One Day Living Room Makeover
There wasn't much that psychologist Sue Parente, married to music-professor husband Tom for three decades, liked about her living room. The 25-year-old sofa and love seat, upholstered in dark blue, contrasted sharply with the white walls. Three — count 'em, three — stiff-backed chairs looked imposing, not inviting. Meaningful travel mementos, many of which had been collected on visits to Tuscany, made little visual impact.
Worse, a baby grand piano blocked the prime pathway to the den. "I wasn't sure how to configure the furniture," says Sue. "It's an awkward room." Before embarking on a speed-decorating session orchestrated by GH, though, Sue put in one nonnegotiable request: Whatever else happened, the Steinway would stay. That commitment to making and sharing music — the couple's son, Danny, 23, and daughter, Andrea, 19, are classically trained musicians — kick-started Sabrina's design. The family's frequent get-togethers with friends usually become impromptu concerts, but "the room didn't work for their recitals or even for hanging out," says Sabrina.
Space It Out
"One of Sue's complaints was being stuck with blues, due to the sofas," says Sabrina. "The now-neutral couch allows for endless color combinations." Sabrina also edited down the family's mementos and artwork so choice pieces with character could make a stronger statement. For the final touch, Sabrina sprinkled in rich red accents, like a metal tray and throw pillows, then added a patterned kilim area rug to unite all the earthy colors in the room. "I'm astonished at what happened in a day," says Sue. "Now, it's an open, elegant space."
Sabrina Talks Strategy
Pulling off Sabrina's strategy in a single marathon-session required some preliminary legwork. Week-before duties included painting the walls (in Spanish Olive by Benjamin Moore), measuring for slipcovers, and shopping for furniture and decorative extras at Target.
With the initial tasks out of the way, Sabrina sits down for an in-person consult with the homeowner.
Like It Like That
Sue discusses her likes and dislikes about the living room with Sabrina. Likes: the art she’s collected, the piano. Dislikes: the room’s disjointed layout, and the color palate. "If you look around the rest of the house, you see colors inspired by nature, earth tones," Sue explained. "I'm sick of this blue!"
Sounds Like A Plan
Sabrina shows Sue her proposed new layout for the room. Highlights: changing the piano’s position, floating the sofa off the wall, and centering the seating area on the fireplace.
Easy As 1-2-3
Sabrina explains how important it is to measure a space before you begin bringing in new furniture; Sue jots down the numbers.
Add It Up
Sabrina measures the distance from the ceiling to the floor, so that she can hang drapes of the correct length.