in my opinion, didn’t quite utilize the space well. So we went on the hunt for the right furniture that would satisfy my mom’s modern and cozy desires.
ADD GOLD FIXTURES THROUGHOUT TO GROUND THE SPACE
Lighting has always felt like the jewelry of a home to me and when I think of Mid-century modern glam, I think of curves and gold. To add some glamour, I partnered with Mitzi and had our local electrician install their Gold Belinda drop pendants in the dining area and their Gold Belinda sconces in the living room wall behind the sectional. In addition to incorporating “the glam,” the gold lighting matched the gold bar cart and brought further cohesiveness to the space.
SOFTEN THE ROOM WITH LIGHT AND MINIMAL FURNITURE
Ever since I can remember, my mom has day-dreamed about kicking her feet up on a white ottoman (with a matching sectional) while she watches her soap operas. In an effort to create a more open layout and minimalist design, we also cleared out some of the other knick-knacks, and donated the large hutch leading into her kitchen and the dark sofa set was replaced with a white modern sectional to provide a lighter aesthetic. The existing dining set replaced the large hutch that was donated, and the space the dining set was taken from now has (in the words of my mom) a “glammed up gold bar cart.”
GIVE THE SPACE SOME PERSONALITY
It was important for my mother to have the space express her personality because her initial “girl cave” was taken from her. She felt like she needed a few different areas in the room that were functional, but that still felt like the spaces belonged to her. With these spaces she was looking for a place to gather with girlfriends (eventually… after gathering is allowed again), have a cocktail (or two), and catch up on her stories.
The first section we tackled was the dining area. Did I mention my mom (like many other mommas out there) is a huge fan of the infamous shiplap wall (thanks to Chip and Jojo)? So, I went on a 5-week hunt (during the shipping crisis) for white-washed wood panels to make this dream a reality. Again, we sourced the wood materials quite some time ago and were so happy when they arrived weeks later, after several returns and exchanges (one of the wood boxes we received was filled with warped wood… a nightmare indeed). But this made us even more grateful with the outcome. This wall is cherished and has quite the story to go along with it… the perfect conversational piece. The paneled wall provides a textured feature and feels like it has been there from the beginning. The contrast of the gold lighting up against the feature wall makes the space feel modern and plush amongst its glamorous surroundings.
This is definitely my mother’s favorite aspect of the re-designed space and may be my mother’s favorite wall in her home now. That brings me to the gold bar cart, which is a star of its own. My mom and I made a little vignette with her favorite cocktail glasses and trinkets, and she can’t get enough of it. Last (but most certainly not least) is the sectional. The goal was to make this the comfiest place in the house…
BRING IN THE COZINESS WITH TONS OF PILLOWS AND BLANKETS
My mother wanted to ensure she experienced plush serenity in the living room and the countless pillows added to the sectional provided just that. She can now plop on to the sectional with my dad to watch a movie and feel cuddled in every direction with all the fluffy pillows. Now, I know you are probably thinking “why so many pillows?” But let me reiterate that I design for the person living in the house thus, my mom. She wanted a million pillows and this made her happy, so I gave her a million pillows. This was also due in large part to the guilt I felt for taking away her girl-cave at the time (and my dad already has his own man-cave), so I really wanted to give her a space she could enjoy. After doing some spring cleaning (in the fall), swapping a few furniture items, and creating her desired spaces, my momma is happy with her new living room space and has deemed it complete (*sighs with relief*).
Now for the most fun and satisfying part – the before and after side by sides:
**Design and Photos by Ajai Guyot
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