Paint and personality revive drab living-dining room

Nicola is experiencing a rebirth of sorts. She just turned 40, started a new relationship and bought a beautiful beachside home in t
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010


Nicola is experiencing a rebirth of sorts. She just turned 40, started a new relationship and bought a beautiful beachside home in the city. While the duplex was fully renovated from the top down, the living and dining rooms were gloomy, dreary and reminiscent of a stuffy gentlemen's club. With wood-paneled walls and minimal lighting, the rooms lacked the light and airy feeling Nicola wanted.

I took my crew down to the lake to give Nicola the ultimate birthday present: a funky, feminine room that screams, "Forty is fabulous!"

To kick off the project, I did what many would consider unthinkable: I painted a bright shade of antique white over all the woodworking on the walls. This helped to lighten things up dramatically.

In keeping with this light feeling, I chose a color palette of creams, pinks and greens, with dark-chocolate-brown accents to match the existing wood floor. For my jumping-off fabric, I chose a gorgeous creamy material with a pink-and-green agapanthus floral pattern that speaks to the natural setting of the house.

The color didn't stop there! Many people forget about the fifth wall -- the ceiling -- when decorating rooms. But I wanted to create something special for Nicola to accentuate the beautiful curve in her ceiling. So I called on my vinyl specialists to create a whimsical graphic of the agapanthus flower found in the main fabric and transfer it onto the ceiling. The results are gorgeous, giving the ceiling the quality of a hand-painted piece of art.

To help brighten things further, I installed a whole new lighting arrangement, including a contemporary chrome chandelier with moody chocolate shades in the dining room; two sconces to flank the entrance; a sparkling crystal-ball pendant in the living room; and a host of recessed lighting.

To give the room a feminine feel, I put in a variety of new furniture pieces, including: two chairs with the floral pattern; a sofa with a chaise in pearl-glazed leather; and six dining-room chairs in a mixture of brown silk and pink polka dots. These chairs will sit around Nicola's much-loved wooden dining table, on which I did a bit of reconfiguring to make it more comfortable for guests.

To add some ambience and warmth, I incorporated a gas-fireplace insert into a new feature wall in the living room, installed a curvy surround and put up crinkly wallpaper on the fireplace wall.

After a few more romantic touches -- including a funky mirror over the fireplace, some woven wood blinds, a cream shag rug, a dark pink velvety throw and a lamp with a feather shade -- Nicola's space was transformed.

By combining dreamy colors, luxurious fabrics, funky furniture and feminine details, this dark and dingy space got a healthy dose of coastal style. Now it is ready for beachside soirees, dinner parties and drinks by the fire. For Nicola, 40 is definitely going to be fabulous. How divine!