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Before & After: A Photo Editor's Shared Living Space

Lonny's Genevieve Garruppo shares her tactics for creating a room that satisfies the aesthetic demands of a motley crew

Garruppo's eclectic-modern living room features a floor lamp by West Elm and printed throw pillows from Alt for Living.
Garruppo's eclectic-modern living room features a floor lamp by West Elm and printed throw pillows from Alt for Living.
Wallpaper peeks out through French doors looking into the bedroom.
Wallpaper peeks out through French doors looking into the bedroom.

I’ve spent most of my adult life living with roommates. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the course of 6 apartments in 5 states, it’s that compromise comes with the territory of split rent and shared furniture. I have two great roommates in my current Brooklyn home: my younger sister, Christina, a chef at Roberta’s, and my friend Alexandra, a fashion editor. Our unique aesthetics and incredibly busy schedules have meant that for most of our tenure in this place, the living room has been a hodgepodge of mismatched items that place function over form. All that changed, of course, with two little words uttered at Lonny HQ: editor makeovers. Suddenly my apartment was rife with design opportunity, as well as plenty of challenges.

Genevieve Makeover TK
The living room is the perfect place to entertain—or just relax.
The living room is the perfect place to entertain—or just relax.

In addition to appeasing the tastes of two sophisticated housemates, making over this space forced me to define my own personal style. In the past, I’d found that I was drawn to simple, Scandinavian designs, but as I dug through the Lonny archives, I found myself picking out Japanese influences, and rooms with a sort of ski lodge vibe. Of course, as I began to pick out pieces for the room, I realized that seamlessly incorporating our existing furniture dictated an undeniably eclectic look. I also had two non-negotiable pieces: a neutral sofa, which belongs to Alex, and a vintage kimono given to me by my mother that I’d been dying to display.

Another necessity, good lighting, led to a collection of gold accents. West Elm’s Overarching floor lamp in brass was the perfect solution to my harsh recessed lights, and gives the illusion of a suspended pendant fixture. The rest of my metal hardware followed suit. The task lamp from Ikea, the bar cart from Target, and the frames of my vintage prints all have a warm gold tone. From there, my colors evolved—shades of blue, earth tones, and pops of red and emerald—and unexpected textures took shape. I combined the tactile coziness of a new Ikea sheepskin with the smooth stone of a cylindrical CB2 side table. It was a fun challenge to mix the pieces that we had with items that we really needed.

Because my sister is a chef, we entertain almost weekly. (In fact, I’ve already hosted a pizza party to celebrate the new digs.) The coffee table had to be large enough for multiple people to set small plates and drinks down, but compact enough for our standard New York City–sized space. All Modern’s Teresa table has plentiful surface area, but a low profile, and the white lacquer top is a clean canvas to show off the earth tone table runner from Target. To top it off, an Angenäm bowl from Ikea holds hand-painted antlers, a gift from a friend, which touch on my original Nordic inspiration. 

Eclectic layers define the editor's worldly aesthetic.
Eclectic layers define the editor's worldly aesthetic.
Genevieve Makeover

Looking at my recent bedroom makeover, it’s clear that I’m a fan of ornate furniture shapes, but in the living room I wanted the accessories to be the center of attention. Our preexisting bookshelf is now dressed up with a playful Benjamin Franklin bust from Cire Trudon, Ikea’s Angenäm vase, and my adopted fish Lyla. The clean-lined West Elm Terra bench took the the bookshelf’s old spot, visually dividing the living room from the dining area without creating a harsh separation. The Target bar cart holds everything I need, including a Lagavulin 16 year scotch and some beautiful barware from Aero. Luckily, our new room is the perfect spot to kick back with a cocktail, whether entertaining a crowd of magazine editors and rowdy cooks, or just three exhausted roommates at the end of a long makeover day.

A vintage kimono takes pride of place behind the couch.
A vintage kimono takes pride of place behind the couch.

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