Front room in need of a design lift please

16 October, 2015

Hello everyone, our front room has a couple of nice features (wood burning stove, bay window) but the room feels really drab and gloomy.

I think our mistake was trying to work with the dark purple wallpaper that the previous owners had put up on either side of the chimney breast. We bought curtains and cushions to match. In hindsight, we should have changed the colour altogether. Our furniture is sheesham wood, so quite dark again, which probably doesn't help.

I would really like to have some shelves in the recesses, to store all our books. We could keep the built-in unit on the left, and just add shelves above it, and from top to bottom on the right hand side. I feel that the armchair is to big for the room but it was expensive so reluctant to get rid of it!

The room does get some light in the afternoon (on a sunny day). We painted the walls a kind of taupe/grey-ish colour (can't remember the name now!), and the carpet is light brown.

I am not entirely sure how to give the room a lift, to make it cosier and brighter, without breaking the bank. Any tips would be gratefully received!

Many thanks

Comments (11)

  • PRO
    Gaetan Richard
    Hi Anne, if you have a quick look at my website you will see something that I have done on both sides of s fireplace. This could give you some idea.
    annelf thanked Gaetan Richard
  • headers13

    It looks nice but as you say a little dark. I would move the mirror to above the fireplace or get a bigger one with a mirrored frame or silver. Then find a contrasting colour for a few cushions & a couple of throws. Maybe a cobalt blue - try some samples of fabric to see what colours would work. Add in a couple of items onto the mantlepiece in your chosen colour. Add some brighter artwork/pictures.

    annelf thanked headers13
  • paddyart

    I love your idea of shelves. Wallpapering panels is easy so first repaper the alcoves or paint over the purple wallpaper. (there is some great library wallpaper on eBay that looks like library books in shades of neutrals / beige. This would look really quirky behind shelves.) I would also fit your tv on a wall mounted arm just above the cupboards so you can push back flush to the wall when not watching. Then build shelves above tv to match other side.

    Replace your 2 lamps with something bigger and not purple. Homebase do great silver table lamps. I have added photo but would change shade for off white. You may need to move lamp from fireplace to beside chair on side table?

    Finally a large silver mirror over fireplace (see ikea solange range) would brighten up room. I would move your dark wood mirror and replace with your photo montage.

    annelf thanked paddyart
  • Jules
    Nice little room - personally I wouldn't clutter it up with shelves in the alcoves unless you are planning on using it specifically as a library (in which case that would be nice and cosy).
    annelf thanked Jules
  • hortonhearsawho2013

    Paint over the wallpaper in a deep warm neutral shade, possibly Farrow & Ball charlston grey? I like the idea of shelves but I'd try and have the two sides symmetrical with a cupboard at the bottom on both sides. Try moving the sofa in front of the radiator and the chair into the bay window with the ottoman between them in the corner as a side table with some books on a tray. Also, please buy a bigger drum shade for your light, the current shade is too small, IKEA do some good ones.

    annelf thanked hortonhearsawho2013
  • annelf

    Thank you everyone for all your ideas! I feel like I have quite a few options now. I'll research new lamps. mirrors, ceiling light, shelves, and colour schemes. The big question is whether to go for the shelves or not, as that will probably be the most costly part. Great to have your feedback, thank you very much :-)

  • PRO

    Hi, I think the basics are definitely there. I would angle the chair differently so it goes across the corner more and then it will take up less space in the front of the fireplace. I love the idea of built in shelves above the unit on the left of the fireplace. These can simply be painted MDF so don't need to cost the earth. I would get rid of the wallpaper and either paint the same as the other walls or paint in a slightly darker colour in the recesses either side of the chimneybreast.

    If you can stretch to it new curtains in a more neutral colour would help. Then I would introduce an accent colour in cushions and accessories, perhaps a rug. Because the furniture is dark maybe oranges and reds would work as an accent and make it feel more cosy.

