Designer Dina Holland doesn’t do blah. She’s transformed countless builder-grade spaces into colorful-filled homes, and this New England living room was no exception. While it boasted some strong architectural details such as ceiling beams and built-ins, they were “lost in a sea of choppiness,” partly due to an ocean of white paint that made no delineation between walls and ceiling. To deliver definition and personality, Holland doused all the woodwork with rich, teal paint and papered the walls a garden party of pattern. The saturated tones created a jumping-off point for this top-to-bottom transformation, while simple white draperies and a soothing rug offered breathing room and balance. “Not everything in a room can be the headlining act,” Holland says, “you need support cast!” Here are her most valuable tricks for transformation.
Wallpaper the Bookshelves
Beforehand, the bookcase was a no man’s land lost in all-white, yet now it’s an artful focal point. Using a botanical, like Schumacher’s Lotus Garden in jade, lends elegant outdoor appeal. When there’s not a tremendous amount of continuous wall space, papering shelves allows for more pattern to create cohesion in a room.
Style Your Shelfies
“With all that pattern going on, you really need to focus on items that will provide blocks of solid color and shape to stand out in the shelves,” Dina says. “Books, sculptural white objects, and baskets provide the right amount of texture and interest without competing with the wallpaper pattern.”
Give a Metallic Spark
Here, brass objects on bookshelves coordinated with the mirror and ceiling light, but Dina says metal is always a good idea. “I love the way adding metallic items in a bookcase reflect light, it’s so important in a dark room like this.”
Get Dramatic with a Paintbrush
Moody paint in darker tones, such as this Benjamin Moore Dark Teal 2053-20, can create a coziness that white paint just can’t. Painting all the trim—crown molding, window frames, baseboard, beams, etc.—instantly unifies a space, elevates it, and creates mood. Adds Dina: “It works every time but only if you commit and go all in.”
Cozy Up the Seating
Once you’ve taken great lengths to set the mood with wallpaper and coordinating paint, make sure the space actually is as cozy as it looks. Choose deep, comfortable seats that people want to gather in and stay awhile.
Make Breathing Space
When color and pattern is at a 10, dial a couple things down for a quieter moment. Here simple white drapes and a neutral rug give a breath, yet each sport a hint of navy to coordinate.