Client Consultation….Living Room Dilemma

Hey girls and guys!

Today I thought I’d do something a bit different and share an abridged version of one of my most recent e-decorating consults.

Christine, who mind you, is one of the most loveliest people ever, was having some trouble deciding what to do in her living room:

“Hi Kristine!
I’m in the process of decorating the 1927 Dutch Colonial that my husband and I moved into in January. It’s been great so far but I have to admit that the living room is quite daunting. It’s got sooooo much potential that I’m afraid of screwing it up; built in floor to ceiling bookcases, great big brick fireplace, large picture window, and everything is painted a cozy, cottagey white right now. I would love to know what you would do if this was your room.

Well, she was certainly right about the room having a tonne of potential. I couldn’t have been happier with my new little play space! Here are some of the pics she sent me…

And the criteria:
– Retain existing colour palette of sage, chocolate and white.
– Retain paint scheme.
– Sofa and armchairs need to stay.
– TV to stay in current location.
– More purposeful bookcase display.
– Immediate budget of $500-$1000.
– Practical and attractive storage solution for TV components.
– Needs to be family and pet friendly.
– Inviting modern cottage theme in keeping with the style of the house.

I’ll spare you the 33 page document Christine ended up with though will share some of the suggestions, hints and ideas I offered her.

Suggested Layout
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Alternate Layouts
It’s easy to get stuck in a floor plan rut. How many of us have positioned furniture a certain way just because ‘that’s how the previous owners had it’. Although a particular layout will sometimes work best for a space, it pays to keep an open mind and consider other options.
As long as balance is retained a room may work well in any number of ways.
Think outside the square and spend some time moving existing furniture around. Use cardboard or paper to mimic the scale of any pieces you don’t currently own to help gauge the best possible layout for the room.

Alternate Layout 1
(click to enlarge)
Alternate Layout 2
(click to enlarge)

Christine is about to replace her carpet with dark timber floorboards so I suggested using a large area rug to provide an anchor for her furniture. I recommended a woven natural material (like jute or seagrass) to add warmth and texture, or a subtle pattern (such as the ticking stripe above or a trellis or quatrefoil) to add some depth and interest. Because she’s on a budget (and open to putting in a bit of elbow grease!), I also suggested the option of painting her own inexpensive sisal or jute rug.

I liked the softness and neutrality of Christine’s current white curtains.

Though to showcase that gorgeous picture window they just needed a bit of tweaking. I recommended she place a thin black rod towards the top of her wall near the cornice, making sure it extended slightly either side of the window frame, then hang full drop curtains on the windows extremities only. If she requires privacy, bamboo blinds can be added too.

Christine was happy with the white brickwork around her fireplace though wasn’t too keen on the brass surround. I suggested she just paint it herself.

To remedy the dilemma of housing for her television components, I suggested placing a little white console table or cabinet in the wall nook to the left of the fireplace and running any cables through the wall or hiding them with a cord concealer. To create the illusion of symmetry I also recommended hanging or resting a largish white-framed mirror above the console table to mimic the doorway on the right side of the fireplace.

Because the TV is staying in place above the mantel, I suggested a little decor tweaking to create more impact without detracting from TV viewing.

One of Christine’s biggest annoyances was the bookcase wall.

She wasn’t sure how to go about decorating the cases to look ‘designery’.
One suggestion I made was the possibility of using a decal in the nook above the door frame rather than ornamentation, kinda like this…

Lone armchairs can sometimes look a little, well, lonely. To give Christine’s single chairs a bit more definition and purpose in her room I suggested partnering them with a small side table and standard lamp or even a little cane basket or stack of vintage cases.

A great way to add instant charm and extra dimension to a living room is with a character-filled, personality-packed coffee table. For Christine’s space I suggested a box-style piece, like a steamer trunk, old blanket box or textural cane chest, to fit in with the size of the room and scale of existing furniture. Because new reproductions of pieces like this can be just a tad (read; ridiculously!) expensive I suggested Christine check out Craig’s List, eBay, thrift and charity stores, along with yard sales, for an original piece in need of a loving new home.

