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Living Room Decorating Ideas Using Keepsakes and Momentos

When Tessa and her husband Sébastien moved from Paris to the capital of California, they weren't sure how to bring their nomadic lifestyle with them. A major move and a living room makeover later, their books, keepsakes, and travel memorabilia are beautifully packed into a mere 700-square-foot apartment in the city of trees. Their eclectic space is filled with living room decorating ideas for places with limited square footage.

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Photo by Dustin Walker for Laurel & Wolf

Moving is never easy. Especially when it's 5,000+ miles away from the place you call home. One of the most difficult parts of the process is figuring out what to bring with you, what to let go of, and what to replace or purchase when you reach your final destination. For Tessa and Sébastien, a nomadic couple who moved from Paris to Sacramento, the main challenge of their move was bringing their adventurous lifestyle to the place they planned to put down roots.

 

"We worked together in Paris. I was the enthusiastic American and he was the stylish, creative type," Tessa recalls. After traveling the world together and marrying in Paris's Montmartre neighborhood, the pair decided to move to Sacramento for its proximity to family and the exciting cultural scene taking off there.

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Photo by Dustin Walker for Laurel & Wolf

Having moved from one tiny, over-priced Paris apartment to the next for nearly ten years, the couple was pleasantly surprised by the affordability of Sacramento. Their new home is on the second floor of a 100-year-old Victorian building with beautiful bones. Though the place is still small by American standards, the 700-square-foot apartment, which they nicknamed "The Treehouse," is nearly double the size of any spot they could get in Paris. Despite having room to spread out, the couple still needed help to make it their own.

 

"We decided to try Laurel & Wolf after I read an article on Refinery29 and also because we're big believers in the power of online collaboration," says Tessa.

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Photo by Dustin Walker for Laurel & Wolf

Designing a room with spacial limitations is always a challenge, but the couple's interior designer, Andrea Taylor, was able to work around them. In Tessa and Sébastien's living room, each wall has a doorway or a window, so all of their things had to be arranged very strategically. When decorating a space like this, you may want to opt for furniture in shorter heights so it can sit comfortably below windows.

 

For example, their couch is positioned snugly below two windows, making the living room feel cozy yet roomy due to the ample natural light that flows in from outside. Varying heights are brought in through art and décor like the modern, three-legged lamp beside the sofa.

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Photo by Dustin Walker for Laurel & Wolf

Rather than a tall, traditional bookcase, the couple's expansive book collection is housed in a series of freestanding antique apple crates, which they picked up from a farmer's barn outside Orléans, France. The books are arranged as décor, adding visual interest and color to the space, which are great living room decorating ideas for smaller areas.

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Photo by Dustin Walker for Laurel & Wolf

Tucked among the books are other French artifacts, like a few toy cars and vintage cameras passed down from Sébastien's father. Rather than filling your living room with décor from mass-retailers, opt for a mix of personal items and new ones. Living rooms feel much homier when complemented by pieces with personal significance.

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Photo by Dustin Walker for Laurel & Wolf

When decorating a living room in an eclectic fashion, it's important to include an array of patterns and textures. Andrea created a "lived-in" look for the space by adding woven, decorative pillows, comfortable midcentury modern-inspired seating, and warm colors that harmonize with the room's existing elements.

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Photo by Dustin Walker for Laurel & Wolf

Tessa and her husband may have left a fair amount behind when they moved to Sacramento, but they brought along the things that reflect their past adventures together as well as their individual personalities.

 

"When we left France, we spent the better part of a year backpacking through Asia and road tripping across the Western United States, so these places have special meaning for us. Some of the colors and patterns reminiscent of the Southwest can be found [in our home], and the use of dark wood is a nod to Nepal, one of our favorite places."

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Photo by Dustin Walker for Laurel & Wolf

Now a place that feels both functional and fun, Tessa and Sébastien's new living room is a loving blend of their travels and respective cultures. Both are able to work and be productive in the space by day, but love its ability to transform into a place for cocktails and conversation when the night falls.

Though it may be small, this apartment within the trees is a lesson in packing the important things when moving to a new space and decorating with a healthy mix of function, style, and of course, personality.

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