Decorating, Design, Final Reveal, Home Decor, Interior Design, Living Room, Online Shopping, Project, Renovation
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The 70’s Flat – Open Plan Living Space – Final Reveal

Open Plan Living Room

Hello hello – how is everyone? Slowly adjusting to the new norm? No, me neither really. However, I tried my best today to do what I normally do and write up a post for the blog. Another final reveal from the 70’s apartment project to be precise, purely as an attempt to provide some kind of distraction for a few minutes. Today it’s the open plan living room. Let’s start with a before photo as taken by the estate agent:

70's flat before

Before – February 2019

As you can see it’s a rather lovely, big room with ample space for a seating area, dining table and small home office. The small room behind the sofa is where the kitchen is, which if you’ve missed that, I recommend that you quickly catch up over here.

A bit of background about this project; Mr J, the homeowner, contacted me as the decorators were already in prepping the rooms to be painted. No pressure then. I did advise Mr J that he’d jumped several guns already by choosing to decorate before he knew what he was doing with the the rooms. None of the big messy works were done (first fix, kitchen rip out, bathroom rip out), but he was giddy as a kipper and wanted paint on the walls. So I did my job and after a two hour consultation, we selected colours for the living space, master bedroom (still to come) and the guest bedroom (which I posted a few weeks ago, you can see that here).

Dulux 90bg08112

Living Room Colour – 90BG 08/112

In my experience, paint colours is one the last things I confirm. I start with an idea in my head of what colour I want to work with, then I design a room, then I spend time honing in on the exact shade, one that will provide the best backdrop to the overall design. There are literally millions of paint colours to choose, which gives you so much flexibility. So instead of trying to match a sofa, tiles, carpets etc. to your wall, try working the other way around. It’s way easier.

Another thing that made this project difficult is that Mr J didn’t own one single piece of anything for his new flat. He moved into his new place with clothes, an Ikea Lack side table, some interiors mags and not a lot else. So not only did he need to rip out, refurb and redecorate, he also needed to buy absolutely everything; dinner sets, glassware, cutlery, bedding… all the other bits and bobs that make a home. So at this point, I had no idea what he wanted to do with this space or what was going in it, all I knew was that he wanted his living room dark blue.

The Living Room – February 2020

Luckily, I had an inkling that Mr J might need more help than just paint colours during our first meet, so I selected a blue that I was confident would work with 70’s design. And when I say 70’s design, I mean, warm-toned woods, teak, oranges and mustards…. all the things I had in mind for this space on my first visit. When I walk into a room, sometimes, I have this weird intuition, where I kind of know how the room could look, a bit like ‘Spidey-sense’, but with less lycra.

It took a little while to get Mr J fully on board with the 70’s vibe as he was drawn to more “glam” interiors and pieces more suited to period properties. But I explained how putting that in here, might feel a little contrived and just “off”. Authenticity is key to make good design work, there’s nothing worse than seeing a look simply cut and paste from one setting into another without any regard to context.

So we did.

I worked with Mr J for just over a year and it was brilliant watching his confidence grow and his style develop as time passed. Suggestions I made towards the end of the project, I know hands down, would have had a flat out “No” at the beginning.  The more we worked together, the more open to ideas and suggestions Mr J became. Always keen to explain why ideas would and wouldn’t work, my aim is always to empower people to take charge of their own spaces at home. Not to dictate, but offer guidance and reasoning behind design decisions.

We were limited with what sofas we could get in here, physically I mean, as it needed to make its way up two flights of stairs. Mr J went rogue and purchased the Scott 3 seater from MADE, but alas it didn’t make it and was promptly returned. So the 2.5 seater is was.

A reflection

The solid walnut panelling was a project splurge for sure, but we both agreed that the seating area needed a little extra and the additional £1.6k (ish) took this living space from really nice to really WOW. There were more cost effective ways to get this look for sure and I did offer up several, but Mr J fell for the look of solid walnut which had greater grain and tone variation which he felt was worth the cost.

The solid walnut batons were fixed to boards, so if Mr J ever does decide to move, he can unscrew them from the wall and take them with him to his new pad. It’s a very recognisable mid-century design statement, but also timeless, something that works as well in period properties as it does in mid-century and modern day homes. If you’re a fan of the beauty of solid wood (like Mr J and I) then a feature like this is an excellent investment that will be with you for years to come.

As was the Eames Lounge chair. Not genuine, but a really good quality Rosewood and Black Leather replica from Iconic Interiors. Mr J had always dreamt about owning one of these and spent several hours researching the best options out there taking into account the overall quality and his budget.

Eames Lounge Chair

Whilst Mr J got on with the Eames, I was using my time to source a vintage sideboard to sit beneath the window. I wanted something from the 70’s, Mr J was hankering for something more glam again, but I twisted his arm with this vintage, six foot long, Stonehill sideboard from eBay which was a complete steal at less than £200. He was unsure at first, but as soon as it arrived, he loved it. And now it’s absolutely full of booze, so definitely doing its job.

