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    I Had My Living Room Designed From Scratch During Quarantine

    Using the online service Havenly, my new living room was virtually designed from a blank slate — and then I got to put the whole damn thing together with my bare hands!

    Hi, I'm Mike! Like most of you, I've been stuck at home since March. But perhaps unlike you, I moved into a new apartment on Friday the 13th of March (lol) — basically the moment before California was thrust into a state of lockdown.

    The bad news was that I owned literally no furniture for my new living room. I had lived with a close friend for years prior to this and used her furniture. The good news is that I saw it as an opportunity to start fresh!

    Picture of my bare living room with absolutely nothing in it.
    Mike Rose

    Through word of mouth, I heard about a website called Havenly that pairs you with an expert to virtually design your space for you. So I decided to take the plunge and embark on a home makeover journey!

    View this video on YouTube

    Nifty / Via

    Side note: this wasn't sponsored by Havenly! I saved up the money for a while to pay for the new furniture I would inevitably get someday.

    Honestly, Havenly's Instagram alone convinced me I was in good hands.

    I was matched with an amazing designer named Ella. She was a total sweetheart and made it clear that this would be a true collaboration. She wasn't just going to sweep in and tell me it was her way or the highway.

    After taking a style quiz (see below), realizing I apparently love the mid-century modern aesthetic, and cobbling together a Pinterest board of inspo for Ella, we were cooking with gas.

    A screenshot that reads "How much do you know about interior design?" follow by three options: I'm a pro, I've dabbled, and I'm a noob.

    Tag yourself, I'm the third one.

    The first possible direction was Warm Patterns. Definitely the most vibrant and warm palette, with boho textures and modern furniture.

    A design idea featuring a compilation of richly textured rugs and furniture with lots of warm tones like orange, yellow, and tan.

    I loved the warmth in this concept, but I worried it would be a bit ~much~ for me. I'm a pretty chill guy, and TBH I thought this was too bold for my personal brand of spending Friday nights with a glass of wine surfing Redfin for mansions I can't afford.

    My rating: 3/4 stars

    The next option was Cozy Mid-Century Modern. It would use soft gray tones, a neutral palette, and be generally "classic."

    A design idea featuring a compilation of mid-century modern furniture in various gray tones.

    I was here for the mid-century furniture, but worried that the grays were too bland for me. Especially if I would be working from home for an eternity, I wanted some more visual stimuli.

    My rating: 2/4 stars

    The third option was Soft Blues. It would use pops of blues, cozy textures, and give off "breath of fresh air" vibes.

    A design idea featuring a compilation of mid-century modern furniture with blue and white coastal colors.

    This for me was a winner. I see myself as a bi-coastal man — I'm from Rhode Island, but live in LA now, so I'm pretty down with the whole ocean situation. This concept felt very "beachy chic," and that excited me.

    My rating: 4/4 stars

    Next, Ella designed this concept board with my feedback from the initial ideas. She blended together mid-century modern pieces with pops of color and fun wood textures (like the lamp and rattan tray.

    A concept board featuring a compilation of possible furniture items for the living room. Includes a wooden circular wall mirror, artwork, wood lamps, a stylish wood coffee table, a blue armchair, a cream-colored carpet, and a light gray couch.

    Her goal was to create a space that feels "both modern and beachy, young and pulled together."

    Now the real specific decisions started. Ella gave me options for all the furniture we could include in the room — including alternative styles at different price points.


    For example, the primary rug she suggested was super cute. But I wanted to save some money, and I loved the pattern of this less expensive Neva Home Chester rug, so I selected it instead.

    With this new information, Ella compiled together these renderings of what my space would look like.


    NGL, I screamed when I saw these. It was all finally starting to feel real!

    With this layout completed, it was time to take the plunge and open my wallet. Havenly made it pretty easy to order, because they coordinate with all the different vendors, and all I had to do was submit one order online (a millennial's dream).

    That month was DEF the biggest credit card bill I've ever had. But I chose to look at all this new furniture as an "investment"! (Parents love to say shit like that, but I tried to embrace it.)

    Before too long, it was time to annoy my neighbors with giant packages outside my door! All the vendors were doing no contact delivery for safety purposes, so I got my exercise dragging these boxes into my apartment.

