Gail’s Design Dilemma

Gail’s living room is primed for a posh pink makeover. Here’s her letter:

I’m absolutely thrilled to have your expertise on board for the makeover of my living room (I have an unhealthy obsession with your blog!) I live in a modern apartment block here in the UK (Glasgow in Scotland to be precise) and all the rooms are fairly small & boxy. Sadly I don’t have direct access to stores like JC Penney and Target but you can make your usual magical suggestions (regardless of store location) and I won’t rest until I’ve found the nearest possible equivalent here in the UK. Also, my dad is visiting the US soon so he may be able to pick up some things for me. As you can see, there are full-length glass doors leading out to a dinky little balcony and a sliding wooden door to the kitchen. I live alone so don’t need lots of seating (the two chairs you can see never get sat on!). I’d be interested to hear any ideas for displaying my collection of large-format design books. My style is modern/ scandinavian/ mid-century/ boutique hotel chic. I like uncluttered, clean lines but don’t want the room to look too sterile. As for what can go – practically everything! I need to keep the flooring and TV. I’d also like to keep the plant. I’m happy to have new wall colour suggestions. Thanks in advance for taking on my little room – I can’t wait to see what you come up with. Very best wishes -Gail


This space will be completely unrecognizable when we’re through. In a good way. Here’s the plan:

And now for the mood board breakdown.

*Note: Remember that Gail is in the UK, so many of the items that we’ve linked to below are from that part of the globe (and the prices and measurements have not been converted).

1. Gail mentioned that one of her favorite House Crashing tours of ours was this dreamy abode, so we used that inspiration (along with her request for a “boutique hotel chic” room) to come up with the soft whisper pink tone that we’d love to see on the walls (try Benjamin Moore’s Silky Smooth). Then we’ll bring in some medium-toned oak pieces to temper the soft pink and all the crisp white that we’ll be injecting for an airy and modern aesthetic. We’ll polish things off with a few punchy pops of raspberry for a sleek & clean space that still feels happy and lived in.

When it comes to the floor plan, we’d love to see the new sofa centered on the wall where the TV currently resides with end tables and matching lamps on either side of it for some hotel-chic balance. Then the TV will be placed where the existing sofa currently lives for a more functional and spacious arrangement. We’ll also bring in some floating shelves for the wall with the radiator (for book display space and even more storage and function). And of course hanging our new curtains high and wide on the wall with the sliders will create the illusion of a much larger expanse of glass without blocking any natural light.

2. Two sets of these nesting tables (one on each side of the sofa) will instantly add balance and elegance to the long wall where the TV currently lives, and we love that the crisp white lacquered tops and stainless steel legs mimic so many other furnishings that we’ll be bringing into the space for a cohesive and modern vibe that still feels light and lovely. We also dropped a rectangle of our whisper pink wall color behind the tables so Gail can see how gorgeous her new wall color will be with her furnishings. Delish.

3. This amazing overhead light fixture doesn’t need much of an explanation. Other than it rocks. And will add endless boutique-hotel-chic attitude to the room.

4. We’d love to see three or even five of these gorgeous wooden floating block shelves lined up in a row hanging above the media cabinet with gorgeous punchy pink vases resting on each one to add rhythm and three-dimensional interest to the entire room (and draw attention away from the TV below, which is always a plus). And speaking of the media cabinet, we dug this one up for Gail’s existing TV. Gotta love how it works with the other furnishings almost seamlessly.

5. Gail’s existing plant will really add to the clean and inviting vibe in a more modern and almost-sculptural planter (which mimics the clean-lined end tables and even the oak coffee table and the floating block shelves). And placing the plant and it’s lovely new planter to the left of the radiator will ground these chic shelves that Gail will be hanging on that wall (to display more of her hardcover art books and even some concealed storage in the form of baskets and lacquered boxes, etc). When it comes to the placement of those sleek shelves, we’re picturing two of them about 24″ apart lined up above the middle of the radiator and another two of them about 24″ to the left on top of each other to create a balanced grid of four.

6. Pops of bright raspberry and even soft violet in the sofa pillows will add interest and personality to the new white sofa, all while hammering home our punchy-meets-subdued color combination.

7. Here’s the aforementioned oak coffee table with a clean glass top that will reflect lots of light and really ground all the white furnishings in the space (bonus: the glass top means no drink rings). It’ll also look lovely with a few stacks of Gail’s hardcover art books and maybe even a small pink vase or lacquered box to tie everything together even further.

8. And now for our fabulous white leather small-scale sofa. We love that it’s so boutiquey, and oh so perfect when it comes to the scale of the room. We totally appreciate that Gail recognized that she didn’t need much seating in this space. It really will look more open and proportional with a more modestly sized sofa and we love that it will fit her needs. And although she mentioned loving this pricier small-scale beauty, we were super psyched to dig up a nearly identical version for almost a third of the price. Oh and here’s that fun little apple pillow (on sale!) that we tossed on for even more color and interest.

