Living room makeover: 'From beige to blue... I love my cosy room!'

Take a look inside Shelley's beautiful Hague Blue living room...

A dated and dull living room has been made into a cosy sanctuary with lots of blue paint, smart new shutters, a hard-wearing carpet, a classic rug and plenty of accessories
Published: April 19, 2022 at 3:52 pm

By painting all the walls and woodwork in navy and echoing the shade in furniture and accessories, Shelley Dowling has completely transformed her living room.

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Here, she tells us all about her living room makeover experience...

My living room makeover

We moved here three years ago. We were pleased to buy an older property, but we knew it would take a lot of work to get it how we wanted. The living room took a back seat, as we had to concentrate on the galley kitchen and separate dining room.

Shelley's living room before the makeover...
Shelley's living room before the makeover...

We decided to go with a big project, creating one large space with bi-fold doors to the garden. That took a big chunk of the budget and there wasn’t much left for anything else. But last year the living room started to get to me, and the sofa we brought with us had seen better days.

Welcome to my home...

A bit about me I’m Shelley Dowling, an interior designer. I live with my husband, Mark, a music marketing director; my son, Southan, 21; step-daughter, Daisy, 16; and our dog, Harriet. Our home is a Victorian house in Weybridge, Surrey. 

My problem living room I’d had a half-hearted attempt to liven up the boring beige room with patterned wallpaper, after moving in a couple of years ago. But the carpet was past its best and the heavy brown blinds at the window were driving me mad.

How I made it work By being brave and going for my favourite colour everywhere, sorting out the bay window with shutters rather than blinds and adding some elegant accessories.

My favourite part It feels so warm and cosy now and the shutters have made a huge difference. They saved us from having to replace the old windows, as they keep out the draughts and make the windows look so much smarter – both inside and out.

Shelley Dowling

I really couldn’t stand the heavy brown blinds at the window. Bay windows are always difficult to sort out, but the blinds were either up or down, nothing in between. So, we looked at custom-made shutters, which I knew would be the most expensive part of the makeover, but they make such a difference and allow light in while being private.

‘Rather than go mad and pile on the cushions, I spent a long time choosing statement pieces for the sofa that I wouldn’t get bored with. I’d already decided to bring in a soft pink to stand out against the blue, and bought one huge cushion and a couple of velvet ones by Scatter Box with touches of blue’
‘Rather than go mad and pile on the cushions, I spent a long time choosing statement pieces for the sofa that I wouldn’t get bored with. I’d already decided to bring in a soft pink to stand out against the blue, and bought one huge cushion and a couple of velvet ones by Scatter Box with touches of blue’

With the shutters sorted, the wall colour was a matter of debate. I wanted navy blue, which Mark was slightly worried about, but he trusts me.

The stunning sunburst mirror from La Redoute brings in a splash of the metallic touches that Shelley wanted to add around the room, along with new lighting and candlesticks
The stunning sunburst mirror from La Redoute brings in a splash of the metallic touches that Shelley wanted to add around the room, along with new lighting and candlesticks

Buying the shutters meant an expensive new sofa was off the menu, but trawling through eBay, I found a lovely navy-blue velvet one that has barely been used and came with a matching footstool. It was like a sign to go ahead with the blue walls. A rug with blue tones, metallic touches and high-street accessories have helped make it the space that we dreamed of.

My style advice

Blend radiators in

‘We changed the dull radiator that was in this space for a more Victorian-looking metal one a couple of years ago. Although it was in tune with the style of the house, it still didn’t go with the living room’s scheme.

Hague blue radiator

‘Rather than let it stand out and catch the eye, we painted it in the same blue as the walls for a more cohesive style. It helps make the room feel even cosier.’

Choose themed artwork

‘I love pictures of animals and insects and I had several around the house in other rooms and a couple in the back of the wardrobe. I got them all together and decided to put together a gallery wall above the sofa.

Hague Blue walls and a gallery wall

‘It just goes to show what you can create with what you already have. I also picked out prints featuring blue to echo the colour scheme.’

Celebrate differences

‘The kitchen-diner is light and bright in greys and off-whites, so it’s lovely to have the contrast with our cosy living room. We’ve put in doors to separate the spaces off and these have also been painted in the same colour, Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue, to make it feel like a fourth wall.’

Hague Blue woodwork

Picking a carpet in similar tones to the wooden floor in the kitchen also helps the two spaces to flow.

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Photos by Colin Poole. 

Authors

Stephanie is an interiors journalist

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