Before and After: Bold Paint and Built-Ins Make a Plain Living Room Look Luxe

updated Nov 6, 2020
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Credit: Sushma Samonini

A good indication that a room needs a redo is the realization that you’re not using it to its full potential. For example, Sushma Samonini (@house_on_the_way) can’t really say there was anything wrong with the previous iteration of her UK living room. “But we found we weren’t really using the room well, either, as it was a confused mix of living room, playroom, and dumping ground,” she says. “We wanted an adult room that would be toy-free and somewhere for us to retreat to after a long day.”

Credit: Sushma Samonini

Over three months, Sushma and her husband hired several pros to help them transform the room from beige and standard to textured and impactful.

Credit: Sushma Samonini

Experts built the alcove units, painted the walls and that shelving in a dramatic—and very popular—deep blue (Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue), and turned the fireplace into a focal point. Now it features a warm wood mantel and black and white tiles .

“I wasn’t a fan of the existing sandstone tiles and wanted to make it a feature,” Sushma says. “We had these gorgeous tiles leftover from the bathroom, so it was ideal.” She estimates that labor and materials for the living room cost about £3,250.

The deep blue paint color and the velvet sofa are perfectly balanced with the graphic tile and hits of color from the rug and bookshelves.

Credit: Sushma Samonini

“I love the dramatic impact the room now gives,” Sushma says. “The blue is just beautiful and changes colors depending on the light at various points of the day. I had a lot of fun styling the shelves and the rest of the room, and I love how the colors of the books pop against the blue.”

For Sushma, redoing a room is all about knowing exactly what you want. “I spent hours on Instagram and Pinterest looking for inspiration and capturing anything that caught my eye,” she says. “I even drew the carpenter to-scale drawings of the alcove units so they would be exactly as I envisaged. If you’re bringing in outside help, I would definitely say use people you trust and make sure they fully understand your requirements. Mostly, though, just trust your gut and go for it!”