The Zen of One Day Decorating: Before & After

One of my favourite ways to help my clients create a space that fills them with happiness when they walk in their door is the one day shopping service I offer.

If you just need an end table or two, lighting, pillows, possibly a carpet and accessories, you have comfortable shoes and a large vehicle, we can transform many a space together in just one day.

It totally fulfills my need for instant gratification as a decorator and stylist. My first business was called One Day Design so even though I love to create custom interiors from a totally empty space, this is a great service for homeowners who don’t have the budgets for a more customized look.

If you need more furniture, like Karen did in her house, we started with an initial consultation for colours and then sat down and chose furniture on-line.

She bought the bookcases (second image below) from West Elm, the sofa’s from IKEA and the coffee table came from the Urban Barn.


And then over the next several weeks, she ordered everything and when it had all arrived, she called me to schedule the shopping day.

Karen and her husband plan to downsize in approximately four years so she didn’t want to spend a lot on furniture only to have to get rid of it in a new smaller home.

They built their house 14 years ago, so in 4 years when they sell, this house will be almost 20 years old. She knows that the finishes are dated and new homeowners will definitely be renovating.

I recommended spending money on making the house look staged now which would create a space her family can enjoy for the next four years and then it will already have a look and a feel which is a huge influence for buyers and of course the reason why staging a home is so powerful in the first place.


When I arrived and saw everything installed, I suggested that we paint her mantle espresso because it now looked out of place. Even though the mantle currently relates to her floors, the end tables she still has and her dining room furniture, you don’t notice that because you’re so busy noticing how wrong it looks. Painting it the trim colour would also have caused it to jump out visually.

And then, before we got started, the first thing I did was match the colours of her fireplace to colours in my fan deck.

The bossy, earthy fireplace with the butterscotch, sage green, and rusty red tones as well as the lack of white anywhere certainly cancelled the idea of introducing any bright, fresh colours like mandarin orange, raspberry, and yellow, however, I knew that injecting cream would go a long way to creating a feeling of fresh which is what we all want right now in our decorating.

Karen said they bought their existing area rug at an auction when they first moved into the house. The second it went down she knew it was wrong because it did nothing for the fireplace.

A sisal rug in the butterscotch tones of her fireplace looked right at home as well as updates her living room and immediately brings it into today!

Since actually bringing in bright colours wouldn’t work here, natural green elements always works in any interior.

The art above the bookcases still needs to be hung, I thought it was fun that they were both the same because of the highly symmetrical look we had created and the fact that it’s a forest so it would work. We found them from two different HomeSense stores that day.

I also liked the way it relates to the greenery in pots beside the TV and in the bookcases as well.

I loved this mother-of-pearl tray we found from Chintz & Co. Karen was doubtful about the coral but fell in love with it when I arranged it on her coffee table.

I have found that the best way to buy this many accessories all at once is to shop with my client. Accessories are more personal and it’s way more efficient to have my client right there to say ‘yes or no’.

Obviously the best way to gather accessories is over time and on trips, etc. but not everyone has the eye to be able to create that kind of collected look on their own and frankly, we all have our talents.


We found the marble track on the sofa table from Pottery Barn, she thought her boys would love it! The lamp and silk cream pillow is from Chintz & Co. The remaining cushions from HomeSense.


When I first arrived on Friday, we decided that the dated end tables (above) had to go as well but once everything was styled with lamps that coordinated (not matched), we decided to leave them. Especially because they are partially hidden by her two leather recliners.

See the small round lamps on the top of each bookshelf? Since these shelves clearly can’t be lit, we inserted these from IKEA to brighten up the corners) they are not lit for the photo because we forgot to buy light bulbs for them).

Before & After


We bought two throws, one for each sofa (can’t have enough of them or pillows I always say).

Dining room before

And here’s the dining room. Karen had recently replaced all her light bulbs with CFL bulbs because she felt that her living room was too dark but I assured her it was because she didn’t have enough lamps. Also, she didn’t notice–until I ran around replacing them with regular incandescents ASAP–that they actually cast a sickly green light!

dining room After

Everything on the dining table came from the Pottery Barn, the Ralph Lauren lamp we found at HomeSense as well as the red, porcelain owl. The peonies are fake. Love!

My workroom who sews all my custom drapes and cushions calls me ‘The pillow lady’ because no one seems to specify more pillows than me, haha.

A couple months ago I discovered Etsy for toss pillows. I knew you could buy cushions on-line but what I did not realize is how fast I could find something for a client in an on-line consultation. Since I’ve been choosing toss cushions for my clients for so many years, I can quickly pick out a combination that suddenly make any space feel finished.

Now when I have an on-line client who doesn’t have any colour in their living room or really any pillows, we start there and have had great success. We also shop a lot on my Pinterest boards for the right lighting, end tables, well anything that might be missing from any given interior.

Here is the before again (above).

Paint is next although we debated in the end whether the brown accent on the fireplace wall should stay or go? I thought maybe it works now, it relates to the brown chairs and kind of balances out the space. The new wall colour will be HC-81 Manchester Tan. It can’t be greyer (like HC-173 Edgecomb Grey) or it will go purple as that colour in no way relates to the earthy stone.

My client sent me a lovely note and here’s what she said:

‘Wow, I can’t believe how much I love all my new stuff.  The feeling in the room is so different now and I so enjoy spending time in this space.  I could never have put all these things together so beautifully and  in such a short amount of time.  I think many of us look at the pictures in the decorating magazines and focus on the big expensive hard finishes not realizing it’s all the little things that truly make the difference. I’m so glad I put a big chunk of my decorating budget into accessories.

Thanks again for a wonderful experience.’ Karen P.

Over to you my lovelies? What’s your vote? Should the brown wall stay or go?

ps. Happy Mother’s Day to my favourite and best mom in the whole world and to all of you moms who follow my blog! You have a special place in my heart because you know me like me anyway. xoxo

Related posts:

The Enchanting World of Atmosphere

Colour and Condoms

A Case for Decoration

If you would like your house to fill you with happiness when you walk in the door, become a client on-line or in-person.

Download my eBook, How to Choose Paint Colours – It’s All in the Undertones to get my complete step-by-step system on how to get colour to do what you want.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn how to choose colour with confidence, become a True Colour Expert. Space still available this month! Fall dates now open for registration.

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  1. I can’t believe I’m saying this, because I adore symmetry – but there is too much! The symmetry of the furniture is necessary and feels grounding, but the symmetrical styling of the bookshelves doesn’t work for me. I’d also change the accent color above the fireplace – not sure to what, but as I integrate what I’ve learned about your color theory, I’ll eventually figure it out! Thanks for sharing such a fun transformation.

  2. I have throws and pillows on the sofas, which I use because I’m usually laying sideways on it, popped on the end with my computer, watching tv or reading. However I have found that my guests always look uncomfortable and won’t ever move the pillows out of the way if necessary to make themselves comfortable. Same with the throws, when they slip into a weird spot.

    So now when I am having people over and know they will be sitting on the sofas, I have taken to removing all the pillows and throws and piling them in the corner. I’ve never heard this discussed. If you’re counting on these to make the room look better, then it looks bare when they are removed. But for instance in your photos, the pillows take up half the sofa and it certainly wouldn’t be comfortable to sit there unless you moved them. How do other people handle this problem?