Can This Boring Bland Living Room Be Saved?

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Dear Laurel,

I eagerly read your blog and have all of your products, the rolodex and paint collection and pallets.

They’ve helped so much! Plus, I’ve implemented loads of your wonderful tidbits of decorating advice. By using your no-fail color scheme for staging our previous house to sell, we were able to attract loads of interest and get top dollar. Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge!

We’re now in a lovely home with high ceilings, nice trim, gorgeous windows and a modicum of architectural interest. Most of the home is coming together. But I’m at a loss as to how to design the long, bare wall that came from floating my furniture in my living room.

Well, actually, there are some other problems too, but I don’t want to be greedy if that’s too much to tackle for one blog post.

 

It’s just a boring bland living room.

 

And, there isn’t a lot of depth to work with on that long wall or it will make the traffic flow too tight.

 

Well, here it is; the BBLR. I’m a little nervous showing it to you.

 

That’s the front door coming into the living room.

 

And the boring, bland living room.

 

OH! I know exactly what you’re thinking, Laurel. My daughter said it too. That carpeting looks like grandma’s bathrobe.

Hideous, isn’t it?


This is the long wall I was talking about.

 

And yes, this is a pretty horrible mantel. But it looks so much better since I got the pretty fireplace screen from Horchow that you had in your Hot Sales posts a while back.

And yes, I know about the wires and the cable box. We are working on that one. They are all going bye-bye very soon.


The sofa from the front. See? We got the one that’s your favorite. We love it too! The coffee table is a cheap-y thing we picked up. Don’t know if we should paint or ditch it for something else.


Looking towards the kitchen/dining area.


The kitchen with pinky beige cabinets to go with the horrid pinky-beige trim and coordinating pinky-beige walls. And yes, that’s an engineered wood floor in they-must-be-color-blind-because-it-clashes-horribly-golden-oak.

I’m hoping that you’ll think this one will be interesting to your other readers; if so, I’d love to have at least, your take on dividing and conquering the inevitable swath of blank wall left over after arranging furniture in a floating arrangement.

Thanks for your time. I know you get lots of suggestions for posts so I understand if this isn’t a pressing issue.

Regards,

Anita

 

 

Hi Guys,

Well, here it is, another lovely home that has a lot of potential, but with a few problems.

And Anita is again, like last week (you can see that here), a real reader who wrote in.

I don’t know how old Anita is, but she has at least one grown daughter and a grandchild or two. Point is, there aren’t a lot of young’uns under foot all of the time.

Also, some of Anita’s letter was paraphrased and I took a little artistic license, in a couple of places. ;]

 

Okay, let’s jump in. Before I do… I’m going to do something a little different this week. I’m going to turn this one into a two-parter.

 

I will do part of it now and you guys can comment and then I’ll do the rest and perhaps incorporate some of your ideas into the post for Tuesday.

This will help me out a lot. I am leaving Monday morning to see my mom, sis and cousin in Wisconsin for a few. My 95-yr-old mommy isn’t doing so well. Her vascular dementia is quite advanced now and they just moved her to memory care because her assisted living home wasn’t meeting her needs which are pretty extreme.

God bless those of you who are caring for elderly parents if they get to this stage. I don’t know how you do it.

So, let’s really jump into our topic.

And it’s not so much that it’s a bland boring living room, but that there are some things that unfortunately are bringing it down. (but not everything)

 

Here’s my list in no particular order.

 

The sculpted wall-to-wall carpeting.

 

We had that back in the 70s. I didn’t realize that they still make this stuff. I would replace it with a hardwood floor to coordinate with the existing kitchen floor. If we can re-stain that, then I would make them a little darker and richer.

Anita didn’t say anything about the entry, but she’s located smack dab in the middle of silicon valley in Cali so we don’t have to worry about snow or snirt. ;] And believe me, after being blessed with a relatively snow-less winter, we’ve got plenty of late winter snirt around. (if you don’t know what snirt is, please open the link. It’s pretty amusing.)

But since she’s not apt to get a lot of ground in dirt and sand, I would just take that hardwood floor straight through the hall and into the entry. And then put down a beautiful rug; maybe sea grass. Then I might do an Oriental runner down the hall.

 

For the living room, I would do a natural fiber rug.

 

And I would do either a sea grass rug or the new Serena and Lily beautiful woven abaca rug.

 

Serena and Lily Fulton_Linen bed Dominica rug Abaca rug interior decorating questions answered

Here it is in this pretty bedroom.

Abaca rug from Serena and LilyAnd another view

Please don’t forget that the S&L upholstery sale is ending at 11:59 PT on March 12th

 

Sorry, just have to interrupt myself yet again. Did I mention that I got a new rug for my bedroom? I did and I LOVE IT! It’s from Overstock which a lot of the rugs are also from on the rug sale’s page.

 

Oh, Laurel, you aren’t going to be a tease and not show us, are you?

 

Yes, I was planning on tormenting you, but okay. ;]

Here it is! It’s an 8 x 10 which is the perfect size for my bedroom. It’s very soft and pale. And it’s hand-knotted. The rugs at Overstock are not overstocked at all. This is a one-of-a-kind and the prices are awesome!

 

https://rstyle.me/n/czfyaxbufmp

 

Okay, sorry for the interruption. Back to our regularly scheduled program

The fireplace mantel sucks.

 

Yes, that is a little blunt and yes, there’s worse, but not by much. And the reason it irks me so is because of the faux bas-relief grapevines like Michelangelo, himself sculpted them by hand? Not.

I have no patience for the ersatz – fake and phony in architecture or home furnishings.

I’d really like to change that one, if possible. It’s the focal point of the room. If we can’t change it, then fine. Let’s paint it AND the walls AND all of that barfy-beige trim a soft warm white like one of these great colors from Benjamin MooreCotton Balls, White Dove, Swiss Coffee, Cloud White or Simply White.

They’re all beautiful! And those are five of the 12 beautiful shades of white in the Laurel Home Essential Paint Collection (which is sold with the Palette and Home Furnishings collection.) You can find out more about that here.

 

Next up.

Yeah. You already know.

 

The windows.

 

God bless the home-builders in the 80s-90s with their post-modern weirdness. What could be better than the ubiquitous poorly scaled Palladian window home-builders favored in the 80s and 90s?

Half of a Palladian Window!

yeesh!

I once had a client whose family room was built over the garage and I guess because of the roof line, they could only get the top part of the half arch.

We ignored it. haha.

For these window treatments, I have two ideas in mind. But I’m going to hold off on that one. I’ll let you guys chime in on your solutions.

Now for the long wall.

 

We can’t put up a big bookcase because of the vent; well, not without a big expense.

I considered a console table, but I’d like to put one behind the sofa with two lamps. I like doing that when the back of the sofa is out in the open, if there’s room and it looks like there is.

Therefore I decided to do a big art wall!

I forgot that whenever I do an art wall— even virtually, it renders me into a limp rag.

But, here it is!

Artfully walls eclectic art wall for a bland boring living room

No wonder! That’s 26 pieces all framed, hung – lol and put into a particular order which of course I fussed with waaaaay too long!

And below, is a widget of all of the art– from Artfully Walls. The frames and mats, however don’t show up. And they are not scaled as shown. Most of the pieces at Artfully walls come in a number of sizes. It’s fun to play around with their wall planner too.

If you click on the individual pieces, it will take you to their product page on Artfully Walls.

 

 

And I just read this great blog post by Amy at Home Glow Designs. She has some great tips for getting your art walls perfect every time.

Hope that you enjoyed that. I will have a lot more for you on Tuesday evening.

 

But a bit of a preview.

I’ll be going over everything we talked about, plus a few more pillows,(which I can’t wait to show you) window treatments, some furniture ideas, lighting, paint colors, railing, front door. (I would paint it black!)

And a tummy tuck and facelift for the kitchen!

Oh, and I do love the gray chairs in the kitchen. They remind me of mine with an oval back.

xo,

 

 

PS: Don’t forget to check out the hot sales. Dozens of new items including many vintage pieces and great clothes for spring. All on sale!

 

5th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2018 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • maureen graham - March 23, 2018 - 8:10 AM

    Hi Laurel!

