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Eclectic Comfort Inspires Living Room

Designer Julie Holloway shares how she creates a new floor plan, refreshes furnishings and adds colorful accents to revitalize a hard-working living space.

Designer Julie Holloway took a $5,000 budget and transformed a long, boring living room into a multipurpose living space with plenty of eclectic style suited for work and play. Julie and design partner Anisa Darnell of Milk & Honey Home started at the center of the room, where they first defined the room's focal point around the fireplace. They flanked it with two facing sofas (one old and one new), repainted the mantel a deep color and hung a TV above it.

Once established, they plotted ancillary task areas for reading and deskwork around it. Original furniture was reused when possible through painting and slipcovers, while new pieces and accessories provided scale, balance, function, display and color. Julie describes the remaking of the room.

What were the main items on the homeowners' wish list?

They wanted a comfortable and gracious hard-working room that would serve them as well as work well when company's coming.

It just wasn't working. Nothing was right. The TV and fireplace, originally on opposite walls, battled for focus, the lighting was insufficient, and the room lacked color. We had a modest budget of $5,000, and had to get seating, lighting and "oomph" in there.

The biggest challenge was finding the meeting point between his style (masculine and comfortable) and her style (rustic, Moroccan and Belgian), but the contrast is actually aesthetically pleasing. In the reading area, for example, we mixed a shapely Belgian raw wood pedestal table with the dark minimally styled bookshelves. It works.

The basic floor plan worked just fine but we did have a few adaptations. For example, in the wing chair scenario we had intended to have custom slipcovers made, but when the scale of the table between them was too small, we had to shift funds to get a larger, more expensive table. Luckily we found ready-made slipcovers for the chairs and they worked seamlessly.

We learned a few things, as always! First, we learned to always budget for help. We had two interns to help us do the room install but we could have used more hands. Also, this was the first project where we combined poppy red, apple green and blue-gray and we loved it, as did the homeowners. It’s always great to find fresh color combinations. Also, you can never have too much lighting.

There are two painted details that we love. First, painting the mantel a deep charcoal really made it a star. The homeowners DIY-ed that and it added a lot of interest and depth. They also painted their mahogany coffee table in a shade of blue, which was less expensive and more interesting than a new piece.

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