    Is that a large mirror behind the sofa? I would put the mirror above the fireplace and the lovely photos you currently have above the fireplace where the existing mirror is. That all sounds a lot but its fairly easy and inexpensive to achieve. Hope it helps!

    annelf thanked creativeorg
  • minnie101

    I agree with creativeorg re moving the chair and the photos. I think the room needs another colour to lift it, olive green with a little gold would work well with the aubergine. Invest in some new cushions and bring the purple ones out of hiding! Add a gold framed mirror above the fire, sunburst ones give a sunny feel. Also move the cabinet a little closer to the door to give it some space and so it's aligned under the art. If you can afford a coffee table I'd go for glass with a gold frame, if not buy a tray for the footstool. I'd invest in a log basket so the burner isn't hidden by the logs, perhaps move the table lamp onto the tv cabinet and maybe think about accessories for the mantle, things of differing heights would be good. When you have the budget I'd add either a floor lamp or table and lamp in that corner by the curtains. I think I read somewhere you should light 3 corners of a room and it seems to work in mine?! I agree re the pendant light, yours is nice but either something with a little bling or texture would add to the room.

    annelf thanked minnie101
  • annelf

    Ignore the stuff peeking out from behind the sofa. Some artwork that we are struggling to find a house for as it's pretty big. The mirror we have on the wall with the armchair is really quite big and does not fit above the fireplace. I'm not a massive fan of it but it matches the furniture and, well, we did buy it, so I feel that we have to use it. I like the idea of having a smaller one that would fit where the photo montage is currently though. And then could make that back wall more interesting by adding the pictures to it, and potentially moving the big mirror to another wall if we have the space (maybe vertically this time). All great suggestions, thanks!

  • Trisha Goodwin

    Hi Anne, I speak as both a householder/lover of home decor and a professional textile designer. I would say, honestly - you have the basics of a very good scheme here without spending a lot of money. What I see, in my humble opinion (and I made the same mistake once before art school training) is a very monochromatic scheme - that is the extremes of dark and light, but no tones in the middle, which usually integrate and give life to a scheme. Also, what way the room face? This is a hugely important aspect that many people overlook, but it has MASSIVE implications for any room scheme success. If north or east facing, add warmer tones, if south or west, you can get away with cooler ones. You could still have the same colour - pink or green for instance, but coral is warm, olive and teal are warm, fuchsia is cool, aqua or mint is cool. I'm a great believer in using what you already have and as you've already invested in curtains, I would keep those. A scheme like yours is relatively easy to put right, you just need more colourful accessories. Start by thinking about the feel you're after - retro, vintage, classic grown up, fun and quirky, scandi etc. Look at mags and online to see what you like, what are your own interests and hobbies/obsessions, these generally give a clue. I don't see your personality here as yet, a room or house should reflect who you are and your own likes and loves.

    The first step- find some cushions which give the feel you're after BUT make sure they contain some of that dark purple colour in the mix - enough to notice but not all purple. This will link them into the scheme, if there are other colours you like in there, brilliant! I would suggest about four on the sofa and then a colourful throw on one arm of the sofa - do the colour and feel link in to the cushions and wallpaper as before - doesn't have to be a similar pattern to the paper though, can be abstract, pictorial or plain, whatever reflects your likes and that FEELING you're seeking.

    Move that chair out of the corner, it looks too cramped in, bring it out more into room and again add a couple of cushions. Add a nice colourful rug infront of the fire - you won't believe the difference this makes, likewise with a couple of lamps, BIG and strong lines and not in the purple or light tones. Add some colourful artwork, the mirror is a bit 90s, so maybe you could lose in favour of some colourful artwork? Likewise the ceiling light, and add lots of Tlights/candles in front of the fire or on it. None of these things are expensive, you can find them at TK Maax or Dunelm Mill, online or shops in the sale, I would never pay full price for anything - also try Achica online. Have fun with it, and make it your space as well as cosy for the winter. I think the built in shelves are a great idea, but while you're waiting for those, how about some a few big patterned boxes stacked up one on the other (three in total is a good number), again you can find these at Dunelm Mill and so on. Have fun!

    annelf thanked Trisha Goodwin
  • annelf

    Thanks Trisha! Now I see it! Either dark wood/deep purple, or cream/white, with nothing in between... The room faces west so we get some light in the afternoon/evening. I like the idea of teal or olive green, to break things up a bit. Will see if I can start with some cushions in the right colours and build from there. Thanks again!

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