Home Makeover: Our Living and Dining Room

Thank you so much for all your sweet notes about our home makeover! I’m really excited to share the final photos. As I’ve mentioned before, we were lucky enough to work with the fantastic Emily Henderson. Here are the before and afters of our living room, if you’d like to see…
Here are the photos of the empty apartment, when we moved in. (You can see the floor plan here, if you’d like.) The living room is nice and bright, and the kitchen and dining nook are off to the right.
Here’s the dining nook after Emily worked her magic!! It’s actually the first time we’ve had a dining room table (our old apartment didn’t have room, so we’d just eat at the coffee table) and it’s amazing and life-changing to have a place for family dinners and pancake breakfasts.
Alex LOVES the Clash, and he’s had this poster for a thousand years. To his great delight, Emily thought it was cool and hung it front and center! I also like fairy lights, so we strung some up instead of using lamps.
We’re psyched that the chairs are family-friendly—if a certain three-year-old spills spaghetti sauce (check) or wipe peanut-buttery hands on them (check), they just clean right off. :)
And Anton has his little Stokke high chair so he can join in, too.
FURNITURE: Oak dining table from Design Within Reach (now sold out), dining chairs from Design Within Reach, high chair from Stokke, side table from Canvas, blocks from Land of Nod. ACCESSORIES AND LIGHTING: String lights from One Forty Three, vintage candle holders from Monki Vintage etsy shop, white scallop vase from DwellStudio, mug from Canvas, small plant pot from NYC flower district (similar), rug from Design Within Reach.
Between the living and dining areas, this yellow console—which was the TV stand in our old apartment—now holds a bunch of trucks, planes, crayons and instruments. We also have bins scattered around the apartment for the boys’ toys, including this one from West Elm. It’s funny how even when you have a bigger bedroom where your kids can play, they still want to be in the main room where all the action is! It’s so sweet.
During one of our first phone calls, Emily asked what vibe we wanted our place to have, and I explained that our top priority was for things to feel comfortable—like a soft rug for playing with toys, and cozy chairs for watching movies and chatting with friends. And she totally gave us that—the sofa is comfy enough for naps, the chairs are super soft and ergonomic, and walking on the rug feels like a foot massage.
Here’s the room from the other direction. Emily had the great idea to install our own bookcase from the Container Store. The cool thing is, you can choose how far to space out the shelves if you want to leave room for photographs or a lamp, like Emily did here.
During this makeover, one of our goals was to get rid of our ratty old furniture and start fresh with some upgraded pieces we could cherish for the rest of our lives. So we figured we’d give away our shabby old glider, which is peppered with milk stains and crayon marks after three years of daily (and nightly) use. “Aw, I nursed both my babies in that chair,” I told Emily wistfully. “It means so much to me.” After sweetly listening to me absentmindedly wax on fifty times about how much I loved it, she ended up insisting that we work it into the room. We just love that chair so much! I have a suspicion that in a few decades, it will still be my favorite chair, like Marty Crane’s old armchair in Frasier.
Here’s the TV and art wall, which was really fun to put together. Although they’re not family photos, the prints feel so personal—from the Beatles and Rolling Stones photos that Alex adores to the car drawing that makes me think of my dad and brother’s car obsessions to the New York prints since we’ve now lived here for more than a decade. Here are all the prints: Deer bed photograph by Katherine Wolkoff (here’s the story behind it), Beatles photo from Sonic Editions, Rolling Stones photo from Sonic Editions, New York buildings by My Guide To, flower photo by Keri Herer, triangle print by Nan Lawson, car print by Hugo Guiness, indigo watercolor by Renee Ann, green-and-pink abstract painting from Leif, pink-and-purple abstract painting from DwellStudio, building collage was a gift from Danielle Krysa.
And here are the other credits, if you’re interested… FURNITURE: Sofa, coffee table, white chair and white side table from Design Within Reach, walnut TV cabinet from Room & Board, leather chair from DwellStudio, white side table from West Elm, wood and brass side table from West Elm, vintage Franco Albini rattan ottoman from Gallivanting Girls etsy shop, glider from Crate & Barrel. ACCESSORIES AND LIGHTING: Solid rug from ABC Home, colorful vintage rug from Fossik, branch floor lamp from Canvas, window treatments by Decorview, vintage Egyptian pillow from Loopy Mango, wooden desk lamp from Anthropologie, flying car photo by Matthew Porter, vintage copper bookends on bookshelf from Monki Vintage etsy shop, vintage gold lamp on bookshelf from Gallivanting Girls etsy shop, brass ball from Me & She etsy shop, geometric pillow from ABC Home, navy linen pillow from Canvas, white pillow from Canvas, pink stripe pillow from Anthropologie.
Thank you so much, Emily!!! It’s now such a beautiful place to come home every day. Looking forward to sharing the nursery tomorrow and the master bedroom on Thursday…Thank you so much for reading! xoxo

