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About a year and a half ago I was commissioned to redesign the living room/dining room in a mid-century Toronto home. The homeowners were young with full, fast-paced lives and wanted their space to reflect their style and taste. They looked to design icons like Miles Redd and Kelly Wearstler for punchy, tongue-in-cheek inspiration. Problem was there was NO MONEY!

inspiration - Miles Redd's orange opus

Miles Redd’s orange opus.

inspiration - Kelly Wearstler's Citrus Dream

Kelly Wearstler’s citrus dream.

How to accomplish this much style with such a tiny budget? Luckily they knew who to call. Here are the before shots of their decidedly frat-house-chic space. Note the ‘trompe l’oeil’ fireplace.

before shots

I headed out to the usual sources: Ikea, Goodwill,, Toronto's Queen Street West, and some fabric stores. Plus we begged and borrowed a few pieces from family and even reinvented some hideous junk from their place before. Et voila!

after shot - living room image 1

All the walls are white, except this bold orange accent wall. I used painters tape to create the white detail framing the mirror above the fireplace.

after shot - living room image 2

The club chairs are from Ikea and the ceramic drums, ikat-inspired lamps, and ginger jars are all from HomeSense. The patterned rug is from Urban Outfitters.

after shot - living room image 3

It’s amazing what some paint and pulling up an old carpet will do! Plus no more trompe l’oeil fireplace.

after shot - living room image 4

This sexy, loungy sofa was a score and totally fits the mood of this swinging pad. The coffee table was from Goodwill and we just gave it a rough lick of paint (we aimed for a loose, chippy look). The cushions were sewn from affordable fabrics, and the oil on canvas painting was from a junk shop. I think it was $10!

after shot - dinning room image 1

The tulip table is Ikea’s affordable Docksta and the David Hicks-style parson’s chairs are from Arcadia Antiques. They hit that punchy, mod note perfectly and I love how the legs are upholstered too. The chandelier was from Ikea, and we funked it up by using exposed vanity mirror light bulbs instead of flame-shaped ones. And look at those floors! Who would cover them up?!

after shot - dining room image 2

Finally as an art project in the dining room, we put cutlery and a saucer that we spray-painted into Ikea shadow boxes with scrap patterned paper in the back. Instant dining-inspired installation. Just get out that glue gun!

Believe it or not, this whole project only took a weekend with about three people pitching in. As time has gone by, the homeowners have been able to add layers of additional art and photography and personal collections to keep the look going. I think the best rooms keep on evolving.

If you’re thinking of reinventing your own living room or dining room and want to get a similar, cheap-chic look, follow my lead and use every resource possible. How about these finds?

Cheap-chic look - great finds

To dine on why not try this table from Ikea ($79), a pendant lamp from Home Depot ($55), and this classic bistro chair straight out of Paris from Pier 1 ($80 USD)?

Great Carpets from Urban Outfitters and Pier 1

These carpets are from  Pier 1 ($108 USD) and Urban Outfitters ($40 USD).

For lounging, hit up for sweet sofas like this:

Couch from

Check this link to see if it’s still available — $150! How about natural linen to cover the seat pad?

Fresh lamps make a room. These ones are a steal from Bouclair (from $50) and West Elm (on sale for $40 USD).

Lamps from Bouclair and West Elm

Great cushions also add so much life to a thrift sofa. Whether store-bought like this one from West Elm ($39 USD), or sewn up yourself from fabrics like these at Designer Fabrics (from $18/yard): 6361 Jazzy (28968), Benito Wash (26386) and Cabochon/F0166875 (27019).

Great Fabrics from Designer Fabrics

And to get the look of our show-stopping mirror, try Bouclair ($40) — very Tom Scheerer.

Show-stopping mirror from Bouclair

Photo credits:
Miles Redd
Kelly Wearstler, Kordura Yacht, Marina del Rey
Michael Penney
12-13. Ikea
Muddus drop-leaf table in orange
14. Home Depot,
Progress Lighting 1-light Pendant
15. Pier 1,
Bistro Dining Chair
Pier 1, Multi Mosaic Outdoor Rug
17. Urban Outfitters, 5’ x 7’ Diamond Kilim Printed Cotton Rug
18. posting
Bouclair table lamps
West Elm Mini Teardrop table lamps
West Elm Zebra Pillow Cover
22. Designer Fabrics,
6361 Jazzy (28968)
23. Designer Fabrics,
Benito Wash (26386)
24. Designer Fabrics,
Cabochon/F0166875 (27019)
Bouclair mirror
Tom Scheerer, Nantucket Residence

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