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Looking at these blank white walls and the bare, parquet floors gives you no clues about who lives in this house. It's a barren landscape made serviceable with a couple of brown sofas and a dining room set. This is a familiar scenario faced by many of us who rent.
The good news here was that all the surfaces were clean and in good repair. Our job was to transform the main rooms into a warm and friendly home to suit the personalities and lifestyle of Barron, Jennifer and their three young children.
When you are the wife of a professional football player and have three small children, life is busy enough without having to figure out a decorating scheme every few years. For Jennifer and Barron, relocating is part of the game plan, so we showed them some quick and easy plays with paint, wood, and lighting. It's amazing what a few days and a little help from your friends can accomplish.
Under strict instructions to refrain from any wild and wacky colours, I agreed to stick to beige. As it turned out, this was a brilliant choice. I applied not one or two, but five shades of beige that range from taupe to mushroom in a grid of squares on the walls, and painted them to look like linen. The impact is quietly bold, playful and warm, and infuses instant character.
The bland entrance hall needed some attention so we built up the walls with bigger baseboards and pine wainscoting. An inexpensive hall mirror was framed with thin strips of moulding and paint, including stenciled silhouettes of the family dog. This is a homey, personal touch that extends an immediate welcome.
A series of narrow floating shelves in the dining room makes room for more family photos without taking up table surface. A swing door was installed between the dining room and kitchen, which gives the cook a break from viewing dishes, pots and pans while relaxing over dinner with friends and family.
Lighting plays an important role in any décor, and for this area I re-wired for a series of wall sconces throughout the space. Put on dimmers, the lights in these rooms can be bright or moody as the activities dictate. Deeply hued glass chandeliers sparkle over the dining room table for an updated twist on the traditional crystal chandelier.
Their comfy brown couches stayed, rearranged into an inviting setting, and a new area rug in neutral tones breaks up the cool feeling of too much bare floor. The children have a special area close by to play and still be part of the action in this relaxed family home.
Click on the small photographs on the right to view each of the different angles of the room.
To view pop-up info about Jennifer's Living Room, move your mouse over and around the image below.
Click here to view all the photographs and pop-up info.
In the entrance hall I transformed an inexpensive mirror into a welcoming focal point by building up a frame directly onto the wall with strips of moulding, paint and a stencil. The area in between the two frames is painted dark coffee brown and the dog silhouette is the same creamy beige as the walls. To make the stencil, draw an oval shape onto a piece of acetate. Trace the silhouette you choose (in this case it was the family dog) inside the oval touching along one edge. Cut out the silhouette stencil with a sharp knife. Position it on the wall using stencil adhesive and fill in the background using thin coats of paint to avoid leakage.
This is a multi-purpose living space where the kids can play while the adults relax and entertain. The walls were wired to take a line of light sconces, which are both decorative and practical. The chandeliers suit the traditional spirit of the dining set, however the purple/brown hue of the pendants is whimsical and less formal.
Linen-look Wall Panels
The walls are covered with "linen" squares painted in five different tones of beige (see resources). Use a ruler and chalk line to mark off the grid, then tape off alternate squares with low tack painter's tape. To complete each square: mix a coloured glaze, one part paint to one part glazing liquid. To imitate the look of fabric weave, apply the glaze and while it is still wet, pull a tough bristle brush (scrub brush) through it in one direction vertically, keeping the lines straight. When that coat is dry, apply another coat of glaze over it and this time pull the brush through horizontally so the brush lines cross.
These are shallow shelves built with a lip to hold pictures similar to the design of a plate rail. Measure and mark off the positions for the shelves on the wall with tape first, so that you can experiment with the height, length and depth before you begin cutting and hammering. Always check lines with a level.
To make the wall panels in the hall, 1" x 4" pine was installed 36" above the floor. The baseboards are 1" x 6". The vertical pieces are 1" x 3" pine spaced 13 inches apart. For a professional finish, the edges of the boards were rounded with a table router. The strips were installed with glue and nails and the completed wall painted Rose White.
The coffee table is loosely styled after a picnic table for a casual appearance. To get the right thickness for the top we chose two wood planks that are generally used for stair treads. Diluted white paint was brushed over the wood and rubbed back with a rag so the grain can be seen. The whitewash finish blends well with the light, airy tone of the room.