(Photos by the wonderful Ryan Liebe for Cup of Jo. Thanks to Emily’s senior designer Samantha Gluck and two awesome interns, Will and Alex. And huge thanks to Design Within Reach for partnering with us and helping with some of the furniture)

  1. Hi Jo, just stumbled upon your amazing post for your dining and living room. I really the wooden floor lamp, it looks very rustic! I hope the makeover still looks good in 2017?

  2. Bathtub Refinishing is a great way to improve the look and value of your home. Only if it is properly completed.

  3. Wish to have a such well decorated home!!!!!

  4. very weel done.i love it

  5. very nice photos, combination of airy and romantic environment.

  6. This is a very fantastic design and creative ideas for home decoration and ideas, i really like this designs.

  7. yp says...

    thanks for this post!

  8. Emily says...

    I love everything about this! What length of shelves did you use?

  9. Joanna, I love the blue/gray rug from ABC carpet – what kind is it/what material – I’m hoping to find something similar and am not sure what search terms to use, or what to ask for.

    Thank you!


  10. Modern living rooms have made a transition from a sterile feel where cleanliness and white couches were the priority, to rooms full of expression and character, a comfortable base to relax and enjoy your time.
    Living Room Renovations
    Bathroom Renovations

  11. Hello
    making home beautiful with house bars furniture is a innovative idea because home is the place where we live and we always in that thinking how can be it more and more beautiful. Love your blog really very nice post. I liked it very much. You have decorated your home very-well. Your house and every room are looking so nice that stick my eyes in your blog to see more and more.

  12. It looks great! I’m always surprised at what people with an eye for design can do…!!!!Princess Car Beds

  13. Beautiful home!

  14. Lovely! Maybe I missed it but what is the resource for the Union Jack print/framed flag? Many thanks!!

  15. Hey joanna,
    Found another interesting post from you. Transformation of empty house to a complete house could happened just because of your dedication and your interest towards it. Platform Ladders could be a perfect ladder for this kind of work.

  16. Find a roommate in everyone 1 click shows results on map dynamic filtering system room share extensive search criteria new rooms mailed to your inbox route plot for your house visit cnd much more… All for free!

  17. I can assure you that this is my favorite house ever posted in this feature.So beautiful and pleasant…I would love to know what paint colors you used on your walls…extension ladders

  18. I loved all of these posts. A lot of these things we have, but I got some really great ideas.
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  19. I realize you already have 223 comments saying how wonderful it looks, and it truly is fantastic! The funny thing is you pretty much have my dream-living room, my Pinterest pinboard pretty much has every piece there….I love it!!! and well it confirms that I was on the right track! So your living room may eventually be re-created in Montreal!!

  20. I realize you already have 223 comments saying how wonderful it looks, and it truly is fantastic! The funny thing is you pretty much have my dream-living room, my Pinterest pinboard pretty much has every piece there….I love it!!! and well it confirms that I was on the right track! So your living room may eventually be re-created in Montreal!!

  21. I haven’t been by the blog in a little while and GASPED when I scrolled down in this post and saw your dining nook. I had already pinned it, not realizing it was yours. It was like seeing an old friend, lol. Wonderful stuff!

  22. Design within reach??? What a misnomer — that stuff is expensive! Your home is beautiful though.

  23. Design within reach? Not within MY reach…that stuff is expensive! But your home does look amazing.

  24. I love your dining room and living room. Emily did a fantastic job providing a balance between adult savvy and kid friendly. So many sacrifice style because there’s kiddos in the mix. But, I’ve always believed you can have both! And Emily proves me right! It’s awesome!!