    I’m a little late on this, BUT I installed that Wayfair mantel during my condo renovation last year. It’s fantasticReplyCancel

  • LeeAnne Leathers - March 14, 2018 - 4:16 PM

    I have no value to add to the decor discussion HOWEVER am lmao over the SNIRT post. Oh my, after 20+ years in Jersey I finally have the vocabulary to describe my former surroundings! Happily back in the South where we wait idly for that inch of snow to melt away in the noonday sun. You have so much wit in your pinkie finger, Laurel.ReplyCancel

  • Amy Ohrtman - March 13, 2018 - 10:47 AM

    I think hardwood floors and paint would make the biggest difference. The sofa and chairs are beautiful. Definitely new throw pillows. That red pillow throws me off. That tiger print pillow you’ve shown in previous posts would look nice in this room. She could have her kitchen cabinets painted. I wonder if you could do some draperies that would cover the half moon window?ReplyCancel

    • Amy Ohrtman - March 13, 2018 - 10:51 AM

      Also, that mantel does not look that hard to remove and replace. It looks like a concrete mantel thats just secured to the wall. She could buy a new one and have that replaced. ReplyCancel

  • Joanne Rupp - March 13, 2018 - 7:17 AM

    I have been thinking about this room before I fall asleep and when I wake up so I thought it was time to add my two cents. Thirty seven years ago we bought the house we still live in. It has been a very satisfying work in progress. We had no hardwood floors and the dining room carpeting was horrible. We ripped ii out before the movers arrived, placed our Persian rug and then painted the edge of the subfloor a soft white. We lived with this for a few years until we could afford the hardwood floors. Could you custom cut a seagrass rug to fit like wall to wall and eventually have it cut down to an area rug?

    The fireplace mantel is just too big. A smaller, more simple mantel might help the windows not look too close to the fireplace. I would love to square off the windows. It’s hard to tell exactly how much space there is to work with on the long wall, but I would like to see a wall of narrow bookcases. A carpenter can extend the heating vent to the edge of the bookcase. Maybe there could be some lighting in the bookcase.

    Love your sofa and chairs. Take your time and enjoy the process. There are a lot of people in this world who would love to have your living room just the way it is. We are bombarded with information and it’s hard to not want it to be perfect right away.ReplyCancel

  • Sandra Kennedy - March 12, 2018 - 12:49 PM

    What is the fireplace mantle made of? Could the grape vine motif be scraped and sanded off and the painted?ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn H Peltier - March 12, 2018 - 10:35 AM

    This is the kind of piece I would do on the long wall – shallow, tall, open with abundant display space: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/445293481890100052/ReplyCancel

    • Kathryn H Peltier - March 12, 2018 - 10:37 AM

      Actually, after looking at that more closely, I see it is a shelf unit sitting on top of a console table, but think of it as a larger piece sitting on the floor lol.ReplyCancel

  • Leasa - March 12, 2018 - 10:03 AM

    I do love hardwood floors and need hard surfaces due to allergies but, if budget doesn’t allow, I think the carpet can be worked with. The key would be painting the walls and trim a warm white or very pale neutral. The muted teal of the carpet would then be the base of the color scheme for the living room and kitchen. The current furniture would work and the teal should be repeated in pillows, lamps and art. I’d like to see the teal paired with gold accents and/or green. I’d look at hanging wood blinds over the Palladian windows completely covering them (they would have to be lined). The blinds would hang at the same level over all the windows in the room. They should also be wide enough to cover the side trim. I’d prefer a lighter slightly golden color for the blinds (like the kitchen floor if it is staying)that then can be repeated in the tables and accessories in the room. Kitchen should be painted same as living room. Be great to paint the cabinets white but, if not possible, distract the eye with colorful curtains by the table.

    The grapes on the fireplace bother me but, from the views given I like the mantle proportions. I would look at removing them (I agree with the bondo recommendation above), filling and painting. My last house we had a decorative painter paint our faux stone fireplace rather than replace it. It was much less expensive (<$300), faster and less messy.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 12, 2018 - 10:57 AM

      Anita hates the carpet. :] And I do not recommend a faux finish for the fireplace. If the mantel is staying, we need to make it disappear as much as possible. But thank you for your ideas.ReplyCancel

  • Gabriele Braun - March 12, 2018 - 2:26 AM

    Hi Laurel
    I see a lot of potential in Anita’s house. Especially as we bought a very similar looking house 3 years ago simply for the location on a hill with a beautiful view and for the fact that it is a single story house. But the paint colors, the carpet, the kitchen everything was pretty much like Anita’s house, built in the beginning 90ies, supposedly “Tuscan” style.
    We painted the whole interior, walls, doors, trim, fireplace mantle, everything BM Simply White. We kept the very light colored travertin floor because it is still in very good condition and “organically” covers kitchen, family room, entry and hallway. We replaced all the carpet in all the rooms and the “official” living room with engineered wood floors. I think I brought 100 different floor samples to the house before we had the right one. ( no Orange, no reddish but rich and dark enough but not too dark).
    My point is, it made such a big difference and brought the whole house from dated to fresh. We did all the painting ourselves and it took us a month to finish it all with multiple coats of paint and hours of sanding. But in the end it was well worth the effort.
    I especially was reminded again today after we took a look at an open house in our neighborhood, same floor plan as our house, with the beigish, blah colored walls and outdated carpet. When we opened the door to our house I noticed again how much bigger and open our house now looks.
    It would be the same for Anita’s house. And once this groundwork is done, your suggestions for the natural fiber rug and/ or window treatments would just naturally make sense and would look so good and fresh together with a few modifications with some furniture pieces and accessories. I also think that some imperfect details will just visually recede and some kind of solution will emerge for the fireplace mantle.
    Hmm, the kitchen cabinets might need a different color, but that will fall in place over time.
    I wish Anita all the best with the update of her house and I look forward to your second part of the design advice. Just as I always look forward to every single one of your posts.
    Thank you
    GabyReplyCancel

  • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 11:31 PM

    Hi Guys,

    I’m so sorry. There are 23 comments waiting to be published and I’m going to go ahead and publish them, but I won’t be able to answer as I’m leaving in the morning and I haven’t even started to pack and it’s 11:30PM.

    But, thank you so much for all of your kind comments and support!

    xoxo,

    LaurelReplyCancel

    • Catherine - March 11, 2018 - 11:40 PM

      Hi Laurel,

      Your Mom & family are the most important people in the world. We all applaud your focus on them. We…your fans, will be here and open to your follow up when time permits….you cannot estimate that now. Our thoughts & emotions are with you….take care.

      CatherineReplyCancel

  • Mary Zeilinger - March 11, 2018 - 10:34 PM

    Hi Laurel, Thanks for giving us the day(yep I’ve been drooling and scheming all day)to play along. For the homeowner, Congrats, What a lovely space. I’m not a decorator or designer. Just another BABE( broke azz bi#*h envisioning).Today I envisioned this space and things was mine to play with. I started at the entry strolled through and said” I’m going to repaint , how about BM Pale Oak, oh and the trim would Chantilly Lace work? The front door black. Lets roll out a runner. One of those indoor outdoor asian inspired with blue,oranges in it. Something that says hello. The banister. Not crazy about it but I can live with it…painted black.Lets run a seagrass runner up the stairs, maybe edge it out with one of the entry rug colors. Another door, think Ill paint that black as well.That pass through window thing,”Honey will you drywall that for me.”. Honey has skills. Now I can hang a pretty mirror over the bar cart. The kitchen looks like I need honey to take those cabinets all the way up to the ceiling , continue with paint and wood floor. Update hardware. the dining area, continue paint and flooring. Ild like one of those wood beaded chandys.Maybe some relaxed roman shades in Hothouse. Oh and I want hardwood throughout. But not shiney.Warm and lustrous. Ah the living room.The window wall. Remove the sconce,flank window with bookcases,topped with Bunnys Malvasia wall sconce. Under the window Anthros Tanja trunk.(oh and don’t worry about if it fits, cause its my fantasy so of coarse it does lol). The window (rods to the ceiling) covering would be another relaxed roman shade, linen trimmed in blues. Fireplace windows. Rods all the way up,running from the corners to the fireplace. Trimmed linen drapes to the floor ,swagged towards the corner. If that doesn’t solve the 1/2 palladian prob then lets slip some woven wood blinds up under there. ‘Hey guys can you take the tv back down and put it back up tomorrow. Well Im going to paint out that entire niche flat black” Geeze that was a pain in the patootie. Now that its done trim it out, something with detail but not too ornate and paint it antique gold.Wow look at that fireplace. What is it made of. Dont know but the funds are running low. Lets get some mdf and a couple pieces of trim and make a box that will just sit over top of the existing mantle.Paint the whole thing out our trim color. Except. That awkward spot above that most lovely screen I pinned a few weeks back. I cant believe its the same one.What if I got a couple large tiles and went right over that spot. Maybe some black marble or a solid black tile. Now for the long wall. I have always wanted a beautiful secretary desk. I noticed that vent is not centered on the wall so I should have room. I wish to flank it with large egret prints in black frames. Since i really love the turquoise table, “Honey.can you take a few inches off the bottom for me. its a little too tall for the chairs”.I really like the coffee table.A quick spray of black and good as new. Lets keep the blue vases adding some faux greenery branches and lets add one of those pretty bowls. A nice white, lite blue asian rug?underneath.The black round table (too tall) I’m going to slide to the back corner of the chair next to the bookcase and add an orchid. For that chair i’d like a footstool topped with that mirror tray for guests to put their drink down on.Yes, please here’s a coaster.Lets do a console table behind the sofa, a pair of pretty lamps, looks like there is another pretty bowl.Perhaps a couple of upholstered stools under the table. Oh lets top it all off with the Sarah chandy. “Honey can you take the ceiling fan down…”POP!!! oh excuse me that was my reality bubble.ReplyCancel

