Jean Allsopp / Styling Mary Leigh Fitts
Dark wood and small windows left this space in need of a lighter look.
It's amazing how far fresh paint, a few yards of fabric, and some smart ideas will go to spruce up a room. Before we went to work on this living room, dark-stained wood and bland walls dated the dreary space. Leave it to Assistant Projects Editor Mary Leigh Fitts to prove that high style doesn't have to cost a fortune.
First Stop: The Fabric Shop
Because the dark wood above the fireplace seemed to take over the space, Mary Leigh suggested using fabric there to soften the look and make the room more colorful and cozy. The homeowners' furniture had neutral upholstery, providing a clean palette to build on. For visual impact, they decided on an Asian print that offers the bright, bold pattern the room lacked.
Putting It Together
The couple removed center pieces from the paneling to make room for the new upholstered ones. They carefully measured the recessed areas and created frames by nailing together 2-inch-wide wood trim pieces. Next, layers of batting were wrapped around the frames. Finally, the decorative fabric was stretched across the front of the frames and secured to the backs with a staple gun.
The panels attach to the wall with self-fastening strips (available at sewing and craft-supply stores) that are placed on the backs of the panels and inside the recessed areas on the wall. The panels can easily be removed as the homeowners' tastes change or if the fabric needs cleaning.
Mary Leigh used the fabric to determine the sage green wall color as well as the living room's overall theme. Red Asian accents fill the space, perfectly complementing the green walls. Inexpensive oxblood vases accessorize the bookcases. Mary Leigh also replaced plain-Jane shades on the swing-arm lamps with ones that have more personality. A red, woven rug anchors the room.