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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Living Room Renovation Help

erine28January 13, 2013
We moved into our home nearly two years ago, just a few months before our daughter was born, and have yet to do much of anything with our living room (approx 15x35 feet). The house is a cape-style home located in Vermont, but we travel extensively, especially to Africa and Southeast Asia. We would like the room to honor the New England style of the area, while introducing elements that represent us and our love of travel, particularly interesting artefacts or furniture that we have acquired while traveling.

The only furniture in the room that will stay are the round teak table and chairs at one end of the room and the coffee table at the other side of the room (all from Indonesia) and the mirror on the floor which is from India. The bookcase will go, though we do love to read and could see ourselves curled up on a lovely leather couch in front of the fireplace with some good books during these long Vermont winters.

The fireplace is obviously outdated, but we can't do a major renovation at the moment, so a simple facelift would be preferable, i.e. painting the bricks, staining the mantle and surround. The wallpaper is being stripped presently, and I'm looking for a nice color to paint the room. I was thinking a warm neutral or maybe even darker, like Glidden's Olivewood on one or more walls? The living room is separated from the rest of the house by doors (one door goes to the kitchen, the other to the hall near the front door). The room also faces the south so it gets a lot of light.

Ideas for the wall color? Fireplace fix? Room arrangement? Any thoughts would be much appreciated!
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For your room arrangement, when you are faced with a long narrow room such as this, it usually works best to divide it into 2 or 3 zones. For instance, you could have one zone for tv watching, another for reading and another for a games table which could double as an eating area. After you've done this you can use area rugs to further define the zones and arrange you furniture accordingly.

For paint color, I wouldn't go with a dark color unless you can have more recessed lights installed.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 3:18AM
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Nice room. Good floor, GREAT windows!

New England homes were often very eclectic because the sea-going members of the family, or the missionaries, would drag back all kinds of things. Feel free to use anything handmade and of an authentic traditional style as if it had been dragged back from wherever by a missionary great-auntie in 1880 or a sea captain in 1780.

I would split it into activity areas, unified by similar rugs, wall color, and identical window treatments. Let the collected things be the accents.

Window treatments: the classic muslin tab-top NE curtain would be least stressful to your budget for now, and adding a layer of sheers to the window would cut the drafts.

Wall color? Get the wallpaper stripped and pick a rug or tapestry or something and pull a color from it. Light colors, a creamy white, palest peach or extremely pale yellow will make it seem lighter and warmer in there on those dismal winter days. Avoid blues, lavenders and and cool grays because they intensify the cold winter light.

Also avoid "muddy" colors and stick to the "clean" ones. Deep emerald instead of olive, clear yellows instead of mustards, amethysts instead of maroons, ruby and scarlet instead of maroon. A deep ruby red could make one heck of a room, and be warm-looking.

Rugs? Old-style Persians go with everything, or you could use the local classic braided rugs. Or Navajo, or Chimayo, or Saltillo ...

1 - Photo 1 .. the dining area or coffee/breakfast/game playing table (if it's closest to the kitchen, if no, swap ends). Add a rug under the table, put a buffet into one of the corners, a china cabinet into the other, hang some art and it's done (for a while)

2 - Photo 2 ... take advantage of the windows and set up a reading, knitting and chatting area with a couple of loveseats or 4 armchairs or any combo of them. Add a bookcase, or have one built-in to each end corner on either side of the windows.

3 - Photo 3 ... fireplace. It's not bad. Scrub the brick really well, and paint the mantelpiece white to match the rest of the woodwork. If you want an accent wall, paint the area behind the fireplace - door casing to door casing.

Add a couch facing the fireplace for winter chatting and snuggling with the child and a fireproof (wool braided) rug in front of it. On either side of the fireplace put a side chair - something classic like Scroll-back Chippendales style, but upholstered in an ethnic cloth from your travels.

4 - Photo 4 ... If you took the suggestion in #3 you have a long bare wall with a sofa back facing it. Use this for an art gallery wall.

ADDING: Roman shades might work, especially in an exotic fabric.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 4:23AM
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Diana Bier Interiors, LLC
What a great room--such good "bones"!

Agree with a lot that's been said already, except for the color palette. I'd use a color from the Benjamin Moore historical color collection. That being said, choose the paint color AFTER you've selected rugs, upholstery fabric, curtains, etc. It's always easier to match paint colors to the furnishings than the other way around!

I'd paint the fireplace mantel in a contrasting color to the walls and leave the brick alone for now.

As for furniture arrangement, have you thought about using 4 club chairs and a round upholstered ottoman in front of the fireplace? I did that for 2 of my clients and it works very well for entertaining and for reading.

The end of the room with the 2 double-hung windows--what else do you want to do in this room? You can easily split it into 3 sections, one for entertaining/reading, one for dining/game-playing, and the third for ? Unless you know what the function of that area is, I'd leave it empty for now. As they say, form follows function, so think about that before you fill it with any furniture.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 4:58AM
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Consider building in a bookcase and art display area with deep colors around the fireplace. Would go well along the wall you currently have the bookcase on.

(can you tell I've mentally moved into your house?)
1 Like    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 5:51AM
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@tsudhonimh, Feel free to move in, as we are currently in Singapore... Just let me know when the renovations are complete! ;) Love the idea of the built-in bookshelves, and thanks for the historical tidbits!

All great ideas! I'd thought of dividing the room into three areas, but couldn't quite figure out what to do with the third area. Obviously, you are familiar with this dilemma, Diana!

Unfortunately, I have to pick a color now, before buying any furniture, rugs, or window treatments, because we have a painter in the house working his way closer and closer to the living room as we speak. I like Revere Pewter HC-172 in Ben Moore or Edgecomb Gray HC-173 or New London Burgundy HC-61... Thoughts? What trim would you use? The hallway just outside will be Sherwin Wms Creme (SW 7556) with Extra White trim.

Thank you!
1 Like    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 5:54AM
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Diana Bier Interiors, LLC
Too bad you have to paint right now, but I suppose if you select colors you love, you'll end up finding them in the furnishings. Love B. Moore Edgecomb gray, revere pewter is kind of light, and new london burgundy is very dark. Maybe do that on one wall? If you go with gray you can use white dove as the trim, stay away from anything with yellow in it unless you're doing a gray and yellow palette.
    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 2:02PM
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Diana, which wall would you do as the accent?
    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 5:21AM
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Diana Bier Interiors, LLC
One of the short walls, which will make the wall appear closer and visually shorten the room.
That being said, maybe you could wait on that until you select some furnishings, like a rug or the sofa/chairs, since it may not coordinate well with your final selections.

Have the painter do the neutrals on all the walls and trim, and then you can paint the small accent wall yourself later on. It's not a huge job if he's done all the prep work and the trim. I did the lower half of my living room one Saturday morning in about 2 hours!
1 Like    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 5:34AM
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Jayme H.
painted FP pics
    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 5:39AM
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Jayme H.
color ideas
    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 5:51AM
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