  • Anita Roark - March 11, 2018 - 10:23 PM

    Thanks for all the great comments! Yes, paint will be the first order of business closely followed by new flooring. The unanimous choice is hardwood and I think that’s a great idea. For sure the ceiling fan is going bye bye. The cutout into the kitchen wall will be closed up and cabinets painted. New hardware, too. I want to remove that single cabinet next to the breakfast nook and replace it with floating shelving over a herringbone tile wall. Also, retile the backsplash the same. Other plans include closing the gap between the cabinet tops and the ceiling with trim. Maybe do glass fronts on some of the cabinets to lighten it up. Never thought of painting the front door black, because wood, but I had a black door at my last house and loved it! Should I start a go fund me? lolReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - March 11, 2018 - 9:51 PM

    Some people are picking up on the issue that the kitchen is going to have a big effect on the results in the living room, and vice versa. The good news is that the kitchen is going to be easy. Paint the walls. Either raise the upper cabinets (not as big a deal as it sounds, and I did it in my previous house and loved having the extra room above the counter) or use mdf and trim to connect them to the ceiling. Paint the cabinets. Upgrade the chandelier. Done. That big mantel in the living room is an attempt to give the house that distinctive west coast mission look, and is in character with the location in California. I wonder if you could remove the grapevine? Laurel’s work is of course the best, but you could also do a google images search of Barbara Westbrook, and see some beautiful rooms pop up that will seem similar, architecturally. A lot of her rooms have massive mantels. Paint (to make it look like a less orange-y stone) may be a good solution until you want to bite off the project of replacing it. I’m not sure that it’s really necessary. With painting the room and getting rid of the carpet, you are going to make so much progress it will amaze you. The good news is that it’s all going to be great, and you really don’t have to tear apart your entire house!ReplyCancel

  • Gilda - March 11, 2018 - 8:41 PM

    Laurel, my 88 yr old mom passed away about 1 yr ago from vascular dementia. My 92 yr old father, my brother and I helped care for her in their home and it was a true labor. My heart goes out to your family at this time.ReplyCancel

  • Leslie - March 11, 2018 - 7:16 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    Wishing you safe travels for your trip to see your mom. I cared for each of my parents and wouldn’t trade it for anything. I feel like we laugh(a lot) with you and we also empathize too as you experience this season in life.
    Congrats to Anita on your new home and thank you for sharing your project.
    I agree with the wood floors in a medium darker stain (if possible). I would put floor to ceiling wainscoting in a large grid pattern on the long wall and tie it in with a classic mantel all in white. I love the natural rug idea. The wainscoting could possibly be mirrored in the upper portion with a console table and decor/ lamps etc on it. But it depends on what is being reflected in the mirrors.(The upgraded trim could help the windows) I’d place a simple modern art painting with a circular motif over the fireplace to contrast with the traditional lines of the sofa and squares of wainscoting grid. I think the sofa is terrific and have two arm chairs from the same company with those lines. Maybe slipcover the chairs and add some nice pillows to compliment the art over the fireplace. The windows may be could be disguised with woven roman shades that compliment the rug and if there’s room, panels in a solid,geometric or chinoiserie pattern to tie in with the pillows.ReplyCancel

  • Gail Petrie - March 11, 2018 - 7:09 PM

    Sometimes I think I’m the only person in the world who thinks that a TV mounted over the fireplace is an abomination. This is a fabulous room with great potential. But please place an armoire (preferably antique) on the blank wall with the TV behind closed doors. Art surrounding that would be lovely. Then a piece of art could fill the niche over the fireplace.ReplyCancel

  • Catherine Forneri - March 11, 2018 - 7:06 PM

    I was nodding my head as I read your response to Diana. I also felt of two minds with my mom before she passed. I get it!

    I had fun imagining what I might do if this was my room. So often we see the before and after pictures right next to each other and there is no opportunity to daydream about it. I do look forward to part 2.

    Here were some things I noticed. Not only is there a vent on that long wall but plugs and is that a phone jack? It also seems as though the room gets a lot of natural light from the windows and dining area. At least during certain periods of the day. I remember when those darn Palladian windows started showing up. Good grief! People didn’t know what to do with them, and still don’t. Lol.

    I thought about the bookcase idea. It is possible to extend that vent so that it comes out flush with the front of the bookcase instead of the wall. For a price, of course. I do love the look of built-in bookcases. And anyway there is already a bookcase in the room. The art wall gets my vote.

    I’m really not a fan of those pass throughs. And I see a vase there so I don’t think it’s being used. I don’t like the bar cart there either. What if you moved the bar cart to the art wall (instead of a console table). Then make a (lighted) niche for that vase. You’d close the kitchen side of the pass through.

    I think the mantel would be lovely without those grapes. I like the lines. I wonder if it’s possible to tile over it and would that look ok?I

    Always, always enjoy your posts!ReplyCancel

  • Carol Freeman - March 11, 2018 - 6:31 PM

    Laurel, my mom lives with similar issues. I hope your visit brings peace to you or your mom, since one visit doesn’t seem to do both in my world.
    I always look forward to your posts.
    Anita, what fun you will have updating this room. I would make it a priority to get the mantle you want, starting with that screen you love and desiging a look and proportions around that. Lots of good ideas have been offered, and I’m sure Laurel’s will have all of us nodding.
    Ps– I love my seagrass rugs, and I have messy friends and old dogs. CarolReplyCancel

  • Barbara Droney - March 11, 2018 - 5:58 PM

    I would put down tarps and use bondo, to cover those grapes. Or fiberglass cloth and your boat building buddy.ReplyCancel

  • Gerri - March 11, 2018 - 5:32 PM

    I think Roman Shades mounted at ceiling height or as far up as you can would be a better option than drapes for thiose half windows. The issue to consider regarding a console with lamps is running electric into the floor which could be costly. Personally, i would wall mount TV on that long wall since it appears that there is a cable on that wall. It would change furniture placement, which means you take focus off the fireplace if you dont have the budget to fix that. There appears to be power on the wall where the bookcases are, and the bookcases do not appear to be built in. I would at the very least paint it out and try and cover up those grapes.ReplyCancel

  • Caroline - March 11, 2018 - 5:09 PM

    I think that that carpet has got to go. I know, it’s expensive to put in wood (I’m stuck with old carpeting myself right now–arg), but that carpet is just too much. Then, the some-shade-of-white paint! Just getting rid of the awful color on the walls and trim will make an enormous difference. After that, Anita will be filled with ideas for her beautiful new space despite a few other problems. As for the weird windows, I’d try to do what the above commenter suggested to try to make them invisible–otherwise, I’m stumped.

    Thinking of you and your sister and cousin with your elderly mother, Laurel. It’s hard.ReplyCancel

  • Barbara Kemp - March 11, 2018 - 4:43 PM

    Laurel,

    I am not sure I can add much after reading all the comments but I would start with just a couple things.

