Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Design Challenge #6: Let's help Dianne!

Hi Everyone!
Dianne has a Design Challenge

Not only is she designing her Living Room
She's Designing a new life.

Here are some photos of Dianne's Living Room
which is pretty much a "blank slate" to work with.

Here is Dianne, "In Her Own Words"

My name is Dianne and i live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Beautiful city. I am 57. As you can probably see by my lack of design from my pictures that i have no design. I think i did before, but it has completely changed over the years.

I was married for 32 years and one day my husband went to a other town where his brother lives and never came back. He did not want to be married. I have 2 boys, all grown and they were shocked. My style back then was comfortable but truthfully not my own style. This all happened 4 years ago. Time went on and i am presently living with a wonderful man. Who really doesn't mind what kind of style i have in my living room.

When he moved in i had all my old furniture, well about 2 months ago i decided to ditch the couch, love seat, lazy boy, dining room table, buffet. Out with the old!!!

Now comes the dilemma. I really love the shabby chic/french/romantic kind of feel. There is a blog out there "Simply Me" and i just love her style. I really don't want to paint the walls, as part of the purging i got BF to paint the walls "Cottage White". The floors are new also, dark bamboo flooring.

I was thinking of an Ikea couch, Ektorp. I have heard from some blogs they love that couch. As you can see most of the walls have nothing on them, except one wall.

Inspiration Photo Ikea: Ektorp sofa

I have a hard time in regards to placing the furniture once i have some furniture. My living room is a place where we watch movies and tv. I live in a small three bedroom townhouse.

I truly appreciate Debra putting this out there and am really looking forward to reading your comments. So whatever you think of that would help me to achieve this shabby/french/romantic feel for my living/dining room would be greatly appreciated. I am completely open to new things.


I believe this wall must be directly across from the large window.

Dianne has some wonderful Romantic/Shabby pieces.

The coffee table, buffet, several mirrors,
writing desk and chair, and an end table
all look like they could be used in her shabby design style.
and hmm... is that a white dresser I see (without the drawers)
and a chandelier, too?

She just needs advice on how to pull this look together.
Let's help her with some ideas
such as art work, possibly a rug,
and furniture placement so she can get this plan in motion.

Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts,
it really means so much to the recipients!

Remember, you don't have to be a "professional"
to weigh in with your ideas.
Just share your immediate thoughts on what
you would do.

And your welcome, Dianne,
we're happy to help!

If you haven't entered my
Romantic French Style Give Away
you still have this week to enter.



  1. The sofa is a wonderful choice. Most everything I see would be great in the room. I say arrange it all and take a'll know where you need other pieces. I personally like some other colors added in with my white...I noticed blue chair seats and a green lamp base. If that's what you like...add more of that. By looking at what you have, I think you can trust your taste. Just go for it!

  2. Hi Dianne, I'll just start off with the basics. First, I agree the sofa is wonderful and I think it would be great in this space. Since it looks like you need extra seating, I'd purchase the matching loveseat. I'd continue to unify all the furniture with white paint. The little buffet could be painted and then hang the mirror above it. An area rug with some of your accessory colors would also "fill up" and unify your space. The walls and floor are beautiful, great job on choosing them. A round accent table with skirted tablecover would also work here, maybe with a lamp on it. It's clear that you need some kind of room darkening drapes or shades, because of the light and TV. I'll check back in later! xoxo Debra

  3. Diane,
    How lucky for you that your new man bows to you for your home decor! You've got a great base started with the wall color and floors. And even if you're replacing the drapes, the color looks great. I'm a sucker for french provincial furniture so I'm loving your pieces and suggest you get a dining table set in that style as well.

    I like the curved top vanity mirror but would you consider replacing the mirror with a fabric covered memo board with a criss cross of ribbons. I see this on top your desk in a corner of the LR.

    The pass through to the kitchen makes the DR less formal to me, I'd like to see it draped or with shutters.

