Honestly WTF's Erica Chan Coffman Takes Us On Her Room Makeover

Photo: Courtesy of One Kings Lane.
Erica Chan Coffman, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the cult blog Honestly WTF, moved into an early 1900s Craftsman in Oakland, California, in late 2013. But although she’d completed extensive renovations, her living room had been languishing ever since. “It was bare as bare can be,” she says. “Because the space is an open plan and there’s a custom-built alcove on one side where the TV is mounted, I just couldn’t make up my mind about the design and layout.”

Always up for a challenge, we jumped at the chance to help Coffman figure out this all-important room. Over many phone calls, emails, and shared Pinterest boards, Alex Reid, one of our stellar head stylists, nailed down the look with her: a picture-perfect family room where her son, Quincy, could entertain his toy cars and she and husband Abe could entertain their friends. Then Alex arrived at her door with amazing assistant Kate Smithson in tow to install all the gorgeous new furnishings over the course of three hectic days.

This is Erica’s diary of how it went down.

Related: 6 Lessons In Color That Will Change The Way You Decorate
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Photo: Courtesy of One Kings Lane.
Day 1: 8 a.m.
Erica Chan Coffman says, “On the first morning, I was rushing around trying to get the space ready. I was super nervous — more nervous than excited, actually. I kept thinking there’s no way this is all going to come together in three days, especially since I’d only seen things online and nothing in person!”

First things first: Erica went to town on her living room’s floors, getting them shipshape before all the furnishings were delivered.
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Photo: Courtesy of One Kings Lane.
Day 1: 11 a.m.
“It sounded like the delivery trucks might not come on time, so we were freaking out a little. But then, they arrived! And everything went immediately from zero to 100. There were boxes and boxes, and crates and crates. Once Alex and Kate started unpacking and sorting everything I started getting really excited. I was running around going, ‘OMG, I love this! OMG, I love that!’”

As they were unpacking, One Kings Lane’s Alex and Kate grouped similar items together — pillows with pillows, art with art — so that they could easily spy the pieces they needed as soon as they needed them.
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Photo: Courtesy of One Kings Lane.
“When I was younger, more was better. Now that I’m a mom, less is more.”

Stylist Alex thinks black-and-white art options are the perfect starter pieces for gallery-wall newbies because you can work in both vintage and contemporary photos and paintings, and the resulting mix looks timeless and sophisticated.
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Day 1: Noon
“Quincy is such an extrovert — he was saying 'Hi' to everybody and totally wanted to be part of the action. Our nanny took him to the park, then they came back and he started climbing on all the furniture. He’s very gentle, though; I didn’t worry about him getting hurt or hurting anything.”

Erica’s diminutive decorating sidekick, her one-and-a-half-year-old son Quincy, takes a shine to this stylish new mirror.
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Photo: Courtesy of One Kings Lane.
Day 1: 3 p.m.
“As soon as the couch showed up, I called my husband. That couch was probably the thing we were most worried about. He and I are both couch snobs. We’d just purchased a different couch several months before, and while we didn’t totally love that one, we didn’t want to wind up with something worse. But lo and behold, this one was perfect and awesome and comfortable.”

Alex chose this pale-blue linen couch for its laid-back California vibe and easy-to-clean slipcover.
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Photo: Courtesy of One Kings Lane.
Day 1: 4:30 p.m.
“I work from home — usually at my dining room table — so during the slow moments, I’d be on my laptop, trying to let them do their thing, but then sometimes I’d pop over and interject myself into the situation. From the beginning, Alex had one layout in mind for the room, and by the afternoon of the first day, it had really started coming together.”

When Alex is designing a space, the first things he asks the owners are “How do you use this room? How do you want to use this room?” Both are questions anyone in the midst of redecorating should ask themselves.
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Photo: Courtesy of One Kings Lane.
Day 2: 2 p.m.
“There’s a running joke that I say: ‘When in doubt, put a tassel on it.’ Earlier this summer I decorated a straw market bag with tassels, and it’s been one of my all-time favorite projects. That’s the first thing I thought when I saw this basket. It was a no-brainer.”

