Having Trouble with A Kitchen & Living Room Makeover

Hi Everyone,

Well, I don’t know what to say. This will be the shortest post because it is after 11:PM.

I have been working all day on creating two renderings for Mary’s kitchen and living room makeover.

One is the fireplace wall with a sliver of the buffet from last Wednesday.

The other is the one I spent the most time on.

The kitchen.


Gosh, the poor woman just had a question about her buffet lamps, and here I go again doing a whole living room makeover!


Okay, I do have something to say, related to this topic of a home makeover.

The other night, I was innocently changing one of my incandescent light bulbs. Frankly, I love 25-watt bulbs, but I can make do with a 40, especially if my lamp has a dimmer, which some do.

Anyway, high up on the cabinet over the sink, I found a package of two 2700 Kelvin LED bulbs. I do not remember buying these, and one was missing. Maybe the previous owner left it for me? Or, maybe I blocked it out. That could be the case.


So, I took the 2700 kelvin LED bulb out and put it in one of the shaded black lamps by the living room windows.


my living room holiday 2021-warm lighting
No, this was from last year. These are incandescent bulbs. They are usually not turned up quite this high.


After installing the LED bulb in the lamp on the right, I turned it on. Not all the way, maybe halfway.


I took a few steps backward and turned around.

Horrifying is the word that comes to mind.

Yes, like a horror show. From this supposedly soft bulb was very bright, cold, white light.

Surely, if I turn it down as far as possible, it’ll be okay then.

No. It was just a dimmer shade of white light.


I stood back a little further to see both lamps together. I’m pretty sure I heard the other lamp snickering when I turned my back.


Now, I realize that a few of you LIKE LED light bulbs. I will not comment if you won’t comment about my disdain for them. Or, at least, the one I have. If there’s truly a warm light bulb, I will take another look.


What reminded me is that Mary has 3000 kelvin LEDs in her recessed downlights. This creates a cold light with a lot of glare.


I know. Someone is going to make the argument that the colors are so clear with LED bulbs.


To that, I’m going to say, “I don’t want them to be clear; I want my room to be glowing with soft, warm light. I don’t give a rat’s A about the colors at night.

Okay, I know I’m going to get an earful. I have written about LEDs, but I need to do further research.

I am fine with these bulbs as long as they make them soft, warm, and able to be dimmed to no more than the equivalent of a 3-watt incandescent light bulb.


Therefore, I plan to report back within the next couple of months.


I am also going to include in that topic recessed downlights. Some people call them “high hats.”

A few months ago, I saw that my Gil (Schafer)… You know, I’m only teasing when I say my. I know good and well that Gil ran off and married someone else. However, I saw some gorgeous recessed downlights in one of his rooms. I don’t remember which one.  I’ve seen other A-list designers use them as well. Recessed downlights have come a long way.


I can’t stress this topic enough.


Lighting is the most important thing in residential decorating. It is even more important than the architecture, although that’s important too. But, think how atrocious an architectural gem of a room would be with a bare light bulb hanging in the middle of the room.

I see Mary left some lovely comments.

Fair enough, she doesn’t want outlets in the middle of the room and doesn’t want wires under the rug, etc.

Yes, there are battery-operated lamps like the one Magic Lantern make. I did a post featuring them years ago.

Are there other options if one doesn’t want eight lamps in a large room?


Yes, there are.

The most important thing is to have the corners lit with lights that will bounce the light back into the center of the room.

But, one can also use wall sconces for variety and spotlights. You can also do lights on the floor hidden behind a potted plant.

And then you can direct the recessed light so it, too, is hitting the wall either very concentrated or in a flood of light.

My point is that there are options when table lamps are not a possibility. And, yes, there will be enough light to read by. Or, for book reading, get something battery-operated if the light is otherwise too dim.


Again, I am not anti-recessed downlights. I’m for doing them in a way that creates a beautiful lighting situation.


Okay, for someone who said this was going to be a short post, I sure am talking a lot.

Let’s look at what I did for Mary’s home.

But, before I do. I love doing these posts and will gladly do many more this year. However, these are exercises– lessons in decorating meant to appeal to many readers. I am not decorating people’s homes for free. They don’t get to choose.

(Evil laugh) I have ULTIMATE POWER! (more evil laughing).

And besides, so many of you have fantastic ideas. These posts are meant to open our eyes to new possibilities.

Here’s the other thing. I really don’t know how the renderings are going to turn out.


So, let’s go back to Mary’s living room makeover.


If you missed Wednesday’s post or want to refresh your memory, please check it out here.

We left off with this image of Mary’s living room in her north-central California home.


Mary's room new lamps coffee table accessories

This is the rendering I did on Picmonkey using Mary’s photo and superimposing the new furnishings to do Mary’s living room makeover, virtually.