9. Sure at first glance you might think these lamps might look a bit strange on each side table flanking the sofa, but we just saw one in person on a recent House Crashing mission (in a pink room, no less) and it glittered like fireflies in front of a soft pink sunset. Really, they’re magical.

10. We loved the rich pink and violet tones in this breathtaking sunset print and immediately pictured two of them hanging about 4 inches apart centered above the sofa for even more of that crisp hotel-chic vibe (either in stainless steel, oak, or even white frames). Yummy. And remember to keep from hanging them too high- the bottom of the frame should only be about 18″-24″ above the back of the sofa for an intimate and welcoming effect.

11. Here are the last two pieces that will add warmth and even more effortless style to the room. Hanging these breezy white curtains (two panels on each side) high and wide on a long rod on the wall with the sliding glass doors (basically from wall to wall) will make for a space that appears to be taller and more expansive. Then toss down this high-contrast abstract 5 x 8′ area rug centered in front of the sofa (with only about an inch of rug under the front legs of the sofa) and ground everything with the coffee table for an instantly polished look. We love the slices of rich black that it will tie into the space for dimension and interest without overwhelming the rest of our lighter palette.

So there you have it. A luxe living room full of  swanky style. We can’t wait to see what you guys 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!



    How funny is that………logged onto website and here I find a person called Gail from Glasgow – I thought I was the only obsessed Scottish fan. Would love to see “after” photographs of Gail’s flat. This is SO much fun.


  2. says

    Hi Sherry! I am the crazy person who stalked you guys in the ice cream shop! :) I am so excited that I got to meet all of you. Thanks for being so sweet!

  3. Polina says

    Awesome job once again! Love your mood boards. I have been a loyal reader for a very long time and recently started to post my comments too :-)

  4. says

    Just popping in to say I saw an article in our local newspaper, the Winnipeg Free Press, this morning, which talked about you, and gave your blog address….so I guess you will now have an influx of prairie readers!

  5. says

    I love that light fixture you picked! And I was also going to mention about the Winnipeg Free Press mentioning you today in an Ikea Hack article…too funny! I thought I was the only ‘Pegger that read here ;)

  6. Wendy says

    Very cute, and I love the pops of color!

    My only concern would be the legs on the couch that you’ve suggested. Those legs would cause a bit of damage on her wood floors. Perhaps a bigger rug to place underneath? Or does anyone have any suggestions for subtle protection for the back legs?

    • says

      Hey Wendy,

      We actually did hunt down an area rug for the front two legs of the new sofa (see the mood board breakdown in the post above) and small pads can be purchased for the back two legs at any home improvement store to further protect the floor. Hope it helps!


      p.s. Thanks to the ladies who mentioned the Winnipeg paper YHL shout out! Off to check it out…

  7. Redlilocks says

    SOOOOO excited to see a Design Dilemma from a reader in the UK! I’m an American living in England and would give ANYTHING to have a Target here! lol

    The makeover is fantastic – can’t wait to see the end product so PLEASE GAIL send the ‘afters’!!

    To help it along, I have found a couple things from UK websites to get her started:

    You can get those block shelves here:

    Save £150 on a similar light fixure here:

    I found this sideboard: but it’s pretty ridiculously pricey so here’s a cheaper alternative:

    Hope that helps the makeover along a bit! Can’t wait to see the end result :)

  8. says

    Saw a great idea for displaying large format design books recently but sadly I didn’t save the pic to my inspiration file (silly gal). However, it’s similar to this idea which shoes pictures displayed on narrow picture shelves, just replace pictures with books. I’ve got a long expanse of hallway which isn’t really wide enough for any furniture, but picture shelves I can fit and it’ll give me a chance to show off my beautiful books from design to burlesque and everything in between. Wish I’d saved that darn picture though!

  9. Janis - Glasgow, Scotland says

    Re Redilocks comment…………Heals is mega expensive for most people and you can get the block shelves at Ikea which Gail probably knows. Sideboards at are also probably much cheaper.


  10. says

    I love these design dilemma posts! The only problem is that I want to see the “solved” posts right away. I have zero ability of my own to see something in my mind as far as decorating goes. All my ideas come from things that I see online, in magazines, etc. I can modify, just not create on my own from scratch.

    And I am getting so excited about my own room makeover involving my kitchen and living room. I have no money to spend on it so I’m having to make do with paint, a bit of re-arranging, and a few small purchases. Since I’m not adept at framing or drywall I am shelling out for the labour to do that but it will be well worth it. I have had my little home for two years now and am really starting to love it. I’m starting to feel sad at the thought of having to let it go in the future. (It will be way too small for my boyfriend, myself, my son, and his daughter when the time comes that we marry and combine our houses.)

    I’ll be sending you a link to my before and after once it’s all done. In the meantime, I’ll continue to be inspired but your amazing talent.

  11. says

    I love the pink. Great job, i can just picture these colours and accessories in a swanky hotel. It’s gonna look fantastic in that space. Dont forget the after photos gail!

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