From OK to Wow: Room Makeover

DSC03932By Elle
I’m so excited for this first interior design/decor post. When Arkady and I bought our house just about a year and a half ago, we started tearing things apart and putting them back together again. Some projects got stalled along the way — I refer to these “stalls” as “hijacks,” as in we got hijacked by a racoon that moved into a soffit on our roof (and thus discovered some necessary remediation work in the attic above the bedrooms), and we got hijacked by another really crappy, cold winter (and thus discovered we needed truckloads of new insulation in every part of the house).

In any case, I still have lots of room re-dos to share, the first of which is our Club Room.

Our Club Room, as we call it, is the former dining room, which is adjacent to the living room through a wide entryway, giving both rooms the feel of being connected. So we “moved” our dining room into what was the family room in the back of the house (besides, the fireplace was in the former family room, and I love dining by firelight). This way, the space feels like one giant living room, giving us lots of open space for entertaining.

Below are the before and after photos, and here’s a brief summary of what we changed:

  • Phase 1: We removed the chandelier (you’ll see it again though in a future post!) and installed pendant lights. Then we outfitted the room with contemporary furniture, most of which came from Craigslist. Note the coffee table, which I picked up from JC Penney on sale. We recently found a similar table, except a thousand times cooler, for the living room, so now we have some more interesting symmetry between the rooms.
  • Phase 2: We painted the walls, which had been beige and brown, with Sherwin-Williams Sea Salt and Benjamin Moore White Dove. Traditionally, one paints the upper part of the walls white and the lower part the darker color, but we reversed it, not only because we’re contrary that way, but also because we felt the white along the lower half would allow the furniture to blend in and enhance the feeling of calmness in the room. Sea Salt is an interesting color choice because it changes with the light. Sometimes it’s blueish, other times it shows up greenish. The Club Room faces southeast, getting a lot of morning and afternoon light, and the color consistently appears on the blueish side, which isn’t my favorite but I’m totally in love with this room!
  • Phase 3 (to come, fingers crossed): Tear out that horrible blue carpeting (would you believe it’s original, and the house was built in 1972! Gross, I know.) But our plans are spiffy: install white hardwood flooring in the living room, black hardwood flooring in the Club Room and about five hardwood boards across the threshold between the rooms, with gradations in color, going from light grey to dark grey. It’s my idea, and I hope we can pull it off because won’t that be the coolest thing ever?

OK, here are the before and after photos (the first one goes back to the prior owners, just for effect):


Photo from prior owners. See that chandelier? You’ll see it again….

before painting3

Phase 1. Walls painted beige and brown, which was OK. Just OK.

before painting2

Phase 1. We decided not to cover the window because we have such a beautiful view out back, and we don’t have any houses directly behind us.

painting sea salt and white dove

Let the transformation begin!


Not bad, eh? We found those plaster pillars in the foreground at our fave store: Painesville Antique & Craft Co-op. They now look like they’re part of the entry framing, and they double as tables for the two leather swivel chairs.


So clean and fresh. We call the look “watery,” which prompted us to get the Big Fish switchplate, which you’ll see below.


The mirror used to be gold until I spray painted it silver. The Big Fish switchplate lives right next to the mirror. And bet you’re wondering which artist painted that amazing abstract piece above the couch (from Metro Home in Mentor): it’s an Arkady original.


The Big Fish switchplate! Pewter, by artist Leandra Drumm, from Don Drumm Gallery in Akron.


We often eat our meals right here. I picked up the pewter candlestick from a metalworks shop, owned and run by women, when I was in Christiania, the hippie neighborhood in Copenhagen, with my friend Adrienne.


Mom drew this portrait.  Hard to get a good photo of it without the glare. Reminds me of the Old Man and the Sea, a perfect fit for our “watery” room!


There’s my funky table. Arkady had the rug in storage, and it’s now found the perfect home. Whoa, this photo makes me dizzy.

Hope you enjoyed this first design/decor post. As always, we welcome your comments/questions, and thanks for reading!

3 thoughts on “From OK to Wow: Room Makeover

  1. Pingback: The Elegant Laundry Room | Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion & Design

  2. It is so calming… and your bay is so beautiful. I was just going to comment about the pewter candle holder and saw the caption 🙂 It looks fab with your decor! Ah Copenhagen…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s