East Meets West (Elm) - a teal, aqua, and gold mid-century modern meets global-inspired living room.

East Meets West (Elm) – My Living Room

My teal, aqua, and gold mid-century modern meets global-inspired living room.

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East Meets West (Elm) - a teal, aqua, and gold mid-century modern meets global-inspired living room.
East Meets West (Elm) — my teal, aqua, and gold mid-century modern meets global-inspired living room.


Over the holidays I had seven extra days off from work, everything from Christmas Eve through New Years. Combined with the weekends, that was eleven days off in a row. Eleven days where I didn’t have to think about work. I thought about maybe traveling somewhere over the break, but I couldn’t afford a trip and have had so many things I’ve wanted to work on that I decided to stay home and use the time off to catch up on my life.

In preparation I made an ambitious personal to-do list of everything I wanted to accomplish in that time. It was just over 120 items. You know, a measly, short, manageable list. It was mostly blog posts I wanted to write, cleaning I needed to get done, web edits that needed to be made, and random other tasks I’d been putting off or hadn’t had time for. Now, I’m not delusional, I went in knowing that there was no possible way I could check off 120 items in eleven days. I’d have to accomplish almost eleven things each of those days to do that. But I at least hoped that I could come out feeling accomplished. I at least hoped I could come out ahead. And, I did. In those eleven days off I knocked 43 off my list. No where close to the 120 items, but a good start none the less.

One of the things I wanted to do most of all was organize my apartment. There was that closet in my living room that I just shoved things into whenever I didn’t have another place for them. There was that cabinet of canned and boxed goods, half of which were probably expired. There were empty hangers amongst rows of clothes. There were those last few piles of picture frames and decorations and prints that I had yet to unpack because I had no place to put them.

After celebrating Christmas, I spent the first three days of my vacation doing nothing but cleaning and organizing. I took everything out of my closet, went through all my boxes of papers, threw out all the mold-covered food that was in my refrigerator, put together that accent table I forgot I had, and finally put that last box away. OK, so that last box is currently in that closet I just shove everything into. But that closet is now clean and organized and it makes perfect sense for it to be in there…I swear.

My apartment, any apartment I’d ever lived in, had never been cleaner or more organized.

It felt so nice to have a perfectly organized apartment. And it’s forced me to be more conscious. When I take off a shirt it goes in the hamper. When I dirty a dish, I clean it. When I finish a latte the cup goes in the garbage. And I’ve been trying to tidy everything up, put everything back in it’s place, before going to bed each night. I’m not perfect. But I’m trying.

Isn’t it amazing how a clean apartment can make you feel so refreshed?

Since that last box is finally out of my living room, since I’ve added a few things and rearranged a bit since the last time I wrote, I wanted to share my progress on decorating the room. I joke that my style is very “East meets West Elm” because I’m kind of obsessive over West Elm furniture (there are three pieces from there in my living room) but I combine it with a lot of global-inspired pieces and things from my travels. I guess it might also be “mid-century global” or, I guess, boho. Or just “lets buy everything in teal.” Take your pick.


East Meets West (Elm) — My Living Room

East Meets West (Elm) - a teal, aqua, and gold mid-century modern meets global-inspired living room.

My living room! I’m really happy with how it’s turning out so far. Lots of teal and aqua and turquoise, some creams and ivories, and some splashes of gold and brass. My mid-century-modern-inspired couch from West Elm still makes me smile uncontrollably whenever I see it. The coffee table is also from West Elm, but it’s more than a few years old. I hide all the remotes on the lower level but I need to add…something…to the top. I feel like it should be “styled” or something but I also need room to eat… because despite having a dining table I eat most of my meals on my coffee table. I also don’t want to just have stuff on my table to have stuff on my table. You know? But it looks so empty.

The curtains are from Pier 1, and I love that they are a neutral ivory, so they don’t compete with the couch but have a gold damask print that gives them some shine. Over the curtains I hung some Christmas lights and added these string balls in shades of blues. I picked them up years ago in a market in Bangkok. I wish I could say that pouf and that lamp are from a market in Morocco, but no. The gold Moroccan pouf is from One Kings Lane and the medina lamp is from Pottery Barn. Actual true story is that they had a similar lamp in the girls’ apartment on the TV show Friends and I was kind of slightly obsessed with it. So when I saw this lamp at Pottery Barn I needed it in my life… Moral of that story is that when I bought that lamp Friends was still on TV and I only just now took it out of the box… #coughhoardercough


East Meets West (Elm) - West Elm side table displaying vintage cameras, framed photos, and my fig tree.

I had this West Elm step side table in a box under my bed. I had bought it a long time ago (#coughhoardercough) but I didn’t really feel it anywhere in my apartment. Regardless, it was a side table that I owned and I knew putting it somewhere in my living room would allow me some extra space to put some of the decorative items that were still in a box. I moved the table my plant had been on to the other side of my couch and now had a place for my fig tree, some frames, and some vintage cameras I’d collected.


East Meets West (Elm) - Picture frames and a candle from World Market.

When I moved the tribal accent table to the other side of the couch, I added a couple of picture frames — framing a photo from Heather’s wedding and one from visiting the Taj Mahal — also from World Market (they were buy one get one free on Black Friday, so I stocked up). I almost always have a candle lit and I couldn’t resist one called “Chiang Mai Lemongrass”… While I’m not sure the lemongrass scent brings me back to Chiang Mai, it makes the room smell nice nonetheless.


World Market television armoire topped with a map and teal accessories.

The television armoire from World Market is another one of my furniture hoards. It’s probably been in a box at my parents’ house for at least ten years… Notice how deep it is? Yeah. When I bought it, TVs were a lot deeper… At least my flat screen still fits. On top is a giant vase filled with dried flowers I’ve received over the years, a few other teal trinkets, a world map, and an Indian sari tapestry from India. And on the wall next to it I have a wall of photos from my travels displayed.

Also from World Market is a CD tower (yup) turned…junk drawer I guess. But it’s a nice little size to take up a bare corner. And to hold my collection of miniature metal buildings from around the world.



There’s still a ways to go in my living room. I’d like an arm chair across from the couch. I’d like a rug (hopefully bought, some day, from an actual Moroccan market). And I eventually need another bookcase and maybe a bench next to the armoire. For now, though, I’m content. And practicing a lot of patience. And just trying to keep things clean.


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Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

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