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! 



Related To:


1621 HGTV Magazine

1621 HGTV Magazine



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.


1621 HGTV Magazine

1621 HGTV Magazine



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.

1621 HGTV Magazine

1621 HGTV Magazine



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  

Keep Reading

Next Up

Small-Space Living Room Layouts

Use smart strategies to make your small living room feel larger.

Basement Renovation Transforms a Cold Space Into a Warm Family Room

See the before and after photos from another amazing Candice Olson basement makeover, and get tips on how to turn your home's lowest level into a welcoming place to gather.

Outdoor Living Spaces: Ideas for Outdoor Rooms

Learn about options and ideas for outdoor rooms and outdoor living spaces.

Downsized Living Room Style

Jam-packed with bulky furniture, this living room couldn’t breathe. See how HGTV Magazine gave it some style CPR.

Contemporary Classic Living Room

A traditional yet modern makeover calms down an overly busy space.

New and Improved Living Room Style

HGTV Magazine 's lifestyle editor was hiding a secret: She couldn’t stand her living room! Inspired by the magazine's colorful pages, she finally updated the space.

Living and Dining Room Renovation

Transform cramped living quarters with designer Candice Olson's decorating ideas for mixing traditional antiques with contemporary style.

A Bland Living Room Gets a Stylish Makeover

This fun-loving couple had nothing in common with their living room and its make-do decor. See how HGTV Magazine brought the space to life. 

Casual Kitchen and Living Space

San Francisco designer Tineke Triggs makes a smaller home feel more spacious by creating a light and airy great room.

Living Room/Dining Room Makeover: From Gutted to Gorgeous

Candice Olson transforms an empty large main floor into a great room — in more ways than one.


Shop This Look

Found a living space you love in HGTV's Photo Library? Get the look in your own home with products from Wayfair.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.