    Good luck, hope we get to see the after shots!

  4. Hi, I would build a little shelf under the pass-thru from the kitchen to use as a small bar. It could probably seat two people. You could use two small barstools painted white. Then I would bring the table out of the kitchen and paint it white. I would use the blue-seated, cane backed, white chairs around it (I see three, is there another). This would give you more room in your kitchen also. Then use the Ikea sofa in the middle of the room (with its back to the dining room, to devide the living room from the dining room. You might could use the little buffet behind the sofa in the dining part of the room. and put a lamp on it that would serve the sofa for reading and light for dining. I would use two small rugs probably in a blue that matches you seat cushions,and put one under the dining table and one in front of the sofa.Pale blue panels for curtains, or white sheers from Ikea would be nice,

  5. wow how fun for you ;).like all the white i would do a statement wall with all those great mirrors. like the idea of the blue curtains.i would use the coffee table for the tv stand and the trunk for the coffee table just to change it up some.add a blue stripe or print rug. or sisal if your keeping those drapes. maybe more substancial lamps pale blue or white, add pillows in colors to match rug with accent color. i'm having a difficult time with visualizing the floor plan. use small dresser by doorway for mail/keys. poss add chair and ottoman to match sofa

  6. I see cute shabby shutters covering the peak a boo window and a round table there with a sweet vignette. at Could even use the pretty mirror to cover the pass thru window too.

    A french sofa with a sofa table behind at the large window area. She has lots of great things to work with!

    The desk with a shabby floor lamp in corner for her blogging corner.

  7. Thanks for the people who responded. I love your ideas. Can hardly wait until i start. And thanks Debra for putting this on. I truly appreciate it and your comments.

  8. Your walls and floors are just fabulous. I love the Ikea sofa and it will be perfect with your shabby/chic style. You already have some fabulous pieces to start with, you just need to build on what you have. I can't tell how large your space is, but I would find a table that you could paint the legs and stain the top to go with the chairs you already have. Whatever your favorite colors are, I would then cover the seat cushions in those colors and use those same colors for throw pillows and accessories. Find a couple of end table or maybe use a cloth covered table as one end table. I think some kind of print is always wonderful in a room. Larger lamps and maybe a collage of mirrors and frames over the back of the sofa. There are so many great ones to be found at thrift stores. You have great bones to start with, just find pieces that you love and they will always work. Looks like you have great taste from what I can see. Hugs, Marty

  9. Well, I would say to add some art to the walls; roses of course, and color to the room via accessories such as cute and colorful pillows for the sofa and perhaps some cute tie backs for the curtains either roses or tassels. I would add some tassels to the drawer pulls.Either reupholster the white high back chair cushion in a cheetah or other animal print, or buy a small animal print pillow to set on it. Lighten up the gold lamp shade. Add some floral arrangements and/or figurines in your favorite colors to the coffee table and other flat surfaces. Try wall sconces on either side of a framed picture. Some cute throw rugs will help to break up the dark flooring. Placing the mirrors opposite of the large window or sliding glass doors, if possible, will aid in bringing in and capturing the light. It would be hard to describe where to put the furniture so I will end here. Good luck!

  10. Oh did someone say WHITE, shabby chic, french. I must say you have some great pieces of furniture to already work with. I also have a feeling that due to bright light, that is why the pull drapes, which I like also, the room is flooded in light, great to have. I have an Ektorp and I love mine, it may not be as soft as a PB one, but the price is great. I have already washed mine twice and I do bleach.
    We have to get those beautiful mirrors off the floor and above either the dresser or desk. You do not have to put the desk in the corner to make it feel like you are filling the space. A small chair can also sit off to the side of it. You do not have to hang a mirror directly over the center of say a desk, you can hang it to the side and put a couple of smaller pieces of artwork or plates, a shelf. I agree with Debra on the rug and a color from the rest of the house brought into the room to unify the house. If a love seat is too large, I also have the matching Ektorp chairs and I love them. I hope this helps.

