TIPS + TOOLS
January 24, 2018
When it comes to renovations, timing is often key to what catches our attention, which means you may very well be thinking about creating warmth this winter in those spaces where we have just finished spending time with family and friends over the holidays – the living room or family room. Today’s gathering rooms naturally invite you to come on in and get comfortable, relax and have a conversation – and escape the cold outside. In the most recent of Amsted President Steve Barkhouse’s appearances on CTV News at Noon with Leanne Cusack, we explore a few living room updates, sharing design ideas you can use for your own space.
Before: It’s important for a main room to have a focal point to create order in the room. In this project, there wasn’t much of a focal point. Everything on the back wall was about the same height with the TV to one side and a bookshelf on the other. The fireplace was a gem hidden under clutter.
After: We played off the existing elements to focus attention on the beautiful green tile fireplace. Custom bookshelves were added to display photos and memorabilia, but in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the space. There’s added storage for elements that don’t need to be displayed and we washed out the entire wall in white so that the green on the fireplace pops. New green furniture and green accents further enhance the focus on the green tile.
Before: Playing with colour doesn’t need to be as daring as selecting bold tiles. This project is very monochromatic to begin. It shows its age in the dated beige walls and brick and brass fireplace. Added to that, the homeowners rarely made use of the wood-burning fireplace, so the oversized brick with a cut-out for wood were no longer needed.
After: The new space appears contemporary yet inviting. Contemporary can sometimes seem cold, but this fireplace has a fresh look that feels uncluttered. We swapped the wood-burning fireplace for a seamless black gas unit. Choosing simple colours and patterns for the surround allows the homeowners to play with paint colours and fun accents. The purple wall, blue decor and orange seating can all be swapped out as tastes change while leaving a simple canvas that stands alone to create a welcoming space.
Before: This room had a bold paint colour scheme and a focal point, but it wasn’t doing anything to create a welcoming space. The canary yellow walls and blue trim weren’t inviting colours together. And while the fireplace was certainly a focal point, it was overbearing in the space.
After: The updated room is much more visually appealing and inviting. We warmed up the colour scheme with beige tones and maintained the focal wall, but it was achieved very differently. We removed all traces of the dated red brick and created simple trim boxes painted in white to draw attention to the wall in its place. The custom mantel finishes off the space and allows for uncluttered decor.
Before: Furniture also plays a big role in how inviting your living room is. In this space, two oversized couches that are pointed toward each other close off the space from adjacent areas. And oversized, stuffed bookshelves overwhelm the designated living room space, making it appear cluttered.
After: This new space is inherently more welcoming. A built-in bookshelf with storage allows for some books to be on display while others are tucked away. Clean-lined shelving on the other side of the fireplace displays curated favourites and the fireplace is upgraded to create a focal point in the space. New furniture was selected in a L shape to help designate the living room while maintaining openness to adjacent areas.
Before: All of the examples so far look at living rooms that have a fireplace as a unifying element. But what if your space doesn’t have a fireplace? In this home, the living room was in a three-windowed room, with the kitchen on the opposite side. There was not much room for a fireplace or for creating a focal point.
After: Our solution was to pull the living room right out of that space! This project was a little more intensive than just that; we also removed a dividing wall where the stairs appear now to open up the entire main floor. But when reviewing the space as a whole, we realized that the walls of windows were more conducive to eating, whereas the opposite side of the room created a cosy living space. We created the living room focal wall by painting it a distinct colour, rearranging furniture so it is directed at the new wall, and placed a wall-mounted TV over a similarly wall-mounted electric fireplace. The new living room is warm and inviting, offering a great new space for the family to rest at the end of the day or friends to gather while entertaining.
In the next CTV segment: Diving into what makes those living spaces extra cosy – the fireplace – by sharing some great trends and products from our friends at The Fireplace Center.