Before and after: 15 lessons for redecorating your living room
Every great design story begins with a great client, and the owner of this 2,200-square-foot tract house in suburban Toronto is no exception. Though the family room was filled with builder-basic finishes, from flimsy bookshelves to a dated brass fireplace box, and washedout chenille sofas, my client knew what she liked- decorating with animal prints. With a few deft edits and loads of fashionable fabrics and accessories, we created a safari-chic space that’s high on design while remaining kickback-cool for this family of four. Here are 15 ideas that helped us get there.
Click on the image to see how this living room was transformed.
Textures and fabrics
1 If you love a look, don’t hold back. Diving into the deep end of your design dreams will give you a room that feels complete and well pulled together.
2 Texture appeals as much to the eye as it does to our fingertips. The sisal rug, woven chairs, linen sofas and the grasscloth lining the backs of the bookshelves are subtle touches that stimulate our senses.
3 My client’s sofas are quality pieces that she invested in years ago. Though the fabric was dated, the sofas had beautiful proportions and were the right scale for the room. By removing the skirts, squaring off the arms and recovering them in a hard-wearing off-white linen, the sofas were given a new lease on life.
Click on the image to see how the living room was transformed.
Wallpaper and trim accents
4 Wallpapering the backs of the bookshelves in grasscloth is a visual treat. It’s unexpected and it doesn’t scream “look at me” – instead it whispers, “Take a closer look and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”
5 Family snapshots are perfectly suitable, but nothing compares to the mastery of a real virtuoso. There are several online curators representing emerging artists offering expert works at affordable prices.
6 The built-in bookcases just needed a minor facelift. Styling the open shelves, squaring off their profiles and replacing the dated cabinet doors with a Shaker silhouette and new hardware paid off in spades.
7 Rather than tearing out the entire fireplace box, which was still in very good condition, the brass trim was simply painted black to match the front of the box, instantly giving it a sleek, modern appearance.
8 Giving cherished pieces like these vintage hardcovers pride of place on the ottoman and then juxtaposing them with modern home accessories adds character and a lived-in feel without looking dated.
Flooring, colour and lighting
11 In a monochromatic room, more is more. Layering rugs on top of rugs, toss cushions on top of toss cushions and decorative objets on top of books provides dimension and a sense of completeness.
12 A neutral room needs depth, and that depth comes from contrast. The dark brown leather on the ottoman, the black stripes of the faux zebra rug and the rich mock-tortoise shell side table help ground the space.
13 The original mustard wall colour was too warm for the new neutral scheme and would have muddied the rich browns and soft taupes. The cream colour is now the perfect backdrop for the jungle of prints and textures.
14 With the bamboo blinds kept intact, the windows in the dining area were given some much-needed presence by using the same black rods and drapery panel fabric as in the living room.
15 The existing wrought iron light fixture above the dining table was overly traditional. It was replaced with a transitional one that echoes the table’s shape and better complements the scale of the room.
Now that the lesson is over, we've rounded up 10 living rooms we love to show how you can make these elements work.