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Modernizing And “Eclecticizing” A Pottery Barn Living Room

I just might be making slow progress in the world of interiors. I bought an end table that didn’t match my Pottery Barn sofa. How did it happen?

  1. We – happily – needed enough space in the living room for 4 adults to sit comfortably.
  2. A while back, I ordered a matching Pottery Barn loveseat.
  3. The adult who sat on said loveseat realized he needed a place for his tea mug, and another place to put his feet.
  4. As I already had a coffee table similar to this, and 2 end tables like this, even my timid self knew it was time to move on.

In other words, I wanted not Memories of The Colonial Past I Didn’t Have,

Pottery Barn Pearce Sofa.img78o

but, well, you’ll see.  Something more eclectic. A little more personal. How to move forward? Well, when you’re looking at living rooms online, as I did, you’re going to find mostly whatever is currently in style. As my interior design skills improve, I may look down my nose at trends, but for now, they’re helpful in culling the field – as long as they resonate with my aesthetic and life history.

And thus did both a leather Moroccan pouf and a metal and glass Eileen Gray-like table come to rest my living room.

Some people might put Eileen in an industrial loft.

industrial-living-room and Eileen Gray table

others situate her in a more romantic but minimal Russian apartment. This space seems so poetic to me. Although I imagine the radiator knocks something awful.


Moroccan poufs play chameleon too. From severe,

to light-filled Swedish,

to somewhat girly New York spaces once owned by the creator of Sex in the City.


But Sturdies, no matter how Artsy at heart, like most of all to feel comfortable and at home. We leave our sneakers by the kitchen island, albeit neatly lined up.
We like harmony, so when we step out of our comfort zone, we look for unifying characteristics in the new land. Like, say, roundness.

Moroccan Pouf on Persian Carpet

And we believe in personal history. I was alive in the 60s, I wore a peace sign on a leather thong as a teen, I am invested in both early 70s hippie culture and mid-century modern.


In the end, I like the way these two pieces look; they’re extremely useful, and produce in me a small, fluttery sense of confidence. Now it’s time to change out some pillows. I think the patterned one might be too much, well, pattern, given the embroidery on the pouf and the patchwork of the quilt.

I can see how this interiors fiddling gets addictive.

Shopping For Similar Items?

Pearce Sofa via Pottery Barn
Downtown Loft with Industrial Living Room (Tim Cuppet Architects) via Houzz
Contemporary Russian Apartment with a History via Afflante
13th Avenue Loft (Jessica Helgerson Interior Design) via Houzz
Candace Bushnell’s New York Apartment via Elle Decor
Swedish Apartment via Dust Jacket Attic
Other images my own

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74 Responses

  1. Let your confidence fly — this looks great. It’s funny, but you and I have traveled a very similar path. The same age, the same east coast education, change in interest from clothing to personal surroundings, etc. My college freshman roommate brought me back a pouf from Turkey, where she grew up — you stuff them with newspapers, or we did then.

    And of course I’ve been concentrating on why my end tables aren’t really working and why the footstools I’m using now aren’t really working either…… thanks for the inspiration!

  2. I really like those two pieces together and the way you relate them to your personal history as it shapes your aesthetic. Cool.

    1. @Mardel, So happy you like the combo, and I wouldn’t have known to look for pieces with personal history resonance, but, I analyze as I go.

  3. Love the rug and the pouffy hassock…it’s fun shopping for those fine pieces. Oh and now to the cushions…there are so many gorgeous options out there. I think some needlework ones might add oomph and texture with your sofa. Have fun shopping!

  4. I assume the last photo is your house. The glass table seems in keeping with the open floor plan. The heavy chests as side tables would have boxed the area off from the dining room a lot more.

    Maybe when you don’t have a full house the poof can have a tray on top and do double duty for books, magazines, remotes and other stuff that seems to find it’s way near sofas.

    1. @RoseAG, Yes, you guys are right, I chose the table in large part because I wanted it to almost disappear. Space/house are small, light matters a lot to me.

  5. Instead of less pattern, I’d go for more pattern. Kilim pillows would go with the eclectic, collected-from-travels vibe you are creating with the poof and the rug combined with the table. I’d go for warm, slightly faded colors, and a couple different patterns. I’d also add a little earthy pottery.

  6. Hello,

    Online furniture shopping would be another country to us entirely. So, so difficult to know where to begin….or end! The eclectic mix upon which we sit and put our feet up has been handed down or garnered from vintage or antique stores. New hardly ever comes into it……

    But, if new did come into the equation then we should absolutely love the Eileen Gray design chrome and glass table. It is a timeless piece suitable for any interior decoration scheme and it looks very good, as well as practical, where you have placed it. Could there not be two……one at either end…….one can never have too much of a good thing!

  7. I am definitely an eclectic when it comes to decor and clothing. Personal items have a lot of meaning to me, so I’ve found a way to incorporate them in my decor, which is a lot like yours: Travel mementos, MCM, layers, pottery and funky pillows. Just a thought, but, do you have room for a trunk at the end of your bed? Repurposing and all.
    And I take it when you’re referencing “peace sign on a leather thong,” you mean this:
    NOT this:

    1. @Linda Pakravan, Looking around the room (rooms? I mean, this is a kitchen/dining/living space, with an office off one side and a view of the entry foyer and front door and lots of windows, so, OPEN:)), I am inclined to use pillows in the same cognac/tobacco shade as the pouf. I used to have red cushions, most recently blue-ish, but now with the pouf I kind of want to make a swatch of one shade at the midline of the room. And the red box is one of 4 Asian boxes, one for hats, two for betel nut, that are stacked next to/on the 1950s brick hearth. All kind of brown/red, which is one of the reasons I’m thinking tobacco for the pillows.

