Group Therapy: Paulette's Decorating Dilemma

Paulette reached out to me a few weeks ago to chat about her living room and how to best arrange the space. She has a long, narrow living room that makes it hard to configure her furniture to really utilize the square footage.

 Paulette has some really great pieces. How fabulous is that campaign chest and gallery wall?

This is what Paulette had to say about her family's living space:

I'm looking to change the sofa, rug and coffee table (it's just too much wood). I want to try to lighten up the space and figure out something to do in the area behind the chair. It's essentially another room which the kids tend to play because there is absolutely nothing there. I was thinking about using it as more of a sitting area, but I am not sure how to divide the areas and place the furniture.  My kids are 5 and 7, so we have finally hit the stage where toys are kept in the room, but I do want the kids to feel like they can also hang out there. I bought some simple white curtains from IKEA and add trim if need be for color. I would call my style transitional. I do have a tendency to be scared of color but am trying to step out a bit – thus the camping dresser in peacock blue.

Alright Paulette, here's what I would do – take it for what it's worth!

To split the living room and sitting area into two separate areas, I would move that tan accent chair into the sitting area and angle the two chairs in the corner. I would replace that chair with a chaise lounge or long upholstered bench – either of those options would allow you to have the same seating but keep the rooms opened to one another better than any furniture piece with a high back. The low-profile nature of a chaise lounge or bench allows the eye to see easily into each area and for the people in each room to interact easily, but it still provides the separation you're looking for to delineate the sections of the room.

Here are some pieces I think would look nice in the living area. I tried to find affordable pieces because what good is it to suggest furniture that is overly expensive? I hate it when people do that! This is real life; most of us can't spend a fortune on a throw pillow!

One thing I think always helps lighten up a space – like Paulette wants to do – is to get brighter rugs and incorporate mirrors. Mirrors bounce light around the room and really make a space feel lighter and more glamorous.

Paulette's Living Room

I would create the seating area in the back corner using the two existing tan chairs and bring in some colorful pillows to tie the two chairs together and coordinate with the red chairs from the dining room.

Paulette's Sitting Area

Another thing I would do is create a small desk area on that empty wall leading to the back door. If not a full fledged desk, that would be a great spot for a colorful console and some big artwork.

Paulette's Desk Area

Enough of what I would do – what would YOU do if you had Paulette's space? Share your thoughts in the comments section. Let's help Paulette tackling this decorating dilemma!

If you have a tricky situation in your own home that you want us to discuss on the blog, shoot me an email at jgrantham106@gmail.com. Thanks so much for writing, Paulette. It brings me true joy when blog readers reach out to me with thoughts and questions, and I LOVE to discuss decorating!

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Guest Bedroom Makeover for $7.48

Happy Monday, folks! Our weekend was very relaxing, yet productive. I made it my mission to give our guest bedroom a makeover, and by golly I did it. Well, we did it – the husband did help a little.

When we left off on Friday, we had a beige guest room with the essential pieces: a bed, a nightstand and a dresser.

And here's how it looks today!

My goal was to shop my own house and give it a fresh new look without spending any money. I came really close, but I ended up spending $7.48 for that lampshade by the bed. (At least it was on sale!)

Though I wasn't in love with the beige color chosen by the previous owners, I needed to embrace it for this project. We hope to eventually use this room as a nursery, so we don't want to bother painting it now only to repaint it sometime down the line.

The bed is a $40 thrift store find I picked up a month or two ago, and we painted it one of my favorite colors – Valspar Hematite. That's also the color of our front door, master bedroom dresser and outdoor shutters. It's one of those colors that looks good on anything. It's a really dark grey with a hint of navy blue. I like how it gives a strong contrast against the beige walls without being quite as harsh as black. Not only did I already have the paint (free!), but it helps tie the house together when you use the same color in various ways.

Before this mini makeover, the room was sort of a storage space for all my extra junk. I had a hod podge of random pieces in there that really needed help to look right together.

 With some DIY art on the walls and some junk removed from the room, I'm loving the new space.

After painting the bed, I started by trying to figure out what to do with the walls. I really wanted the wall behind the bed to be the focal point, but I didn't have a standout art piece for that spot. I thought about hand-painting some pattern on the wall, but I didn't want anything too permanent. (Plus I bet it's a huge pain to paint over a pattern. You probably need multiple coats of primer just to even it out, and I'm far too lazy for that!)

