Today’s post is all about one of my favorite things ever – the makeover. I heart makeover montages in films and obsessively watch home makeover shows on television. When I was approached by wht member Sherri, asking if my living room could be included in What Would You Do With This Room?, how could I resist?
What Would You Do With This Room? (WWYDWTR), a book from interior designer Mark Lewison and his team Sherri Houtz and John Haigh, brings Mark’s “10 Foolproof Commandments to Great Interior Design” to the masses. We can’t all afford to bring an interior designer into our homes (or luck out and get a spot on one of the many room makeover shows) but this informative book, his corresponding website, and his latest brilliant idea, the amazing Mark on Call iPhone application, let’s everyone benefit from the experience and know-how of this respected interior designer. Today, I want to concentrate on the lesson learned in the pages of WWYDWTR, but check back in two weeks when we will learn all about the Marc on Call iPhone application.
WWYDWTR is a great reference tool for the DIY home decorator. The book spans all the things you should consider in your foray into interior design, from space planning and color to lighting and accessories. The book is divided into three easy-to-read sections, beginning with Mark’s “Ten Commandments” of home design told in a manner both amusing and easy to understand. Next, “Executing the Design,” will drive home these commandments in more detail, while providing the knowledge to make important decorating decisions. Finally, “Dear Mark,” further illustrates how to use the Ten Commandments by using real-life situations and pictures.
That’s where my living room comes into the picture. I adore my Los Angeles craftsman apartment. How could I not, it’s got beautiful hardwood floors, built-in mahogany bookshelves and a mantle and lots of space and character. The problem? No matter how hard I tried, my living room always looked unfinished and dark (and believe me, I have rearranged my space over and over trying to get it just right). Enter Mark, some huge lighting equipment and a great photographer and voila, my interior design shortcomings in full color (on page 89) for the entire world to see!
Not too bad, but kind of meh. The room has amazing “bones” but no matter how I arranged the shelves, they just looked cluttered. And while the room looks fairly bright in this shot, bear in mind there’s a number of blindingly strong, professional light fixtures carefully placed out of frame. Mark had a number of useful suggestions for the room from within his 10 commandments. Without using any paint or dropping a ton of dough, Sherri and I decided to take his recommendations, hit the thrift stores and have our own room makeover.
The first commandment I followed was #3 Go Big. I had too many small frames, crowding the shelves and confusing the eye. A big improvement was made by pruning the photos and using larger frames that were more appropriate in scale for the room. Mark also advised to back away from the dark, matte frames I was buying and try shiny, metallic frames to add sparkle and light. We also took the Go Big motto to heart by placing just one large yellow bowl on the coffee table and by removing the numerous small votive candles and replacing them with a just a few significantly larger pieces.
The biggest piece of all was the amazing, mirrored lamp we found while thrift store scouting. I was so happy to find the oversized deco inspired piece with that great reflective surface. Oh and for the first time in my life, I bartered for an item and scored a deal (only $50). Besides meeting the Go Big commandment, we added another commandment of Marks with the lamp – Don’t Forget Your Eyeliner! Meaning that a little bit of black can frame a piece (like photos, paintings, doorframes, windows and in this case a lampshade) and really make it pop (just like some black liner does for your eyes). We added a black ribbon around the top and bottom of the square frame (using ordinary ribbon and a glue stick) to nicely set off the lamp. It just gave that extra oomph and now it’s the first thing people notice when they enter the room.
I also learned that grouping your items into small collections, instead of letting them roam all over the surface lets the eye focus on the pieces. We searched for a few more pieces that would reflect the light and then bunched the frames, vases and candles into cohesive batches to create a composed and completed look.
Mark had suggested we lighten the look of the furniture by making slipcovers in a lighter fabric. Since my green L-shaped couch was fairly new, I was resistant to the idea. Ever the pro, Mark advised us to use bright pillows and throws on the couch to keep things light. Picking up some fun orange pillows and adding bits of bright fabric added some color and life to the room. The new curtains actually block a bit more light than the old bamboo blinds, but they lighten and brighten the room considerably and help pull everything together
Finally, while I already love the room, I’m ready to work on commandment # 6 Take Your Time. There’s no reason you need to buy everything for your room at once. By building your pieces over time, carefully spending money only on key pieces you love and mixing and matching finds from yard sales to high-end boutiques, you will end up with a style and room that is uniquely you. I can’t wait to see what I find at my next flea market.
Thanks to Mark, Sherri and John for all of their advise. Make sure to check back with we heart this in two weeks, when we will be talking with Mark about his latest sensation the Mark on Call iPhone application which gives you the ability to create floor plans and design a room at your fingertips!