    – the mantel, get rid of it. Ugh! A simple, stained and better proportioned mantel to start
    – flooring, wood of course. i prefer light because the dust bunnies don’t show
    – paint the walls first and the woodwork

    These three things would be a good start and perhaps money well spent.

    Lastly drapes, I love drapes, lined drapes, florals, geometric, stripe, whatever. Drapes bring a room to life I think.ReplyCancel

  • Catherine - March 11, 2018 - 4:34 PM

    Anita has the basis for an absolutely gorgeous home! It can be a ‘stand out’!

    To me, the question of whether the mantel can be replaced or not is a key question. The current mantel looks like cast stone, and gives an ‘old world’/European feel to the space. If it’s staying I would make selections that are compatible with that feel. If the mantel is being replaced, then that opens up more style options.

    So, for my suggestions, I’ll assume that the mantel is staying. I would not paint it. The texture of the current cast stone adds a feeling of richness. I would choose a warm creamy paint colour for the walls & trim (same colour for both), similar to the lighter colour in the trellis pattern chair fabric. This will reduce the contrast between the walls & the mantel, and help the mantel blend into the architecture. I think that by playing down the mantel this way, the grapevine embellishments will also be played down. (When I first saw the fireplace, I didn’t mind it at all….I liked the scale, texture & colour of it. However, after I started focusing on the grapevine embellishments, they started to dominate my view of the fireplace. I think that once the other improvements are made, the grapevine detail will not be such a distraction anymore.)

    With the fireplace being downplayed, there needs to be a new, strong focal point on the fireplace wall. Since the TV is recessed in a niche, it could be covered by artwork mounted with hinges that allow it to swing to the sides when the TV is in use, like this http://www.sumpter.org/hiding-a-tv-in-the-living-room/hiding-a-tv-in-the-living-room-genius-way-to-hide-a-living-room-television-southern-living.html I would choose more colourful artwork to use in the frames, to create high contrast from the walls & mantel.

    I agree with removing the carpet & replacing with hardwood throughout, and adding area carpets.

    I feel that the windows need full-length drapes, to add softness and enhance the height of the room. For the half Palladian windows, my suggestion would be: First, an outside mounted Roman Shade (with very shallow mounting board), with blackout lining, to cover up about ½ of the curved part. Then layered over it, full length drapes on the sides away from the fireplace (with a rod that spans the width of the Roman shades & drapes, mounted even with the top of the Roman shades). They would cover up the remainder of the curved section, plus the trim & wall to the side. I would then do the same treatment on the large window, but use a pair of drapery panels on that window.

    I see the drapes in a creamy silk, and the Roman Shades underneath mainly blending, but with texture such as velvet, or a tone-on-tone patterned linen, or solid linen with tape trim. I envision the window treatments adding softness & luxury, but the artwork over the mantel as being the focal point.

    For the long wall, I would like to put a console there, with a combination of artwork on the wall, as well as decorative items on top of the console. The console would be open on the bottom (so as not to block the vent)…..something along the lines of this http://images.traditionalhome.mdpcdn.com/sites/traditionalhome.com/files/slide/img_finderskeeperslg_2.jpg (Dan Carithers) but the console would be more shallow & the items on it would be less varied. I envision a mass of ginger jars & vases. I see Anita has a number of blue & white pieces, and it makes me think that she would enjoy the opportunity for a larger collection. But rather than strictly blue & white, due to the creamy backgrounds, I would go with a variety of soft blues & greens that incorporate tones in the aqua and teal family too. (I’m envisioning the colours in an antique Flemish tapestry… this is the best example I could find, but it’s not quite the range of colours I’m envisioning, but it’s better than no visual. https://a.1stdibscdn.com/archivesE/upload/9087/37_14/7016_tapestry_910_x_72_10/7016_tapestry_910_x_72_10_l.jpeg ) I understand that putting a console on this wall would compete with a console behind the sofa, but possibly the console behind the sofa could be very streamlined/light, and more ‘filled in’ on the bottom (as opposed to filled in above the table surface) with 2 benches or baskets, and no lamps?

    Then I would incorporate the colours of the ginger jars & vases in the art over the mantel, toss cushions & accents in the dining area & kitchen.

    I think I would remove the bookcase on the wall with the large window. Possibly move the bar cart over there, and put artwork above, to create a stronger focal point coming down the hall. That would also leave more space in the hall for adding a console behind the sofa. With the bar cart moved, I would fill in that pass-through.

    I would paint the kitchen cabinets a warm white. I would replace the fan in the Living Room with a nice light fixture, and also add a new chandelier above the dining table. (I hope she’s keeping the shield back chairs….love those.) I would probably add window treatments in the dining area, and replace the Living Room coffee table.

    The elements I’ve described are primarily traditional, so there needs to be some contemporary elements…probably the light fixtures, the artwork & drapery hardware. Maybe the console behind the sofa also.

    I’m really looking forward to ‘Part 2’! Can’t wait to see the virtual transformation!ReplyCancel

  • Bobbie - March 11, 2018 - 3:35 PM

    Hi Laurel:

    My Mom has dementia as well. It’s a tough situation all around and we can only hope our Moms are feeling some contentment in their own minds in their own way.

    I’m going to weigh in on sea grass vs. sisal since I live in Savannah and both are used extensively down here. Sea grass is very durable as you say, but not so kind under bare feet. I like sisal because it’s softer. I think I found the secret to stains on sisal as long as it’s not red wine or something. But if it’s a clear liquid or even dog pee (I have two of them)- don’t do anything! Blot it up with a towel and let it dry. I never have a stain or an odor. The mistake is trying to clean the stain with water or a cleaner which darkens the natural sisal and causes the stain. Anyway, my two cents. 🙂

    I would paint this whole room one color – mantle, walls and trim – something “old world” like Sherwin Williams Ramie. (Sorry, it’s not Benjamin Moore!) That might help bury the mantle issue if a new one isn’t in the budget.

    Agree on hardwoods, natural grass rug, getting rid of fan. I’d deep six the bookcase as well. I think this room needs a couple more pieces of furniture – one where the bookcase is with maybe a mirror above it, and I think the art wall needs an anchor piece. Maybe a large secretary with two chairs on either side. Then add the art pieces. I think the wall needs height to balance out the windows across from it. New pillows, and floor to ceiling drapes for sure. Love the sofa table idea so may not need that end table. …all those end tables are too high.

    Can’t wait to see what you all do! Love your blog as always!ReplyCancel

  • lisa ruddick - March 11, 2018 - 3:22 PM

    Hi Laurel (and Anita, thank you for sharing pics of your home and inviting discussion!),
    If it were me–within my own, quite limited budget–I would actually prioritize the windows, even if it meant putting the kitchen renovation way on the back burner (though I might get the kitchen cabinets painted white, which wouldn’t be that expensive). The reason is that in my view, the halved Palladian windows really detract from the elegance of the house (I agree with Laurel that they are not ideal windows). So, myself, I would investigate the cost of getting some of the wall knocked out and having these windows revised to be regular rectangles. That, plus painting the walls a new color, would really elevate the house, in my view. Then, if and when I had more money to spend, II’d move on to getting hardwood floors, which would of course also make a big difference.. You have a lovely house, Anita, and–whichever changes you decide to make–I would guess that it won’t take much work to make it shine!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer - March 11, 2018 - 3:14 PM

    I tried typing in a response on my iPhone, 3 times it disappeared, so now I’m on my iPad and I see Robin has made my suggestion ;-). My last home had a living room that was awkward to furnish because the fireplace was set so that a sofa flanking the fireplace had just enough room behind it so that it wasn’t enough to have the sofa floating, and when against the wall, it was too far from the fireplace and chairs across from it. We ended up with a nice glass top sofa table against the wall, with the sofa against that. (That hides the vent in this room) A large custom picture above the sofa table finished it off nicely. I wish I could insert a photo because it really was nice. The Persian rug anchored the sofa and two chairs and was perfect for conversations, enjoying a fire in the fireplace and watching the tv that was on the wall opposite the fireplace. With the current layout of this room, only the sofa can enjoy the fireplace or the tv. It looks like the tv is stuck in the niche above the fireplace, but another option would be to put a nice picture in the tv niche, and make your long wall the tv wall, with a cabinet (with feet for the vent) to hold the cable box. Make the tv wall your art wall.
    This would work with the current furniture layout, or you could float the sofa opposite the long wall, one chair by the sofa with a round table between, leaving the other chair by the fireplace. This also allows the possibility of running electrical under the sofa, so you can have lamps. Floating the sofa as is doesn’t allow for any lighting.
    My suggestion on the fireplace is to grind off the grapes and then fill in the area with wood putty or plaster to make it smooth, then paint it. Sounds harder that it would actually be.ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer - March 11, 2018 - 3:44 PM

