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Before and After: Sophisticated Living Room Redesign

Kenneth Brown replaces beach style with a sophisticated design.

Hilary and Will want a sophisticated living room and den for their new house but their old beach cottage furniture just won’t do. What’s worse is that they can’t agree upon a style: Hilary wants comfort and Will wants clean lines. Kenneth Brown, the diplomatic designer, presents an overall plan combining comfort and style.


One of the first things Kenneth suggests is bringing in a bigger area rug. He says, "Area rugs set the stage for where the furniture will go. A bigger area rug will allow you to spread the furniture out and use more of the space." For Hilary and Will's living room, he has a piece of regular carpet cut and bound to make a rug. A simple two-foot extension of the wall between the living room and den also made room for the TV armoire. Here are a few of his other design tricks Kenneth follows to create their spectacular room:

  • Painter's tape is used to show the dimensions and arrangement of the furniture. Kenneth tapes out every piece of furniture directly on the floor so they can get a sense of how everything will flow together.

  • Built-in bookshelves don't have to be boring. Kenneth paints the wall behind in blocks of subtle colors and removes a few of the shelves to make it more visually interesting.

  • Even the bookshelf contents are given a designer flair — he says to create a sense of order by stacking books like a pyramid with larger ones on the bottom. Also, create clean lines by pulling the books to the edge of the shelf.

  • The rule of thumb he follows when hanging a chandelier over a dining table is that the bottom of the fixture should be 36 inches above the tabletop.

  • paint colors (Network Gray - 7073; Sage SW 2860; Blonde SW 6128) - Sherwin Williams
    limestone hearth
    (Saint Alexandria Limestone) - Ultra Marble & Granite
    custom frame for chandelier - Fantasy Lighting
    sofa fabric - F & S Fabrics
    custom sectional
    (City) - Richter Furniture
    nesting tables
    (ATG Nesting Tables, Espresso Oak) - Civilization
    living room fabric and chair
    (Cosmo chair in Cirillo Smoke fabric) - Cisco Brothers
    office armless fabric and chairs
    (Cosmo armless chair in Hobnail Mint Chocolate fabric) - Cisco Brothers
    sofa pillow fabric
    (Aspire Aqua) - Cisco Brothers
    brown sofa pillow fabric
    (Bechamel Anejo) - Rogers & Goffigon
    pillow fabric - Diamond Foam & Fabric
    sitting room ottoman
    (Valente ottoman in Alazan brown leather) - Cisco brothers
    area rug
    (Windhaven color 0015 Interstorm) - Carpet Design, Inc.
    capiz shells for chandelier - West Elm
    living room ottoman
    (Bondi in Western Beige leather) - Richter Furniture
    rocking chair
    (Donolo chair in Natural Leather) - Design Within Reach
    side table
    (Eileen Gray) - Design with Reach
    Venetian plasterer - Zac Crandell Fine Finishes


    • Marble and granite from Ultra Marble & Granite
    • Lighting supplies from Fantasy Lighting
    • Carpet from Carpet Design
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