7.31.18 10

My Arlington Apartment: The Living Area

I’m back today with another peek of my apartment—this time I’m sharing my living area. (You can see my kitchen here!) Y’all, this room is huge, so I kind of broke it up into two rooms. On the left is a sitting area with my couch, my coffee table, and my television, and on the right is my dining area. Though, truth be told, I eat 95% of my meals on the couch and 5% at my bar, so really, my table is a great place to collect random items.

Even though I’ve been promising an apartment tour for over a year now, one of the reasons it took me so long to hire someone to help me shoot it is that I never felt like it was truly “done.” As you’ll see in my dining area, there’s a huge wall that I didn’t really know what to do with, so I let it sit for months empty, despite taking numerous Instagram polls about what to do with the space. In a future post, you’ll see I never found the perfect art to hang over my bed. I used to buy art just to fill spaces, and ended up hating all those purchases hanging on my wall after a couple of months. Now, I am super intentional about the art I buy and will leave walls empty until I find something that really speaks to me. As evidenced by these still-blank walls, sometimes this process takes years, hah!

Once I started thinking about moving to DC proper back in March, and then once I really committed to the idea at the beginning of April, I stopped looking for art to fill these very specific spaces knowing that my new apartment would likely be smaller than the one I’m in now. Luckily for me that bet paid off—I think I have just the right amount of artwork for my new place.

All of this talk about art is basically to say that I think most of the fun in decorating an apartment is the process of collecting things you love to fill your home. The entire time I lived here, I was changing things up, and on the eve of my move out, you could still say it’s still not “done.” But yet, even though it might not be as Pinterest-perfect as some, I love this space even more because it’s truly mine.

apartment living room ideas

apartment living room ideas

If you’ve been reading here for a while, you’ll remember the great rug debate of winter 2k18. In the end, I am so glad I swapped out the more colorful rug for this beautiful blue patterned Safavieh one, even if it did mean lugging the initial one to a Fedex in freezing temperatures in my tiny Honda Civic. I learned an important lesson, which I know share with all my friends—make sure you truly like a rug before you purchase it. And, if you can, buy it in person so you can see the pattern first. Also, for what it’s worth, I didn’t get a rug pad since I was putting this rug right onto carpet. However, my next place is hardwood, so I probably will get one so it’s not a slip-and-slide—I’ll report back.

The dark wood table you see is something I’ve had with me since I moved into my first adult apartment in Arlington five years ago. My parents bought this when I was in high school for our basement, and ultimately, it was never used. So, when my roommate and I were in need of one, they graciously offered it up. I’ve always loved that it is a high-top table—it’s about the height of a kitchen island and the chairs are counter-stool height. I’ve had some amazing dinner parties and wine nights over this table and am very sad it won’t fit in my new apartment. I think my sister has laid claim to it, but I am really hoping I can win it back or find a similar table one day when I have a larger space again!

In this shot, you’ll also note the historical photograph—it’s actually a print of the photograph, but you catch my drift—of the young boys wading in the Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial that’s a little too small for the wall. I purchased it from this amazing Etsy shop, Historical Pix, that curates rare vintage photos. Originally, I was going to put a gallery wall on this wall to fill the space, but once I realized I was moving, I stopped trying to curate pieces for the space. Instead of just letting this photo collect dust for several months, I decided to go ahead and frame + hang it even though it’s dwarfed by the wall.

apartment living room ideas

One way I helped mitigate the size of this huge room—that only has one wall of windows—was by creating an accent wall with temporary wall paper on the wall opposite + parallel to the windows. You can read all about my experience with the installation here—I’ll be sure to let you know how the removal goes in about a month! Please keep your fingers cross it does not tear up my walls…

To break up the striped wallpaper pattern, I added in this circle mirror from Target. It’s definitely a knock off of a more expensive one from CB2, but at under $50, it’s hard to beat the price. The quality is great, and since it’s not too heavy, it was very easy to hang.

apartment living room ideas

apartment living room ideas

When I first moved in to my apartment, I knew I wanted to put a plant in this corner. Once I hung the wallpaper, I was even more into this idea as a way to break up some of the stripes. I went to my local garden center and showed them pictures of the space, and despite these bright photos, that corner doesn’t actually get a ton of natural light. Because I wanted a sizable plant, I realized that going faux might be the only way to go—which is probably for the best since I have a black thumb anyway.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I originally I had a faux palm plant in this corner. I had purchased it from Wayfair, and while the leaves themselves didn’t look super fake, the plant base itself never stool correctly and the different branches were hard to fan out in a realistic way. So when Pottery Barn ran a sale on their faux fiddle leaf fig tree, I jumped at the chance and am so glad I did—it looks realistic and is so sturdy. I bought the larger size and set it up in the large tote beachcomber round handled basket from Pottery Barn. I am definitely taking this tree with me to my new place!

