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grey sofa with black and tan leather cushions grey sheer curtains

The Bentleigh Project: A Blank Canvas Receives A Sleek Makeover

A modern luxe living room was what my clients in Bentleigh were after when we first met a few months back. They got that and a few other pockets of their home given the TLC treatment too. And in this post I want to reveal them to you. 

It’s actually funny to see how the word ‘luxury’ has changed over time. In decades gone by it was all about the bling. Nowadays, we’re delivering it in a much more subdued, easy and contemporary fashion.

That’s the aesthetic the clients here were after; an easy luxury. Sophisticated, but approachable. Nothing feels precious, but it’s still refined. And so that’s the mindset I went into when it came time to design the multiple pockets of this Melbourne home.

Let me fill you in on some of the considerations in each space, as well as a few of the suppliers.

modern luxe living room with grey sofa tan leather cushions and marble coffee table

modern luxe living room with grey rug marble coffee table and sheer curtains

It All Started in the Contemporary Luxe Living Room

The open-plan living, dining and kitchen area sits at the back of the home and it’s flooded with light. That was already a positive going into the project. Sheers were of course on the agenda to diffuse some of the glare, but it was also about keeping that sense of space ever-present. You’ll notice there’s a lot of room to move in here, and that was absolutely intentional.

There’s such a tendency to cram too much furniture into a room but here I wanted pieces to breathe. So when it came to all of the products I brought in, it started with a textural floor rug from The Rug Collection to ground the space. Then, my grey upholstered sofa from Calibre Furniture. It was adorned with cushions from L&M Home filled with the only cushion inserts you should ever buy.

The colour palette was moody and somewhat masculine. Nothing too dark, but I wanted to steer clear of jewel tones in large doses. It’s become somewhat predictable in a modern luxe living room to just velvet the life out of the space. But I wanted this room to feel more timeless. I mean, there’s one velvet armchair, but that was it.

The round marble coffee table was an essential element to give the space a little fluidity, and then Urban Road art and a shelf adorned with affordable accessories finished the room off.

black metal shelf with kmart vases west elm vases and fake plants and sheer curtain

We Were Super Savvy with the Decor Spend

You’ve read all about my skimp-meets-spurge approach to design before (if you haven’t, click the link and give it a look over). It’s how I got these clients their contemporary luxe living room without dropping too much cash.

The smaller elements on the shelf at the back of the room are what I consider affordable. And I completely understand that affordable means different things to different people. But I definitely believe my approach gives you a designer look for less. Less than what you’d pay if you worked with some other interior designers, anyway.

For example, you’ll notice pieces here from Kmart. Books, for one. The purple vases too. Then we have the faux palm leaf in the grey vase, which is from TK Maxx. Seriously, there are major bargains to be had when designing a home if you know where to get them. And when they’re all mixed in, they really don’t stand out as being budget.

Other pieces on the shelf are from West Elm, which is a great destination for decor that’s more character-filled. The shelves themselves are from Calibre. I placed three side-by-side to fill the entire wall (the budget just wasn’t there to do custom cabinetry).

The moral of the story: skimp on a lot of your smaller decor pieces, but mix them in with a few hero items you splurge on. Also don’t forget to throw in some treasured keepsakes and mementoes. It’s the key to having your home feel like your home; not a show-home.

modern luxe living room with marble coffee table fake plant and blue glass vase from west elm

“Alongside budget buys, ensure you include a few splurge pieces as well as some of your treasured keepsakes and mementoes. It’s the key to having your home feel like your home; not a show-home”

modern luxe dining room with glass top table grey upholstered chairs and fake flowers urban road wall art

We Kept it Luxe in the Dining Room too

The dining room sits right beside the modern luxe living room, so it was important to have cohesion in these spaces. I hung more Urban Road art in the dining room so it spoke to the pieces in the living space. They’re from the same collection, but are of course different. Art in open-plan spaces like this should be sisters or cousins, not twins. Never want it to be too matchy-matchy, but definitely similar.