  25. Great apartment for NYC! Love the dining table chairs and will head on over to DWR to buy some after the new year. Perfect for my house.

    One comment that IS nice, whether you like it or not. You probably don’t knowingly want to glorify smoking to your kids. I doubt that you want them to equate smoking with being cool. If you think that I’m overreacting, okay, but do your research and my guess is that you’ll have that poster outta your house in a flash after you’ve read a couple of studies.

  26. everything is so wonderful! Wish I could fly Emily to Australia to help me style up my rooms haha! Just gorgeous – enjoy your apt!!

  27. I think this room is my favorite! Love a beautiful bedroom. What a lovely space to live!

  28. How about the deer bed picture? I am dying to purchase a large one on my own and can’t find it anywher!

  29. This looks AMAZING!! So inspirational and you must be absolutely delighted. Wow!!

  30. thank you for the answer!

  31. Very New York. Very, Woody Allen movie. Love!

  32. patty, emily said: “We used hooks for most of them (estimated the weight and then went well over) and screws with anchors on the heavier pieces.” our building is pretty relaxed about hanging art—i actually called the building manager before the makeover because of the bookshelf installation, and he was cool with it, amazingly. i know that other buildings can be much stricter. hope this helps!!

  33. So chic and homey! Lovely. Thanks for sharing these photos of your home. Also, you got the deer bed print … I’ve loved it since I first saw it on your blog in a photo of your friend’s flat in NYC. Enjoy.

  34. patty, sorry for the delay!! i’m going to email emily & her team right now! :) i’m not sure how they hung the art, but i’ll find out….

  35. Can anyone answer to me about art walls, please? Is there a way to hang pictures except drilling the wall for each one? I live in a rental apt with concrete walls, drilling so many holes would mean loosing my rental deposit. Joanna, how did you hang yours?

  36. Joanna, it looks very homey and inviting. Nice job. I love that this is space where the whole family is clearly welcome. Usually when I see designed homes, my first thought is “beautiful, but my kids would break/wreck that in 10 minutes”! lol!

    I don’t really understand the criticisms about where you chose to purchase or the costs. Obviously this is a public, for-profit blog and stores are going to work with you, in exchange for some good publicity. That’s not that hard to figure out. And, you have higher end taste in many, many things- clothes, furniture, etc. So be it! This is posted for inspiration. If others have the same budgets, buy the high end stuff. If budgets are tighter, take the inspiration and go to ikea, which has a similar modern/spare Scandinavian aesthetic for less. Of course Joanna’s appeal is that she’s approachable and “normal”. But, she’s also a highly successful and public personality, living in NYC for goodness sake. Clearly her budget is not the same as everyone’s! Good grief.

  37. Feels so lived-in modern and bright! Can’t wait to see what’s next with the bedrooms. :)

  38. Loving the photo of you and Emily both leaning on the couch! It seems to suggest the nice relationship you must have developed while working on this project.


  39. It looks so great! I’m so inspired! We’re working on choosing some furniture for our house now, so this is perfect timing. Great food for thought.

    Love that yellow TV stand turned toy storage.

  40. Looks lovely and sooo cosy! Was wondering where is Toby’s car from?

  41. Very nice!

    In case anyone is interested, the ottoman is a midcentury piece by Franco Albini (we have one, and I love it). You can also score them on eBay, sometimes!

  42. Wow, looks like a HOME :)

  43. i love the angled carpet over the straight carpet. so simply yet designy.

  44. Your home looks lovely! i like the dining nook best. What JEANS are you wearing? So cute!

  45. This is just beautiful. Your new home looks so light and airy and comfortable! Congratulations!

  46. the yellow console is a vintage find from jenny komenda (for our old apartment)—she is amazing at finding those things. and now there’s also anton’s jumper and play mat next to it, too; the place is covered with baby stuff!

