Architecture and Antiques Made Modern

Warm lighting, fresh paint colors and cheerful fabrics combine to create a bright, contemporary look in this couple's living room.

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Hide CaptionShow CaptionUsing creative lighting and a wonderful palette of reds, creams and yellows, this room got a big boost of color and those cherished antiques got a new lease on life. (SHNS photo courtesy Home & Garden Television)
Just when it seemed there was no solution to this design dilemma, the Divine Design team arrived on the scene. Using creative lighting techniques and a wonderful palette of reds, creams and yellows, the room got a big boost of color and those cherished antiques got a new lease on life.

I chose a bright, sunny yellow for the walls. A fresh coat of antique white paint instantly brightened up the mantelpiece and the rest of the room's trim. It's amazing how much this small step illuminated the entire space, which is exactly the result Katherine was looking for. And, by brightening up the room's architectural woodwork, Nicholas' dark antique furniture instantly took center stage.

The only lighting in the room had been a couple of table lamps. To increase the overall light level, I added strategically located recessed lights in the ceiling. Two of Nicholas's family portraits were illuminated by recessed lights. I also chose two wonderful sconces and used them to frame a new oval mirror over the fireplace.

Antique gold pelmet (a kind of valance), also from Ireland, had presided over the room's two doorways. I lengthened one pelmet and applied a faux finish to camouflage the new section. Now it's the crowning glory to a wonderful new multi-layered drapery treatment using cheerful floral and striped fabrics. By lengthening the pelmet we opened up more of the window, making the room much brighter. The other pelmet was placed over the doorway into the hall.

Although I used most of Nicholas' antiques to furnish the room, I did bring in a new straw-colored sofa to brighten up the space before the window. One of the existing love seats was recovered in a cheerful red diamond fabric. To add more seating and make the room more conducive to entertaining, I flanked the fireplace with two small slipper chairs. I also used slipcovers in cheerful floral and rich gold fabrics to cover up some of the other dark antique chairs.

In keeping with Katherine's love for plants and gardening, I found a wonderful floral-patterned screen to disguise a corner radiator. A couple of new plant stands showcase two gorgeous ferns.

The room's new design incorporates both the present and the past. Warm lighting, fresh paint colors and cheerful fabrics combine to create a bright, contemporary look. By reworking the pelmets and the other antiques, Nicholas's family heirlooms remain in honor of the past.

The result is a divine compromise that suits both Katherine and Nicholas. Design dilemma solved.

(Interior decorator Candice Olson is host of Home & Garden Television's Divine Design.)

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