I think I read that Mary’s husband likes the coffee table, and so does Mary. He likes the prints, too. I believe that the vignette balances out the mirror very nicely.


For the fireplace wall, I struggled a bit.


Not with the floor plan. That worked out as I hoped it would.


Mary's floorplan revised with seagrass rug, slipper chairs, opium coffee table, end tables
Those two dark teal rectangles are slipper chairs that fit in perfectly, not blocking the TV or fireplace. This makes for a much better conversational seating area. (Thank you, Maggie Cohen, my space planning teacher at the New York School of Interior design back in 1988!)

As at least one of you mentioned, the rug is a tad small for the room. Yes, that’s true. Plus, you can’t see it until you’re in the space.


So, I layered the oriental with a much larger seagrass rug underneath.


Then, I pulled the sectional back towards the kitchen and over towards the sliding glass doors.

Yes, the seating area encroaches slightly on the entrance, but the hall is 7.5′ wide. So, there’s plenty of room. And plenty of room to get behind the sectional as well.

Where I struggled, with this living room makeover is with the color of the upholstery for the slipper chairs.

Ballard Designs dark blue slipper chair

While I didn’t hate the dark teal color, I didn’t love it, either with the stone.

Okay, I used Mary’s photograph and wanted to get a bit of the buffet area in, so I did a little cheat which you’ll see in a sec.

Mary stone corner fireplace

fireplace wall - after sage walls



Sorry, it’s not the best rendering. However, I went with a similar neutral for the slipper chairs that’s on the sofa. I tried medium-dark blues and very dark blues. I think it’s the best option, having tried many others.


I might take another stab at it for the living room makeover because I can see that we’re not going to get to the kitchen.


Bummer. I can’t wait for you to see it.  Apologies again. These topics do take three posts. The seagrass was hard to put in, and it got a little whacky, but you get the idea.

Of course, they don’t have to do the Chinoiserie pillows. But, I love the colors. That is Le Lac by Brunschwig and Fils. It’s insanely expensive, but you can usually find affordable pillow covers on Etsy. Please note that the repeat is HUGE, and the pattern is quite varied. So, if you don’t want people on your pillows, you might be able to specify that.

I did Le Lac pillows for this living room several years ago.

I love the colorful painting here. I chose something impressionistic, which I think suits the stone very well.

The chairs, I believe, are in this week’s Hot Sales widget. They are a Suzanne Kasler design for Ballard Designs and are on sale right now. There are dozens of fabrics to choose from, and several leg finishes.

The prints go closer to the mirror, and they, too, can be something else.

Okay, that’s it for today.


Wait, Laurel. Don’t go!


Yes, what is it?


You can’t leave us hanging like this. What did you do with the kitchen?



I’m sorry, I can’t tell you now, but it’s really good. ;] Please give me feedback, for the living room makeover, and I can make some revisions if necessary. Wednesday will come very soon.


Photo by REGINE THOLEN on Unsplash
Photo by REGINE THOLEN on Unsplash


There, there now, please stop looking so glum.

Fine, I will share one thing from the kitchen to give you something to ponder.



I used this fabric, Nympheus by GP&J Baker, an English company repped by Lee Jofa (I believe), for two Roman shades. Nympheus comes in several fantastic colorways.

Here are some Nympheus pillow covers in this colorway for sale.


Oh, Laurel, pleeeeease just tell us what color the walls are.



Benjamin Moore timson green cw 470

I chose a Laurel Home Collection Paint color— Timson Green which is part of the Colonial Williamsburg collection at Benjamin Moore.




Yes, really. There is very little wall space, and the green looks fabulous with the stained wood. :]

For other colors that look great with stained wood, please check out this post.


I hope you enjoyed the second of three installments of Mary’s kitchen and living room makeover. (virtually)



PS: Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES, filled with gorgeous home furnishings and a new women’s clothing widget. And, all on sale!

PPS: I just have to say that Crown Point Cabinetry is doing the most amazing job of fine-tuning my design, and making sure it’s perfect for me. I’ll be sharing more about that soon, too!

71 Responses

  1. Hi. I apologize, I did not read all of the comments; but I will just say, in my experience, bad LED lighting is not due to the LED, but to the low color rendering index (CRI). If you get LED lights with decent (over 90) CRI, it isn’t bad.

  2. Hi Laurel,
    I love the work you’re doing in Mary’s living room, and I cannot wait to see Timson green walls with Nympheus roman shades in her kitchen!

    Side note on slipper chairs. Like others, I wondered, are they comfy? So I bought a $25 pair on craigslist – wrong upholstery but I just wanted to try them out. Boy, that $25 was money well spent. In just one weekend, fell in love with the shape, size, and especially the comfort of them. I donated that pair to Goodwill and I’m now getting a new custom pair of slipper chairs.

