How to Decorate Your Home by Mixing Modern, Classic, and Vintage Pieces

Interiors & Decor

Modern Dining Room Design
Photos by Madelynn Furlong

As previously seen on Wit & Delight

Editor’s Note: Our April theme on W&D was about finding a sense of home in life, whether in a physical space, in our relationships, or within ourselves. As we inch toward the close of the month, we wanted to unearth this post from the archives, in which Kate and the W&D team worked with Madelynn Furlong to design her new apartment in L.A. In it, Madelynn shares four tips for creating a beautiful, unique space that makes you feel at home. We hope you find some inspiration in her words. Take care friends. We hope you have a good weekend.


Five months ago I packed up my life in Minneapolis with a vague plan to head west. I needed a change and had a rare life opportunity to focus on myself and my career which led me to the sunny city of L.A. After a month and a half in an Airbnb I quickly learned that being surrounded by someone else’s belongings wasn’t my jam, so one prompt decision later, I signed a lease, was handed a set of keys, and just like that, I had myself my first grown-up solo apartment.

After the celebratory champagne pop, it dawned on me that I had to decorate the place. My past two apartments were essentially giant rectangular lofts and this place had rooms. Four big, empty, incredibly charming rooms to be exact. And I had to figure out how to furnish them, and for the first time in my adult life, I only needed to keep myself in mind throughout the process.

Modern Living Room Design

Decorating my new L.A. home became a journey of self-discovery. I learned that the minimalist Scandi-style of my past was actually more of my ex’s taste than mine. I actually liked color and eccentricity. I embraced the challenge of mixing and matching pieces to create a style that felt completely my own.

Decorating my new L.A. home became a journey of self-discovery. I learned that the minimalist Scandi-style of my past was actually more of my ex’s taste than mine. I actually liked color and eccentricity. I embraced the challenge of mixing and matching pieces to create a style that felt completely my own.

But how does one actually do it? How can you design a home that feels eclectic and unique but still feels elevated and, well, chic? That was my mission, and I am truly excited to share with you all how I approached the self-discovery design process.

Modern Living Room Textiles

Start With the Basics

When you get a new home, there are various essential pieces that you need right off the bat. A sofa, a table, and a bed, to name a few. For these pieces, it’s often the easiest to shop at modern stores and designers. One, because the West Elms and CB2s of the world are quick so when you are handed a set of keys and realize you don’t have a bed, the problem can be solved in under a day. And two, these simple, modern pieces help create a foundational backdrop so that when you start mixing in the pieces with more personality (i.e. vintage) you don’t end up in a home that looks like it is straight out of the 60s. It’s all about balance friends.

Modern Living Room Design

Right after getting those apartment keys, I browsed Article to find the perfect sofa for my new space. While I had already owned one leather sofa, I totally fell in love with the Cube Quartz Sofa and just had to have it. In my opinion, it is the perfect no-fuss, gorgeous yet comfortable couch. Not to mention it has all these design details that truly make it feel special in any space.

I also took a risk on their green daybed for my bedroom, because honestly, who doesn’t want a velvet green daybed? After successfully owning three couches (this girl likes her seating) I added one dining table from CB2 and a bed from IKEA to the collection and I then had my foundational canvas created.

Living Room Design

Mix in Vintage

Now that you have your essentials, it’s time to mix in a few of those eclectic pieces with loads of personality. Luckily for me, L.A. is full of flea markets to shop for some amazing vintage items. However, I also developed a mild addiction to shopping on Chairish for pieces. Two of my favorite purchases were off of Chairish: My big 80s resin coffee table and the little Asian rattan bench, both of which are happily residing in my living room.

Living Room Design

Chairs are also a great way to add personality to any space, and there are so many great vintage sets. I found my dining chairs on Craigslist for $100 (!!!) and recovered the seats in a black canvas to make them a bit more elevated and modern looking. Often, shopping vintage is all about seeing the potential in a piece. It is also just as much about a bit of elbow grease (a.k.a. paint). I found an old desk in the alley behind my apartment and after a fresh coat of black paint, it is now a little bar in my dining room.

Dining Room Design

My dining room (slash office, let’s be honest) got a much-needed boost of color via a gorgeous Frances Loom rug. I will totally admit here that Kate turned me on to Frances Loom rugs. Turns out her love for them is contagious!

Dining Room Design

Another great way to add some personality to your space is with lighting. It is often something that we all overlook, especially when leasing, but it is a total game changer! When I first moved into this apartment there was a huge gaudy chandelier hanging in the dining room. As soon as I replaced it with my Workstead light, the room felt instantly transformed and instantly more “me.”

Kitchen Design

Add the Finishing Touches

This is the part that I am, I must confess, very bad at. How does one make a space feel cozy and lived in? Beats me. But with a little help from the W&D team, I learned that the key here is three things: art, plants, and textiles.

Modern Kitchen Details

I wanted all the textiles to add a cozy yet luxurious feel to every room. And I was lucky enough to find a handful of amazing pieces by some incredible brands. I added a hint of color and velvet to the living room via these gorgeous throw pillows by Heidi Merrick. I love being able to use them in front of an evening fire (yes, I have fires, even in L.A.) with a good book and a glass of wine.

Modern Bedroom Design

Last but not least, the bedroom got a huge textile makeover thanks to The Citizenry. The rug and all the throw pillows are from their gorgeous shop. I wanted my bedroom to feel relaxing while maintaining as much personality as the rest of the house, so I stuck with neutral colors in this more intimate space, but I love how much pattern and texture all these additional pieces add to the room.

Modern Bedroom Design

If You Don’t Love It, Don’t Buy It

I once read an interview with an artist talking about her home decor process and personal living space. I remember she was using a wooden crate as a night table and the interviewer asked her about it. She simply replied, “I use the crate out of necessity. I haven’t found a proper nightstand that I love and refuse to purchase one until I do.”

Modern Bedroom Design

It’s 1000% okay to take your time with the process and get comfortable with those empty spaces in your home. I still have a bit more to do with my place, but I’m just going to wait until I find the exact right piece. I have found that the hunt is worth it.

That, in essence, is my home decor motto. It’s 1000% okay to take your time with the process and get comfortable with those empty spaces in your home. I still have a bit more to do with my place, but I’m just going to wait until I find the exact right piece. I have found that the hunt is worth it. Because in the end, creating a home and sanctuary for yourself makes the wait worthwhile.

Modern Bedroom Design

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BY Madelynn Furlong - April 25, 2020

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Leave a Reply

Ifra Iftikhar

Where are the plants from? Looking for something to spruce up our family room

Thanks for your comment, Ifra! I’d recommend sending Madelynn a DM on Instagram to ask. Hopefully she can help! https://www.instagram.com/madelynnfurlong/?hl=en

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