From Boring and Bare to Colorful and Cozy
Fearful of making bad decisions, this couple did zilch to their living/dining area. That is, until HGTV Magazine came in to completely transform the space.
Two years ago, when Melissa and Josh Bengal bought their 1906 house in Glen Rock, NJ, they couldn’t wait to put their personal stamp on the combined living and dining rooms. Then…nothing happened.
Distracted by work, the demands of first-time homeownership, and their growing family (they have a 3-year-old son, Andrew, and another on the way), the couple let decorating fall by the wayside. “The space was dark and awkward,” says Melissa. “I didn’t know where to put furniture, so I just didn’t buy anything.” All the wood trim throughout the rooms also had her stumped. There was so much of it — and Josh loved it.
Wood trim was here, there, everywhere! The sickly yellow paint looked dingy, and the sofa was cute, but so lonely in the under-decorated space.
Living Room After
To inject the rooms with personality, we came up with a pretty color scheme, switched the orientation of the living and dining rooms, and added much-needed furniture and accessories, all while keeping the wood trim as is. Now, says Melissa, the entire space feels “uplifting and bright — the polar opposite of what it used to be.”
The window casings and the chair rail, built from rare American chestnut, are original. Josh, an amateur woodworker, hated the idea of covering them with paint — so the walls got a facelift instead, with creamy white paint (Palais White by Behr) that makes the trim shine.
Side Table, Bench and Chair
An enamel and brass Crate & Barrel table, a navy leather CR Laine bench, and a World Market chair bring out the dark colors in the rug. The striped pillow is from West Elm.
Two matching wool rugs from NuLoom (the other is in the dining area) help define the rooms while also tying them together. They’re a happy upgrade from the too-small sisal that used to lie under the sofa.
Before, the overhead fixtures cast a weak, unflattering light, so the space felt gloomy. Now accent lighting — including these pink gourd lamps from Lamps Plus — brightens up the living area.
Just the right size to fit inside the bay window, the Bengals’ La-Z-Boy couch looks great flanked by new wood end tables from Safavieh. To give the sofa more punch, we piled it with pillows: blue ones made with fabric from Skyline Furniture, two multicolor ones from Loloi, and a swirly fuchsia find from Horne.
Dining Room After
Curtains sewn from robin’s-egg blue burlap bought on fabric.com make the bay window feel cozy. A matching Roman shade over the front door window offers privacy. The matte brown curtain rods are from Bed Bath & Beyond.
With its geometric frame, this Shades of Light fixture, accented by a ceiling medallion from Lowe’s, modernizes the more traditional furniture. “It’s so eye-catching compared to our old, wimpy chandelier,” says Melissa.
Placed on both sides of the front door, these upholstered lidded cubes from One Kings Lane pull triple duty as a bag drop-off spot, toy storage, and extra seats when the family entertains.
Dining Table and Chairs
The Bengals’ generic-looking wood dining set got swapped out for this chicer combo: a pedestal table from Bassett and chairs from One Kings Lane upholstered in a dots-and-stripes pattern.
Sideboard and Lamp
Extra table linens, dishes, and even Andrew’s coloring books can fit with room to spare in the curvy buffet from A.R.T. Furniture. A glass lamp from All Modern picks up the blue of the curtains.
This grouping of prints looks collected over time, but it was actually bought as a curated, framed set from artfullywalls.com. “I love how the pieces work together without seeming too perfect,” says Melissa. “Now the ugly poster we had here can go in the basement — where it belongs!”