Alex planned to use basket to hold throw blankets, so adorning it with tassels was a fun way for Erica to pull in the colors of the room.

Related: The Secrets To Hosting A Chic And Easy Summer Party
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Photo: Courtesy of One Kings Lane.
Day 2: 11 a.m.
“I’d made it clear to Alex how much I love blue and white — Japanese indigo, Delft pottery, Blue Willow china, and chinoiserie — there’s a blue underlayer throughout our whole house. So I loved seeing the palette coming together and totally working.”

Thanks to their shared palette of blues, differently patterned cushions riff perfectly off shibori and French-grain-sack pillows.
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Photo: Courtesy of One Kings Lane.
Day 2: 5 p.m.
“I love indoor plants, but I have a major black thumb. Alex wanted to work in plants for a pop of color, so he gave me a fiddle-leaf fig tree, succulents, and a big thing of orchids that he and Kate put together. He told me that you just water the fiddle-leaf once every two weeks, and you drop an ice cube in with the orchids and succulents once a week. So easy! These plants and I were meant to be together.”

To create their orchid arrangement, Kate and Alex formed channels in the basin of a large chinoiserie tureen with Styrofoam, then tucked the orchids, still in their plastic containers, in the holes. They topped everything off with moss to hide the plastic.
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Photo: Courtesy of One Kings Lane.
Day 3: 10 a.m.
“Time for Plan B. We had a pair of sconces for this wall that just weren’t working out. The room has plenty of lighting, and the wall was better without them. So, we put cover plates over the holes and hung art over them. I ended up loving the wall so much better that way.”

A mix of shapes — round and square — adds visual interest to this gallery wall.
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Photo: Courtesy of One Kings Lane.
Day 3: Noon
“Filling up the bookshelves was the best! Finally I had a home for all my books that had been in boxes in our shed for months.”

Alex loves using a desk in unexpected areas such as living rooms, where it can morph into a bar for entertaining when topped with a tray holding your favorite liquors.
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Photo: Courtesy of One Kings Lane.
“I love the juxtaposition of modern with traditional, rustic with sleek.”

Blue-and-white ceramics are typically thought to be traditional, but mixed in with contemporary art and bone accents, they come off as fresh and edgy.

Related: Design Icon: Chaise Lounge
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Photo: Courtesy of One Kings Lane.
Day 3: 1 p.m.
“The last thing to do was add all of our personal pieces: putting Quincy’s toys in the baskets, setting family photos on shelves in pretty frames, putting my matchbox collection on a tray on the coffee table.”

When it comes to surfaces, Alex is a devotee of trays, boxes, and grouping like items together to create a more organized space.
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Photo: Courtesy of One Kings Lane.
Rather than letting blankets languish in your linen closet (where they’ll never see the light of day) or tucking one around your couch (which might be too bold a statement), roll them up in a pretty basket so that they add a touch of color and are easily accessible on movie night.
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Photo: Courtesy of One Kings Lane.
…And the Big Reveal!

After three hectic days, Quincy, Erica, and Alex finally get to take a seat and take in all their hard work.
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Photo: Courtesy of One Kings Lane.
Key to Alex’s design was a mélange of materials, from the white lacquer coffee table to hits of wood to a blend of metals.
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Photo: Courtesy of One Kings Lane.
Alex based the height of the pieces in the room off Erica’s mounted TV. He brought the drapes up and opted for tall bookshelves to balance them out, while hanging the artwork between a little lower to play with the eye.
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Photo: Courtesy of One Kings Lane.
Alex’s motto is “leave no space undecorated,” so he tucked art and lidded baskets (a mom’s best friend) under the console to avoid a blank white space.
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Photo: Courtesy of One Kings Lane.
“Now that we’ve settled into the space, it really feels like home. We are in this room morning, afternoon, and night,” says Coffman.

Now that all is said and done, Erica has enough seating for 10. Guests can pull up an X-bench, settle into the sofa, or have some retro fun in a pair of swivel chairs updated with nail-head details.

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