Dana’s Design Dilemma

When we heard that Dana was looking to swankify her new living room/office, we couldn’t wait to spice up her space. Here’s her letter:

I’m looking for some of your budget savvy advice and your fabulous design eye.  I’m having a design block over this new space.  Just moved 3 months ago and we have a living room/office, that opens upon our dining area (which is a total blank slate).  My husband is in real estate and his passion is golf and I practice feng shui while parenting a little toddler.  We want the space to reflect us and not look entirely like a catalog, we are a blending of many styles: casual, cottage, creative, updated-traditional.  I shop at Pottery Barn often and love Williams Sonoma Home, so those stores would reflect us most.  The sofa, chair, desk and bookcase must stay because of budget (and I love my chair and bookcase)!!!  Looking forward to your reply.  -Dana

The multipurpose room (and Dana’s multifaceted style) inspired us to explore a soft, soothing palette that strikes the perfect balance in her space. So without further ado, our handy dandy moodboard:

Green & Pink Office & Living Room Makeover Moodboard 1

Here’s the moodboard breakdown.

1. The color palette for Dana’s living room & office is light and airy. We actually think the current cream colored walls will look great with the greens and blues that we’ll be bringing in, and a splash of pink will be injected sparingly (we know she’s down with pink thanks to her mauve sofa). And speaking of the sofa, we think a simple tan slipcover will really cozy things up and make the whole room feel warm and inviting (and a lot more updated) while the neutral tone will serve as a great backdrop for our subtle blue and green palette with a pale pink pop. But even though Dana won’t have to take a paintbrush to her walls, we think painting the back of her bookcase (not the sides or the shelves) will add a bit of subtle color and sophistication to the whole room (try Glidden’s Misty Evening).

2. One thing we noticed that the room was crying out for was some art. And since Dana appreciates feng shui, we thought injecting some soothing and serene canvas art that depicted nature (while hammering home our new accent colors) would be a great way to keep that room feeling calm and cozy. Both pieces are from Ikea, and we think the big rectangular canvas will look fabulous above the newly slipcovered sofa while the square one will look great above her armchair. We also saw this chic and neutral pinboard in Pottery Barn, and thought that Dana could create one of her own on the cheap by covering some cork squares from Office Depot or Target with some linen (or even burlap) to display reminders, cards, and inspirational images above her desk in her office area.

3. We couldn’t pass up this rotary office calendar from Pottery Barn (on sale for $29!). The vintage appeal is obvious, and the chrome finish will echo the floor lamp that we’ll be adding to the other side of the room.

4. Ikea seems to be the curtain mecca these days, with everything we need no matter the color scheme. This gorgeous muted floor length beauty will look fab on either side of the window behind the chair and could even carry over into rooms nearby for balance and cohesion (she mentioned her dining room is a blank slate, so bringing them in there would be beautiful too).

5. We thought introducing a leather ottoman in front of the sofa would balance the wooden desk on the other side of the room and add to the cozy and inviting feel. The armchair’s current ottoman will have to be removed to make space for a new piece in front of the couch, but since we’re adding a bigger ottoman to ground the entire space, it will serve as a footrest for not only the couch, but the chair as well. The fact that the top of the ottoman opens to reveal some concealed storage space is totally the icing on the cake- along with the fact that it’s 50% off. We also couldn’t help but notice that the ottoman legs perfectly match those on Dana’s armchair and sofa- it’s like it was made for the space.

6. Pillows are a super easy way for Dana to add plush comfort and fresh style to the slipcovered sofa and existing armchair. And a few of these almost unbelievably affordable pale blue silk pillows accompanied by a sweet songbird toss cushion will lighten things up and keep our color palette crisp and consistent.

7. And now, as promised, our happy pop of pink in the form of an amazingly priced ($29.99!) desk lamp to bring a bit of an unexpected fun to Dana’s desk area. Paired with the subtly textured linen pinboard and the polished desk calendar, Dana’s entire office area will be the perfect balance of work and play.

8. Switching out Dana’s existing floor lamp with a sleeker version to match our gleaming chrome desk calendar will add just enough shine to the space while keeping things current and oh-so-cozy. Who wouldn’t wanna bunker down on the slipcovered sofa to read a good book by the light of this polished new floor lamp?

So there you have Dana’s fresh and fabulous office & living room makeover. Whaddya think?

Update: We sadly can no longer find the time to take on client commissioned mood boards (we now whip up general inspiration boards instead) but if we ever reinstate them we’ll make a big announcement!


  1. Dana says

    What a great find on the lamp! Thanks for your dedication to making my space, shui and swanky!
    From Annapolis,

  2. YoungHouseLove says

    Hi Nancy,

    We would love to see them too! You’ll often find us politely reminding our “clients” (that word makes us sound so official!) to send us after photos. But, as you can imagine, redesigning a room is not always a fast process and it’s often difficult to call it officially “done.”

    We know of a couple folks who are sending us “afters” soon, so stay tuned. Until then, you can see one of our favorite success stories here:


    And feel free to help us nag everyone else for their awesome after photos. :)


  3. says

    Love this moodboard. I’ve been loving those Ikea canvases since they came out last year and have been trying to get someone to love them along with me!!

  4. says

    Great moodboard…would have love to see the after pics. But that leather ottoman is gorgeous! I’m going to find one of those for my office.

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