In the end, I was inspired by one of my past projects – DIY paper wall flowers – to use paper arrows to add some interest to my wall. It's literally as simple as cutting out a shape and taping it to the wall. It's perfect if you are renting or are noncommittal like me – if I tired of them I can just take them down with zero hassle!

The room was instantly less boring as soon as that wall was finished. That's what you see when you look into this room from the rest of the house, and I think it's such a charming view.

As for the other walls, I decided to raid my storage closet for some free large frames. My employer moved into a new building in January, and they were going to throw away all of the art and frames that were hanging in the old building. You know I couldn't allow that! They were tossing out fancy, heavy-duty professional frames with nice mats and glass. I took as many as I could fit in my car and have been hoarding them in a hall closet ever since. Both frames were silver, but we spray painted them gold to match the thrifted lamps in this room.

I didn't have any art, so I created my own. The simple "rest" poster above the map chest was inspired by this huge, simple painting I saw on Pinterest. I really want our guests to feel relaxed when they come to visit– like they are on vacation– so what better word than "rest" for the guest room art?

I originally wanted the "rest" poster to just be the text with no embellishment, but when I was painting it I got some black paint on the heel of my hand and smudged it below the word rest. Not wanting to give up on the whole painting, I improvised and added some cute dots around the word to cover up my mistake. Sometimes you just have to make it work, as Tim Gunn would say!

I knew the lamp would be in the bottom left portion of the poster, so I purposely made the text asymmetrical and put it near the right side. Even though it's not balanced on the canvas, the whole vignette feels balanced because they are opposites.

The painting on the other side of the room was inspired by one of my favorite songs, Oceans by Hillsong United.  (It's SUCH a beautiful song.) This one is a mix of watercolor, sharpie and paint pen.

I already had these cute frames from Target, so I framed a few prints from my favorite artist, Gustav Klimt. I bought a booklet full of photos of his artwork last year and cut out these small pieces to fit the frames. I like how they balance out the modern "rest" poster with something a bit more traditional.

Since it is a guest room, we wanted to make sure it was really functional. We spray painted some silver hooks to give the guests a place to hang clothes or purses, much like the hooks I use to plan my outfits in our master bathroom.

The tray on the chest contains a few essentials for our guests, including two water bottles, a candle and some toiletries (just in case they forgot something).

The nightstand has more water, two glasses and a short note that contains essential info for our home (garage code, wifi information and how to turn on our overly-complicated TV).

To make our guests feel at home, I hung a simple piece of ribbon with clothespins to create a photo strip. Now I can switch out the photos depending on who is visiting and make the room feel more personal for them.

The bedding is a mix of stuff we had around the house. Somehow it looks OK piled together, don't you think? I wouldn't think beige and grey would work so well together, but the golden/beige tones really warm up the grey and make it feel comfy.

Overall, I'm pretty thrilled with how much better this room looks after just a small amount of effort:

Here are all the sources, just in case you're wondering:

Bed: thrifted
Bedding: Target (comforter and shams), Marshalls (dotted blanket and diamond sheets)
Throw pillows: Pier 1
Nightstand: thrifted
Lamps: thrifted
Lampshades: Target
White frames: Target
Golden frames and artwork: thrifted/DIY
Map chest: one of my favorite bargains ever, from Wisteria
Stool: thrifted
Boxwood wreath: Wisteria
Cowhide rug: flea market
Small throw rug: thrifted

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Guest Room Makeover Plans

So we have this cute little guest bedroom that really deserves some attention. It's the same beige it was when we bought the house, and the furniture is a total hodgepodge of random things we have collected over the years.

Even though I'm not too keen on the beige color of the walls, I don't want to paint it. I need to embrace the beige and make it look like I actually chose that color. My goal for this weekend is to whip this room into its cutest self without actually spending any money. I love a challenge!

One thing I did buy a while ago is this cute, chunky wooden bed from the thrift store for $40.

We have since painted the bed a better color, but you'll have to check my next post to see how it turned out!

Here are some of the other random items I'm thinking about using in the room:

Guest Room Plans

We have company coming next weekend, so I'll be trying to get it ready to go before then. Sometimes I need a hard deadline to really get my butt in gear!

What do you have going on this weekend? Do you have any idea for my beige box of a guest room?

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