See a “Dumping Ground” Room Become a Mellow Yellow Den with a Cozy IKEA Sofa

published Apr 13, 2024
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White walls in bedroom before painting.
Credit: Elizabeth Malm

While tackling their bathroom remodel, Liz Malm and her partner, Jack, turned an empty upstairs room in their 1911 Portland Craftsman home into what they called a “dumping ground,” where it temporarily housed their sofa and television. “It didn’t look intentional or designed at all,” Malm says, noting that she’d always planned to incorporate a den or lounge space on the upper level of her home in order to keep the ground floor television-free. 

As Malm began to dive into decorating the room, she started with a search for the perfect wall color. She needed a hue that would play well with the natural light streaming into the room. “I didn’t want to go super dark and ‘waste’ the sunlight,” she says. The goal was still a cozy, “enveloping” type of feel, though, but she knew she had to go warm in tone, thanks to the orangey wood floors. “Refinishing the original hardwood isn’t in the cards for now, so we had to work with it,” Malm explains. 

Credit: Elizabeth Malm
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While warm white or tan would be safe, navy, another one of Malm’s favorite colors, was a bit too dark and cool. So the self-described “neutral girl” felt inspired to go beyond her usual palette. “This room was small enough that we could take a risk,” she says. “I knew I could always paint over it if we ended up not liking it.” She took to Pinterest in search of rich, golden shades that spoke to her and kept coming back to images featuring Farrow & Ball’s Indiana Yellow. “I ordered it online with no swatch!” she says. “Luckily, we ended up loving it.” 

Malm spent two afternoons and evenings after work patching some wall holes and painting the den, which included the woodwork. “The paint did not look good after one coat, but thankfully, I stuck with it,” she says. In addition to painting, she also removed two doors. “We took the door off of the room because there was no need to shut it, and it really cut into the usable space,” Malm explains. The couple also parted ways with a closet door, too, as they keep their cats’ litter boxes inside and needed to easily access that area. “No door keeps it well-ventilated, and the closet is big enough that they can remain tucked around the corner and unseen,” Malm adds. 

Credit: Elizabeth Malm

Next, it was time to furnish and style out the space. With two closet doors and a partially curved wall, the odd-shaped room’s layout made determining furniture placement a challenge. “I probably rearranged the space four times until we got it how we wanted it,” Malm says. Ultimately, she landed on the current setup, which features the sofa in front of one of the unused closets, with an accent chair and coffee table floating nearby in the middle of the space, while a cabinet and bench hug the perimeter to provide extra storage.

Rather than buying all new furnishings for the den, Malm “shopped” her home to fill the space, incorporating pieces from her past apartment as well as other “placeholders” purchased prior to the makeover. She and her partner had ordered a new IKEA SÖDERHAMN sofa when they first moved into their home, and now this piece anchors the den. “It was narrow enough end-to-end to fit the space but deep enough to be amazing for cozy movie-watching,” Malm says. On the sofa sits a leopard throw pillow from Anthropologie, which Malm says embodies “the entire room color scheme: deep gold, pops of rich green, and dark navy.” 

Credit: Elizabeth Malm

The coffee table in the space is from Target’s Hearth & Hand with Magnolia collection. Malm had originally purchased it for the home’s basement, but she found its small size to be perfect for the den. She also appreciated how its rich wood stood out among the black furnishings in the space (although now it’s only available in a lighter finish).

An Article bench, formerly in the entryway, found a new home opposite the sofa underneath the couple’s Samsung Frame TV. “We didn’t have enough room for a TV console but still needed to hide TV cords and outlets,” Malm says. She added baskets underneath the bench to help camouflage that as well as other odds and ends. A yellow and white striped bolster pillow from Lulu & Georgia’s collection with Sarah Sherman Samuel, also taken from the entryway, sits on top of the seat. “It perfectly matched the paint shade, so I knew I had to move it to this room,” Malm shares. 

Credit: Elizabeth Malm

Perpendicular to the TV, Malm placed a wooden cabinet from Wayfair, originally purchased for the office. Here, it houses gym equipment. Her rug is from Zara Home, and the wooden accent chair is also from Target’s Hearth & Hand line. 

Malm and her partner couldn’t be more pleased with their new and improved den, which took a few weeks to furnish from top to bottom. “We spend almost every evening here,” she says. “It’s so cozy and comfy. I love hunkering down to watch a movie.” The only thing that’s left to do? Adding a ceiling medallion overhead and potentially painting the ceiling yellow, too!