Spot me in the lamp reflection 🙂

The windows were dressed in simple thermal roller blinds to help combat a cold spot within the bay, and we added Purlfrost window film along the bottom section of the windows to offer privacy without blocking light.

70's flat before


After – view into the dining area

Let’s talk about lighting…. I would have liked to have done more with wired in wall lights, adding and updating sockets, but alas, the whole decorate first, design after didn’t allow much wiggle room. I did however manage to save this room from rows of down-lights which I found out were due to be wired in the day after my initial colour consult. As soon as this bombshell was dropped, my big size 3s barged in with a big fat “no to those” and a suggestion that feature pendants were a much better idea to help zone this large open plan space. So glad Mr J agreed to that.

The small but perfectly formed dining area seats four with the kick ass chrome sleigh leg dining chairs adding some rusty orange loveliness against that blue wall.

One of the agreements of buying the flat was that the living space was not allowed hard floors as noise transfer to the floor below was an issue. So carpets it was. Mr J had a thing about furniture marks on the carpet, so an Ikea cowhide was added to protect it.

70's flat before


The ugly double doors leading into the living space were given an upgrade. Mr J really wanted a Crittall style room divide, but budget didn’t allow. So we had the original doors reglazed with clear glass, painted the existing door frames black, rehung the door so it opened the other way and added black hinges and a new black handle.

You can also see into the kitchen here, another gentle nudge to check out the kitchen final reveal blog post again.

And now

Mr J sometimes works from home, so it was important to give him a designated home office space, one that was tucked away out of sight of the main living area. You can also see a little hint of the hallway through the doors. What were once a quite unattractive feature are now pretty frickin cool provding a great link between the monochrome hallway and blue open plan living room. I need to get some better photos of this area, which I will do when I go back to shoot the hallway (whenever that will be!?)

So that’s the living room for you. I’m sure I will have missed something as there’ a lot that’s gone into this room. In fact, there are several areas I didn’t manage to get pics of, so will share more as and when.

But for today, I’m pooped after writing all of that, so that’s your lot. I really hope you like how it’s turned out!? Mr J does, so much so he wrote me this bloody lovely review on Houzz 🙂

“I haven’t worked with an interior designer before, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. However since working with Karen, starting in March, she continues to impress me with her amazing ideas (which are on a limited budget by the way).
Karen is an absolute joy to work with – Her communication skills are excellent, always clear and quick to respond be it over the phone, email, instagram, pinterest etc – Never leaving a question unanswered.
I am absolutely thrilled with the work Karen has done for me so far. The use of colour and pattern, careful thought into proportions, design details are all very apparent to me and people who visit my home. Karen also has a great practical mind in terms of placement of furniture and the non-move-able stuff like dishwashers, boilers, storage space etc. Karen is also highly adaptable in terms of styles – She knows how to nail everything, without necessarily being a fan of it herself.
I can honestly say I wouldn’t change anything regarding my dealings with Karen, she has very clearly surpassed all my expectations. A few bonuses I should point out that I didn’t necessarily expect – Karen had lots of very significant trade discounts, a set of used and trusted trades people (All of which have proved to be very good for me) Karen is good fun to work with too! – I always look forward to the next appointment or call.”

Thanks so much Mr J… and stay well everyone.


  1. Marie says

    I love how the blue changes with the light in the office corner. And that dining table, oh my !! As always, it’s very inspirational ! I love it.

  2. Jill says

    It must be lovely to get reviews like that after all the hard work. My favourite part is the wood panelling, it makes such a difference to the room, can I ask what you considered as a cheaper version of the walnut?

    • Jo BW says

      WOW, what a room and review! Thoroughly well deserved Karen 👏👏

  3. Harry says

    Amazing transformation! I was finding it hard to envision how the dark blue would work but it does perfectly! Especially love the wood paneling, I would like something similar myself but it is a large investment.

    The large vintage side table from ebay was a steal! Did you have to do any restoration on it?

  4. Anonymous says

    Wow what a lovely room you have created for Mr J. I love the walnut panelling and how you have zoned the room. Really clever. Thank you for cheering me up on this corona tuesday! Can’t wait to see the rest..

  5. Caroline Bayly says

    Simply stunning Karen and such a lovely letter from your client. I always look forward to your updates and your sense of humour makes me smile so much to.
    You have great ideas , love those doors a real transformation and shows we can work with what we already have if we just take a chance (or know what you are doing, in your case) thanks lovely lady 🤩

  6. That would panel with the blue is everything. As always, I enjoy reading about the process just as much as seeing the final photos (and I love how proud you are of our clients!).

  7. Annnd you can tell who’s working from home on a keyboard they don’t normally use. So many typos – sorry!

  8. Lokonida says

    Super beautiful, I like the blue color, I wish you can design my house like that. Nice ❤❤

  9. I have literally been waiting for this. It looks fab, I love the doors, I know you can’t beat black but wow, don’t they look awesome. He’d better not get a girlfriend now hes got a fancy pad. The paneling is a nice touch in the absence of a wooden floor – I would have ignored the rules and got a massive rug 😉

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