Chantel’s Design Dilemma

When we heard Chantel’s cries for help with her living room, we swooped in to whip up something swanky. Here’s her letter:

I’m so looking forward to your help with my living room. I like beachy casual (for its colors and clean lines) and shabby chic (for its cushy, comfy  furniture and romantic hints). And I love lots of white, obviously. I’d decorate the whole room in white with pops of green and blue if I knew how. I have a huge canvas of the popular painting, Blues Coming Through, that I’d like to mount on the big wall, if possible and I need something artsy and original to put in the TV nook above the fireplace (a sculpture? a mobile?). I like the online Shabby Chic and Anthropologie stores (we don’t have either in bricks-and-mortar form in Canada) and I always seem to end up at Ikea for its clean lines and affordable prices. The TV and the shelf beneath it must stay, though we could paint the shelf if required (it’s currently black). The leather couch can definitely go. As for the rest of the seating, we have (in various areas of the house) the sofa, loveseat, armchair, and ottoman from Ikea’s Ektorp line, all slipcovered in white that can all come into the room if you want. Oh and we need a new wall color, please! What do you think of bright white with a colorful accent wall? Thanks! – Chantel



This light and airy space is bursting with potential. And the addition of some serene and beachy greens and blues will really set off all the white in the room for a comfy cozy retreat. Here’s the ethereal and inviting mood board:


And now for the mood board breakdown.

1.Our color palette will include some dark wood tones (in the existing coffee table and end tables) some beachy greens and blues (in some inviting new textiles), a good dose of neutrals (to keep things warm) and of course lots of easy and breezy white white white. As for the walls, we’d actually shy away from using a bright white tone since Chantel’s sofa, loveseat and chair will all be the white slipcovered Ektorp pieces that she already owns (and it’s always nice to have a little variation when it comes to sofa and wall colors). Instead, we’d suggest a soft and beachy blue-green tone, which will actually act as a neutral when surrounded by tans and whites, for soothing and serene style to spare (try Benjamin Moore’s Bali). And instead of an entire accent wall, we think painting the inside of the arched nook above the fireplace (both the sides and the back of it) a deeper greeny blue (try Benjamin Moore’s Catalina Blue) will really set off the amazing mobile we dug up for that spot. And of course keeping the trim and the mantel a crisp white tone will keep things clean and current in the space.

Note: Many of the links in this custom makeover are Canadian in origin since Chanel lives north of the border. Please keep that in mind when looking at prices or attempting to order of these items for yourself!

2. Too much white in a room can actually feel cold, especially without texture, so by switching out those heavy white curtains for some light white sheers will instantly lighten things up. And using one extra long curtain rod for that back wall of windows with a bunch of sheers in the middle and a soft green and white patterned curtain panel on either end will really add a splash of tone on tone color and texture to the space.

3. This is an oversized printed canvas that Chantel already owns (we dug up this similar print for all interested parties) and it’s perfect for the airy vibe that she’s looking for! Hanging it centered above the loveseat (not centered on the wall) in the place of that grid of frames and the two mirrors above the side table will really balance our new wall of sheers and curtain panels and contribute to the welcoming ambiance of the room. Oh and speaking of that grid of frames, we think three of them hung vertically on top of each other in Chantel’s “dead corner” (not pictured) with a big potted plant on the ground (in a sleek white Ikea planter) will really add interest and texture to the space.

4. Here’s the aforementioned mobile which will look stunning and fabulous hung in that nook above the fireplace with the darker blue-green background. Since it’s one of the first things that you see when you enter the room, we really wanted it to be a serene showstopper and it truly makes the fireplace corner a focal point to remember. And the natural wooden texture is perfect for the beachy-cozy look we’re going for.

5. This  cheerful oversized pillow works perfectly with our palette (and rings in under $20 a pop) so we thought two of them on Chantel’s white slipcovered Ektorp sofa (which will replace the existing leather couch) would look cushy and beckoning. And since they’re technically floor pillows, they can be stacked on the ground in front of the fireplace for additional seating in a pinch (or snuggling by the fire).

6. Since Chantel’s protruding tv shelf must stay, we though painting it white would make it feel a lot less obtrusive in the space, and sliding this simple white storage shelf underneath it will create more functional space to display candles, stacks of books and maybe even potted plants (on top) while grounding the wall-mounted media shelf so it makes more sense in the space.

7. This durable sisal rug is the peanut butter to the room’s jelly. It’ll ground the seating area, add beachy and casual texture, really make that amazing coffee table pop, and actually emphasize the gorge flooring and tiled fireplace thanks to the natural tone (it’ll complement the other neutrals in the room while lending a varied texture so the smooth tiles and flooring are set off by the woven rug). Oh and snagging the biggest size (200 x 300 centimeters) will ensure that the front legs of the sofa, loveseat, and chair can all be placed atop the rug for effortless balance and symmetry. And while we’re on the subject of the seating area, turning the coffee table 90 degrees, so that the long side of the coffee table lines up with the longest item of furniture (the slipcovered white sofa that will replace the leather couch) will add even more balance and appeal to the layout.

8. Two matching glass based lamps (the shells aren’t included, which we think is a good thing because it might be beach overload if they were) with woven shades will add to the light and airy effect when placed on the matching end tables that will flank the slipcovered sofa in front of that luxe wall of breezy sheers. Instant ambiance. And they’re super on sale, so Chantel can snag two for the price of one!

9. And since there will be three white slipcovered pieces (sofa, loveseat and armchair) in the room, we think an abundance of icy blue and warm chocolate pillows (with fun botanical prints on them) will really polish things off while tying in everything from the wall color to the wooden coffee & end tables.

Cozy? Check. Beachy? Check. Utterly affordable thanks to the use of existing art and already purchased furnishings? Check. Gotta love a total makeover on a serious budget. We can’t wait to hear what you guys think!

Update: Chantel sent us her after pictures and they’re nothing short of amazing! Check them out right here.

Update #2: 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. Chantel says

    Dudes! This is awesome! It’s exciting to think I can actually do something great with this room now. Just what I was hoping for. Thank you so much. After pictures soon to come …

  2. SHannon says

    Chantel, what are you going to do with all those great prints that you’re taking down? Because I know someone who would totally take them off your hands! Ha. Love the mood board!

  3. Sara says

    Chantel, I too would love to offer to take those prints! But, I won’t fight Shannon for them :-) Where did you find the current artwork in the room though? I love the mobile in the fireplace nook idea! Can’t wait to see afters…

  4. Sara says

    Yay! Thanks so much for the link Chantel. I am going to have to browse and try to choose a few (which is going to be tough).

  5. says

    So where the heck have I been?!? You have a wonderful blog and I am sorry to have missed it for so long. I found you over at Apartment Therapy lately, so am linking to keep up with what’s new over here. Nice suggestions for the space here!

  6. says

    that mobile is FABULOUS and i love the idea of hanging it over the fireplace. Also love your suggestion of placing the shelving unit under the tv shelf. It feels odd protruding from the wall right now but that should make it feel much more deliberate.

  7. Lisa says

    I love, love that lamp — it matches a seagrass headboard I have been coveting from Pottery Barn for a while. If only we had two matching nightstands in our bedroom crying out for two matching lamps… alas, the steam heater in our pre-war Manhattan bldg means there’s only space for one nightstand. But I guess I could get one lamp…

  8. Lisa says

    PS — I just ordered said lamp. There’s a code for free shipping on the Web site through 1/22 — 51FS69. Makes it a lot easier to order when you know you can return in a nearby store if it doesn’t work out, and you aren’t paying for the privilege of trying out the item at home!

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