  11. I would bring some color in with amazing upholstery fabric and a great work of art. Something she really really loves! It will tie it all together! Oh and several great cushy pillows.

    Come and join my new fashion Giveaway from Fresh Produce!

    Art by Karena

  12. Hi Dianne! Thank you for sharing your story and I'm sure it was a low point for you. It seems like you are on a whole new path now and I think it's great that you have your home reflect your likes and tastes!

    First, let me say that I have two of the Ektorp chairs. I bought them about 18 years ago and they are still going strong. Very comfortable as well! Last year I treated myself to two of the white slipcovers which were very reasonably priced. They didn't have the white at the time I bought them.

    I do have a question. The area where I can just see a chandelier hanging down - is that going to be a dining room or are you using that as part of your living room?

    I'm seeing quite a bit of furniture on angles and I think the first thing I'd do is move the desk flat onto the wall that it is near, next to where the drapes are.

    I would put the dresser on the wall on the other side of the drapes and hang the mirror over it. Set up a smaller lamp than what you have on the floor by the mirror, on top of the dresser. That taller one might work better on the desk and if the desk one is shorter that would work better on top of the dresser. Does the dresser have drawers? If not, try removing the runners for the drawers and use baskets.

    If the TV hook up is in that area where you have it currently, I would put it on the wall underneath your framed architecturual piece. I would use the dark wood piece that is on the other side of the room. Before I tell you to paint it, I'd see if the darker wood works as a nice break up of the white going on.

    Keep the side table, keep the coffee table, maybe put the cart in the corner by the pass through to the kitchen. That piece you can put on an angle! : )

    I would get a few accessories AFTER you do all the moving around of pieces. This way you can see what you truly need and what spots need to be filled. I'd also look to get a chair or two, comfortable, yet not real wide {taking up too much floor space} with an ottoman. Horror of horrors, I'd even check a LaZBoy type chair out as they make so many different kinds now that don't look like recliners when closed.

    Finally, look into an area rug for the area where you will have the sofa and chairs - basically you want to define your seating area and a 5x7 would probably do the trick. You can check Home Goods, Lowes, Home Depot, even Big Lots whatever is around.

    The placement of your large pieces of furniture, I'd need to know about the dining room question first. I would be glad to answer any questions you might have via email as well.

  13. So glad your sad story turned out happy and that he is willing to let you decorate as you wish. I'd say that is a start:-) You have some great bones with wonderful pieces to work with. The couch is a great idea, maybe add in a oveseat or chairs as well. I would also find a area rug to soften things, but I love your dark floors. I like to mixh warm woods with my whites, but all whites mixed with a splash of color is also a great choice. Good luck and would love to see your finished product:-)


  14. Well I don't think you actually need much help...Your choices are already wonderful! I hate to admit I'd snatch that chandelier right out of that room! I LOVE it!! *winks* The Ektorp sofa is a great choice. It will go with everything and you can easily add pillows to change it up. Have you seen the blog Maison Decor? I think you would gather great inspiration there as Amy's style seems to very closely mimic your own. Check it out here: Vanna

  15. i so much appreciate your comments. The chandeleir is suppose to be in the dining area where i use to have a dining table. all those little pieces that i have is really only there because i didn't want to have a completely naked living room. I seem to get frozen when i place things and wonder if that is going to work. Really no one understands what i want in my friends so i am so glad that i was able to reach out to all of you for advice. Thanks

  16. Wow! What a great foundation she has to work with. I spied (with my little eye) some pretty great pieces in there and I love the chandy we got a peek at. Everything I thought of was already suggested except that I thought maybe she could create 2 spaces out of one by floating the sofa in the room and then putting the desk behind it to give her a little work space/blog space while she is hanging out in there. It would serve as a "sofa table" too so it could be dual purpose. Everyone gave such good advice! :-)

  17. WOW, what a wonderful post! Not that her Husband left and didn't come back but that she has moved on! I will think on the design, not that I am very good at it and visit her with some ideas! Thanks for this post! HUGS!