      Come to think of it, that mantle is trying to take over the room:-(. I know you probably can’t do everything at once, if your budget is anything like mine! So maybe just paint for now with the idea of replacing it as a joint Christmas preseant? I actually tore mine out and replaced it with a large piece of granite that is not what you would think of when you think granite, Cygnus leather, floor to ceiling. I think it is stunning, in my humble opinion, and made the wall less busy. It was less money than the mantles I found.ReplyCancel

  • Susie - March 11, 2018 - 3:10 PM

    Yes, the whole space has a lot of potential. But I can’t stand the carpeting, the stair “banisters”, the gold bar cart and the peak-a-boo “window” into the kitchen. The right paint color and the right accessories could go a long way. I think the biggest problem is folks don’t have a lot of money for decorating. It’s tricky trying to find an inexpensive way to fix the problem areas.ReplyCancel

  • Pamela - March 11, 2018 - 3:10 PM

    Lovely start. IMO the paint color drains the room and clashes with the blue green/gray carpeting so the first thing I’d do if it were my space is paint everything a Ben Moore soft white, eggshell on walls and semi-gloss on all the moldings, trim and doors. The verdigris stair rail ties into to the well proportioned entry decor & floor tile but isn’t strong enough in the living room so add some teal pillows, a throw and accessories to pull it through the space if keeping the carpeting, which I don’t mind so much. I wonder if rearranging the sofa at an angle coming off about where the vent is so it faces both the fireplace and large windows would reorient the focal point to being more about the windows and not the fireplace. That would greatly reduce the big blank wall so I’d move the white bookcase there and do a gallery wall above and around it. I think the shelves are adjustable and need to not be so uniform so have one big space in the middle with some nice pottery or art in it and some books on the other shelves. Then I’d place those beautiful chairs side by side in front of the windows and put gorgeous really wide draperies on the double window and simple matching panels on the 1/2 ones flanking the fireplace. Perhaps acrylic rods with brass finials & hardware to tie into the brass already there and update the sconce to one with a conical brass shade. The lighting in the foyer and breakfast room is too Victorian IMO & would benefit from a bigger dressier style and the fan light I would eliminate (or put in a modern fan with a simple light, not a big fixture).I’d also paint the wall and trim above the kitchen cupboards much lighter. Stack more art above the pretty, colorful piece to the left of the double windows and repeat w/more art where the shelves currently reside. Maybe encase the mantle with wood or float more stone-look material over the grape motif if that’s even possible.I love the coffee table as is but perhaps do it in lacquer after the color scheme is determined.ReplyCancel

  • Crystal - March 11, 2018 - 2:58 PM

    You have a lovely home. I agree on wood floors throughout the house and entry. Definitely new wall and trim paint. I wonder if you could plaster over the grape motif and paint out the fireplace. Replace the ceiling fan with something more interesting and while I like the idea of a gallery wall, I could see a large mirror in the center as a focal point that would bounce the light around from the adjacent window. Definitely cover the half arches with drapes. I might move the barcart to the wall in place of the bookcase and add a lamp and chair. I’m feeling like the bookcase and window are too heavy next to each other and if you add drapery it might feel too crowded. I would put a console behind the sofa with a lamp or two, and I think you have space to add a bench or a couple of extra stools to round out the seating. Add a beautiful orchid, some design books, a throw and some pillows, and I think it would be beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • Suzanne mundy - March 11, 2018 - 2:45 PM

    The first thing I saw was the TV over the fireplace. I have no idea what the budget is for this room, but my suggestion would be to place some sort of giant piece of furniture to weight that side of the room and have the TV behind doors in that. NOT an entertainment center! Please no. I have my TV in a southern linen press. It’s gorgeous. I have used it in my master bedroom and it is now in my family room. people come in and always stare at it and want to know what it is .
    I love everyone’s idea of masking the windows to hide the real shape of them and make them appear to be something else. I look forward to the next post! You rock Laurel!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 3:17 PM

      That’s a very good idea too! One thing though, is that the sofa should probably move, unless the TV can come out and be on a swivel. If the sofa is facing the TV with the windows behind, there is always that annoying problem of glare that has to be addressed.ReplyCancel

  • Susan Davis - March 11, 2018 - 2:08 PM

    For the windows I would replace them on either side of the fireplace to get rid of the arched window and make them rectangular…..
    Not a fan of a gallery wall as I think it looks too trendy and will be dated in a year and it is going to be expensive to boot; and unless you have a pro doing it it can drive you crazy…..I think there are other simpler ways to go….maybe fewer pictures but bigger?
    I love the idea of the wood floors in the living room….there are so many products out there and are easily a diy project.
    Lastly I have used Cloud White on all my trim and doors and love it so much I did it in a tiny bath and guest room next to it because it is a warm white, but still crisp but soft if that makes sense.
    Love your new rug! Looking forward to seeing how your bedroom progresses and are you doing the kitchen in your apt or still in planning stages…..you are one busy woman!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 3:13 PM

      Yes, busy, to put it mildly and afraid that something important is going to not get done. Thanks so much for all of the great ideas. And yes, now that I’ve had a few hours a little bit of sleep, fewer pictures for the art wall and some bigger ones would be better. Or maybe breaking it up, somehow. I could see a chest with a beautiful mirror/lamp and then a series of prints, six on each side that are the same size. That’s a great look!ReplyCancel

  • Dian - March 11, 2018 - 1:56 PM

    Yours is the only blog I read every time it comes in my email! Thanks so much. I noticed you bought a rug from Overstock for your bedroom. Don’t I recall that Serena and Lily wanted to give you one? Still working on your bedroom? Keep us updated!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 3:08 PM

      Hi Dian,

      Good catch. Yes, Serena and Lily did offer a rug and while I love many of them, none of them are quite right for my bedroom. There’s one wool one that I love the color and one wool one that’s blue that I love the pattern, so if that pattern had come in the lighter beige and cream tones, I would’ve definitely taken it. I really want something soft under foot for the bedroom. So, I’m not taking stuff just because it’s free. And I also want to show that S&L doesn’t have to look coastal. You can mix in their furnishings as part of an eclectic mix that will feel at home here in New York. Although, I do love their coastal look and I’m sure that they do very well with it.ReplyCancel

  • Cathy Vogelsong - March 11, 2018 - 1:15 PM

    You could still place a bookcase across the long wall, but include a built-in desk right over the vent, where the desk chair would sit.ReplyCancel

    • Danielle Emery - March 13, 2018 - 4:18 AM

      Hi Laurel, I think a full bookcase is still a viable option even with the vent. I had a heating vent in the library floor and the woodworker just took off the grate, installed an air vent deflector, put the grate in the baseboard of the bookcase, and it was painted to match. The air now blows across the floor instead of straight up. Surprisingly, it doesn’t look weird, vents are a sad fact of life like switch plates, I guess. One learns to ignore them.

      This vent looks big enough to be an intake, so she’d definitely want to check with an HVAC guy. Anita could then move the TV and easily hide those wires. (I’m in agreement with Suzanne about it not being over the fireplace).

      But my priority would be getting rid of the ceiling fan with the lights in it. The photos barely show it but it’s there, lurking above. A nice chandelier to go with the lovely furniture would be terrific.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 3:03 PM

      Hi Cathy,

      There would be room for a bookcase, but a desk with a chair, might be too tight, but thanks for the idea!ReplyCancel

  • Alice - March 11, 2018 - 1:10 PM

    LW’s furniture is quite nice so a paint job for the walls and trim and getting rid of that carpet would go a long way to making this look a lot better.

    Is that tile on the floor in the shot looking towards the door? If so, that could throw a bit of a wrench in the works.