Christine’s self-described ‘blah’ wall (with the bird silhouettes) needed a bit of a lift.

Due to the amount of visual interest the nearby bookcase projects, I suggested avoiding anything too small, busy or asymmetrical. Instead I recommended placing one large object centrally on the wall, like a big starburst mirror or clock, or an ordered collection of three or four prints hung vertically, horizontally or in a block.

Along with floor plan layouts and an inspiration board a textiles and textures mood board also helps keep you on track when deciding what to incorporate into a space.

I recommended keeping things natural, textural and neutral by sticking with flat colours (like plain linen, burlap and leather) and incorporating one stripe and one floral/feminine pattern in keeping with the existing sage, chocolate and white colour scheme.

So, whadda ya think?

Of course that’s just the tip of the iceberg – Christine got a tonne of extra info, more in-depth explanations and additional pics – though I didn’t wanna bore all you guys with too many project specific details.

And here’s part of the sweet response I got from her…

“LOVE you. Seriously. I can’t wait to get started! It all looks FAB-U-LOUS. I am so ready to take everything off of those bookshelves and re-do them. I’m going to be a very busy/happy girl.”

If you’re interested in a design consultation for your home, view this page for some further information.

  1. I like it all! Can’t wait to see the completed room. It takes time, thought to get it just right! Great ideas and samples!

  2. i think your ideas are perfect for her space. i totally agree about lonely chairs- they just need a sense of purpose. why would someone want to sit alone? why to read and drink a cup of coffee would be nice! but when the chair is alone, it suggest to me that it’s isolation… like time out for my kids! ;)

  3. Wonderful suggestions, I love the idea of doing the rug herself, I will be waiting to see the great ideas in her pictures!


  4. NanaDiana says:

    What great suggestions! I think she is going to be one happy girl when she starts her transformation. Isn’t it amazing what happens with a fresh eye on a project? You did good, girl! I can see you put a lot of thought and work into this room! Diana

  5. Olive Cooper says:

    Your suggestions are wonderful, beautiful and well thought out. I look forward to seeing what happens. Thanks bunches for visiting me. hugs♥olive

  6. What a beautiful blog you have! I don’t think I’ve been by here before. Constantly amazed at all the new blogs that I’ve never seen. You have some great style going, look forward to reading more.

  7. Love your inspiration pics and suggestions. Can’t wait to see it all done. Hugs, Marty

  8. Love all your ideas. I hope she will share the room with us when finished. Hugs, Sherry

  9. wow! so many wonderful ideas you suggested :) I love the colors and all the inspiration photos. And painting the brass part of the fire place?!?!? I am so hearding over to that tutorial next!

    ~Emily N. from “too Blessed to Stress”

  10. Jenny says:

    Kristine, this is a wonderful post. You have fabulous ideas and I can’t wait to see what Christine does with them. Please do keep us posted. I am going to check out some of those tutorials you have suggested. Thanks again! ;-)

  11. Sarah says:

    Great post! Love this behind-the-scene peak at one of your consultations!!! Sounds like they are a ton of work, but worth it for the client. Really like all of your suggestions:) Can’t wait for the after pics!

  12. Sarah B says:

    Great ideas, no wonder she loves you!!

  13. Love it – so interesting to read. I love the bookcases & the whole room really – she will have so much fun actioning all your fabulous suggestions.


  14. sherry says:

    Great job! You really put a lot of thought into pulling that room together, and I think she will be surprised [as most people are] that with a little professional help her she will be able to achieve a cohesive and stylish room, without breaking the bank.

  15. Oooh, I loved reading about this! I will look forward to the after pictures. Good luck Christine! Lisa~

  16. Alison says:

    This was a great post. I really like the client consultations and all the details you include. Priceless!

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