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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
‘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.’
‘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.’
Picking a carpet in similar tones to the wooden floor in the kitchen also helps the two spaces to flow.
Photos by Colin Poole.
Stephanie is an interiors journalist