  3. The problem with LED bulbs is that they don’t get warmer as you dim them. That’s what happens with incandescent bulbs. BUT… They do make LED bulbs that do this. They aren’t cheap, and I don’t remember what the term is, but it’s something like warm dimming. We refused to use LED in our dining room chandelier for this very reason, but now we have the warming ones, and they work pretty well. We did a side by side comparison when we first got them, and I honestly don’t remember now how they compared, but they must have been close enough or we would’ve have kept them because they are expensive.

  4. Perfect answer Laurel! I remember the first time a family member saw my armless chair! Saying “What the hell, K”? I can’t believe you paid for that”! She sat down, I asked, comfy? Yes, not bad! And, the problem is “Mam” (south)? Well, I guess the dogs will love it! I died laughing! My uncouth relations never set in the chair! But, my Boston Terrier enjoyed her luxury!

  5. Wow, I cannot recall a post with so many interesting comments…all about light bulbs and slipper chairs! As for the chairs, we have a pair of them in the living room, along with a pair of chairs with arms. Some of our guests really prefer the slipper chairs, others prefer ones with arms. Nice to provide both options if there is space. Swivel chairs have a place too, but we do not have the right space for them. You can have a swivel mechanism put on just about any chair.

    On the LED bulbs, all I can say is that we can’t stand them, but they are improving a little. Again, it is a personal preference. But I agree with Laurel 100% when she says that lighting in a room should fall in pools of warm light. No dark corners! This is comforting and beautiful to most people. I worked in hospitals where cold blue light is necessary, but do not want that at home.

    Thank you again, Laurel, for bringing this conversation to us. Yours is by miles my favorite interior blog! You bring such experience and professional education to every issue.

  6. Spot on with the lighter color chairs and pillows. I’m a pillow freak especially the oddest looking ones and one of a kind like hand quilted, painted or dyed. I find no matter the color or style they always fit right in.

  7. Hi Laurel – wow, what a great response on your living room design. My vote goes with the swivel chairs instead of the slipper chairs. I like the idea of swiveling to watch the fire or back to the guests. And I’d find swivels that don’s show the swivel base. I like the softer neutral color over the blues for these chairs, but I’d love a nice, textural fabric (and high performance too!). Love, love, love the pillows you put on them!! I liked the painting over the fireplace, but didn’t like the two architectural prints to the right . . , at all. So glad they are liking the wooden coffee table, as it really makes the space. I still cannot wrap my head around the wall color, it almost hurts me. But I love the paint color you are using in the kitchen. And oh, with that fabric it’ll be sensational!! Color on the walls can change how you feel in a room. Will that lovely green in the kitchen work with the drab color in the living room? Probably so! Since you selected it, and you’re decisions have been so perfect all along.
    I’m really looking forward to the next post when you tackle the kitchen.

    1. Sandie,

      I’m not that crazy about those prints either, but I spent at least 30 minutes trying to locate some okay ones that were in the right perspective. Still, I wouldn’t have made a comment like that on someone’s blog.

  8. Well Laurel, I went hunting for celadon lamps this morning and came across the lamp bases you pinned from Chairish for the buffet. I just got notification that my offer was accepted and they are ours. I think they will be perfect.

  9. Lighting! You got me on that word and I had to stop reading and finish later. I despise LED lighting and love 25 watt bulbs too, even 15 watt and anything with a dimmer switch. Thank you for addressing lighting in the home – it can make a less-than-room look better and not do justice to some of the best. After all, anyone on TV knows the importance of good, no great lighting! Thank you!

  10. Mary, your space is already beautiful, but as usual, Laurel you amaze me with your talent! The tweaks that you are making are spot on! Looking forward to the kitchen!
    Do you remember those bracelets that said WWJD (what would Jesus do for you youngins) Don and I were at Home Depot this weekend buying supplies for our “Laurel Makeover”, as I was excited and overwhelmed, I kept saying “What Would Laurel Do” I am learning something with every comment and blog, I’m so glad I found you!

  11. What fun comments! I was on a media fast with my 7th grader over the weekend, and it was SO HARD to not read my favorite Sunday blog 🙂

    I bought a slipper chair at a consignment sale, and it’s been one of our favorite chairs. (At the time, I didn’t even know what it was called) It needs to be re-covered, but it really has been in so many places in our house, and I actually liked reading to my boys in it, bc I could put one (or two) on my lap, and two or three could hover around to see the pictures without the arms getting in the way. I appreciate this post, bc I’m now thinking more of what color I should use to recover it, or maybe just get a slipcover.

    With regards to LEDs, our Airbnb coach insisted that for photos, daylight bulbs take better pictures, so we used them for photo shoots, and I do notice a difference when I look at other Airbnb listings that were taken without them. But we’ve also had our photo shoots in daylight, which has made the rooms brighter, too. As soon as the shoot is done, I scurry around and remove every daylight bulb…whew!! I’ve used soft or warm white LEDs, bc I haven’t been able to find any incandescents. If there’s a good brand source for incandescent, or a type, do tell! I refuse to turn on overhead florescent lights in any institutional settings if I can (like when I taught violin at a school), bc the pulsing gives me a headache. Better a dim daylit room than those horrid things. And yet children are often under those lights all day long at school…*sigh*.

    I think I’ll go read a story to my 6 year old on that slipper chair! Thanks for such fun posts, Laurel!

  12. While I do like the LOOK of a slipper chair, I also add voice to the concern of people trying to get up from them. How about a pair of swivel club/tub chairs. They are so very comfortable, plus the swivel allows to face the fire for an intimate moment with a wine table between. And I find a tufted chair has another level of texture and comfort.

  13. I love what you did with taking an unexceptional room and making it into a jewel. I especially like the wall color and how that improves the look of the fireplace. At first I could not imagine how that fireplace could be blended in with the rest of the room, so it was instructive to see you do it. I like the slipper chairs, the layered rugs, and the fact that no major furniture had to be replaced. Thank you for showing us the thought process and planning it takes to design a room. I enjoyed how you showed us the journey you took.

  14. I adore the way you were able to add such depth and interest through the added complexity of color in the space. You certainly did a fine job of making the rug work in the room — however I had secretly hoped that you’d switch it out for a sisal or seagrass rug and push the decor and its color scheme to a more subtly nuanced easier modern vibe rather than steeped in 100% traditional. It appears that the majority of the decisions were to make sense of the rug in the space — when the problem is the rug. Minus the rug, the entire room becomes fresh and inviting opening itself up to elements with a far more contemporary twist. Modern lamps, artwork, sculpture and texture brought into the room via textiles (pillows, draperies, etc.) in neutrals. Perhaps two smaller tables side by side rather than the more formal oriental inspired large coffee table?

  15. I apologize for posting here but I didn’t know where to do it.

    Re ideas for radiator covers. Sitting in ”Bonne Vie” in SLC I noticed what they did and thought you might find it interesting.

    The front of the heating unit is lovely painted woodwork. The top is a slab of granite or marble. There’s a 1-1/2”opening almost the length of the marble.

    The stone heats up and it dissipates into the area along with the heat that comes up through the opening.

    I thought it was interesting. I have photos but don’t know how to attach them.

    Again, apologies.

  16. This is really an unbelievable amount of debate on the slipper chairs, you must be exhausted laurel!
    Btw, I love your draperies in your apartment, since you are on the first floor, is there a privacy issue?

    1. Hi Patricia,

      Thank you, the drapes came with the apartment. They just happen to go nicely with everything I already had. Privacy is not an issue. It’s the parlor level which is one floor above street level.

      My windows face the Alley and the buildings behind me are on Newberry Street. There might be some people living on the upper floors, but the bottom levels are for retail use. Between the alley and buildings is tandem parking (both sides that adds another 80 feet, at least. The buildings seem pretty far away. Plus, directly behind me is a two-story structure with no windows! I don’t know what it’s used for. I guess some sort of warehousing.

      I didn’t buy this place for the view. However, most of the time, it’s surprisingly quiet. It’s easy to forget where I am!

      It is RAINING again! I can’t believe it.

  17. Cannot agree more, Laurel! LED bulbs make a space look like an operating room! They are better than they used to be, but still have a looong way to go. The absolute worst are the ones called “daylight.” Daylight where? On the moon? And the savings is an illusion as it costs so much more per bulb. I created a stash of incandescent bulbs before the 75s were discontinued. I am going to cry when they are gone. Thank you for bringing me your amazing creativity, experience, and design education. Your professional training SHINES through everything you do. It LIGHTS up my day! (Pun intended). And your funny remarks make me laugh; what more could I ask?

    1. LOL on “daylight on the moon.” Sunlight is warm and golden, especially at dawn and dusk. Color blindness is not uncommon. It’s possible that some folks can’t perceive much difference between incandescent and LEDs. For those of us who can, the difference is unnerving.

      The bulbs are bloody ugly, but if they are hidden by the lampshade, warm compact fluorescent bulbs give off a nice light. They probably aren’t good for the environment, but they do last a lot longer. My wasband put them in my bedroom lamps. I didn’t realize at first, but was taken a back the first time I saw the bulb.

  18. Like Laurel I dislike LEDs and ceiling downlights. So, in my 3-north-facing-windowed woodsy kitchen re-do (some spalded-maple cabs & hickory floors & walnut hutch) I am limiting LEDs to undercabs and to four near-corner ceiling downlights to tasklight frig, sink and pantry. The center ceiling light reflects off BM Chantilly Lace (very clean) and can take either LED or incandescent. A double amber-faced sconce and another amber glass (on chain in front of doorway) are incandescent, for mood. All are dimmable. A green-painted niche to honor Western North Carolina woods outside and Vermont green slate backslash are the color. (Plus what’s behind glass doors.) Timson looks promising.

  19. Laurel, love the idea of the slipper chairs. My first inclination was blue chairs also but I agree the white linen looks best, and the pillows are beautiful. Question, could the pillows be different from each other? Also, what do you think about a chair like the Colton chair from Ballard Designs?

    Also wondered if the picture frames could be black and gold or is white best? Love the art over the fireplace. Will definitely be looking for something similar. The colors support the color scheme. And can’t wait to see the kitchen. The green paint is intriguing. You are amazing.

    1. Hi Mary,

      I’m trying to get the message out to please avoid placing links in their comments as it makes extra work for me.
      The Colton chair is an occasional chair. You can put any two chairs that you like that fit in the space.

      I think the frames should be black or gold for this room. What you’re seeing is the matting around the prints. There is a thin gold frame, if you look closely. I’m assuming that’s what you’re talking about.

      Oh sorry. Too fast reading, and I realized and had to edit that this is THE Mary! If you have two chairs that are the same style and fabric, then I would do matching pillows as well. You don’t have to, or you could repeat that fabric on the sectional. While I think it’s best to avoid too many pairs, it’s also a mistake to have too many singles.

  20. Ditch the Oriental and place a smaller size rug parallel to the fireplace and over the seagrass?
    Slipper chairs are not for the elderly, but depending on who visits, can be used for extra seating. The purpose here is to preserve the view of the fireplace?

    But, wait, wait, slipper chairs were invented to help Victorian ladies put on their, shoes and slipper and were purposefully low to the ground!

    Corner fireplaces need to be retired except in special circumstances (maybe in large, large rooms?). The smaller the wall, the more difficult the corner fireplace? What do you say, Laurel?

    1. Hi Ramona,

      Sorry, I would’ve approved your links but I’m trying to discourage people linking because they create more work for me.
      Yes, of course, they could be other chairs. They could even be arm chairs. I adore slipper chairs. between 1998-2015, I did dozens for clients. Nobody every mentioned they would be difficult to get out of.

      Frankly, I’m horrified that people think this way. If I’m not mistaken, I believe you’ve had problems from an earlier injury. I’m not talking about that, and I feel bad about your suffering. It must be awful. I’m talking about people who are able-bodied, but have resigned themselves for the last 30 years or so of their lives to having to modify everything in a substantial way.

      People in my family didn’t retire, and remained active until they literally dropped dead (My step-dad, brother and others), or they lost their minds, like my mom. My mom retained her therapy business until she was 91. Should she have retired sooner? Yes, but that part of her brain still worked surprisingly well, where other parts of her brain didn’t.

      I belong to the Furlow Gatewood school of decorating. Put everything you love into your home(s). Don’t worry about too much, (unless your kids are sick or in trouble) and enjoy what you have while you are here to enjoy it.


  21. Like everyone, I’m loving these posts and it’s really helped me tweak my own rooms as well. You are definitely influencing my current iteration of decor in my home, in such a great way. My home is so full of color now and I love it. I also have a slipper chair in front of my TV for exactly the reasons you mentioned. It’s extraneous seating for only those occasional times when you need more. Don’t worry about what to do with arms and getting out of it etc, just don’t put your 90-year-old aunt in it and you’ll be fine. Most people will be sitting in it briefly at most. And I really like how it looks filling up an empty corner in front of the TV area. As far as LED lighting, I bought some 2700s and they turned everything in my room yellow they were so warm. I did discover that 2700 is not equal among brands, so you just have to keep trying different brands to find the color that you want. And yes, it’s impossible to find one that dims down quite low like incandescent, so in those areas where I really want dim light I’m using some of my preciously hoarded incandescents.

  22. Age was mentioned when discussing the slipper chairs, but my concern is the layering of rugs. Tripping on rugs is frequently the cause of falls in the home, especially for seniors. Seagrass rugs are usually thicker and less likely to remain flat than the other rugs you’ve shown. One low pile, large colorful rug would be my choice for both beauty and safety!

    1. Hi Doris,

      Nothing is safe.

      Nothing. Everywhere we turn in this world, whether we are home or out in the world, we are putting our limbs and lives at risk.

