A Recipe for Success: We're Dishing Up the 10 Essential Design Ingredients in "The Mix"

WEEK 2: What’s Cooking in the Living Room?

Last week we shared this reader’s question with you:

Q: I love the laid back, west coast interiors by designers like Amber Interiors and Katie Hodges.  They feel modern and uncluttered, but bohemian and earthy at the same time. How can I pull off this look in my traditional New England cape-style home?  I am so sick of my stuffy, stodgy decor!

-Melissa in MA

For the sake of simplicity, we’re referring to the style Melissa is describing as “Cali Boho Modern or CBM.  In our previous post we discussed bringing the outdoors in- through window treatments, plants, color palette, and decor influenced by the natural world around you.  This week we’re digging into the larger furnishings of your space and we’ve got some mood boards to get you started!

We love to cook here at Trim, and our favorite recipes are the flexible ones without complicated preparations or fussy ingredients, like Barefoot Contessa’s orzo with roasted vegetables (which, by the way, if you’re wondering what to make for dinner this week, we highly recommend you give this a try! Roasting the vegetables really keeps their flavors in tact, and the house will smell fantastic. Just be sure to get a good quality feta—it makes a difference. O.k, back to designing!).

Why do we love them? Because we know that the result will be delicious even if we need to make a few ingredient swaps or can’t be bothered with measuring.  We like our design the way we like our recipes- uncomplicated and accommodating for real life.

Recipe for a CBM living room:

10 ingredients for nailing “The Mix”

The building blocks

  1. Slipcovered linen sofa (we’re partial to the simplicity of a single bench cushion)

  2. Vintage wool rug

  3. Woven details

  4. Hand dyed textiles

Optional add-ins (if space allows)

5. Safari chairs

6. Hand carved wood

7. Informal stool/ottoman

8. A sprinkle of mid century modern


9. Black/charcoal accents for contrast

10. Earthy pottery


  • We recommend limiting your palette to 3 colors; the use of multiple shades, textures and patterns for each color is encouraged.     

  • A well curated space incorporates influences from a variety of styles, periods, and cultures.

  • The trick to making this work for a home of any style/location is to use the add-ins and garnishes (#5-#10) strategically, and leaning in to the style of your home:  If you live in a traditional home like a New England Cape or Colonial, go heavier on the mid century modern (#8) and choose a classic shape for your ottoman (#7), while omitting one or two of the informal ingredients like the safari chairs (#5) or the rustic bench (#6).

Jen and I have each followed this recipe to create an eclectic CBM-meets-East Coast Traditional living room.  We wanted to show you two different interpretations of this formula to demonstrate how flexible it is and hopefully give you some inspo for your own space! Be sure to vote for your favorite in our instagram stories!  #designersmackdownround3

Annabel’s Mood Board:


Jen’s Mood Board: