Shannon’s Dilemma: Ideas Anyone?

After weeks of waiting for three dry days in a row to grout, Mother Nature is finally on our side and John’s finishing up the tile in the sunroom as I type this (while singing “grout, grout, let it all out”). He’ll give you the full tiling rundown tomorrow, and in the meantime, I’m more excited than Jessie Spano about this post (and she’s SO EXCITED).

As we mentioned on Facebook this weekend, thanks to your suggestions during our Blogiversary, we thought it would be fun to share some ideas for folks out there who are stuck with decorating dilemmas. We also knew you guys would have a ton of suggestions to add to the mix, so we hope these posts will turn into great group brainstorming sessions for any homeowners out there who are stumped. So let’s dive right in. Here’s Shannon’s issue:

Hey Sherry and John! We just moved into our house in July, and I am LOST. This photo is taken from our living room, which is very open. The area on the left is our front room, the brightly colored door goes to our garage, then there’s the funky bookshelf area (ARGH), our boring but wide stairway, and our downstairs half-bath.

I LOVE color, NEED color, but need to keep it all cohesive down here (everything opens up to the same space). The thought of one color everywhere makes me want to cry! As you can see, I broke down one day and just painted the door to our garage to get some color, even if it’s temporary. I’m willing to buy paint cans tomorrow and show you afters! I just have no idea what colors to paint. Also, that horrible spot where the bookshelf and TV are currently living is too small for a couch, and nothing seems to make sense in that space. Our TV can go anywhere in the room (so it can move out of that nook). As long as I can keep Eugene, my coral-painted horse head, I’m happy!

We have three kids, so storage and function are always great things, but I also love some pretty, decorative things, too. My husband and father-in-law are my fabulous carpenters (they always seem to figure things out together that I throw at them), so again, I’m all about showing you the afters! Oh and don’t mind the blanket on the carpet–it’s rest time and my three littles are watching the Lorax. Love you guys! (In a non-creepy, even though we’ve never met kinda way!) – Shannon


Guys, I stared at that picture for a while without having a clue, and then I realized that the nook between the stairs and the front door would be awesome with a big built-in to add tons of functional storage. Shannon would gain a spot to stash things out of sight (like kid-gear) from the six drawers down below, and she’d have a place to display her decorative stuff (like Eugene) up top. The best thing about adding something built-in right at the edge of that enclave is that the entire wall would have less of that nook-next-to-a-nook-next-to-another-nook feeling since it would break things up and bring that wall forward to create a great little focal point.

As for the execution of those built-ins, Shanon could either have her husband and father-in-law build them from scratch (since she mentioned they’re awesome carpenters in her letter) or she could buy something like these Hemnes ones from Ikea, which would hopefully be pretty simple to frame out for a nice built-in look. They’d also create a great place to add color. Maybe a soft blue tone on the back of the bookcase could be fun (like Valley Mist by Behr). Then the same bold door tone – except a little muddier with more gray in it so it’s not too intense – could end up on the walls of the bathroom to bring more color on that side of the space. Shannon could ask the person at the paint counter to add 15% more gray to the formula of the door color to hopefully end up with something in the right range.

I also photoshopped the walls a soft gray tone (like Silver Drop by Behr) and quickly switched out the light fixture by the door for this guy (I can’t help it, I’m obsessed with these – and the small one would be really cute there). Then I added this rug to the living area, just because that’s another easy way to add some color and interest, while picking up on some of the cheerful items displayed in the built-ins.

And just for fun, I made an alternate version with cooler periwinkle blues mixed with some warm corals and some deep navy tones:

This time I used this rug and photoshopped an abstract painting on the wall going up those stairs to bring in even more coral and periwinkle to that wall, along with darkening the door and the bathroom to a rich navy tone (something close to Myth by Behr). I also made the ceiling a super soft blue tone (Lime Light by Behr) to layer in there with the light gray walls, and for the back of the built-ins, a sea glass green could be pretty too (Palm Breeze by Behr).

So there are two thoughts I had for Shannon’s space. Do you prefer the Option 1 (emerald and copper with hits of sky blue) or Option 2 (coral, periwinkle and navy with some sea glass green)? Or do you have a completely new idea to add to the pot? We’d love to hear what you guys would do, and I’m sure there will a ton of awesome ideas in the comments, so… fire away! And a big thanks to Shannon for sharing her problem area. We’re crossing our fingers for after photos to share with you guys!

Psst – Got a particularly tricky spot or a dilemma in a certain area of your house? Submit a photo (or two) along with a few sentences about what bugs you or has you stumped to


    • Sara says

      What is the point in being first to comment if you’re not even going to say anything useful??? Apparently you haven’t even read the post!

    • Jessica says

      Do people really comment before reading, all in hopes of being the first comment in the thread? Why? That’s as pointless as writing a book review before actually opening the first page.

    • lesismore says

      kati, go ahead and be excited about being first! it’s like being the champion of all champions to see your name at the top of the comments page. ;)

  1. OSUJillyBean says

    I vote option two. It seems much more cohesive and still has some color without being too in-your-face about it.

  2. Miranda says

    Those bookshelves are a great idea. When I first saw this space I instantly thought “faux fireplace” but don’t know if there’s already a functional one in the space…. It would be a great place to display mantle decor and you could hang a larger mirror over it to open up the space. Or you could hang your TV above it and build out some kind of cool doors or cover for it. Good luck with your space!

  3. Rose says

    Love the idea of built ins! I think that neutral palette needs some bold contrast though…imagine a dark blue rug and some wood tones!!!

  4. Jen C says

    Grout, grout, let it all out. That may be the best one-liner of the day! Got to love a shout out (ha) to Tears for Fears.

    The built in you modeled is fantastic! Really pulls the space together. Are the “books” on the windows supposed to be painted by hand, or is that something they could buy. A patterned window would also look nice, I think.

    • says

      I just made a bunch of boxes in photoshop that I thought could represent books (the tan ones) and some other colored boxes for accents (like vases, decorative baskets or planters, lacquered boxes, etc).


  5. says

    My first thought was built ins too! Love them! They could even do drawers below and open shelving above..or just keep the top open and center the tv there.

    I love the idea of putting art on the stairs–even do a family portrait there to fancy it up!

    Color wise I’m digging the first one–gotta match Eugene the horse head :)


  6. Karen says

    Good idea! I prefer #1, but with some art in stairway. I think the key to that space is making the built-ins go all the way to the ceiling, so that it looks purposeful and always been there, instead of “this is an awkward space we’re trying to fill”.

  7. says

    Love the built in idea!! First thing that popped into my head before I even scrolled down to see your suggestion.

    And if she wanted extra seating – it could be a built in bench with storage underneath and maybe a shelf or cabinet above too.

    Or an entryway type ideas like this –

    and if she needed desk space something like this (if her nook was big enough) –

    so much fun! Nooks can be a lot of fun!

    • Kelly says

      I love the idea of a nook for a reading bench that could open and hold toys or a nook desk. Depends if that is a high traffic area and sitting in a chair would be in the way but then she could work in the living room while the kids have rest time.

    • lesismore says

      I love the “mudroom” idea, but it’s really hard to suggest a certain idea without knowing exactly what is opposite. I assume a couch, since there is a TV there.

      I only have a picture in my mind, but I was picturing something more like floating shelving, or something geometric above to house books and horse heads, ect., and a sitting bench below, if seating was something desired.

    • Kerrie says

      I also wondered about some sort of desk/ nook space – I’m sure nook space is a real thing ;). I was thinking about the space being next to the garage door, and if this is a good landing spot for the kids gear if they often come into the house via this door. Any space that includes storage is always a good thing. I love the idea of joining the colour of the toilet (its not called a half bath where I come from LOL), to the rest of the space, and the idea of art in that stair well.
      Sherry, such a fun idea to have suggestions for others – fabulous idea, Cheers

  8. Jessica says

    My first thought was also built-ins. It could be cute with some open shelving, too.

    I like both of the Photoshopped pieces, but #2 draws me in more.

  9. Emily says

    Love the built-ins…as for colors I’m partial to option 1, I really like the fun color she already chose for the door. Hemnes storage would look great, we have it all over our home :)

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