A Bare-Bones Living Room Gets a Vibrant Update

Decorating decisions are tough — which is why this couple avoided making any. Then HGTV Magazine jumped in! 




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More than once, Georgina McNiff and Kurt Waples came this close to splurging on art to fill the living room walls of their 1,450-square-foot condo in Stamford, CT. And to picking out a new sofa. And to buying a cool floor lamp. “But we could never commit,” says Georgina. Paralyzed by the pressure to make absolutely perfect decorating choices for their home’s main hangout space  —  and busy planning their upcoming wedding —  the couple had barely made a move since they unpacked in July 2015.

That meant sticking with the builder-basic beige walls and carpeting, the sad-looking plastic mini blinds on the windows, the furniture haphazardly collected over time, and — Georgina’s biggest grievance — the bare walls. “The few things we did have hanging were terrible,” she says. To get this stalled space in motion, we arrived ready for a makeover, armed with buckets of paint and armloads of patterns.


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Bold blue paint (even on the trim) and a wall-spanning assortment of art gave this room the blast of energy it needed. To balance out the dramatic paint color, we filled the space with furniture in easy-on-the-eyes neutrals, including a slim square-arm sofa from apt2b.com, a caramel-color leather chair from West Elm and a storage-rich coffee table from Somerton Dwelling. Rather than ripping up the existing carpet (there was only subfloor below it), we layered a large-scale wool West Elm rug right on top. The Roman shades were custom-made out of zigzag fabric from Premier Prints. “Now it looks like people who know how to decorate live here,” says Georgina.

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These mid-century chairs used to have depressing plaid cushions. But their classically cool frames were keepers, so we re-covered them in wavy fabric from John Robshaw. The secret to making a supersize gallery wall not look insane? Even though the picture frames vary in size and color — and some are hung lower than eye level — all of the pieces share similar hues. We updated Georgina and Kurt’s gourd lamps with nubby twine.

Shop this room!

Art: Selected art from Michelle Armas; artfullywalls.com; The Calm Gallery; Yao Cheng; etsy.com: Bowmanism, The Clay Play, Craft Couture Studios, Designs by Ritz, The Drafting Room, Just a Bird Printables, Lauren Adams Art, Michael Ellis Studios, MOJA Graphics; minted.com: Lauren Adams, Lulaloo, Emily Magone, Rene Mijares; onekingslane.com: Jen Garrido
Chair cushion fabric: John Robshaw Sulka fabric, $29 per yard, patiolane.com
Coffee table: La Slyphide coffee table, $549, somertondwelling.com
Curtain fabric: Premier Prints Diva Italian fabric, $13 per yard, buyfabrics.com
Floor lamp: Modern Rustic Arc lamp, $165, shadesoflight.com
Frames: aifriedman.com; artfullywalls.com; onekingslane.com; pictureframes.com 
Leather chair: Niels chair, $799, westelm.com
Pillows: (on sofa, orange) European Flax pillow covers, $54 each, wisteria.com; (multicolor) Surya Kilim pillow, $48, bellacor.com
Rug: Phoenix 8' x 10' rug, $679, westelm.com
Side table: Muse table, $348, apt2b.com
Sofa: Lawson sofa, $1,388, apt2b.com  

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