  47. oh yes, the plants! the one by the TV is a ivy. i know nothing about plants and two of the little ferns have already died! we are trying our best to keep the other ones thriving:)

  48. thanks again for these comments—yes, this is a temporary rental apartment, but we wanted to get pieces we would keep forever. we are at the point in our lives—i’m almost 35 and alex is in his 40s, and we’ve both worked hard and saved forever—where we wanted to upgrade from our old used furniture, dirty rugs, and ikea stuff. so we decided to do it all at once with emily’s help! xo

  49. Nice nice room! So cozy and beautiful. Congratulations.

  50. the mug is from etsy, and the branch lamp was from canvas, and the english flag was actually bought on a trip alex took to england with his family decades ago!

  51. to answer some questions: the brass floor lamp and gold frame in the bookcase were both vintage finds from jenny komenda when she helped us with our last apartment. the paint is just the white paint that the apartment came with; it’s a nice bright white. we’re not allowed to paint since it’s a rental, but we like the basic white, thankfully! thanks!!

  52. thanks for these sweet comments! yes, DWR definitely helped us out with furniture, which was amazing since they were our #1 favorite retailer. There were other retailers who were eager to work with us in the same way because of the coverage from Cup of Jo, so we knew we could most likely choose what we liked and get a good deal. We felt so lucky about that. It wasn’t a traditional sponsored post because no company paid a fee for coverage and we were not beholden to anyone or anything except our own taste. i’m going to add a partnership credit at the end of the post to make this extra clear. DWR did mention it in their landing page about the project, but i’ll add another note in this post. it’s definitely a unique situation since i very rarely accept gifted products/discounts, as a blog policy. hope this makes sense!!

  53. Absolutely adore this! It’s so wonderful and comfy. Enjoy!

  54. Your home looks so great – and cozy – and not overly designed. I love it. Any chance you can share where your car photograph above the yellow console is from?

  55. that’s exactly the style we’re going for in our new place! a bit of vintage, a bit of midcentury modern (helllooo tv cabinet!), and bit of industrial, a bit personal, a lot of cozy, a bit of modern…

    when we close on the house i’m buying a blue velvet chesterfield and letting my inner design sense go from there :)

  56. Thanks for sharing your lovely home makeover! I’m wondering if you can tell us where that sweet little brass lamp near the blue chair is from (I didn’t notice it in the lighting/accessories list). Thank you!

  57. Thanks for sharing your lovely home makeover! I’m wondering if you can tell us where that sweet little brass lamp near the blue chair is from (I didn’t notice it in the lighting/accessories list). Thank you!

  58. wow, this is amazing! a perfect place in the perfect city, you’re so lucky!

  59. How cozy is that! I love everything from the string-lights, dining room table to the old chair with soul (people throw away too much these days).

    Can’t wait to see the other rooms :)

  60. How cozy is that! I love everything from the string-lights, dining room table to the old chair with soul (people throw away too much these days).

    Can’t wait to see the other rooms :)

  61. I think it isn´t a good idea to put that rug behind de dining room table, it´s very dificult to clean it. If the children are going to eat there the food will sure fly all over the dining room.

  62. This looks beautiful, what a lovely and homely vibe it has… and such a great use of space too x

  63. hi, i super love the new look, although i was really looking forward to some cool diY ideas and tips and tricks.

    this seems like a whole bunch of expensive furniture bought and arranged, like an ikea catalog, it’s beautiful but not affordable

  64. Beautiful home! It looks very cozy and comfy for the kids, but very stylish! Good job!

  65. MZ says...

    Marie Adamo, I was referring to E.M.s comment asking how two writers can afford these items. Very tactless and frankly, none of our business.

    Also the fact that some people were expecting a budget makeover is just plain silly. There are plenty of other blogs for that sort of thing.

  66. This is casual but sophisticated, so well done. Congrats :)
    I think some of the commenters need to remember that how much money someone makes or how they choose to spend it isn’t a very polite topic of conversation. Just because Joanna has chosen to share parts of her life publicly doesn’t mean every detail is our business. This look can be recreated at any budget level.

  67. Your apartment is looking really lovely – perfect for children and adults and I am beyond in love with that table.

    However, I’d like to say I’m a little disappointed that you didn’t disclose any sponsorship with DWR, and indeed that you chose to furnish your apartment with such expensive furniture in the first place. It’s not just one or two pieces but nearly all the furniture which is super expensive.

