Text by Elizabeth Czapski
As warm days start to cool amid autumn’s crisp breezes setting in, September brings us a sweet intermediate season that welcomes the comforts of fall but retains the lively essence of summer. And this Dallas sitting room captures that transitional spirit perfectly with a cozy, organic ambience, a mix of styles and eras, and a feminine palette of blush pinks that fade into earth tones across a subdued floral backdrop. We chatted with the designer behind this lovely space, Emily Johnston Larkin of EJ Interiors, to get all the charming details on it, as well as advice for recreating a similar look at home.
The Cottage Journal: Tell us a bit about EJ Interiors! How would you sum up your overall design aesthetic and how does this sitting room reflect that?
Emily Johnston Larkin: EJ Interiors is a Dallas-based residential interior design firm. We work all over the Dallas metroplex on many different types of projects—from new constructions to older homes. A large amount of our clients reside in the East Dallas/Lakewood area and live in historic homes. We love working on these types of projects, as they present a challenge of mixing the old with the new and keeping the charm and integrity of these older homes. This is definitely a passion of ours and one that sets us apart from other firms. This sitting room is in a 1930s Colonial home in Lakewood, and when the client called on us to redesign her home, I couldn’t wait to get started. We turned this quirky small upstairs room into something really special and functional while keeping true to the era of her home.
TCJ: What spurred this project?
EJL: This is actually the home of my neighbor who lives two doors down from me. We had never met before she called. I was doing a yearlong renovation on my own home and had my business sign in my front yard. She saw it one day and then called immediately to get started on her master bedroom and sitting room. I was so flattered that she thought of us and couldn’t wait to finally meet her—and get a peek inside her gorgeous home!
TCJ: What were your design goals for the space?
EJL: One of our goals was to make the small space feel larger, which is why we covered all of the walls and ceiling in a patterned wallpaper and continued the same pattern on the Roman shade. Another goal was to keep with the style of her home. We didn’t want to do anything too trendy and wanted to make sure the room flowed with the rest of her home as well as her master bedroom that we designed, which is across hall.
TCJ: What would you describe as the theme of this room? What look were you going for?
EJL: The homeowner wanted a “lady den”—somewhere she could read, relax, and look out the window at the pretty view since this room is on the second floor. The blush floral wallpaper was our starting point for this feminine space. We made sure that the wallpaper had a wow factor, but at the same time, was serene and calming. We also mixed the old with the new with her existing desk and the quirky white hoof bench.
TCJ: What makes this space unique? Can you tell us about any special details you included?
EJL: When we met this client, she had two cats, so we needed to make sure this room was very pet friendly. The bench cushions are upholstered in Perennials indoor/outdoor fabrics (which are bleach cleanable), the wall-to-wall carpet is an incredibly durable cut-pile material, and we made sure the fabrics didn’t have a lot of texture so the cats wouldn’t be tempted. We also had the pink-and-white Coleen & Company sconces custom-made to match the colors in the wallpaper. These added such nice ambient lighting to the room. Another detail I love is the addition of natural materials such as the handwoven wicker accent table and textured weave desk chair. They really warm up the space.
TCJ: Why does this room work—from both a functional and decorative standpoint?
EJL: I love how this room functions as both a sitting room and an office. We incorporated the client’s existing writing desk in here so that she would have a place to write notes or sit at a computer. We also included a woven accent table with coasters next to the lounge chair so that the client would have a place to set a drink. Even though it is a small space, the built-in bench seating and lounge chair allow for more than one person to hang out in this room.
TCJ: What are some tips or guidelines for readers hoping to recreate a look like this at home?
EJL: Don’t be afraid to use a bold wallpaper in a small space, and furthermore, don’t be afraid to put it everywhere—walls, ceilings, and continuing the pattern on an adjoining fabric! When you envelope the room in a lot of pattern, it makes the corners of the walls recede and gives the appearance of a larger, more grand space. You can have a beautiful space like this that is still very kid- and pet-friendly. Be sure to use fabrics that are made of 100-percent polyester or polypropylene. Wool is another very durable material.