Nadia and Daniel’s awkward L-shaped living room and dining room prompted more than one round of musical furniture. But although they rearranged the layout several times, they couldn’t get things to fit just right.
Every room needs one central focal point, but in this case the fireplace and the TV were in a neck-and-neck competition for attention. Nadia and Daniel didn’t really want a formal dining room, so they tried using that area as their entertainment zone — but the narrow space only accommodated one couch and the TV. Without additional seating, no guests were allowed.
With friends from Switzerland coming to stay, the race was on to re-organize and re-focus this space.
To begin, I chose a color palette that is both elegant and timeless, incorporating natural tones such as sand, ivory, coffee and pewter. With two young kids in the house, it made sense to trim the bottom part of the walls with an easy-clean panel molding. For the top, I found a rich, sand-colored wallpaper that incorporates just a hint of shimmer into its timeless pattern.
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Many times, people neglect the ceiling during a big renovation. But as the largest blank canvas in a room, the ceiling really can be your crowning glory. For Nadia and Daniel, we made a dazzling statement by installing recessed lighting throughout the L-shaped space, and adding beautiful detailing with applied plaster ceiling molding in a simple, yet elegant pattern.
Since a dining room was not required, I decided to turn that area into a cozy library, complete with built-in book shelves, a round wooden table, two comfy club chairs, and a small sofa — with all seating finished with nailhead trim.
Above the table, we hung the piece de resistance: a stunning and sparkly chandelier whose design was inspired by the shape of a full, leafy tree. I knew it was perfect for the library area from the moment I laid eyes on it. It provides just enough bling, and yet it also somehow encourages you to grab a book and relax.
Over in the living room, we delivered much more functionality by making a few key changes. A new gas fireplace insert was surrounded with elegant Calacatta polished marble. Above the fireplace, we hung a round mirror and flanked it with two sconces. On either side of the fireplace you’ll find ample built-in cabinetry, creating storage and display space on one side, and a media center on the other.
The TV now extends from the wall on a flexible arm, so it can be angled to face the room’s large coffee-colored sectional sofa. The L-shaped sofa provides seating for both family and guests, with Nadia and Daniel’s reupholstered tufted ottoman taking pride of place in front of the hearth.
Behind the sectional, ivory sheers are framed by new custom draperies in a Wedgwood blue. Their color brings out some of the room’s best accents, including the ottoman fabric and some of the cushion covers.
Last but not least, we replaced the paper thin original hardwood flooring with a wide plank, red oak hardwood. The new floor has a slightly antiqued look, which I love. It really injects a more casual element into this space, making it seem warmer and more welcoming.
The big challenge with this project was coming up with a layout that was both functional and stylish. It had to meet the needs of a family with young children, while at the same time providing the adults with their own retreat.
Now, Nadia and Daniel not only have a place to entertain, but they can even offer their guests a seat once they arrive. For quieter nights, or homework time, the library offers the perfect place to settle down for work or escape into the pages of a good book.
Interior decorator Candice Olson is host of HGTV’s ‘Candice Tells All.’