Entries in DIY(plus) (14)


Mariana's House

It's our last reader's makeover as guest blogger and interior designer Jason Martin helps Mariana with the finishing touches to what is an amazing Brazilian build. Mariana is is afraid that things are just a little too white and cold. It's our last chance to eavesdrop on these designer/client conversations. Jason has now helped 5 of our readers with their homes and I've been inspired by them all. Thank you so much Jason. I know how much time and creative energy goes into all of these e-consultations. You have been very generous! Now it's on to Mariana's home. Remember Mariana does the "DIY" after Jason adds the "+".

Mariana’s email: 

I´ve been inspired by Desire to Inspire since my house began to be projected. Now, in the finishing process,I feel comfortable to ask for some help.

My dad developed this project according to his dream-house: a integrated place, where all the family could spend time together in the same living, involved by a green area. In comparison to other places in Brazil, this house is placed in a chilling area (top of the hill). As my dad owns a metallurgy industry, he developed a metal roof supported by a metal tower. We always imagined a clean place, however, we think it´s everything too white and pale. We are asking for some tips and ideas of colours!

A prior need is to hide these bedroom doors. We thought about doing it with a wood panel, which should also be used to place the television (inside the tower). Wood will also be used on the floor!

Also, we don't have an idea to the external surface, as the house is jammed in green vegetation.


Can you give me the overall dimensions for the space?

What are the top three things you want to address in the space?

Mariana's top three things:

  • Colors (walls, stairs, rail, doors…) – my dad tried some pale green on the upstairs walls and it seems fine.
  • How to get some privacy to both bedroom doors and what to do with the tower (TV or fireplace).
  • Pieces of furniture (table, chairs, sofa …).

Jason’s Notes:


I think you have a great space to build from and would look to some of the amazing architects that are working in Brazil for inspiration. You can find beautiful spaces similar to yours by one of my favorites, Isay Weinfeld.

Without knowing what wood/finish you are using on the floor I am going to give you two different color palettes to work from.

As for the tower – I would think a fireplace is a better anchor for the room than a television.

Inspirations for cool tones

Inspiration for warm tones

Furniture Styles

Art & Accessories

Thanks again Jason! I love it. You can see all of Jason's DIY+ guest posts here.


Maggi's DIY+

It's our next reader's makeover as guest blogger and interior designer Jason Martin helps Maggi with her Brooklyn apartment. Maggi is looking for something unique and interesting for the space. I'm loving the "to and fro" conversations in these e-consultations and once again Jason has come up with some great ideas!. Remember Maggi does the "DIY" after Jason adds the "+".

Maggi emailed ...

Wow! Exciting! Here are the top three things on my apartment wish list:

1. I would like to create a more interesting arrangement of space in my apartment. I have three almost exactly equal-sized rooms with doorways between each (very symmetrical!). The space itself is pretty boring architecturally and I’d like to avoid mimicking that symmetry in the furniture arrangement. I would like to do something really unique and interesting with the space. If possible, I want it to be both dramatic and cozy.

2. I need to do something with my windows. There are seven of them and right now they are naked: a wasted opportunity, for sure.

3. I want everything to have a place and for that place to be (mostly) inside drawers and behind doors. I don’t need to see the visual clutter of my everyday “stuff”. I want the focus to be on the art and furniture instead.

By the way, the reason I didn’t send pictures of my bedroom is because that’s the one room I haven’t yet done anything with so it tends to be the dumping ground for all of the crap I need to sort through, file, hang up, etc. (Embarrassing and unattractive!)

Floor Plan

... and from Maggi's inspiration files

Jason’s notes


You have such a wide range of artwork and activities going on in your small space that I think the best advice I can give you is how to make the apartment functional and efficient while still interesting. You need a home that can act as backdrop and not compete with what is going on in the space.

I think you could create a more interesting arrangement of your space by balancing the overall symmetry of the apartment with some asymmetry in each of the rooms. Build from the architecture out. The apartment doesn’t have much existing architecture so you have to create it. Here are my suggestions:

1. Create a sense of Enfilade with the doorways.
2. Unify the rooms with a consistent idea.
3. Create defined functions for each space

Create an "Enfilade"

Unify the rooms with a consistent idea

A low living space

Storage/office space

Dining Room

Bedroom Ideas- clean, simple, warm

So what do you think? I love the low sofa suggestion from Jason. It's my latest sofa crush the Togo from Ligne Roset. Next week is Jason's last guest post and it promises to be absolutely fabulous! Thanks again Jason for all your wonderful ideas!


Roeshel's Living Room

It's our next reader's makeover as guest blogger and interior designer Jason Martin helps Roeshel with her living room. Roeshel is looking for a beautiful neutral space that combines her husbands love of traditional furniture with her more modern cottage tastes. Time to be a fly on the wall during their e-consultation. Remember Roeshel does the "DIY" after Jason adds the "+".

