Reader’s makeover

Posted on Mon, 1 Jun 2009 by midcenturyjo

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!

wow!! wow!!! what a difference it has made.. Lovely!!

kim. says:

I really like the natural, earthy feel Jason is going for – works really well with Rali’s floors and sectional. Great ideas Jason! Can’t wait to see the result of this one!

Debi says:

The beachy natural feel is just right. Thank you for the sources this time. I hope Rali sends photos of her living room when she is finished.

Anonymous says:

I have always loved that sweet litle puppy pillow. Now I need those little sheep as well.

angel lips says:

i wish i had had enough courage to send in my house now that i see the end results. nice choices here.

I really believe Jason should start providing credit and a link back to the designers’ websites he pulls his inspiration photos from. It seems only fair, and is certainly the professional thing to do.

One of the photos in his inspiration collection is from a designer’s website that I know personally. She works very very hard and is super talented. She deserves recognition if her work is going to be posted here. Not to mention the photographer ( whom I also know) who took the lovely photograph.

Hi Leah if you leave the designer and photographer names we will duly credit.Thank you in advance.

Hi Jo – you guy usually do such a great job on credit and link backs. I know it's hard to monitor what goes on when someone else sends you material for post. But I do feel it's something you need to ask Jason to do from now on. Otherwise, someone might assume the inspiration photos are his work. Just my 2cents!

The photo in question, the 2nd photo in the top tier with the star burst mirror – is from Angie Hranowsky, and the photo was taken by Julia Lynn,

Thanks ladies!

Yolksy says:

Wow, it looks great! I actually have a Sheri Robinson inkblot from Gary Gibson that I am trying to sell. She did a custom size "In the Woods" for us and I am having it framed in an amazing 3" deep rustic black walnut frame. The size is like 54" x 36"…it's amazing! Let me know if it could work for you! I'll send you pictures!

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