      This is Laurel speaking. Remember, the woman who slammed into a steel box affixed to a new traffic light just outside her home?
      And the same one who while attempting to cross the street with a heavy purse and two bags of groceries got her foot caught in a rut and fell on her face?

      And the same Laurel who got knocked over by a car backing up to her on a busy Boston Street. (I also had two bags of groceries that day too.)

      Please notice what all of these unfortunate accidents had in common. I wasn’t at home, and I came into contact with situations that were unsafe that I had NO CONTROL OVER.

      I can’t live in fear of every little thing. Seagrass rugs and slipper chairs are not problems. If they are for other people, then unless they are ill, with a debilitating illness, they are not using their muscles enough.

      “If you don’t use them, you lose them.”

      You’re talking like I’m suggesting spraying the floors with silicone and having folks walk around in their smoothest socks.

      There are certain words in the English language I rather detest, in regard to people past age 60.


      and more.

      I am not denying that we are getting older and that our bodies are and will continue to change, however, I can’t think of anything more depressing than getting rid of certain loved items because they might be “hazards.”

      Gotta pick them feet up when we walk.

      I don’t have silicone on my floors, but I do dance around in my socks, and I am not going to stop.

  23. In my Charleston single house with 10 foot ceilings I have tried every brand of LED bulb available and they have all produced horrid lighting. Many claim to be soft white, not even close, even when dimmed. Apparently, this is a huge challenge for the manufacturers. As far as my attempts have gone, they have all failed. Let me know if anyone has found an LED that produces the same light as an incandescent.

  24. Laurel,
    I love these posts because you are taking an “ok” room and showing how adding/changing things turns the room from ok to wonderful!!

    I enjoy looking at beautiful rooms decorated by professionals but while I might get and idea of a color/pillow or other item that I like, it is very hard for me to see how to translate it to my “ok” rooms…but these posts show me the steps to take and I feel I I can do something similar in my home.
    Also, I have to agree with a previous poster that the rug seems to be the limiting factor (and may need to stay) but I would change it.

    I guess that is the sign of a great designer…being able to work with less than ideal items and still making the place look amazing 🙂

    1. Hi Maggie,

      In the past when I had real clients, there were situations where I had to pass on a job because I wouldn’t have been able to work with the client’s taste or the furnishings they wanted to incorporate. Other times, the furnishings or taste weren’t my favorites, perhaps, but I could make them work.

  25. Hi Laurel, I’ve been scouring some of your older posts since you mention recessed lighting in this 3 part series about Mary’s LR/kitchen. I, too, am not a fan of recessed lights. I love soft lamp light and am considering choosing sconces (dimmable) to add to my LR lighting design….Can you please address the idea of a dimmable hanging fixture above a floating seating arrangement in a LR with only an 8′ ceiling? Given that many US homes, like mine from the 50s and 60s, have only 8′ ceilings, I’d like to know what your opinion is about a fixture that is not flush or semi-flush, but actually hangs over a conversation area. (In my case, over a large Ming cocktail table, love it!). How do the rules change for shape, size, and scale if no one would be walking directly under the fixture? Thank you, Laurel. I’m looking forward to your ideas for Mary’s kitchen, but also the transformation of your beautiful Boston home, especially your stair renovation and the work of that extraordinary cabinet company you chose. All the best.

    1. Hi Karen,

      I would not have a hanging fixture, even over a coffee table that did not have adequate head clearance if the coffee table were not there. I think it will look odd. The only exception in a retro-style home might be a hanging fixture over a coffee table that’s near a wall.

  26. I have Philips brand LEDs in all my chandeliers (I have lots :)) and in my table lamps. I really like the light they emit. I hate all other brands. Unfortunately, for some reason, it is getting hard to find Philips bulbs. I recently installed a new semi-flush mount fixture that required a special size of bulb. Philips doesn’t do this size, and both of the available brands are officially hideous. I guess I’ll have to get some incandescents. Fortunately, the fixture is in my master closet and I’ve installed a switch that turns off the light after five minutes, so the bulbs won’t use much power.

  27. Tonia, I agree with your comment regarding the rug. Cropping the corner of the Seagrass rug that’s up against the fireplace would look great.
    Laurel, I actually prefer your original slipper chairs. The dark blue is a nice contrast to the cabinets & sofa.
    I’m assuming the kitchen paint color you selected will continue on into the living room?

    1. Hi Mary,

      No, the paint color will not continue, however, the wall on the right doesn’t even end as far as the one on the left. I also greatly dislike that the walls have no return. It is fine to keep it open, but the architecture looks unfinished. There is a tremendous amount of wasted space. I’d like to work on that, too.

