Before & After: Nicole and Colin's Lively Living Room Makeover

Before & After: Nicole and Colin's Lively Living Room Makeover

Leah Moss
Feb 27, 2012

A change in paint color and accessories can completely transform the feel of a room! While the "before" living room, previously applauded in Nicole & Colin's Streamlined Salvage house tour, was no doubt beautiful, it lacked the warmth, casualness, and happy chaos that their young family of five embraces.

The room transformation was gradual. However, the main springboard were the two abstract paintings that Nicole inherited from her artist/architect grandfather. An artist herself, Nicole wanted to give the paintings a prominent place in her home.

Once she placed them on her mantel, Nicole realized that she wanted the whole room to reflect the paintings' layered yet somewhat structured liveliness. In her words, she wanted the room to have "that graphic but old fashioned Curious George studio feel"— bold colors against white walls in a clean but vintage setting. Also, everyone in the family is a collector of interesting things, so she decided to incorporate a certain amount of the "curiosity cabinet" vibe without letting the whole room dip too much into the realm of "cluttered."

I was lucky enough to help out with the new fabrics, paint color, and accessory arrangements. The sofa pillows— dead-ringers for Kelly Wearstler's Imperial Trellis— came from Target's outdoor collection. Nicole already had the white canvas slipcover for the side chair, and I made the yellow and white chevron pillow out of fabric for roughly $3. Her roman shades were recalled by West Elm, so she replaced them with panels from IKEA which she spruced up with some yellow grosgrain ribbon and fabric glue. The artwork above the side table is a mix of Nicole's own work, a piece from friend Laurel Dugan (also of house tour fame), a vintage butterfly print given to Colin (a natural history buff) by Nicole's mom, and a framed drawing by her second son, age 5. Although some may call it cluttered, the eclectic grouping sets a personal, collected, and casual tone that Nicole loves. The most expensive switch was the table lamp, which came from the Restoration Hardware outlet, but it's a favorite for both Nicole and Colin and well worth the little splurge.

Once all the new accessories were in place, the room felt a little too busy and just a bit off, so I convinced Nicole to switch out the cool blue wall color for a bright but warm white (Benjamin Moore's Simply White— one of my favorites) to provide a clean backdrop for the infusion of new colors. Nicole repainted the room with gusto and ended up with a room that makes their family happy the instant they walk in the door. Aside from better reflecting the colorful style that Nicole's own artwork is known for, the added bonus is that now, the odd (and inevitably primary colored) toy that the makes its way into the living room no longer looks out of place but blends right in....almost.

(Images: Leah Moss)

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