Steve’s Sophisticated Living Room Mood Board

Tis the season for mood-board-making.  Must be.  I have been able to peek into dozens of homes recently and help their owners design a variety of different spaces.  Most recently, I finished designing a freshened up living room for Steve.  My first male client!  Of course, he (and his space) was referred to me by his sweet girlfriend, Gina.  Here’s what she said:

Hi Julia,  

I’ve been following your blog since your before/after was featured in Design Sponge and fell in LOVE with the great work you’ve done on your new home. My boyfriend needs your help. We are in a long distance relationship. I live in nyc and he’s in Cleveland (we met thru scheming friends who set us up). He just moved into a new place that was recently built and is nice inside, he just doesn’t have much stuff, so it’s pretty empty. I showed home your site and he agrees that your mood boards are fantastic. Maybe we could do a couple…one for the living room and another for the bedroom. I’m here this weekend and am going to take some pictures and maybe even a video so you can get a sense of the space.

Help, please!

Made a video, they did:
And they sent over a few stills, too.

When making mood boards, we talk budget and layout, too–which is why my mood boards look a little wonky sometimes.  The pieces are laid out in a general area they will be in my client’s room–so they can visually see how everything will come together.  Here’s how Steve’s space panned out:

After I piece together the whole room, I talk my client through number by number and send links to the products and discuss why it works in the space, where it should go, or where to find something similar.

Here’s how Steve’s mood board breaks down (along with all the links for you guys, too!)

Designing this living room, I definitely wanted things to feel masculine, but also designed and NOT like a man-cave. Here’s what I’m thinking:

1. A new, smaller sectional. It also has better form which makes it look more sophisticated. I would also recommend pulling it away from the window wall so it floats in the center of the room allowing lots of walking room around the whole thing. And room for curtains, but we’ll get there. For the upholstery, I love the linen blend in “gravel” pictured here.

2. Pillows are going to add a lot of color and personality to your new sofa. If you don’t go with these exact ones, look for pillows with hints of yellow, green, blues and grays. From left to right, pillows found here, here, here and here.

3. On this side of the sectional (nearest the window), this great floor lamp will keep thing bright at night.

4. Another reason I wanted to move the sectional away from the wall is so we could create a place to drop things and check yourself before you head out the door. Move the white chest, that is currently on the other side of the room, over here and hang a mirror like this one over it.

5. This coffee table is chunky, warm and clean-lined. Perfect for serving drinks or food and even to prop your feet up.

6. Ah, an area rug. An area rug will do wonders for this room. I’d spring for an 8×10 for your space. I love the color and design of this one. It feels mature and grounded and will compliment the other accessories in the room well.

7. Curtains! Steve, you need curtains. A lot of them actually. I chose simple white curtains to not weigh down your gorgeous, airy feel you have going on. I’d get a set (or two!) for each side of the windows. Pair them with an oil-rubbed bronze or black curtain rod hung as high as you can get it to help your ceilings feel even larger.

8. House plants are a great way to liven up a room. Put a large one, like this, near the corner of the windows and you’ll be golden.

9. Art is great, especially when grouped together. I would suggest putting what you currently having hanging where your new mirror will go paired with the piece above your dining table and invest in 4 or 5 pieces to hang on the wall where the television is. I like these ones.
Map print found here,  vintage monogram (maybe get a “P” for your last name!) found here, rabbit found here, eye chart found here,  and water print found here (you can always frame your own, too!).

10. This chair placed opposite the windows (and the “L” part of the sectional will complete your seating circle. Plus, I love the pop of color it adds.

11. I gave your chair its own, smaller end table since it might be a distance away from the large one. Plus, it’s a perfect place to stack magazines.

12. It’s also a good idea to get another floor lamp, like this one,  for the chair. It will balance out the other floor lamp on the opposite side of the room and balance the light.

13. On the wall where the white chest currently is, I’d love to see some shelves like these. You mentioned shelves in your video and there are tons of options out there. I chose these because the could cover the whole wall and they have a modern industrial feel to them. Also, they come in a variety of different widths, so you can find the one that is right for your wall.

14. If you are going to have a shelving unit, don’t just fill it with junk. Mix and match framed photos, books, and any collection you might have. And also fill it in with some nicer decor items, too. Like these from left to right found here, here, here, and here.

15. Lastly, a small end table and a pop-of-color lamp for the other side of the couch.

So, what do you think?  Even though it was designed with a man in mind, I am craving the earthy vibe in my own space–which is pretty typical every time I do a mood board.  Is there a room in your home begging for some help? Send photos and your dilemma to and let’s get started. Check out our Mood Boards page for more info.

Psst.  It’s the last day to enter the giveaway!!


  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Chris loves Julia

    The girlfriend hated the current couch, and I am unsure of Steve’s feelings on it. So I gave them another option in case they decide to sell the current one and spring for a new one. But, you’re right–he could keep it and it would still fit in swimmingly. Get well, soon, new friend!

  • Reply December 31, 2012


    Loving it! Although I would say he could keep the couch- it’s gonna look great with all the new pieces!
    I’m new to your site and I have to tell you- I spent like three hours today under a blanket (I have a fever, poor me!) going back through the archives. You and your hubby have done some seriously amazing work with your house! Also, your daughter is so cute, and being Swedish I looove her name :-)

  • Reply December 31, 2012


    What a great mood board! I think it is a perfectly gender-neutral room. It isn’t like I’M A MAN and I like man things, which isn’t too inviting anyways. Hopefully his girlfriend will fly out to help him pick out these things. And SO true….every window needs a window treatment! Especially in a man’s place. It makes it more homey.

  • Reply December 31, 2012


    i love this mood board! perfect for a dude, thought i’d live in that room too. love the rug and the shelving unit especially

  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Leslie Price

    Just wanted to say thank you for including my David Hicks pillow in your mood board! :)
    All the best,

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