  18. Hi Dianne,
    I wish you were in my town-this is a fun project, been there done that so many times with my place. It takes switching out, sometimes trying really crazy stuff, until you like what you see. are some quick thoughts.
    The white desk would be tres chic if it were painted a bold color-the white is too 'little girl.' Can you cut the legs down on the small white chair since the French cane chair w/arms is not in scale with the desk? Or, do you have a stool? The half oval mirror-can you hang it upside down so as not to have it look like a dresser mirror gone astray? The 'drawerless' dresser lends itself perfectly to a bookcase, if you take out a couple of the shelves, and reinforce the drawer supports/bottom panels. If you don't have a dining room table, try to find one on Craigs for free, and the French cane chairs would be more in proportion here, with a quick change of the seat covers to a linen color-the material that's draped on the chair, right? The side table would be great next to the couch, with a faux marble paint treatment, or use white, or black, chalkboard paint on the tops of the side table, and coffee table, to unify--tops only. The gold drapes are great-use some gold paint on the mirror frame to bring in that color, and the gold lamp could be used on the desk, the desk lamp switched to the end table. I hope I haven't confused you! Forage for free stuff-it's amazing what's out there. Have fun!

  19. PS the gorgeous buffet would look cute under the pass-through.

  20. Hi Dianne! Heather here, the other half of at the picket fence and the first design challenge! I can't tell you how much everyone's advise has helped me, hope I can return that a little bit by offering some suggestions.

    First I would utilize the dining area. Maybe a narrow sideboard and mirror over it to reflect the chandelier against the wall. I would place a small round table underneath the chandelier with beautiful upholstered chairs that you could use for additional seating in the living room.

    I was thinking a beautiful dresser or chest of drawers under the pass through that you could use as a bar area and to provide more storage. You could place a taller, substantial lamp on it as well to help "hide" the pass through without completely closing it off. If you don't like the pass through you could also find a large canvas and cover it on both sides and hang it over the pass through. You could cover the dining room side with some lovely fabric to match your colors in there and the same on kitchen side to match the kitchen. Just another thought.

    I think some nice walnut bamboo blinds would be lovely at the windows with white drapery panels (can be purchased very cheaply at Ikea) and hung high over the window to make the window seem taller. You could make the panels able to be drawn shut so the combination of the bamboo blinds and drapes when closed would make it conducive to watching TV.

    I would find a beautiful large armoire for the TV if possible and place it straight on that wall with the sofa (love your sofa choice!) across from it but away from wall with maybe a sofa table behind it with lamps of if you had room you could place the desk behind the sofa and place the desk with chair. I would utilize your coffee table and end tables that you had and add in two small armchairs with backs facing kitchen to from an L shape with sofa. You could place a small table between them. After placing all of your major pieces then you should work on accessorizing with the color scheme you like. :)

    Can't wait to see what you come up with!


  21. I have a couple of things I would do if this were my space. I would hang an old window, one with panes or leaded glass, from chain and hooks inside the pass through to close the awkward opening, but allow for light. I would have an oversized leaner mirror to stack against the wall, either reflecting chandy or some other spot (its hard to see the real dimensions of this room from pics), and I would try placing the desk in the middle of the window! Open up the drapes and then use white wood blinds for light control. Those drapes are overpowering the room. I might replace them with sheers if I felt the gold was too dark...or powder blue linen panels...then if you are trying to get the Simply Me effect you must go to the flower shop every third day and buy three dozen roses and plunk them on every surface...

  22. Debra, I like your new blog banner.

    I don't know much about decorating, but, if she's going to go with mostly white, she needs lots of texture: rug, pillows, art, books, etc.

    She has some nice pieces for shabby chic.


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