  28. Brilliant! I love how you keep tweaking, offering more options. Totally agree about the bulbs, and the LEDs aren’t great for the environment. I live near Northampton, I think you should come visit on your way to the Berkshires, 😉

  29. I like the buffet as it is. It balances the cabinetry under the TV quite well. I would not add hardware to the buffet because, in my opinion, it will be too busy & heavy relative to the cabinetry under the TV.

  30. I’m a light bulb hoarder. I hate LED and anyplace I find the incandescent I buy them. I love recessed light but the lightbulb had to be the right kind.

    Love the green paint color. It’s one of my favorites.

  31. Thank you for mentioning how important lighting is. It’s really not emphasized enough. I have recently added lamps to my entire downstairs space with soft warm bulbs at 40 watts. I’ve had two houseguests since then. One said they had to go home and buy lamps because their house didn’t feel so warm and cozy and lively at night with the lighting they have and the other said my house was “fancier” and more “decorated” than the last time she saw it. The only difference was the lamps 😉

  32. Thank you for taking the time to craft such informative posts, Laurel. I’ve learned so much from them that I can apply to my own decorating choices.

    Oh, and I wholeheartedly agree with you on LED lightbulbs. Yuck.

  33. I am really enjoying these posts! I like what you have changed in the living room – warm colours are so inviting. I do have a question – what is the new paint colour on the living room walls?

  34. Wow! Such fuss over slipper chairs! I really think this is being overthought? They are usually a little wider than a normal chair, and not used for hours, but do provide valuable space! If you have to sit in the middle of two other guests on a sofa, can be just as uncomfortable. Usually when entertaining, a group will change seating just to talk to someone, overall I think they are a great solution to space, in exchange for limited use!

    1. Thank you Patricia! Yes, the seat itself on a slipper chair is usually 24″-26″ wide, but on an average club chair the inside seat width at it’s widest point is about 21″ wide. (unless it’s a very large chair.) However, the entire club chair is usually at least 30″ wide. My yellow club chairs are 32″ wide. Some chairs are over 40″ wide! In addition, the arms are only a few inches higher than the seat. If someone can’t push themselves up using the seat, then they will also struggle to get up using the arms of an armchair.

  35. Hi Laurel,
    Your designs always amaze me in the way that you can transform a room from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. I have never seen you write about this, but I can’t believe that I’m the only one who has this problem. We don’t have a central coffee table in our living room. Since we have two large couches that create an L (with a large space in between), we have two small tables. These are larger than bunching tables so we can each use them for eating or putting a drink on. We can’t push the couches closer since this is the main entry to the living room. How can I make this look like an elegant design and not a mish-mash of furniture? The room is 13’x16′ and since it’s a bilevel there’s a staircase leading to the front foyer and door behind the couch, adding an additional 8′ to the overall wall size. Help!

  36. I guess I just keep my arms at my sides/hands in lap if I’m sitting in a slipper chair (the same as I would if I were in the middle seat in a sofa)? Slipper chairs tend to be spillover seating so likely if they’re occupied, it’s during a gathering and the occupant will be holding a drink or perhaps a plate—not reading, doing needlework, etc. I can understand needing arms for support in getting up, that would be for the homeowner to decide based on her guests, etc.

  37. Hey Laurel,
    My favorite bulbs are the pink ones. They used to be in all stores and now I only find them on amazon. They cast the most beautiful light and enhances your appearance. They’re not like party lights and the color isn’t even noticeable to the naked eye inside the room. You would only know if you installed the bulb. I have them in the living room.
    I also like slipper chairs in the living room. But in the family room where I’m likely to curl up in a chair and read a book, I prefer a wingback. I like to throw my legs over the arm and get cozy by the fire.
    Lovely designed room

  38. The corner of the rug by the angled fireplace bothers me. With the added seagrass (beautiful!), that larger rug could be custom trimmed to match the angle. A much better look. What do you think, Laurel?

  39. Fascinating unforeseen challenge posed by slipper chairs as we age, apparently, as our weight redistristibutes and our muscles diminish in strength we find it harder to get out of lower chairs without assistance. I suspect this is why toilet seats have risen an average of 3inches in the past decade and grab bars are more common on walls now. Slipper chairs are more elegant, fit into spaces easier but don’t have arms and may have a lower sear height -a big factor in egress. Perhaps some guests will be happy to use them, like the young ‘uns, those that still have their abs and those that talk with their hands. Perhaps Mary and Al may want to do an informal survey. When we had our 90 year olds we needed armchairs but less so with our 60 to 70 year old crowd though this could change as we get on.

