February 11, 2019

The EJP Abode | A bohemian mid-century living room.

When we first moved into The EJP Abode, the first room we set about tackling was the living room. Having come from previously furnished apartments, we didn’t have any furniture and quickly set about kitting out the room with whatever we could. At the time, I quite liked our quick set up. However, as time went on, it still felt typically rented and much more like our younger selves. Thanks to a wide open-plan space, the layout was awkward and we didn’t really know how to get it right with the furniture we had.

Getting your home ‘you’ takes time. The only way you know what works is by living in it. I firmly believe that you need at least a year to settle in and really get a space right. At the back end of last year, we decided that we needed to have another go. Having previously worked with west elm on my compact office makeover, I thought they’d be the perfect match for working on the revamp, so I got in touch to see if they’d be interested in collaborating again.

Full disclosure: some products in this post are gifted but will be marked as such with an asterix*.

Bohemian living room corner with mid-century swivel chair and artwork

JJP and I have similar yet sometimes differing styles; I tend to veer down a more boho look, where he’d rather keep things as Erno Goldfinger as possible. We’re quite good at meeting in the middle, but I’ll admit that I often just order things without asking to get the ‘more is more’ look that I love. It can be difficult to merge our mid-century and bohemian style, as well as incorporating the eclectic art that we’ve collected over the years but I think we’ve nailed the contrasting looks in our living room makeover.

If I want to prove anything, it’s that you can make a white shell different. You don’t have to settle for nothing on the walls. There are so many ways that you can create textures through furniture and textiles. The EJP living room incorporates an eclectic mix of styles drawn together with burnt orange, dusty pink, rattan and brass detailing. It’s a labour of love and I guess will always be a slight work in progress. The last six months has demonstrated that. Without further ado…

The Sofas.

Oh, hello to the holy grail of sofas. Dusty pink distressed velvet, a mid-century frame and simple solid wood legs. Only £699. What? Yes, only £699. This one is competing with all of those other sofa companies. West elm might not be the first place you think of when it comes to decking out your rented pad but it’s furniture options are changing. Perfect for small spaces, this sofa has removable arms and folds down flat for easy transportation. If you have tricky access points, as we do, this is literally the dream. It clips into place and voila. Soft to touch, firm and comfortable; I’m head over heels with it and have been pretty much telling everyone I know about it ever since it arrived. We would certainly think about adding the matching chair if we ever moved anywhere bigger.

Our second sofa is a vintage piece purchased from eBay. Yeah, granted, it’s probably meant to be for a conservatory but there was something about this rattan piece that I just wanted to include it in our living room. It’s got a sixties shape and looks great surrounded with plants. Surprisingly, it’s also quite comfortable. At some point, I’d like to spray paint the legs black to modernise it a little more.

Get the look:

west elm Auburn Velvet Sofa, £699*

Vintage rattan sofa, see eBay or your local British Heart Foundation for similar.

Bohemian living room corner with mid-century swivel chair and artwork

The Chair.

I’ll admit it, I’ve got a thing for swivel chairs. When I saw the Luther chair from west elm, I couldn’t get it out of my head. Mad Men set designers, eat your heart out. The wood panelling on the outside makes a real statement and justifies the slightly higher price tag. This is without a doubt my favourite piece in the room. It’s also super comfortable; you can cross your legs in it and swivel from side to side. What more could you want from a chair? I guess just the perfect Bella Freud cushion to pop on it? TICK. I’m already dreaming of a bigger lounge to fit in another of these bad boys.

Get the look:

west elm Luther Swivel Chair, £699*

Bella Freud 1970 Cushion, £180

west elm Wood Frame Ledge Mirror, £299

The Mural.

While we didn’t want to change the entirety of the wall colour in the living room, we did want to add something a little special to the room in the form of a mural. As lovers of leopard print, I had the idea to create a focal point above the fireplace – yes, that’s right, it’s only a bloody leopard pattern circle. It’s a lot easier than it looks and simply involved dotting paint around and creating abstract shapes and lines. Great for beginners. As I’m an Earthborn Claymate this year (part of a paid campaign), I’m working hard to show you what you can do as a renter to update your home. This can easily be painted back to white when we leave the rented abode, but still gives enough of a creative touch for while we’re enjoying our time here. I finished the look with a vintage-style rattan mirror from La Redoute to add texture as well as a number of my favourite things to add layers to the fireplace vignette.

Get the look:

Earthborn Claypaint in Freckle, Can Can and Dark Cocoa* 

La Redoute NOGU Sunburst Mirror, £80

The Artwork.

We’ve collected artwork for a really long time. Probably for the last ten years. I wanted to get a little bit more of a grown-up look for the art on this occasion though so ended up swapping some more film photos in for some of the quote artworks etc etc. I also framed everything in black frames to give more of a cohesive and slick look.

The star of the show is the orange poster from Surface View*. Tying in the orange accents of the room, the poster is the ideal ode to the seventies. Surface View are a recent discovery and have an amazing selection of old school posters, canvas and framed prints.

Get the look:

Surface View RA British Sculptors Poster, £135

If you have any questions about a specific piece, please ask. There’s too much to individually mention here but you’ll likely find a lot of the pieces in my guide to buying art. My favourite places to shop are Print Club London, King & McGaw, Concepcion Studios and Unlimited Shop.