Roeshel’s notes

My husband loves the furniture (I don’t) and we’re so tired of the red walls…looking for something light and neutral. I like cottage style and my husband likes a formal look. The space has so much going on with built-in shelving, fireplace, staircase and French doors so even furniture placement is a challenge. :) Keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks!

Jason’s email

Do you have any other photos to see the floor plan better? Maybe taken from the stairs.

Can you give me the overall dimensions of the room?

What are the top three things you want to address in this room?

Roeshel’s notes ... more pics and measurements


The room roughly measures 19-22×15. I will have my husband measure overall dimensions and post an addendum this evening.

Top 3 things we’re looking for:
1 – Neutral/beautiful/comfortable space
2 – The room has three windows (one is to an enclosed porch area) but it tends to be dark so lighting is important as well.
3 – Successfully combining my husband’s traditional/formal/old world taste with my modern/cottage preference.

My favorites of your before/afters are Griffith Park and I love the art in Laurel Canyon.

Addendum: I emailed and posted a picture of my “very rough” floor plan drawing. Hope this helps!

Jason on paint and color

Wall color- You are correct in thinking that the red is keeping you from having the warm, bright room you want. Red is a very difficult color to get right and I would venture to say that it rarely works at all unless you are willing to go all the way with a monochromatic room. In your case it just fights with the other tones in the space.

Another mistake people make is picking a bold color and contrasting it against white wood work hoping to highlight the architecture of the room. In your case the contrast is so stark that it just makes the room feel disjointed. You can keep the white wood work just pick a wall color that is in the same family but a few shades darker. This will highlight the moldings and help the room feel lighter (therefore more open.)

My suggestion would be to use one of the two following colors. The first is a warm white with just a touch of yellow. It is good for a room that doesn’t get a lot of natural light. The touch of yellow will give a boost to the sunlight that you do get and help fake it when you aren’t getting any. The second color is a cool gray that will recede in the room and give a good neutral base to highlight the wood work nicely.

One other thing- paint that section of the ceiling under the stairs the same color as the wall so it disappears more.

Inspirations for how to mix traditional with modern

Jason on furniture

I think you are smart to pull the furniture out away from the walls. It helps to clean up the lines of all the doors and windows.

You need a coffee table to anchor the seating group. If you want to keep the space open get a couple of small stool style table that can easily move around and rearrange depending on the need.

If you are going to replace the upholstery I think you should go with a larger sofa (in front of the shelving wall) and two comfortable but smaller scale chairs on either side of the sofa.

See options below.


A few things that would help bring some life to the room

For one thing just that- something living. Find an easy to care for tree or group of plants to replace the fake stuff that is in the room now. In my opinion nothing sucks the air out of a space faster than fake or dried plants.

You may want to consider a brighter more casual rug for the space. Just to help loosen up the formality.

Ditch the small accessories and add a couple of large scale art pieces to the walls to help bring eye up. Right now you don’t have much above eye level that is of any real size so the room feels lower than it actually is.

So Roeshel now it's up to you. I can see a lot of painting in your future but Jason has created an elegant solution for your living room. Send us photos when the hard work is done!


Correne's dining room

It's our next reader's makeover as guest blogger and interior designer Jason Martin helps Corenne this time with her dining room. It's almost there but Corenne wants just a bit more "oomph" and Jason is keen to help. Remember Corenne does the "DIY" and Jason adds the "+".

Corenne’s thoughts on the space

I’m a little lost with what to do in our dining room to draw it together. I love the table and chairs (green doesn’t have to stay) and the old travel chests can stay. I’d like to keep the poster and the lamp (I’d like to change the shade as I’ve moved away from red). The room is 3.6m wide (including the corridor) x 2.8m long x 2.7m high.

The room is used for meals with guests (we sit at the kitchen for everyday meals) and a space for my 2 year old to do craft. The kids table and chair is going on the deck (when it is built) but an area for craft activities still needs to be included (I am toying with an old school desk with the chair attached). Storage is a must. I like colour and am/will considered wallpaper. We wish the space to be modern-eclectic meaning graphic and handmade.

The three things I want to address in the space:

1. As you put it I need that extra 10% wow, factor.
2. Storage (the house is on a block of 200sqm so every inch counts) eg shelves for display or a sideboard
3. Space for an indoor craft area for our daughter. On this subject sorry I bought a old school desk on the weekend. I have attached some pictures for you. I do need chairs though.

(... inspiration from Correne's tear files)


Jason’s notes

In a small space like your dining area, it can be difficult to have multiple functions and still look clean, modern and pulled together. The smallness aside, there are a few things you can do to make the space more functional and still read more adult dining space than kids craft corner.

1.Make bold strokes – You have to unify the space. Little pieces here and there won’t work for what you want. You need consistency and a minimum of materials to clean up the look.

2.Mass out the storage- The storage cabinet that is in the room now is to small for the space. You need something that stretches almost wall to wall and has lots of doors and drawers. It is key to have as much closed storage as possible especially in any furniture that is at or lower than table height.

