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. 

Living Room Makeover TK

Photo by: Zach DeSart

Zach DeSart


Living Room Makeover TK

Photo by: Zach DeSart

Zach DeSart

Nearly two years after moving into their 1950s colonial in Montclair, NJ, Richard and Tyra Manso had barely touched their living room, which featured a mishmash of oversize leather seating from Richard’s bachelor days, a lonely end table from their old Brooklyn, NY, pad and a too-small area rug from who remembers where. As their 2-year-old son, Ricky, laid claim to much of the rest of the house, Richard and Tyra decided it was time to focus on their neglected living room.

“We knew the space had tons of potential — lots of square footage, plenty of light, and pretty hardwood floors — but we were hardly using it,” says Tyra. They dreamed of an adultlike oasis where they could have friends over or unwind at the end of the day without tripping over a toy truck. Our plan for Tyra and Richard: Clear out the clunky furniture, banish the beige walls, relinquish the red rug and transform the space into a room that looks pulled together, not thrown together. 


Living Room Makeover TK

Photo by: Zach DeSart

Zach DeSart


To unify the different styles of paneling and trim work in the room, we used the same charcoal gray paint on three walls, all the trim and the fireplace mantel. The deep gray helps the large rectangular room — it’s 15 feet by 23 ½ feet — feel much cozier. 


Facing sofas give the room a dose of formality, but because they’re different shapes and colors, the look isn’t stuffy or too traditional. The white camelback sofa is from Ballard Designs, and the blue velvet one is from West Elm. 


“When we heard wallpaper was going up, we were a little nervous,” says Richard. “All we could imagine was the ugly ’80s stuff in our bathrooms that the previous owners had put up.” But they breathed a sigh of relief once they saw this Schumacher paper covering the accent wall. “The pattern feels exotic and special,” says Tyra.


It’s amazing how a simple switch — like replacing the old brass-and-glass doors with a geometric screen from Scenario Home — modernizes a hearth. In addition to painting the mantel gray, we changed the brick surround from black to cream (Titanium by Benjamin Moore). 


This Worlds Away drum pendant has an opaque diffuser on the bottom of the shade, which hides the bulbs and cuts their glare to create a soft glow in the room. 


Splashy emerald green panels made from Gray Line Linen fabric stand out against both the solid gray wall and the patterned wallpaper. We had them lined to make the color look richer and the fabric less sheer.


This 53-inch-wide leather ottoman from Z Gallerie is big enough to serve as extra seating, comfy enough for propped up feet, and roomy enough to hold a tray — important when your coffee table isn’t a hard surface. 


The 8-foot-by-10-foot cotton-and-wool flat-weave rug from Aelfie is the proper size for the space. Both sofas fit on it nicely, with their front legs on and back legs off. 

Shop This Room

Living Room Makeover TK

Photo by: Zach DeSart

Zach DeSart

Art: (on mantel, from left) Golden Blue Poppies by Raven Erebus 11" x 14" print in golden blue with white wood frame, $89, minted.com; IKEA, discontinued. For a similar look, try Hayden’s Choice by Rebekka Connelly 16" x 20" unframed giclee print, $61, rebekkaconnelly.com
Console Table: Tanner Long 65"W x 14"D x 30½"H glass and metal console table in polished nickel finish, $699, potterybarn.com
Curtain Hardware: Prescott 1"-diameter adjustable 48"–86"-wide and 86"–120"-wide steel and aluminum curtain rods in aged pewter finish, from $75 each, and Prescott 1 ½"-diameter steel clip rings in aged pewter finish, $28 for a set of 14, all jcpenney.com
Curtains: Judy #12 linen fabric, $10 per yard, graylinelinen.com
Fireplace Screen: Interlocking Squares 31" x 40" iron fireplace screen, $363, scenariohome.com
Lamps: Couture Lamps Malibu 29"-tall cast-resin lamps in blue with shades, $233 each, burkedecor.com
Light Fixture: Hicks 15"H x 24"-diameter metal pendant in white, $712.50, worlds-away.com for stores
Mirror: Tazlina 29 ½"-diameter metal mirror, from $447, uttermost.com for stores Ottomans: Beacon 53"W x 31"D x 17"H leather and aluminum ottoman in limestone, $799, zgallerie.com; Skyline Furniture Mfg. Carmine 22"W x 18"D x 17"H cotton velvet and pine ottoman in wine, $310, luluandgeorgia.com
Pillows: (on blue sofa, from left) Plaid 18" x 18" wool and canvas pillow in cream and cerise, $200, judyrosstextiles.com; prop, unavailable; Loloi P0135 18" x 18" rayon and cotton pillow in blue and white with down fill, $169, hayneedle.com; (on white sofa, from left) Dobbins 20" x 20" linen pillows in turquoise, $129 each, katespade.com;
Queen of Spain 22" x 22" cotton pillow in jade, $110, twentyone7.com; D1030 13" x 22" linen pillow, $212, lacefielddesigns.com; European 16" x 24" flax linen pillow cover in raspberry, $49, and insert, $24, both wisteria.com
Rug: Olivia 8' x 10' wool and cotton rug in blue, $1,219, aelfie.com
Sofas: (blue) Monroe Mid-Century 80"-wide luster velvet and wood sofa in celestial blue, $1,299, westelm.com; (white) Riviera 82"-wide sofa with slipcover in Sunbrella canvas white, $1,948, ballarddesigns.com
Vase: (on ottoman) Turquoise Cloud 13½"H x 5½"-diameter glass vase, $72.50, cyandesign.biz for buying info
Wallpaper: Ovington in flint, fschumacher.com, decorativebuyingservice.com for buying info 

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