    If they could restain the kitchen floor to a less orangey shade that would be great. I’d also have the kitchen cabinets painted. She’s lucky that the design of the cabinets is pretty classic (no arches, etc.). I’m always a sucker for a darker color on the base cabinets and lighter on the top ones. The open space above the cabinets bugs but it looks too small to have additional cabinetry added.

    You didn’t mention the ceiling fan–would you swap that out? Seems like it is in a strange place–doesn’t look like it is centered in the room.

    If it is in their budget replacing that mantel would be great–something simple to coordinate with the (half) Palladian windows. I like the firescreen but it seems too tall for the space as it is.

    I agree that an art wall is the best solution for the blank wall. I’d add a couple of larger pieces of art rather than have so many small ones. I’d also make sure to use those little sticky things that keep everything level since it looks like the passage space is a little tight there.

    Love your bedroom rug! I was searching for one just like that about a year ago with no luck. Probably better I went with a darker (dirt hiding) option, but I love the one you chose.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 3:01 PM

      Hi Alice,

      Thanks for your great ideas. Yes, I would change the tile in the entry to be the same as the rest and re-stain all if possible.ReplyCancel

  • Mary - March 11, 2018 - 1:06 PM

    Hi Laurel.
    First, let me say how sorry I am about your mother’s declining health. I can’t begin to know what seeing a parent linger & suffer like that must be like. I was fortunate that both of my parents got sick & passed quickly. I hope I’m as lucky.
    Ok, onto the design dilemma. As for window treatments, I would place the rods up high between the ceiling & the half-arch. And hang double or triple width panels that would stack back almost to the corners of the room. Leaving most of the glass exposed.
    For the big bare wall, I like the idea of a pair of very tall, large pieces of art. A diptych. Sometimes a gallery looks too busy to me. IMHO
    I really hope your reader buys buckets & buckets of paint. Painting out the place will bring her the biggest bang for her buck.
    Once the carpet is replaced with continuous hardwood flooring & the mantel is replaced with something that’s not from the Tuscan trend I bet the place would look smashing.
    Looking forward to reading other’s comments & your thoughts.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 2:59 PM

      Hi Mary,

      Thank you so much for your kind thoughts. Actually, my mother isn’t suffering. She always says that she feels fine. But that is one of her rote phrases. And yes, everyone else in my family has died pretty much without warning.

      Thank you too for your great ideas! I always think of Maura Endres’ art wall, but hers is broken up with a doorway which gives the eye a rest. Good point.ReplyCancel

  • Chris - March 11, 2018 - 12:51 PM

    My mother also had vascular dementia. A series of little strokes chipped away at her. She spent two years in memory care. I pray that she receives the same wonderful care given to my mom. Good thoughts and hugs for your trip.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 2:55 PM

      Sorry about your mom Chris and thank you so much for your good thoughts!ReplyCancel

  • Tracey - March 11, 2018 - 12:21 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    I can’t wait to see what you come up with on you BBLR post! I did love your thoughts on the bookcase on the long wall and wanted to share how we handled the problem of the vent. Handy husband built the bookcase and made the first shelf above the vent. In her wall she would also have to cut out the plug opening and probably the cable plug. It worked for us because the vent is only a cold air return that needs to draw in air so as long as she doesn’t block it , it works.
    Also wanted to mention I have serious rug envy about your rug!
    Best wishes on your family visit and thanks for all you do!
    TraceyReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 2:53 PM

      Hi Tracey,

      Thanks for sharing the info about the vent. That could work too! And thank you for your well-wishes as well!ReplyCancel

  • Tricia Heliker - March 11, 2018 - 12:06 PM

    Well Laurel, I’m right behind you on the hardwood floors and painting the stair rail. I’m also in agreement that something needs to happen to the mantel,but maybe when some other changes are made, painting it will be enough. If it were my house, I would lose no time in closing the cutout in the wall that looks into the kitchen… another seventies favorite. I wish I could move the furniture around until it satisfied me. Right now the two chairs on a diagonal guarding the mantel are making me crazy. I would have to get the furniture arrangement, with end tables and lamps in place before I could address the bare wall. I will stop with that and let other readers take their shot at it. Looking forward to what you have in mind for the windows.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 2:52 PM

      Hi Tricia,

      Thanks for all of the great ideas. I’m not in love with the opening either. If it wasn’t there, no one would ever miss it. Oh, I’ve closed up windows, (not removed them, just covered them up) and have at least once removed skylights that were ugly and bringing the room down. What happened is that I was planning on addressing everything in one post and then realized that would not be possible.ReplyCancel

  • Jane B - March 11, 2018 - 11:24 AM

    Love your suggestions for a start on redoing this room. I especially love that picture wall….wow!

    I would first paint the bookcase black. Move the large blue and white ginger jar to the top of the bookcase from the cutout “window” into the kitchen.

    Replace the square coffee table with something round and in a dark color or stain. This would tie in nicely with her pretty dark side tables. This room needs some warmth.

    I’ll be interested in what you suggest for drapes. Pillows and a throw in warm blues with at least one pillow picking up an accent color from the artwork.ReplyCancel

    • Rebecca V - March 11, 2018 - 8:10 PM

      Hi Laurel and Anita,

      I saw that BIG blank wall and my first thought was add a mural! Laurel posted some links a whle back, found a nice one at Anthropologie in similar colors to the those in the gallery wall.

      https://www.anthropologie.com/shop/coastal-cirrus-mural?category=murals-wallpaper&color=067

      Yes to darker hardwoods throughout with that abaca rug and lots of creamy white paint.

      For the windows, I would pick light wood blinds & then add white curtain panels with trim to match the chairs.

      For the fireplace surround, I can see painting it black as well as the bookcase.

      Can we remove the trim on top of the kitchen cabinets? Or paint the uppers and the trim the same creamy white as the living room and dining area?

      RebeccaReplyCancel

    • Rebecca V - March 11, 2018 - 7:16 PM

      Jane,

      I love the idea of painting the bookcase black! It would help ground the space. Maybe add a nice black coffee table or paint rhe existing one?

      RebeccaReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 2:47 PM

      Some excellent ideas Jane! Thanks so much!ReplyCancel

  • GGG - March 11, 2018 - 11:16 AM

    Love the home makeover blogs–we can all relate! I think your idea of painting the fireplace white to match the trim would be worth a try. Maybe the grapes and vines would recede a little. If it is cast stone, I wonder if you could sand the foliage off? No idea if that would be possible, but then you might have a nice simple mantel. Or you would have messed up the existing mantel! Maybe a bad idea….
    I wonder if a cast stone mantel supplier would be able to cover up the foliage–I think the “cast stone” is a concrete mix so that might be possible.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 2:46 PM

      Hi GGG,

      I was thinking of something similar for the grapes, but when I really think about it, the proportions just seem off to me. I have always LOVED beautiful fireplace mantels. In fact, I have a group board on pinterest called Fireplace Mantels That Will Make You Plotz! LOLReplyCancel

  • nancy keyes - March 11, 2018 - 10:56 AM

    Good Morning Laurel,
    Love your new rug! It will be really perfect! Sorry about your Mom…
    I agree with all of your ideas: Paint the door AND the rail black. Wood floor, S and L rug, console with a pair of lamps, pillows, art, new mantel, new paint. A couple of other thoughts: Remove the ceiling fan! Close in the pass through from the kitchen. 2 things I would do if it was my house, I would take the upper windows out and replace them with square windows. Also, I like the art wall, but as an alternative the whole wall could have a built in bookcase. It could be built with a deep base with openings in it that could be done decoratively to look intended.
    Have a safe trip! I know it’s not an easy one. XOReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 2:37 PM

      Hi Nancy,

      Yes, remove the fan! I used to live a few miles from there, in Palo Alto. It rarely gets super-hot. Amazing weather! I forgot to mention that one. Interesting about the upper window idea. It might be prohibitively expensive, but I’m not sure about that. But I do love that idea. I like the idea of a bookcase, except that it does disturb the symmetry of the room, unless, there’s something built on the other side, which is also a possibility.ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn H Peltier - March 11, 2018 - 10:41 AM

    I would suggest a large etagere for the long wall, which would provide nice display space without blocking the vent. As far as the windows flanking the fireplace (which I agree, must go), I would hang a lightweight roman shade in white above the top frame, and letting it cover the top, rounded part. Using a nice, beefy rod, a long drapery panel pulled to the outside of each window would then “square” off the window. All the furniture is nice. I think the biggest difference in this room will be a change of paint – as you suggest, to a white. Even if the carpet stayed (which I hope it won’t), a sisal rug, again as you suggest, could be layered over it, at least for the short term.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 2:31 PM

      Hi Kathryn,

      Thanks so much for your great ideas! To be clear, the rug I’m talking about is sea grass, not sisal. Sisal looks great until one spills ANYTHING on it. And then it’s a goner. Sea grass is virtually indestructible and impervious to stains. It can also be applied wall-to-wall but it needs to be glued down, so I recommend putting in a hardwood floor to coordinate with the kitchen floor. It could be the same, or oak that’s stained the same. I think that for resale it’s the best solution as well. Although they just moved there, so that’s probably down the road a while.ReplyCancel

      • Kathryn H Peltier - March 11, 2018 - 2:37 PM

        Sorry, I always use “sisal” as a generic term. I agree with you about the spills lol, having had one.