3.Lighten up and be consistent – Above the storage cabinet you need open shelving with organized consistent storage boxes. If you can’t find stock shelving that will stretch the length of the wall you could separate it into two groups just make sure there is some kind of vertical element ( a column of photos or one long art piece) to break the two sets of shelves.

On the other wall you can be more free form with things. Maybe mix up photos, prints and paintings and a section for hooks or a coat rack (see below). For the window, i would cover it with a simple bamboo shade. Your vintage kids desk could work in here.

4. Expand the space from the floor up- I really like the rug you have now. The color is great the patten is cool. But it’s not doing you any favors as far as space is concerned. I think the round shape is making everything else in the room feel like it is in orbit around the table and nothing feels grounded. I would replace it with a rectangle shape in a larger size. While you are at it go with an indoor/outdoor rug that is easy to clean and can take a lot of abuse in the crafting and finger painting department.

I would use the wall adjacent to the shelving wall to display the two dimensional art you have. Maybe in a loose asymmetrical arrangement to counteract the linear quality of the shelves like this image from Coleen Interior.

So what do you think? And Corenne remember to send us photos of your new dining room when it's done!


Reader's makeover

Time to listen in on our next reader's makeover as guest blogger and interior designer Jason Martin helps Rali take her home to the next level. I love this insight into their design consultation, the to and fro by email. Remember Rali does the "DIY" and Jason adds the "+".

Rali's house

We just moved into our new home and I started decorating from scratch (we didn’t have any decent furniture at all before) but I am struggling with finishing up the living room. The whole first floor is one open space and includes the kitchen, the dining area (it is not a formal dining room but a very casual eat-in space that we love) and the living room. So far in the living room we got this modular sectional (which to be honest I didn’t like so much in the beginning but is very comfy and the kids love it), we got the area rug, some side tables and the media stand. I like modern clean lines mixed with some antique unique pieces for a more eclectic look overall. The space has to be practical and kid friendly too as we have a toddler and a baby. The house is near the ocean so I want to turn this space into a modern beach house living room.

Top three things that I would like addressed:

1) Adding accessories and art work in the living area. I need some elements that will bring the Wow factor.

2) TV Wall – I am not sure what to do with the space around the media stand.

3) I want to add some low lighting. At least I think so.

...Rali sent some images from her inspiration file. You'll find more here and here.


Jason’s notes

Living Room-

1.I think you could pull the sofa away from the wall a little more to create some visual space. Is there a piece of furniture behind the sofa? I can’t tell.

2. You need some kind of coffee table to anchor the sofa. A small table or stool would work since it is a tight space. Even if it was tucked into one of the interior corners of the sofa – just for a place to rest a book or a glass.

3. You might consider draperies around the windows. Something that would not block the view but give a softer look and a sense of enclosure.

4. I would flip the nesting table you have now to the other side of the sofa and put a more substantial side table there.

5. The rug is great (I have it in my house as well) but there are two things about it that we should address.
—The first is that it is almost too small for the space. I would suggest finding an inexpensive sisal style rug that you could layer under it so that there is about an 8 to 14” border all the way around the existing rug. That will increase the usable sitting area and give a softer look to the space.
—Second, I wish there was some white in the rug to make all the beige and golds pop more. But there isn’t so we need to add white into the room make that happen.

6. I think there is room between the TV and sofa for one or two occasional chairs that could easily be turned around to face the sofa or watch TV

7. You definitely need some lamps or eye level lighting

Side table and small coffee table ideas


Pillows, soft accessories for sofa

Lighting ideas

Ideas for art - Sitting area

Ideas for art - TV area

Extra Seating - Occasional chairs

Rali's response

This is great. Your advice and ideas are brilliant.

I have a question regarding the side table – you said that I should move it to the other end of the sofa and get a more substantial one for this side, but all of your suggestions are for side tables of about the same size as my current ones. The West Elm white nesting tables would be probably even a few inches shorter than what I currently have. You are saying that I should get a small coffee table since the space is small but I am not sure if I mentioned the sofa is a modular one and that ottoman on the right side, we move it quite often. So, can I use that ottoman as a coffee table with a tray on top of it or maybe get the lucite coffee table from CB2. I have been looking at that table for a while and I would love to get something lucite for my house.

As far as the curtains – do you recommend that I put them on all 4 large windows ( living and dining area)? I think that would be the most appropriate for a seamless look.

You have given me some suggestions for art in the TV area. Can you please advise me how to organize it, so that it doesn’t look weird. Shall I put it all above the TV in a row symmetrical or try for some asymmetrical arrangement of different pieces. I would appreciate your opinion on this. I love the rustic shelves from velocity. Can I put those above the TV, maybe 3 of them at different height?

Thank you very much for your time and all your great advice.

...And what Jason suggested (I feel like a fly on the wall. All this back and forth.)


So what do you think? Rali will you send photos as it progresses? We'd love to see how you pull it off!