Get a Fresh Start With a New Decorating Style

A homeowner finds a fresh start in an itsy-bitsy, glitzy bungalow, and shows off the results to HGTV Magazine .
By: Kathleen Renda and Jennifer Berno DeCleene

Photo By: Lisa Romerein (styled by Liz Strong)

Photo By: Lisa Romerein (styled by Liz Strong)

Photo By: Lisa Romerein (styled by Liz Strong)

Photo By: Lisa Romerein (styled by Liz Strong)

Photo By: Lisa Romerein (styled by Liz Strong)

Photo By: Lisa Romerein (styled by Liz Strong)

Photo By: Lisa Romerein (styled by Liz Strong)

Photo By: Lisa Romerein (styled by Liz Strong)

Photo By: Lisa Romerein (styled by Liz Strong)

Photo By: Lisa Romerein (styled by Liz Strong)

Photo By: Lisa Romerein (styled by Liz Strong)

Photo By: Lisa Romerein (styled by Liz Strong)

Decorating for You

Donna Barnett realized fast that downsizing to a six-room 1920s bungalow after her divorce had its upsides. During the redo of the 1,700-square-foot home she purchased three years ago in Little Rock, AR, there were no spousal vetoes as she indulged her love of sophisticated bohemian style. Able to go all in with flirty hues, luxe fabrics, and gleaming accents, she created a glam bachelorette pad that’s the exact opposite of the home she once shared with her ex-husband and three sons. “That place was all guy, with dark colors and indestructible materials. This is so much fresher,” says Donna.

Let Your Personality Shine

Because of a self-admitted weakness for anything sparkly and glittery, she enlisted Kevin Walsh of Bear-Hill Interiors to help ensure the decor skewed grown-up, not girly. Eliminating a bulky living room wall, adding an en suite master bedroom, and jettisoning almost all the heavy-looking furniture from her previous home for smaller-scale pieces helped the rooms—and Donna’s life—feel lighter. “Leaving your past behind can be scary,” she says. “But when you do? It’s like this house—total nirvana.”

Living Room

Clever styling and eye-fooling furniture give the 8-foot-by-10-foot living room the illusion of grander proportions. The armless Lee Industries sofa is just 79 inches long, but heaped with pillows, it feels bigger. Restaining the dark hardwood floors a beachy driftwood color (Rustic Gray by Sherwin-Williams) lightened up the space. A tufted aqua mohair daybed keeps the sight line to the dining area unobstructed.


After a complete color makeover of the exterior, bricks painted minty green (Ancient Marble) now set off the slate-hued front door (Dark Night, both by Sherwin-Williams).


There’s no dedicated foyer, but grouping a lacquered grass cloth Bungalow 5 console, a woven rattan stool, and raffia-and-linen armchairs along a living room wall has the effect of an entryway. The Venetian glass lamp, a vintage find, plays up the pinks in the floral watercolor and the tie-dyed pillow.


Before gutting the kitchen, Donna, an avid chef, inventoried her supplies to plot out the exact storage she’d need. Glass-front cabinets show off colorful dishes, and Calacatta marble counters provide plenty of space for baking. The backsplash is green sea glass with an opalescent finish. Even though she’s usually cooking for one now, Donna says, “The kitchen is still the heart of my home.” 

Dining Room

The 1960s pecan dining set was found at a Hot Springs, AR, consignment store for $235. Rehabbed using off-white and silver paint, with icy blue linen on the seats, it blends perfectly with the palette of the kitchen and the adjoining open-plan living room. A Worlds Away chandelier with cascading capiz shells hangs low for impact. The salvaged doors, fitted with mirrors, lead to the master bedroom.

Master Bedroom

“This is absolutely my fantasy bedroom,” Donna says of the airy space with French doors. Mirror-front nightstands and a color scheme featuring gray and lilac feel romantic but not froufrou. The slipper chairs are two of the only holdovers from her married days. Once upholstered in a black-and-brown check, they were updated with wasabi green linen and lilac piping.

Master Bathroom

As sumptuous as a spa, this space boasts a 7-foot-long marble-topped vanity and 12-inch-by-12-inch marble floor tiles. Two oval mirrors are flanked by slim polished-nickel sconces. The silk window shade is orchid pink, Donna’s favorite color.

Guest Bedroom

Thanks to its masculine touches, including a headboard upholstered in eggplant linen and a sturdy side table, Donna’s grown sons feel at home during visits. A suzani-inspired ceramic vase from Tozai Home was wired to be a bedside lamp. The duvet cover is from West Elm, and the fish pillow is from Allem Studio.

Guest Bathroom

Wanting the guest bathroom to be gender-neutral, Donna chose a pair of loopy sconces and a graphic gray-and-white Schumacher wallpaper patterned with abstract mountains.

Guest Bedroom

Donna’s passion for travel sparked the globe-spanning decor of the second guest bedroom. An intricately carved Indonesian screen painted chalk white (Dover White by Sherwin-Williams) serves as a showstopping addition to the headboard. The blue pieced-glass pendant light could have been unearthed at a Moroccan souk, but it’s from a Dallas antiques shop.

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