The Lighting. 

Never underestimate the power of good lighting. Incorporating more than one light source into your room setup helps to create a mood. As we have a few little corner areas in the living room, each area also has a lamp. In the evenings, we tend to put on the table lamps as opposed to the main ceiling light. These create a warmer glow in the room instead of a harsh light – it’s perfect when accompanied by some soft candlelight.

Another plus point for adding lighting is how it helps to zone a room. Just look at how this sphere light from west elm adds some extra va-va-voom to the mid-century cabinet. We love whacking on some vinyl in the evening, and when accompanied by the glow of this lamp, it’s a pretty seedy ambience.

Get the look:

west elm Nova Table Lamp, £129.95 (similar item*)

H&M Stoneware Lamp Base, £49.99

Vintage rattan side table, see your local charity shop!

west elm Mid-Century Cabinet, £499*

The Bar Cart

A bar cart has always been of huge importance to us here at the EJP Abode. We love entertaining so having a home for our cocktail making equipment is pretty high on our priority list. This particular bar cart is compact and fits perfectly into a strange corner of the room while still looking glamorous and a tad whimsical. The graphic marble top brings something a little different to the room and upscales it in terms of finishes. It’s definitely a forever piece and I can’t wait to move it from home to home along with us.

Get the look:

west elm Roar + Rabbit Bar Cart, £499*

west elm Deco Barware Collection, £79.00*

The Soft Furnishings.

Oh, how I love a soft furnishing. Every time a new cushion makes its way into our home, I think JJP dies a little inside. A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do though. In the living room, we’ve focused on layering rugs to create different textures against the wooden floor. West elm’s Souk rug is soft and elegant underfoot and creates a much needed balance of colours in the room. Sidenote: it does massively malt for a good few months so don’t buy it if you can’t handle a bit of extra fluff around the house while it settles in. I paired it with that French Connection rug for a pop of pink to bring out the colour of the sofa.

On the cushion front, there’s a real mix. I picked up a lot of the cushions seen on the rattan chair at a Jonathan Adler sample sale last year which really add some more neutral texture to the space, while the main sofa cushions are more focused on being squishy and comfortable. I’m always drawn to velvet and the pink patterned cushions using Abigail Ahern for Hillarys fabric are a personal favourite.

Get the look:

west elm Souk Wool Rug, from £199*

French Connection Small Poppy Rug, £50

H&M Zebra Cushions (similar here)

Pink patterned cushions created with Abigail Ahern for Hillarys fabric*

Christy Home Pink Velvet Cushions, £24*

H&M Jacquard Weave Blanket (similar here)

The Finishing Touches.

The finishing touches for me includes incorporating all of the things that I love to look at. Things that I’ve collected on trips away, books that I’ve enjoyed flicking through, random objects that I’ve picked up in the charity shop; it’s all the little things that bring me joy. We were lucky enough to have shelves incorporated into the living room when we moved in and this is certainly something that I’d love to bring with me anywhere we move to. I love being able to see all my trinkets, right down to the vinyl covers I adore.

Another important finishing touch for us was the blinds. We had some really shabby fabric blinds before and while they didn’t bother me too much at first, when we took them down, I realised how much the space changed without their input. I’d definitely recommend getting blinds installed if you’re in a position too. Hillarys blinds kindly offered to send me some samples for self-installation and I can confirm that the finish of the white wood slat blinds is everything. They’d normally do the whole installation process for you so get in touch if you fancy it.

To finish the reveal off, while I know that of this was our own home, there would still be so many ways to improve on the scheme, it certainly brings both JJP and my own personality front and centre – something that everyone should aspire to, right?! It’s a room that gives us a warm cosy hug when we come to sit in it and that’s all we can ask for in somewhere that isn’t our own.

Get the look:

White wooden blinds, Hillarys*

Fornasetti Candle, £140

Assorted plant pots from made.com, IKEA, Homebase, Charity shops, Sainsburys Home

Rattan magazine rack, Vintage

Bohemian living room corner with mid-century swivel chair and artwork
Bohemian living room corner with mid-century swivel chair and artwork

For more interior inspiration, colour clashing and general life admin, check out the rest of my blog. Follow me on InstagramPinterest and Twitter for more of the EJP in your life. 


  1. Looooove it! The sofa and that globe are my absolute faves! x

  2. Love this! I must say I’m more on JJP’s side with the mid-century style. But I’m pleasantly surprised to see how your “more is more” approach simply works. The space feels bigger and lived in. Is it London or a Santa Fe bungalow? ????✨ Also, the “Juan” print makes me laugh every time ????

    • Hah – I adore mid-century too. Some of my favourite schemes are. I just also like boho and the warmth that brings to the table. I think we’ve got the combo there as much as we can in a rented place though!

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Emma Jane Palin is a freelance art consultant, interior stylist and multi-award-winning blogger residing in Margate, UK. She has worked with various home and lifestyle brands not limited to West Elm, Apple, John Lewis, Habitat, MADE, Caran D'Ache + No.3 Gin. Emma is also a regular contributor to Hunker where she writes about design trends and interior advice.

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