The clients wanted to seat eight people at the table as they have family and friends over a fair bit. I’m so smitten with this chic glass option from Globewest. Paired with the chairs from Calibre the whole scene feels sculptural but subdued. Shoutout to the beautiful arrangement of fake flowers on the tabletop, from Albi. They’re always my go-to supplier for realistic artificial plants and flowers. They’re trade-only, but here’s a list of the best retailers to get fake greenery from if you need.

The candelabras are from the legends at L&M Home, and the round black tray the vase is sitting on is a budget find from Kmart.

Seriously, as I said above… load of bargains to be had if you have an eye for blending the skimp and the splurge!

entryway with beacon lighting black pendant navy blue velvet bench seat and tan leather cushions under stairs

“All in all I’m super-pleased with how this project turned out. I not only gave the clients a modern luxe living room, but we carried the vibe into other pockets of the home and I reckon they all look wonderful”.

black round mirror in entryway above black and glass top console table from calibre furniture

The Entryway was Minimal but Super Chic

In the entryway, which was rather large, I decided to keep it minimal. The entry is the first impression you get of the interior, right? So I wanted this zone to feel pared-back rather than cluttered.

Got an entryway that’s tight on space? Here are my top tips on styling it right, in case you need!

I placed a divine console table to the left of the door as you walk in, and grounded it by hanging a large round mirror over the top. Here’s my top 10 best round mirrors on the market right now, in case you wanna grab one for your own space (which I know you do). Of course, the fake plants are showcased again. They’re also from Albi. The candelabra and weird coral-like sculpture are both from West Elm. I swear I’m developing quite the crush on West Elm.

The statement pendant in the entryway is from Beacon Lighting. The space was large enough to pull off a striking pendant like this one. You’ll also notice if you scroll up, that there was a nook under the stairs that needed to be filled. And so I brought in a stunner of a bench seat and hung some more Urban Road art above it. The cushions from L&M Home tie in perfectly.

master bedroom with dark grey carpet brown timber bed and grey quilt cover set with purple cushions

“Above is the client’s new master bedroom, and below is the guest bed, which uses their old master bedroom furniture. Good to re-use when you can rather than buying new just for the sake of it!”

masted bedroom with blonde timber bed frame sage green bed linen and urban road wall art

Lastly, Bedrooms you can Relax in!

Last but not least, the bedrooms. There are four in total in the home. One was designed as a home office. One they’re keeping vacant to convert into a nursery (they had better call me to decorate this!). And the last two we turned into a master and guest bedroom.

The oak bedroom furniture you see above was their existing furniture, so we took it out of their master bedroom and used it in their new guest room. It’s always good to re-use furniture if you can, and here it does work just fine. In the master further up, I brought in a new bedroom suite, art, armchair and decked it all out with new bedding.

We didn’t go crazy on budget here either, because the focus really was on sinking more money into the living and dining spaces.

All in all I’m super-pleased with how it all turned out, and so are the clients. I not only gave them a modern luxe living room, but we carried the vibe into other pockets of the home and I reckon they all look fabulous.

Photography from this project snapped by the amazing Dylan James.

Drop me a line if you want some help making over your home: chris@tlcinteriors.com.au or click here to book a consult.


Chris Carroll

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He’s also spent time on TV, on Channel 10’s Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you’d like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

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32 Responses

  1. Hi Chris, Love love love how you styled this home. Could you please tell where the round mirror at entrance is from and the size. I have the same hall table and not sure if a 95cm from T&W would be overkill lol. Thanks so much 🙂

    1. Hey Rose, I don’t have those details handy sorry! I’d estimate it is about 80cm. As long as the mirror is smaller than the table by a bit (10cm either side is a good guide) you should be fine.

  2. Hi Chris, great inspiration, id love to know what the art is called, ive been searching everywhere for this colour pallet

  3. Hi Chris,
    Love your work!
    Could you please let me know where the driftwood piece is from on the marble coffee table?

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I’m interior designer Chris Carroll, and at TLC Interiors we’re all about helping you create an amazing home without breaking the bank. It’s affordable designer style at its best, and we make the whole process easy and fun for clients & readers alike!

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