Since my sister Anita renovated her kitchen almost four years ago and opened up her kitchen to her living room she has schlepped home approximately 11 area rugs.
"Maria, the one I have is a $200 placeholder from Costco and I even broke the cardinal rule and got the pink beige one because I didn't know what else to do!" She wailed.
"There's nothing wrong with that, It goes with blue. But it's a shag. That style of rug looks the best with a modern sofa because it softens the square lines. In your traditional living room, it definitely looks wrong, especially because your walls are yellow beige. Now you have a blue sofa and a beige rug and no yellow yet? And, can we paint them, by the way? They are so muted, it's hard to shop off-the-shelf because the colour trends are clean, bright and fresh."
"NO! I love the yellow walls you chose for me!"
"I know but that was four years ago, before I really understood grey and how great of a backdrop it is for bright colours! Either that or your yellow walls should be brighter"
"No, I'm not painting them, she said."
I asked her why she has two two cream leather chairs that are not an exact match? Also the other 70's chairs I bought from a garage sale when I was 21 that she has had ever since I upgraded from them many years ago. "The fabric does not go with your drapes at all? And the cushions are so flat? What happened there? You should have ordered them wrapped so they have a crown just like your sofa cushions?" I said.
Anita said, "If you look close, you can see the blue in the stripe, I gave the upholster the old cushions and told him to make them the same and he didn't And the cream chairs are placeholders until I can figure out what to do for the real ones."
So I decided it was time for a decorating intervention. The only thing that really worked about the room was the drapery, navy sofa (chosen by me) and the art above the console that Anita chose.
This (above) was what her living room looked like at 2:30 pm yesterday.
This is what it looked like (above) at 10:30 pm that same evening. This photo is the closest representation of what the colour actually looks like. It's BM 240/CC-230 Delaware Putty.
I was even able to tuck the 70's chairs further away from the drapery fabric as well as turn them from being the first thing you saw (the focal point) when you walked into the room, to some extra seating that you can pull up in a pinch. And the yellow pillows with the brown buttons are a perfect match to the wall colour.
We found almost everything at HomeSense and a few items at Target, across the street. (Target has only just arrived in Canada a few months ago).
So, approximately $2,500 later. I was magically able to work with her pink beige shag!
Her husband Aaron is an Accountant and they have a good habit of budgeting and writing down everything they spend. When we got home, she told him right away "It's better this way, like ripping off a bandaid–do it fast!" she laughed.
I don't think anyone would want the old feeling of the room back! Aaron said the coffee table is his favourite and he loves the nautical feel of the room.
When we arrived at HomeSense, we started with the art we found first that was the perfect watery complement to the piece located above the console Anita purchased a few months ago.
When we got to the back of the store where the cushions are, I plopped down a small rug on the floor that happened to be nearby that was pink beige (the same colour as her shag back home).
You can see her navy blue sofa cushion in the back along with a small piece of her drapery fabric (which I chose for her in the renovation) and the 'not-so-fabulous' new striped chair fabric.
So, we broke the yellow and pink beige rule. Here's why it works:
1. The coffee table is blue. It visually pulls the blue over to the middle of the room which makes up for the fact that the carpet is a solid. The coffee table is a great, unique find that saves the room from looking like it all came from one store.
2. The two large pillows in pink beige, brown and blue, pull in the carpet and the accent in the room. Coordinating off-the-shelf cushions without one fabric to tie everything together is a challenge but we did it, hooray!
3. Pink beige is like burlap, so take advantage of those textures and repeat them in the room. Like the Ralph Lauren basket weave lamps on either side of the sofa, and the funky, mis-matched natural and cream coloured candle holders on the mantle. Then I repeated the brown on the coffee table in the tray.
And, of course there's nothing fundamentally wrong with pink-beige, it's when it's chosen without any consideration to how limiting it is with so many other colours that it's just plain BAD.
You almost can't tell that her two kid-friendly faux leather chairs are not exactly the same.
When I plucked the vase of faux roses off the shelf in the store, that's when Anita said "But I buy fresh flowers?!"
Yes, but do you reliably have them in your living room every week?
Well then, a tablescape is kind of dead without them.
It's so easy to source anything when you Understand Undertones™. See the pink beige X bench? A great score because it even has storage. Here you can get a glimpse of the island in her white kitchen (the island is only brown facing the living/dining room) which–when the room was opened up to the living room during the renovation–created a seating challenge here. Anything that stuck out into the room was in the way of traffic towards the dining room.
I tucked a low basket for magazines beside the sofa underneath the funky, distressed end table.
Photos & Interior Design by Maria Killam
And here's the best picture. Hey, I'm getting better, I could never have taken this shot without my photography course this winter.
Don't forget, you need lots of cream with pink beige too. That's how you keep it fresh instead of dull and earthy.
Have a great week everyone! xo Maria
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