    2. The problem with pillows in a cognac shade is that (from an interior design point-of-view) you’re ignoring the existence of the rug.

      The ideal pillow ties in with the rug, which enhances the view in every direction. You can do red and blue in the pillow in a softer washed color to maintain the airy look you like.

    3. Find a wonderful fabric in muted colors which pick up the cognac with nods to the colors in the rug. The result will tie things together and be beautiful. Don’t hesitate to hire someone who has access to desiger’s fabrics (to the trade only) for this important touch to your room. My husband often asks me WHY I need to hire an interior designer and I tell him: Because I do not have access to the resources I need.

      Alternatively, go to some design boutiques in the SF area (home decor shops owned by antiques dealers or interior designers) and see what they have in terms of pillows. You might find just the thing you need.

      Some designers will consult online. Ask Brooke Gianetti of the blog Velvet and Linen.

      1. Yes, the resource issue in interiors is a tough one. How is it that nobody’s started a “Schumacher for the end-user” site? Thank you for your suggestions, and for the pointer to Velvet and Linen. I suspected you’d know something:).

  8. Hurrah! I think you’ve got it right. I like your choices (not that it should matter what I think). But, above all, you seem to be enjoying the process.

  9. Speaking of end tables, we acquired two matching ones when we bought our first home. The previous owner left the furniture which we sold off except for these end tables. We didn’t love them but needed them as we simply had none and didn’t have money to buy new ones. This was back in the mid 70’s. Well, we still have and use those tables and now they are in style! Mid-century modern. They’ve always been very functional and served us well.

    1. @Jane, One more point on the Keep Your Stuff board! And I do like to hear what people think, especially as my confidence in my taste grows.

  10. You actually need stronger patterns in the pillows. Try looking at Etsy.

    While Pottery Barn has great pillows, Etsy has a whole brave new world of pillows.

    1. Also go with pillows that measure between 20 x 20 up to 24 x 24. Don’t do 18 x 18.

      You also need an insert that is 2 inches larger than the pillow cover.

    2. @Lorri, I am looking at Etsy! But for something like tobacco-colored duppioni…thanks for the advice on wpillow sizing. I should probably put up, as Linda says, more photos of the whole space. But it’s so hard to take interior photos.

  11. HaHa! I have that pouf. Peace sign on leather? Check ;)
    I’d lose the patterned pillow and the pretty pale aqua. Too “bedroomy” maybe? Perhaps adding pillows in a bolder, darker blue that reflects the rug. Your Manhattan-raised Artsy soul-cousin celebrates your Flutters!

    1. @Rosie, Hmm. A deep blue? Maybe that’s a possibility – although I do love me some monochromatic tonal shadings:). Thank you – Flutters Forever!

  12. I love the ottoman and the table! I just read somewhere that texture and clear pieces (glass or plastic) are ways to modernize a traditional interior.

    I don’t know if you are looking for suggestions, but I’ll give my 2 cents anyway. I think you need a big piece of art on the wall behind your table and chairs (it looks like there is a thin, vertical mirror there now), and possibly on the wall to the left of your fireplace. If you are planning on something big over your mantel then never mind the second suggestion!

    To add more texture to the room I would do window blinds in something like seagrass or similar.

    I completely agree that your pillows and throw should have the bolder reds and/or blues from your rug.

    Thanks for sharing – you are inspiring me to work on my house!

  13. Nice choices; I especially like the steel and glass table. You are right about fiddling with interiors being addictive, but what fun!

  14. I love the two new pieces; they’re functional as well as beautiful. And the glass and metal table is so unexpected! But perfect, as it disappears and contributes rather than detracts from the sense of light and space. I agree with other posters that Kilim pillows with the rug colors would be beautiful, but I understand your need for visual serenity. I need to have a certain amount of empty space, in rooms, inside cabinets. Once I saw a book on Feng Shui decorating and I loved it.

    Will look forward to more pictures when you’ve hung your painting!

    1. @Marie, I promise more photos, although probably not tomorrow. Glacial pace, which I hope will accelerate the better at this I get:). And I’m totally into Feng Shui at this point.

  15. Shaking it up!!! I love this. Quite honestly at least once a week I wonder why I don’t have a Moroccan pouf and lament that flea market when a BFF spied one first and bought it.

    I wonder if she’s using it now in her posh Georgetown house….have to ask her tomorrow.

    See what you’ve stirred up (again).

    xo J

  16. A Chinese garden stool makes a nice end table as well as place to rest a cup of tea. Can serve as spare seating too.

  17. I’m reading these wonderful interiors posts of yours very carefully and taking notes :-) I think both these items are perfect for you! I’m wondering if, as you already have roundness and a mix of warm and sharp texture, you might consider a graphic pattern for your cushions but monochrome and in a luxe, soft texture?

  18. Away and commenting from phone. It looks great!!!!
    I really wonderful choices. I have every confidence you’ll pick the right throw pillows for the look you’re going for.

  19. I wanted a leather pouf for my university office. Though I didn’t commit to one (too difficult to determine quality via the Internet, I found), I’d love to find one in person . . .

    1. @Miss Cavendish, Interesting – so far the quality of this from Wayfair seems good, but I suppose we shall see. I’m not putting it terribly hard use – we use it as an ottoman, and will use it as extra seating, for kids, when people come to dinner and we all sit in the living area.

    1. @Coulda shoulda woulda, Thank you. I was really lucky this time with the online items – they both looked and felt as I had hoped. Wayfair owns AllModern, and I think they’re doing a good job with both sites.

  20. Ack! The Pottery Barn living room looks eerily similar, to mine! Except all our crap is old, er, all our furnishings are vintage!

  21. decorating like mad these days and going in hard with the 18th century antiques Mr FF likes to collect. May as well xxx

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