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As an executive producer at BuzzFeed, Mike Rose knows his way around viral content. But living room design? Not so much. “I owned zero furniture, apart from a bed and a desk,” Mike recalls. Fortunately, a friend told him about Havenly — and the timing couldn’t have been better. “I moved into my new apartment mere days before California completely shut down in March. WIthout the ability to shop for furniture in stores, I was so grateful to plan the makeover from home and have items shipped directly to me.” 

Below, Mike shares his design story, taking his Los Angeles living room from blank canvas to a perfect balance of mid-century elements, a masculine palette and important family heirlooms. (He also documented the story, sometimes hilariously, for BuzzFeed Nifty on YouTube.)

Creating a Do-It-All Design

“I see the living room as being the most important room in my home,” Mike says. “I spend basically all my time there, and it’s a space for me to watch television, read a book, do all my working from home, and in theory — some day! — entertain people.” 

That meant Mike needed a highly functional design and a smart layout that also incorporated a separate dining space. Through Pinterest boards, a room profile, various concept boards, and finally a digital rendering of the space, Havenly designer Ella Francis created a do-it-all design where Mike can not only work but also relax via an adaptable, pop-up coffee table (perfect for “laptoping,” Mike says) and a large sectional to anchor the room. 

Mike particularly appreciated how collaborative the process was. “I entered this fearing the designer would have a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude, but it was truly a beautiful partnership,” he says. “It was all about making sure I loved the direction we were headed.”

Refining Mike's Style

Like every Havenly project, Mike’s living room plans started with the interior design style quiz. After taking it, he found he was drawn to mid-century modern design. “I had expected to gravitate more toward antique-style furniture, but in reality, I wanted pieces that felt inviting, timeless, cozy and comfortable.” As an East Coast transplant now on the West Coast, Mike also found he was drawn to ocean-inspired palettes and beachy motifs: think wood textures and shades of blue, but with pops of warm color.

Putting It All Together

The final design is a “beautiful melting pot” full of coastal blues, mid-century modern furniture and beach-inspired accents of sunny yellow. The deep blue sectional from Article provides Mike with a space to lounge (or nap!), with enough seating to host guests in the future. But not everything is new: the final design also incorporates his beloved grandmother’s china set. Ella found a way for him to show it off by selecting a beautiful china cabinet that perfectly showcases the set. It’s a piece that allows for extra storage space and puts cherished family heirlooms on display. 

Mike recalls the moment he saw his final rendering for the first time, which ultimately served as an exact blueprint for the design he has now. “I immediately sent it to my friends and pretty much screamed with excitement because it finally felt real.” And now, it actually is real! “Every time I stop to admire my new living room, I can’t help but smile. I’ve spent this year almost entirely inside my apartment, so having it be a space that sparks joy is invaluable,” he says. “Plus, there’s nothing like the satisfaction of assembling your own furniture. Putting every piece together myself makes me feel even more ownership over it.”

Want a coastal, mid-century-modern design like Mike’s? Get started with our interior design style quiz.

Words by Sara Watson