    1. Hi Randy,

      I so enjoy your comments! It is possible to maintain enough body strength into one’s 90s. My mother did until she fell at age 92. Her doctor had prescribed physical therapy to help maintain her strength but because her mind was already going, she felt her once-a-week ballroom (feet shuffling) was sufficient exercise. It wasn’t and both my sister and I tried to get her to do more. BTW, she was a great dancer when she was younger.

  40. Love the changes and colors you chose. I do agree with the other commenters about slipper chairs being hard for older people to get up from. I’d opt for chairs with low arms.
    I would Sheetrock over the cutout above the TV, too. It’s just an oddly shaped black hole now. You mentioned adding drapes on the slider on Wednesday’s blog. I strongly second that! I would use a plain light neutral fabric for the drapes. I would add a good-sized painting above the buffet and another above the desk. What bothers me most about the existing traditional elements of the room is their small scale. They seem to add clutter rather than style.

  41. I’m wondering if there is a way to move the seagrass rug further into the living room and closer to the patio doors so the point is centered on the fireplace. Then it could maybe be more centered between the console and the doors, too. Looking at the illustrations, I keep wanting to slide the rug. I agree with others about the lack of arms on the slip chairs but for another reason. I have many older friends and they need arms on chairs in order to get out of them. I don’t know the age of Mary and her husband, but if they entertain anyone older, slip chairs aren’t the best choice. I hate having to help guests get up! Would a side chair with low arms work? I agree a green paint in the kitchen will add beauty to their cabinets. I have a lot of natural cherry furniture in my home and after trying many colors of paint found greens make a warm wood tone glow.

    1. If people can’t get up out of a chair, by pushing on the seat to boost themselves up, they are indeed in poor shape. If they are in the middle of the sectional, how do they get themselves up? If they’re at a gathering with 20 people or more, they’ll be lucky to have any seat at all.

      I can’t believe we’re having this conversation.

  42. Laurel,
    I cant wait to see the kitchen! My husband suggested stainless steel mosaic tiles (about 2x2cm each) for the kitchen walls. This will create a reflective surfaces much needed in that small kitchen. I am not sure about stainless steel but I agree with something reflective or something very dark like black. Very exciting to see your ideas! Best regards, Natalia

    1. Hi Natalia,

      The kitchen needs a lot of things, including much better lighting. Right now, the wood tones are taking over the space. It’s tiresome. However, an all-wood kitchen can be very beautiful!

  43. Hi Laurel

    I love everything! But I’m a bit more of a minimalist than you are. What about doing the Seagrass run without the oriental, with teal slipper chairs and pillows similar to the ones you chose? I think the coffee table, when styled, might be enough color for the area in front of the sofa.

    1. Hi Katherine,

      Maybe I didn’t stress it enough in part I from last Wednesday, but the homeowners love their rug. My feeling
      is that the colors don’t all need to match. In fact, they shouldn’t match 100%. So, we can bring in many shades of red,
      gold and blue into the space, and it’ll look great.

  44. I agree with Lauren re slipper chairs and REALLY agree with you about lighting and lamps. My (large) living room is lighted entirely by lamps, and I’ve found that children often are surprised at the lack of overhead lighting. But I’ve always remembered someone who had often sat in that lamp-lighted room but was in a tight spot at the time telling me, “I need to be in your living room right now. I need its warmth and comfort.” That is the feeling it gives me. When I do needlework I have a special light elsewhere in my home, one equipped with a magnifier and that can be moved quickly into a nearby closet. But for people and conversation and even for reading, I need incandescent bulbs in lamps. BTW what DO people do with their arms when sitting in slipper chairs?

  45. I’m really enjoying reading your process, Laurel. Interesting lessons in all kinds of things, some of which I hadn’t thought about before.

    This post brought up something for me that I have thought about in the past but forgotten. It is slipper chairs. I haven’t owned them, haven’t even sat in one, but what do you do with your arms while you sit in one. I can’t for the life of me figure that out because I think sofa arms are essential. They are for me. Am I supposed to let the dangle at my sides, sedately fold them in my lap, wrap them around one knee? I simply cannot see how I could sit comfortably and enjoy a nice conversation without fussing over what to do with them all the while. Am I missing something?

    1. Hi Lauren,

      Currently, people sitting on the sofa will be kept plenty busy with their hands, juggling their drinks, and whatever is being served. Plus, their phones to show off pics of their grandkids, or whatever. What do you do if you’re sitting at a dining table with your hands? This is interesting. I spend hours on my green sofa, and rarely use the arm for anything. In fact, I prefer to sit at least a third of the way in.

      Unless the slipper chair is particularly narrow or the person sitting in it is wider than average, there should be space to rest your hands on the seat by your side, or in your lap.

      As for me, I would be sitting in the slipper chair with my hands clasped in prayer that I don’t say something I will regret saying, seconds later.

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