        Unless they can install the exact same flooring and feather it in, I might recommend doing a wood border running in the opposite direction of the kitchen floor at that opening. It wouldn’t have to be a sharp contrast, but just enough to separate them. I have done this in quite a few old houses where we couldn’t match the old flooring. It works pretty well.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 3:15 PM

          No problem Kathryn. I do that sort of thing too sometimes. It depends on how skilled the flooring folks are, but usually, they can match pretty closely a different wood with existing wood. Old houses frequently have two or more kinds of wood and right next to each other. So, that sort of thing doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is if they are two distinctly different colors.ReplyCancel

  • SUSAN - March 11, 2018 - 10:20 AM

    Great post, Laurel. Sending good thoughts your way for your sweet mother. I am going through a similar situation. Not easy. Fabulous post. Loved the link to the art gallery tips! Safe travels.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 2:27 PM

      Thanks so much Susan and for your good thoughts. I’m sending some back your way too.ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - March 11, 2018 - 10:04 AM

    Hi Laurel, I’m seeing that the kitchen table chairs are not the same in the two pictures. Maybe, she switched them out for your opinion? If she was going to keep the wall color, I remember from your past posts that beige rooms need some white and black to keep from going flat, but painting sounds better.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 2:25 PM

      Hi Kelly,

      Good catch. Yes, the chairs are different. I’m hoping that they gray-blue chairs are staying. I love them. And yes, the walls will be painted! That one thing alone is going to make a tremendous difference!ReplyCancel

  • Margaret Vant Erve - March 11, 2018 - 10:02 AM

    Hi Laurel,

    I am a new subscriber after coming across your blog repeatedly in pinterest and seeing all your wonderful work. I love your funny, engaging writing style. Oh, and your style too. I work as a house painter and furniture restorer/makeover. I trained as an artist so I also do all the colour consulting on my jobs. Those four years of colour theory were the best classes I have ever taken. Enough about me.

    The colour in that house is almost as ugly as the salmon pink that was in my entire house when I moved in.

    As soon as I saw that big long wall, I thought art wall. A lot of houses don’t have that possibility and this one is perfect for it as there is lots of space to view it from a distance and yet you can go up close too. The trim colour is hideous. With those large windows, it would have been nice to have a large profile trim, however painting it cotton balls or simply white would be great and a nice soft colour on the walls like pale oak.

    Those windows are insane. I would do drapes from floor to ceiling (would be nice to have a bit of pattern in the room) on all the windows and put a textured blind on the top part covering that half arch. I look forward to seeing what you come up with.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 2:24 PM

      Hi Margaret,

      Welcome! There are a lot of people who find me from pinterest. Some great ideas you have, too. Thanks so much!ReplyCancel

  • Robin - March 11, 2018 - 9:57 AM

    I like her house and I think the size of her living room is great. However, the sofa facing the fire place is making it seem smaller. I would put the sofa perpendicular to the fireplace with picture wall behind it . The sofa would face the double windows and would be pulled away from the wall so it would be about 24 inches from the coffee table. Opposite the sofa I would place the two chairs with a rectangular side table between them. These also would be pulled away from the windows and about the same distance from the coffee table as the sofa is. If she has the room, she could go more the 24 inches as long as the furniture isn’t backed to the walls. This would open the room for guest to walk in instead of walking around the sofa. I would put drapery (pleated or plain depending on how much she wants to spend) panels on all the windows. Fortunately the windows are the same height. The half Palladian windows would have only have one panel each. I would put the rod for all the windows just below the crown moulding. I would have throw pillows that use the colors of the lovely painting over the fireplace. I would take out the bookcase and move the bar cart to where the book case was. This would open the traffic pattern from the front door through the LR to the dining area. I would paint the coffee table until she gets a chance to replace it. I would put one side table with a lamp on the side of the sofa closest to the fireplace and put the gray painted garden stool on the side closest to the kitchen wall with one of her floor lamps behind it.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 2:21 PM

      Hi Robin,

      I’m surprised that no one has mentioned that’s a TV over the fireplace. I have to go back and see what Anita said. I was thinking about some solutions if one doesn’t want to see the TV all the time. I have some ideas about that one too. I’m not having a problem with the room layout. It’s probably difficult to tell from the photos, but one has easy access without having to walk around the sofa.

      And yes, we have plans to change the bookcase.ReplyCancel

  • Susan B Strauss - March 11, 2018 - 9:30 AM

    Hi Laurel,

    Always enjoy your design challenges and solutions! The first thing I thought of when I saw the long blank wall was ART! Absolutely the right choice IMO. However, I’m wondering about the choice of the art all being of a similar size. I would have at least one somewhat substantial piece that is then balanced with smaller ones. Maybe that’s just personal preference. In my current home, I have a really long hallway where I created several vignettes of clustered works, with breathing room between each, but that’s a hallway not an LR wall.

    I have more thoughts about some other aspects beyond the long wall, (two different color moldings between foyer and LR? white bookshelves? other art?) but will wait on those til part 2 of the post.

    Best,
    SusanReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 2:14 PM

      Hi Susan,

      I agree in varying the sizes; there are several different sizes, but one or two larger pieces would’ve been nice. I am bound by the sizes Artfully walls offers. And of course, not everything would have to be by them!ReplyCancel

  • Teresa - March 11, 2018 - 9:22 AM

    Ob boy, what a treat. My favorite type of blog entry. Room makeover by Laurel. Can’t wait to see what you do about those windows by the fireplace. I am guessing that you might use drapery to mask the shape and size, give them the presence to stand next to the large mantel? It would be extremely tempting to make them disappear completely but for some of us windows and light are the holy grail. I think there is just one other window in that room. My only other thought was embracing them completely by hooking them all up with trim across the top. Then a mirror in the middle to try to tie it all together. I am guessing that this idea is exactly why I am not an interior designer, lol…… What to do, what to do. No problem, Laurel will sort it 😀ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 2:11 PM

      Hi Teresa,

      Generally, the first idea one has in decorating, is the best one. lol Thanks so much for your kind words!ReplyCancel

  • Sharon Wettlaufer - March 11, 2018 - 9:14 AM

    I have a cathedral ceiling in my kitchen with 2 -4′ skylights.
    the ceiling stats at one section of cupboards and goes up. The cupboards are pained Dove white
    lots of light – one west window, 2 south facing skylights, 1 east window and east patio door.
    walls to be painted “BM collingwood”
    Should I change the cloud white ceiling to simply white or chantilly lace?
    thanks SharonReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 2:10 PM

      It’s probably fine the way it is, Sharon. The ceiling color will look different, even if it’s the same as the walls. It does not need to be a slightly different shade. It might end up not making any appreciable difference and then you will have spent money for nothing. If it looks bad, then sure.ReplyCancel

  • Tinamarie - March 11, 2018 - 9:10 AM

    I think those end tables are to high and should not be higher than the arms on the sofa and chair. I would paint the fireplace black to match your front door. I just painted my ceiling and doors black and love them!

    Also replace that sconce with something beautiful and striking and move that white shelf so you can see that wonderful sconce. Sconces are such a wonderful detail to have in your home, play it up.

    Now keep in mind, my home needs help too! So don’t get upset by the comments, rather considered yourself lucky. I am building a new home and staring at empty rooms with exhausted thoughts. I mean I don’t want to complain about being able to build, but it’s a second job and now I have to decorate!

    So take it all in and apply it, lucky lady.