    The reason I love your blog is you seem to represent ‘normal’ women really well. If something is spendy, you used to say so and find a cheaper alternative. I loved your previous home makeover because there were so many tips and tricks and ways of achieving a ‘designed’ look at a budget price. In this apartment you have a ‘designed’ look because everything is at a designer price.

    If you paid for everything yourself then well done you, that’s fantastic. But if you got stuff for free/heavily discounted then it’s a bit contradictory since very few of your readership can relate with that, and yet you’ve achieved your success through being a relatable blogger.

  68. I really like this! Congratulations on an a great space :) I’ve been reading both this blog and Emily’s for quite a while, so it’s not a big surprise that a collaboration would turn out to my liking. But it’s still really inspiring.

    It’s obviously sponsored (there’s a whole page dedicated on dwr about the project so that’s a pretty big clue), which I don’t really have a problem with. But since there are official rules requiring that bloggers disclose that sponsorships are disclosed, it’s a bit odd that it isn’t outright stated here. Even though it’s clear if you read between the lines.

    That being said, I kind of think it’s ridiculous that bloggers have to disclose all sponsorship, but no other media really has to. I’m supposed to believe that characters on all kinds of shows “bing” things instead of google them, because in some alternate universe more than two people use bing…

  69. Amazing!! It doesn’t even look like the same place anymore. Love everything!!!

  70. It is a lovely place! I like so much Emily Henderson’s style! Great space!

  71. I love it and want to move in! Crazy good stuff. Bravo.

  72. Beautiful! Really looks so comfortable and lived in. I wanted to say that I think it’s a little rude that a few people seem to be demanding to know how much Joanna and Alex paid for their furniture! Maybe they’ve been saving up for a long time and now that they’re finally in an apartment they love, they decided to splurge a little. Nothing wrong with that in my book. Good for you – enjoy your new space!

  73. MZ I don’t think it’s “tactless” to ask if the post is sponsored or not. Joanna usually lets us know whether it is, so it seems she is also aware of the importance of it. People are being polite and inquisitive and I’m sure Joanna likes feedback- she is obviously writing for an audience and not just herself. If you don’t care to know than just enjoy the post and move on. But there are guidelines because other readers do care.

  74. Your place looks so fresh and clean, Joanna. Congrats – LOVE that rug from Fossik. AMAZING!
    What jeans are you wearing – so cute!

  75. MZ says...

    I love how it turned out!

    What I don’t love are you blog commenters who are tactless enough to question whether or not Joanna can “afford” the pieces here. It also bugs me that people are asking if you got discounts on any of the furniture/discounts or making a big deal on whether or not these types of posts are sponsored! You don’t seem like first-time readers so isn’t it OBVIOUS that Joanna does have some sponsored posts??

    It’s one of the reasons she’s able to blog full time! And who cares if there are sponsored posts? As another commenter said, nobody is forcing anyone to buy anything!

  76. Thanks for sharing your home! Lovely decor, really impressed with Emily’s talent of making it livable, comfy, and chic (though a healthy budget doesn’t hurt). Trying to balance this myself with a 5-month old and keep from making our NY apt a giant playpen…

  77. Thanks for sharing your home! Lovely decor, really impressed with Emily’s talent of making it livable, comfy, and chic (though a healthy budget doesn’t hurt). Trying to balance this myself with a 5-month old and keep from making our NY apt a giant playpen…

  78. LOVE YOUR NEW APARTMENT! It’s so photogenic!

  79. It looks great! I’m always amazed at what people with an eye for design can do. And I love the family photo in the bookshelf.

    p.s. I have highchair envy…

  80. I love everything! But please tell me what houseplants you used. I love houseplants and believe they finish a room. It’s so nice that you used so many! :)

  81. I love everything! But please tell me what houseplants you used. I love houseplants and believe they make a room. It’s so nice that you have so many! :)

  82. It’s gorgeous! But with over $12,000 of DWR furniture, I’m disappointed that you didn’t fully disclose your relationship per FTC instructions.

  83. Really beautiful — such a good use of the space. And the fairy lights are perfect — getting some for winter!

  84. Very well done :) It is open, airy, and bright. I like the overlapping rugs. I would have never thought of that.