apartment living room ideas

apartment living room ideas

In past living situations, my roommates have always owned the couches, so when I moved into my place last year, I had to buy one. Though I have made many design mistakes on this blog that have been well documented, I have been extremely happy with the couch I purchased on Wayfair. When I was looking for a couch last summer, I knew I wanted a chaise lounge, but also didn’t see an end to apartment living in my near future, so I wanted to pick a size that would fit into many different sized homes. This 85″ one I’ve ended up with has been perfect for me! It’s definitely not the deepest or longest couch, but since I am 5’4″, it works perfectly for me and fits the space very well. I also love that it’s neutral so it can evolve me with me as my tastes change. The only downside is that you cannot change which side the chaise is on—but, fingers crossed, based on my initial measurements, this will work in my new place! You can read all about my palm throw pillows here and my blue dot throw pillows are from Society Social.

Though it was in my bedroom in the last place I had, I chose to hang my sample of the Beverly Hills Hotel wallpaper in my living area, and I love how it turned out. I ordered it from this website and then had it framed in Framebridge’s Layfette frame. In full disclosure, was able to make an account at Designer Wallcoverings because I work for a real estate developer, but if you don’t work in the industry, find a friend that does and they should have no problem!

I love my Target stacked ball floor lamp and acrylic stacked ball lamp that sits on the white end table I’ve had for years—also from, you guessed it, Target. It’s very unlike me to be super matchy-matchy, but I just love the look of ball lamps and they’re the only kind I have in my home. We’ll see how long it lasts!

apartment living room ideas

apartment living room ideas

One thing my coffee table is never devoid of is books. I have always loved and collected books, and think they are such a fun way to bring personality and color into a space. Currently on the bottom of my coffee table, I have a collector’s edition of To Kill a Mockingbird (my favorite book in the classic American canon), The Kennedys: A Portrait of a Family (which used to be my grandparents), Vanity Fair Portraits, Audrey Hepburn Treasures, Influence (no shame, hah!), All in Good Taste (a gift from Monica!), Lee, and In the Company of Women (which I picked up at work team building event) on display. On the top of my coffee table, I have Gray Malin’s Beaches (a Christmas gift from my BFF Molly!), Slim Aaron’s Once Upon a Time, and Emily Giffin’s latest title, All We Ever Wanted.

The gold and white vase that sits top the latter has become increasingly special to me as time as passed. I picked it up at the Rent the Runway x Birchbox collaboration that used to be in Georgetown back in November 2015, the day before my 25th birthday. Molly and I had an awesome day bopping around the neighborhood and treating ourselves to Georgetown cupcakes, and now whenever I look at that vase, I think of that special day and remember how important it is to treat ourselves from time to time.

apartment living room ideas

I’ll talk more about the objects on the upper part of this simple white x mirrored Target tray I picked up years ago in second, but on the bottom left are the flamingo coasters I recently picked up in New Orleans and on the right is a fun bottle opener my sisters gave me for Christmas, which can also be seen in this post.

apartment living room ideas

There is nothing more relaxing to me than coming home after a long day of work and lighting a good candle. In the summer, I burn mostly citrus scents. In the fall, I love flavors like apple cinnamon or pumpkin spice—basic, I know. In the winter, I cannot get enough of anything that smells like a Christmas tree!

On my recent trip to Charleston, I stocked up on Candlefish candles, as shown above. If you’re curious, you can read more about Candlefish here. When I don’t have a Candlefish one on hand, I am a big fan of the three-wick Bath & Body Works candles or a local farmer’s market find.

apartment living room ideas

apartment living room ideas

Lately, I’ve been really trying to incorporate some of my more cherished belongings into my apartment instead of keeping them locked away in a closet at my parent’s house. Over Thanksgiving when I was cleaning out my room there, I rediscovered the graduation gift my great aunt (my grandma’s sister) gave me for high school graduation—the above dish my maternal great grandparents were given for their 50th wedding anniversary in the 1970s. They were my grandma’s parents, and their last name was Teal, which is my middle name—hence the name of this blog. Because I am the only one of my grandma’s eight grandchildren who carries the Teal name, she gifted me her Teal family China, which like this dish, is glass with a gold rim.

