ICP_1067This living room recently underwent a striking transformation. It’s amazing what some redecorating can accomplish! My client had furniture she liked, but not enough to fill the space. She wanted to create a living room that was cozy and comfortable for her, but that also welcomed guests to sit and relax. She also wanted to redesign her fireplace so it had more presence in the room.

I began with a new furniture arrangement. She had placed her sofa facing the fireplace, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, the original arrangement left a large empty spot along the back wall. The new arrangement features two sitting areas—four chairs arranged for conversation in front of the fireplace, and the large sofa along the back wall. When needed, two of the chairs can easily be turned to include the sofa and create one large seating arrangement. This design filled the space nicely, and allowed for two more people to join the group.

I used her existing furniture to fine tune the color scheme, and selected two new chairs, an ottoman, an area rug, table lamps, window treatments and artwork to complete the look. The new color scheme is a warm and rich combination of golden tan with sage green undertones, a restful and relaxing monochromatic palette. The wall color is Kelly Moore’s Serengeti Safari, and we repainted her beautiful moldings in Kelly Moore’s Swiss Coffee for a crisp contrast.

The biggest change was the flooring. Removing the beige carpet and replacing it with hardwood really brought a wow factor to the room. The fireplace was also transformed from barely visible to striking and elegant with marble mosaic tiles and a custom wood mantel.

If you are planning to redecorate your living room, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Try a new furniture arrangement. Instead of a predictable sofa and matching loveseat, try four chairs around a coffee table, or a sofa and two or more chairs.
  2. Use a variety of fabrics. You’ll notice that we used five different fabrics in this room, plus the area rug. While all of the support the color scheme, they each have a different pattern and texture, which adds a lot of interest to the room.
  3. Use an area rug to define a seating arrangement. Make sure the area rug is large enough so the furniture sits on top. You can use an area rug on top of carpet if it’s large and heavy enough to stay in place; you can also use a rug pad underneath the area rug to enable it to “stick” to the carpet underneath.
  4. Don’t be afraid to go a little darker than you think on the wall color. Darker colors can provide richness that just doesn’t exist with lighter colors.
  5. Don’t forget the window treatments. My client had wood blinds before, which we kept, but the custom curtain panels framing the window really add a nice finishing touch.

In this column, I thought I’d share with you answers to questions that clients ask me all the time. I’ll focus on paint colors this week, and then tackle other topics in the weeks ahead.Pantone

Q. Won’t this dark color make my room look smaller?
A. Our goal should not always be to make the room look as large as possible. The goal should make the room look as good as possible. While a dark color might make the room look a little smaller, it will also add a lot of drama and warmth to the room.  If the color looks great with the furnishings and woodwork, then use it with confidence. Your room will only look smaller on the first day of painting. After that, you’ll get used to it, and your room will be gorgeous.

Q. Is white the best color for my baseboards and crown molding?
A. It’s true that most people in most situations use white for their trim work. It is a beautiful look that is almost never wrong. But, depending on the paint color and overall look you want, white might look too stark. For example, in one project, we used wallpaper in a burnished copper color. White crown molding looked too bright and stark next to it. So we softened the contrast by selecting Kelly Moore’s Navajo White for the base and crown. It worked beautifully. For a dramatic look, try pairing tan or taupe walls with black baseboard and crown. It’s really striking and attractive.

Q. Should I paint my room first or buy my new furniture first?
A. Whenever possible, buy your furniture first. There are many more paint colors than there are upholstery colors, so it’s much easier to match paint to fabrics than the other way around. When you order your upholstered pieces, ask to order a
swatch of the fabric also; you can use this swatch to select paint colors, draperies, flooring, and other furnishings.

Q. What about an accent wall? Are those still popular?
A. Yes and no. They aren’t quite as popular as they used to be, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t look good in particular situations. Painting the wall behind your bed, for example, is often a great thing to do. It can add a lot of punch to a space. But here are some rules of thumb for accent walls:

Choose a color that truly is an accent color. What I mean by that is that the color should be quite different from the surrounding colors. For example, if the surrounding walls are a light tan, your accent wall should not be a slighter darker tan. Go with a dark chocolate brown, or burgundy, or navy, or rusty red. In other words, really make it an accent!

Choose a large enough wall to accent. Some people get a little scared and paint accent color on walls broken up by large windows or door openings, for example. In this situation, there probably isn’t enough wall space to accent successfully. Accent walls should already be feature walls in a room—such as a fireplace wall, or the wall behind your bed, or the wall behind the sofa.

Consider the ceiling as an accent wall. Ceilings can provide a great area for bold color. For example, in my son’s room, his walls are gray, and the ceiling is red. And in my own bedroom, my walls are taupe and the center of my ceiling is navy blue. I love the look!