Great Save! HGTV Star's Decorating Intervention

HGTV Magazine features Meg Caswell, host of Meg's Great Rooms, as she swoops in to rescue a bare-bones living and dining room space.
By: Stephanie Dolgoff

Photo By: Werner Straube

Photo By: Werner Straube

Photo By: Werner Straube

Photo By: Werner Straube

Photo By: Werner Straube

Photo By: Werner Straube

Before: A Blank Slate

The soon-to-be-married Kevin Kaduk and Mary Beth Summins didn't know what to do with their big open blob of a space, a split-level living/dining area separated by a railing. They liked the openness and the pretty bay windows that looked out on their leafy street in Lisle, Ill., but the two-tiered layout had them stumped. No matter what they tried, they wound up with pockets of unused square footage.

Before: Split-Level S.O.S.

It didn't help that the only furniture they had to work with were two white sofas, leftovers from Mary Beth's bachelorette pad. So they took a chance and sent their story to HGTV, hoping to land a makeover on the show Meg Caswell hosts, Meg's Great Rooms. To their shock and delight, they were picked!

Meg's Sketch: A Bright Future

Meg used a single springy green wall color to unify the upper and lower levels. The bright blue on the chairs, credenza and valance is sprinkled around downstairs as well. "An accent color makes your eye dart around the space and helps connect the two rooms," says Meg. Meg knew Kevin and Mary Beth have a great love of the outdoors, so she decided to take some decorating cues from Mother Nature.

Meg's Sketch: Open-Space Solutions

The couple's instinct was to not block the window with a couch, but Meg found a way to situate the room for comfortable conversation without obscuring the view. She found two low-profile sofas on ($890 for both!) and placed them facing each other. The one near the window sits about a foot in front of it, so lots of light still gets in.

After: Delightful Dining Room

The customized table base, a Meg original, is made of stacked MDF disks (MDF stands for medium-density fiberboard, a super-affordable pressed wood). The top is MDF too, with a glass surface. Meg painted the chairs icy gray and re-covered the seats in a bright blue fabric. The wall color is Sycamore Tree by Benjamin Moore.

After: Nature-Loving Living Room

All eyes on the fountain! A split-level space with a vaulted ceiling cries out for a focal point, so Meg created an indoor fountain that incorporates an iron gingko sculpture by local artist Riggs Barr. There's a tile backsplash, and the pillars on each side of the waterfall are white oak stained with Sherwin-Williams' Mountain Ash. "We used a marine-grade waterproof sealer to make them water-resistant," she says. Meg built a custom-valance for hiding the hardware. A wool rug, from Oscar Isberian Rugs, and sunflower pillows complete the look.

Custom Touch: Creative Chandelier

It's custom Meg: The pendant started life as an IKEA Maskros fixture, but Meg took it apart, doctored it with little disks of wood, then spray-painted the inside gold. "When the light's on, it gives off a warm, natural glow," she says.

Custom Touch: Useful Divider

"One of my goals was to make sure that whatever was separating the two rooms was also functional," says Meg. "When working in a space like this, I don't like to add things that don't serve a purpose." Meg decided to remove the old slatted railing. She replaced it with a rich cherry-stained divider with shelves and cubbyholes for storing books, trinkets and framed pictures.

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