    Photo of giant packages resting outside apartment door.
    Mike Rose

    The dining room table was the first item for me to assemble. Not too difficult! Just awkward for one person to maneuver.

    Photo of pieces of dining room chairs lying on floor, ready to be assembled.
    Mike Rose

    Most of my furniture came with a recommendation that two people do the lifting. Well TOUGH TOODLES, I'm single and alone in quarantine, so this lanky body would have to suffice.

    The china cabinet was another story. I was determined to have a space to store my grandmother's china that was passed down to me, but I had no idea what a journey it would be to assemble.

    A package of dozens of different types of screws, nails, and hinges, with a complicated instruction manual for assembling the china cabinet.
    Mike Rose

    Exhibit A: The hardware and instructions I was somehow expected to decipher.

    After a very late night and a very long day, it was assembled. And you know what? I was marvelously proud of myself.

    Mike Rose

    Not pictured: My 2 a.m. breakdown.

    Next up was a beautiful mid-century modern TV stand. But like all good things, there was no immediate gratification here either.

    Nifty / Via

    Some reviews online said the assembly took three hours. Even that seemed optimistic to me!

    But the middle of the night is a wild time, and who am I to question the arrival of the elusive nymph known as "motivation"?!

    Nifty / Via

    BLAM! Look at me go. I'm unstoppable.

    Photo of the completed TV stand
    Mike Rose

    Unrelated: if there's anything this design experience has taught me, it's that one should never underestimate the power of throw blankets.

    Portrait mode photo of mid-century modern gray armchair with a gray patterned throw blanket.
    Mike Rose

    The first pair of curtains that arrived were too short, because I never measured the height of the windows. Oops ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Nifty / Via

    (I also had to figure out how to take down the charmingly '80s vertical blinds that came with my apartment, but you'll need to watch the video to see that adventure.)

    Fortunately, it was easy to exchange the curtains for a longer set that were no longer crop top length!

    Picture of me steaming the curtains to get out the wrinkles.
    Mike Rose

    Here's me steaming the curtains. What domestic god have I turned into?!

    I was very excited for my new couch to arrive, especially since I'd splurged for a sectional with a pull-out bed. A bed for all the guests I'll be able to have...a year from now. :( :(

    Photo of two large boxes in living room.
    Mike Rose

    I definitely forgot just how big couches are, until these two giant boxes arrived.

    The room really started to come together! Note the artwork, coffee table, cute pillows, and THROW BLANKET. :D

    Photo of completed navy blue couch, with artwork up, rug in place, and coffee table.
    Mike Rose

    I love the blue of the couch. The only downside is it collects lint and dust, but nothing ye olde vacuum can't fix.

    I also took a trip to a local plant nursery (which are deemed essential businesses — who knew?!) to spice up the space even more. See the results for yourself!

    Nifty / Via

    So after this experience, what are my takeaways?

    Nifty / Via

    • The prices for actually signing up for a Havenly makeover are more reasonable than I expected (as of this date of publication: $79 to update an existing space, $129 for a complete makeover or blank canvas). I for sure thought hiring an interior designer would be thousands and thousands of dollars alone, so I was pretty pumped to hear this.

    • Your designer will work with you to find a plan that works for your budget. Just don't forget about shipping prices! Those are the ones that snuck up on me.

    • It's truly a collaborative process! You should never feel pressured to go in a direction that you don't love. I was able to workshop my design with Ella until it got to a place where I was obsessed with it.

    • Be prepared for a lot of furniture assembly. In times where there isn't a devastating worldwide pandemic, many vendors offer an option of assembly if you pay extra. That isn't happening anytime soon, but hey! It feels great to put something together with your bare hands.

    • Have a friend you trust on call to help with heavy lifting. Don't be cocky like me and attempt it all yourself.

    • Enjoy the birth of your beautiful new space! If this is something you decide to invest in, it's a wonderful distraction and a great creative outlet to keep you from spiraling about the state of the world.

    As one last bonus: Havenly sent over this 3D rendering of my space. If you lied and told me it was a photo, I would 100% believe you.

    Photorealistic 3D rendering of my completed living room.

    It's not the exact same layout I ended up with, but that's the beauty of layouts. It's a living space! If I get tired of the way things are organized now, I can move them around later.

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