    Sincerely,

    Tired TinaReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 2:02 PM

      Hi Tinamarie,

      Yes, you are right about the end tables. And thank you for mentioning that most of us could make some good changes with our homes! Myself included!ReplyCancel

  • Sharon Wettlaufer - March 11, 2018 - 9:09 AM

    How wd o we get to see the change in the living room?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 2:08 PM

      Tuesday. God willing! That is, if you mean virtually. Otherwise, we’ll need to wait for Anita to send some pics when she’s finished.ReplyCancel

  • Amy, Home Glow Design - March 11, 2018 - 8:05 AM

    You can tell how excited I was when I misspell my own name. Ha!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 2:04 PM

      haha! I fixed it! I try to fix typos, if I notice them. I certainly make enough of them! I wish there was a feature so that people had a few minutes to go back and fix things like on facebook.ReplyCancel

  • Diana Pinkerton - March 11, 2018 - 8:02 AM

    I’m so sorry to hear about your Mom and I know this is a very difficult time for your family. I cared for my Mom for several years and she also suffered with vascular dementia. She passed in October and it’s still hard.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 2:00 PM

      Hi Diana,

      Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. I’m in two-minds about seeing mine. On the one hand, I don’t want to regret not seeing her before her time comes, but on the other, I hate seeing her like this.ReplyCancel

  • Amy, Home Glow Design - March 11, 2018 - 7:59 AM

    Thank you so much for linking to my gallery wall post, Laurel!! I was wondering why I had so many more page views this morning than normal 😘

    Those windows — can’t wait to see what you think, but my initial thoughts are 1. Use single drapery panels on those windows and tie/drape them back on the sides opposite the fireplace with drapes on the windows on the wall perpendicular or 2. A faux Roman treatment on the fireplace windows and Romans and drapes on perpendicular wall.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 1:54 PM

      Hi Amy,

      I’m so glad that people are clicking over to your lovely site and blog! I do read it, even if I seldom comment because… well, sometimes I actually get a little tired of writing! One of my ideas is the same as number 1, for the funny windows. Of course, in addition to them being the odd shape, they are also a good 10″ too close to the fireplace. With all of the uproar sometimes regarding interior design licensing, someone please tell me why builders are allowed to do some pretty outrageous things and nobody bats an eyelash.

      Oh… no one except us “decorators” who are pulling our hair out trying to fix their hideous gaffs!

      And to be clear, it’s not ALL home builders. I did get an email from someone recently who took great offense as he/she should. But I rarely make any blanket statements. It’s just that it’s very common.ReplyCancel

  • Anna - March 11, 2018 - 7:35 AM

    Hi Laurel,
    I love your blog and look forward to each new entry!
    I have one quick question with regard to paint colors. These are the whites that you mention quite often: “Benjamin Moore – Cotton Balls, White Dove, Swiss Coffee, Cloud White or Simply White.”
    They are in the forefront of my mind right now because I tested them all and, in the process, discovered my favorite that I’ve never seen you mention: Benjamin Moore Bavarian Cream OC-123
    I’d love to have your opinion on this color.
    Thanks!
    AnnaReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 1:46 PM

      Hi Anna,

      I’ve never used Bavarian Cream before, but my recollection is that it goes a little yellow; not that, that is a bad thing. I’m sure that it’s very lovely.

      Paint colors are a little like husbands as I see it. Once you find one you like, you don’t need another one. lol My favorite creamy whites are ivory white (same color as acadia white), mayonnaise and linen white – depending on the situation. I talk about this more in my paint/palette collection. ReplyCancel

  • Cynthia Lambert - March 11, 2018 - 7:32 AM

    I actually quite like her rug. It’s a lovely colour and texture, and yes, sculpted rugs are still a thing. And I would prefer it over a seagrass anything or sisal anything. Your first sisal rug is always your last sisal rug, they say. Anyone who has lived with sisal knows that. The current penchant for seagrass won’t last, and it would have to be replaced again. Why not just clean up that rug, since it’s such a pretty colour? Give more attention to the weird kitchen colours and address that situation. A few colourful and same-size cushions would do a world of good on that sofa. To me, the most egregious thing about the living room is the brown painted mouldings that should be white, and that funny coloured accent wall.Just some judicial painting would create a better atmosphere in there, and cover up those crazy windows with some draperies.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 1:34 PM

      Hi Cynthia,

      I agree with you about sisal. Never sisal, but sea grass or abaca are wonderful fibers. As far as I can tell, designers have been using sea grass since the 60s – at least. My old boss put it in her store 27 years ago.ReplyCancel

  • Korina Trew - March 11, 2018 - 4:12 AM

    Ok, I would paint the kitchen cabinets, probably white. New lighting in dining room. Maybe paint the stair railing black if painting front door black. I would keep the coffee table but paint it a really fun color, like china red or arsenic green or a brightish blue/green. Or look for one you love…but you could paint it for now. Also, I would consider adding a vintage framed mirror on the empty wall to bounce the light around a bit. Ok, actually I would put it where the tv is to cover up that nook thing. I would grab a couple of sheets to test this out because this might not work, BUT I am wondering if you did a nice full curtain up to the ceiling on that special window and cinched it to one side so it would basically disguise the specialness…hard to tell if that would work or not. And I would consider putting a palm of some kind behind the dining table if there is room. Need some greenery somewhere. And also the little lookie through thing should have some proper framing in with molding. And there should be a dog lounging somewhere…. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Susan - March 11, 2018 - 3:22 AM

    For the long wall with the vent, how about some sort of a planter similar to this one.

    You could arrange different plants/flowers in it of varying heights. Or they could all be shorter with some sort of wispy object over it on the wall.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 1:26 PM

      Hi Susan,

      Would the planter sit on the floor? It seems that she would need to get more than one.ReplyCancel

      • Susan - March 11, 2018 - 1:54 PM

        So the planter could be raised up off the floor as I figured out later (below). It wouldn’t have to be the same one I saw online — maybe something not as wide and longer, if need be, to fill more of the space.

        OR you could think about a long ottoman with legs similar to this one: https://www.wayfair.com/furniture/pdp/chic-teak-long-island-ottoman-cctk1028.html.

        Anita, I posted a few things that I came across just to give you an idea. I’m sure there are other things out there that are more to your liking. Or you may not feel that any of these ideas would work in your home! Good luck with your project!!ReplyCancel

    • Susan - March 11, 2018 - 4:09 AM

      O.K., I forgot about not blocking the vent (while trying to hide it). So raise the planter up with some sort of “feet” and have artificial greenery or an arrangement of branches in it.

      OR you could have a decorative planter similar to this one:

      On the lower level you could have small airy arrangements of some sort that wouldn’t block the air flow.

      O.K., I’m done!ReplyCancel

  • ADRIEN - March 11, 2018 - 1:37 AM

    Wow, I can see so much potential in your home, Anita. May I provide some input as to what I would do? I’m not an expert like Laurel. But I tend to be the one among friends and family that help with design advice.

    Here’s what I would do. I’m a fan of keeping the flooring the same throughout an entire floor. The flooring in the kitchen isn’t all that bad. Is that like a knotty pine wood? What about pulling that throughout the entire first floor and staining it a bit darker and richer. You have a great sofa in white so make it pop with something richer below it.

    I love the image that Laurel provided with the abaca rug. But what else I love about that photo is that the walls and trim are the same color. I can’t remember the actual blog article by Laurel where she provided beautiful examples of rooms where the trim and walls were painted the same color. But the trim had a satin or semi-gloss sheen and the walls had an eggshell or satin sheen. It’s really elegant and sophisticated look.

    I think if you made the walls lighter and pale and the floor richer and darker it would really ground the room. I’m personally a fan of darker flooring and lighter walls/ceilings. I’d also paint the interior of the entry door the same color as the trim. Now as is it has a dated 70’s or 80’s look.

    The only thing I don’t like about the fireplace is the horizontal portion of the mantel with the grape motif. Is there any way to only replace that portion and leave the sides? Maybe make it darker to pull focus when you enter the room.

    Whatever Anita decides to do I hope we are able to see progress and updates to see where she takes this. I love seeing rooms transform.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 11, 2018 - 1:22 PM

      Hi Adrien,

      Thank you! Some great advice there. That’s a definite for painting the front door.ReplyCancel