Because our renovation was so extensive — complete exterior, windows, custom kitchen, and half our main floor — our budget just wouldn’t stretch to include all new decor outside the kitchen. So, like any decorator worth her tassels, I challenged myself to make my existing living room and dining room decor work with the new scheme. This meant that I had to make little changes that would pull old and new together. Here’s how I did it….
I’m a big believer in the power of pattern and colour to pull disparate items together. This could come in the form of fabric, wallpaper or an area rug. In my case, I needed to pull my warm, dark furnishings into the new gray/beige/neutral scheme. When I found this Kravet fabric, I knew it was the perfect blend of my old and new colours. It has just enough dark elements to ‘talk’ to my darker blinds and furnishings, but with plenty of light neutrals to freshen up the entire scheme. Custom drapery is never inexpensive, but in the big scheme of things, this fabric was critical to making old and new coexist. Plus, it never ceases to amaze me — even after 20 years in the business — how much drapery adds to any room. This was a worthwhile splurge!
I also selected a warm neutral paint colour that walks a tightrope between my warm old colours and my new neutral finishes.
My other big gesture was a new striped area rug, in shades of cream, beige, gray and dark green. It adds graphic punch that updates my old furnishings, while also combining old and new colours. When I saw this sample, I knew it was my ‘magic’ carpet.
In a small house like mine, and in many newer, more open floor plans, it is essential that your decor flows from the front door throughout the entire home — or at least to the public spaces. With that in mind, I had the striped broadloom from my living room rug added to my stair risers at the entry. I could have left the existing carpet — it was still serviceable — but this is so much more interesting. Besides, I had to cut off 36″ from the broadloom in order to create my new area rug, so it only made sense to use that piece for the stairs. The additional cost to have it applied to my stair risers was minimal.
The quickest way to update my old sofa was to add new toss pillows. The rectangular blue velvet cushion was a box-store find that repeats the background colour of my sofa. The zigzag embroidered pillows with beaded fringe trim were custom-made to echo the new lighter colours as well as the flamestitch patterns on my front porch carpet and my pre-existing wing chair. I filled them with feathers rather than foam for a more luxe look and feel.
For my next trick, I’m going to update my old dining room by adding new chairs — from Lowe’s!! A new 36″ x 84″ dining table is on our wish list, once we decide on materials and finishes for it. Meanwhile, we are working with our old 48″ x 68″ oval table. Prior to the renovation, the existing chairs were on their last legs — literally! Only one was salvageable. When we spotted these chairs at the original price, I thought they were nice. When they were marked down to $50 each at the end of the summer, we took them home. They are comfortable and practical — outdoor fabric is washable — and the fabric and bronze finish work with our new decor. Even if they only last a few years, they won’t owe us anything. We may even be able to use them outside after we replace them!
We used the sole surviving dining chair from our old suite to update our old desk, which now sits at the top of the stairs, minus its hutch. We also added lighted sconces to this wall, to create a focal point that is viewed from our front entry. This would not have been possible had we kept the old hutch on top of the desk. This is literally a lighter, brighter approach.
Speaking of lighter and brighter, one of our other changes has made a huge difference to an old wall unit. We switched out the interior lighting for LED bulbs and they make everything inside sparkle. This is a trick already used in retail display, where the right LED lighting can make diamonds, and other treasures, sparkle more inside their display cases. We also retrofitted the bar shelf, removing the acrylic shelves for glassware, and moving the light to the rear (complete with LED stick, of course). The bar folds down to become an end table as required, with display space inside.
We updated light fixtures throughout the main floor during the renovation, opting for cleaner lines. Rather than replace this lamp, I found a new shade to replace the old bell-style shade. The cleaner lines of this modified drum shade update the entire lamp for a fraction of the cost of a new lamp.
There you have it — 10 small changes with big impact.