You’ll note on this dish, much of the gold has rubbed off, which my great aunt made special care to note when she gifted it to me—the lesson being to always use your good stuff. While on a normal day, I keep matchbooks in it on my coffee table, I do use is to hold chips or crackers when I’m hosting a party. Don’t worry, I hand wash it after!

apartment living room ideas

apartment living room ideas

apartment living room ideas

On my television stand, I have a framed picture of my grandparents at their wedding in 1951. I love that they are using champagne goblets instead of glasses, and it’s just such a happy photo to have around. My dad eventually inherited similar champagne goblets my grandparents owned, and I love looking at them in my parent’s China cabinet!

I bring up this photo because on the wall adjacent to my television stand, I have two of my grandparent’s paintings hanging. I told this story when I first shared my living area, but I’ll tell it again for you new readers as these are probably my favorite—and most meaningful—possessions in my apartment.

My grandfather brought these paintings home from one of his tours of duty during the Vietnam War, and they hung in a stairwell at my grandparents house. When I was a little girl, I used to stare at these for hours trying to figure out how the mountain turned into the volcano, not realizing they were two different scenes. Eventually, my grandparents replaced these paintings with three smaller Parisian paintings, and I didn’t see these scenes for years.

After my grandparents passed away, my Dad asked me and my sisters if there was anything we wanted from their house. These paintings were the only thing I wanted—and since my grandparents were children of the Depression and thus had hoarder tendencies, it took him quite a while to find them. I also didn’t know whether or not they had been spoken for by one of their other six children or 20 grandchildren. But, on my 24th birthday, my Dad wrapped them up for me as “one last gift from Nana and Pop-Pop.” I’ve loved having these as a prime spot in my apartment, and will definitely be displaying these prominently in my new home.

apartment living room ideas

I’ve always had my eye on this beautiful Britt Bass Turner Navy Geo Print, so when I had this awkward wall that’s very visible when you’re sitting on the couch and is basically just my thermostat and hot water heater, I decided it’d be the perfect fit. I purchased it in the 20×24″ size with the frosted gold metal frame and am so happy with how it turned out.

apartment living room ideas

apartment living room ideas

I’ll pop back in to share my bedroom soon, but, in the interim, if you have any questions about where I purchased something, please don’t hesitate to reach out: katie@atouchofteal.com! x

// photos by Reema Desai Boldes

Leave a Comment

10 Comments

  1. WOW first of all I love that floor lamp! How unique is that and also I just absolutely adore your wall! The place looks great so far!

    Published 8.1.18
    Reply
    • Katie wrote:

      Thank you so much, Ellen!

      Published 8.5.18
      Reply
  2. Jillian wrote:

    I absolutely love your couch and what you did with your space! Honestly, I think the accent wall is perfect how it is. I love to follow the motto “less is more.” Good luck with your move!

    Published 8.1.18
    Reply
    • Katie wrote:

      Thank you so much — agreed re: less is more, so true! x

      Published 8.5.18
      Reply
  3. Elizabeth Seal wrote:

    Ahh such a gorgeous space, I adore the watercolour wallpaper and dining chairs! You have an amazing eye for design 😀 xx

    elizabeth ♡ ”Ice Cream” whispers Clara
    (I would love to follow each other on bloglovin if you like :D)

    Published 8.1.18
    Reply
    • Katie wrote:

      Thank you so much!

      Published 8.5.18
      Reply
  4. wow, your apartment is so chic and personal. I love all the personal touches like the photo of your grandparents combined with the super chic artwork on the walls. nice work making it all come together!

    Published 8.2.18
    Reply
    • Katie wrote:

      Thank you so much! I love to incorporate my things with meaningful things! x

      Published 8.5.18
      Reply
  5. This room is absolutely dreamy! I love how sophisticated it looks, but it’s still got a great casual vibe.
    I’m tearing up right now thinking about your grandparents. My grandparents also had an amazing painting in their hallway that they got when they lived in Japan during the Vietnam war. I was always staring at it! I wish I would have gotten it after they passed away, like you did. That is just so special and something that will remind you of them every day! I totally love mixing the old with the new, and I think your place does an amazing job of that!

    Published 8.4.18
    Reply
    • Katie wrote:

      Thank you so much! Aw—I am so glad you have the memory of their painting, too! Just goes to show that some of our experiences are universal.

      Published 8.5.18
      Reply