October 1, 2010

Welcome to Designer’s Challenge 101!!

Amanda Burdge at AB Home Interiors had the great idea to have a group of design bloggers come up with a design for a living room using a $6,000 budget.


The idea is to show you that although designers and decorators can’t perform miracles with the budgets we’re given, we can still come up with  pretty good room designs. Hopefully today’s Designer’s Challenge 101 living room posts will inspire you to stretch your budget and your imagination, and maybe even create the living room of your dreams :-)

monique1_thumb1  ELLE Decor: Monique Lhuillier’s living room

Process behind my living room design

Because we don’t have a very good selection of home decor stores here in Ottawa, I’ve done a lot of sourcing for my living room online. When I shop in Ottawa, HomeSense is my go-to store for everything from furniture to accessories to cushions to mirrors. (HS is similar to HomeGoods in the US). The selection varies from week to week, but if you go back enough times, you can usually find what you’re looking for. The prices at HS are anywhere from a few dollars less to half the price of the same items elsewhere. So before buying the items for my living room, I’d check out HS to see if I can find what I’m looking for there.

HS designs

My living room includes pieces ordered from online stores, some great buys from Ikea and HomeSense, and original abstract art from a fantastic Canadian artist. Also, my home owners already have lots of accessories and some artwork, and there are pot lights in the built-ins (Amanda said we’re allowed to make assumptions like that!!), so I don’t need to squeeze everything into the budget :-) I’m definitely going to add an awesome chandelier to the space. And I’ll show you how you can combine expensive pieces with inexpensive pieces and shop from a variety of sources to create a beautiful and cohesive room.

So with no further ado, here’s my $6,000 living room design... I’ve created two spaces in the room — the main seating area close to the fireplace, and a reading area in the nook across from the fireplace wall. This is just a REALLY ROUGH sketch to give you an idea of the furniture and lighting layout.

Paint colours

The colour scheme is grey with teal as the accent colour. It will be used on throw cushions, artwork, a super-sexy reading chair, and the back of the built-ins. (All paint from Sherwin Williams, except Night Tides from CIL.)

  • Walls: 7663 Monorail Silver
  • Ceiling: 6232 Misty
  • Trim, wainscoting, fireplace mantel, built-ins: 7006 Extra White
  • Back of built-ins: 10BG 14/296 Night Tides

paint colours 4 Left to right: 7663 Monorail Silver, 6232 Misty, 7006 Extra White, 10BG 14/296 Night Tides

This isn’t the actual living room, but it gives you an idea of how the colours in the room will work together.

colour scheme 2Colour scheme created with Sherwin Williams Visualizer

Seating area

Purchasing furniture online isn’t ideal, because you can’t sit on it and try it out before you purchase it. And returning an item that’s shipped to you can be complicated. But if you find something online that you love, it could be worth taking a chance!!

Soho Sofa from Z Gallerie. The lines are simple, and the button tufting on the back cushions is a nice detail. The bench seat cushion means nobody has to sit on that annoying crack between the cushions!!

soho-sofa z gallerie

Metropolitan console table from Z Gallerie. Sleek and sexy, just like the sofa. It will hold a pair of lamps and some accessories.

metropolitan-console-table z gallerie

Two Sweep arm leather chairs from West Elm. The curved lines of the chair balance the straight & square lines of the sofa nicely. The nailhead trim is a great detail that adds some sparkle.

sweep arm leather chair west elm

Turquoise ceramic drum stool from Lamps Plus. This gorgeous turquoise stool will sit between the two arm chairs and provide the perfect spot to put down a drink.

turquoise ceramic drum stool lampsplus

Bridge Coffee + Side Table from West Elm. This two-part coffee table provides more flexibility than a typical coffee table. The moveable “bridge” section can be positioned wherever it’s needed, or can be removed altogether. The light natural wood is a nice contrast to the darker woods in the room, and adds an element of warmth and nature.

bridge coffee table west elm

Maskros PS chandelier from Ikea. It’s big, it’s bold, it’s funky, and it’s NOT a budget buster!! This 32” super-cool chandelier will make a real statement in the room for less than $100. Can’t go wrong there!! Victoria is using one of these in her client’s space and painting it silver — that could be a cool look, and I just might steal her idea to glam up this living room just a bit more :-)

maskros ikea

Chelsea lamps from Restoration Hardware, purchase similar at HomeSense. A pair of lucite table lamps will sit at either end of the console table behind the sofa.

lamps RH

Customized floor lamp from Lamps Plus. For less than $200, I’ve created a customized floor lamp that will provide light for reading in the nook.floor lamp lamps plusHologram curtain panels in Platinum from Z Gallerie. The colour and pattern work nicely with the other elements in the room.

Chrysanthemum area rug from West Elm. The large flower pattern is contemporary and echoes the large pendant chandelier that will hang above.

crysanthemum rug west elm

Reading nook

Eddie Accent Chair from Z Gallerie. This super-sexy turquoise leather chair inspired the entire design for the room. Two of these beauties would bust the budget, so I’m putting one in the reading nook for a cozy place to curl up with a book.

eddie-accent-chair z gallerie

Wood stump side table from West Elm. Provides a spot to put down a book or a drink. The light natural wood of the stump table ties in the with light wood of the coffee table, uniting the two areas of the room.

tree-stump-table uncrate


Original abstract art from Matt LeBlanc Art. Matt creates beautiful paintings at great price points. If you don’t see what you’re looking for on his web site, he’ll create a custom painting especially for you to your exact requirements.

matt 020

Wire Capiz Sunburst Wall Mirror from Target. This large sunburst mirror is the perfect piece to hang above the fireplace and add sparkle to the room.

sunburst mirror nexttag 80 bucks

Throw cushions and accessories

The budget is just about gone at this point, but luckily the homeowners already own a number of cushions and accessories that we can use in the room. So rather than specifying items, I’m providing sources where they can purchase additional cushions down the road when they have some more money to put into the living room.

Etsy is a great source for handmade cushions and cushion covers. These are just a few that would look great in the living room…

 grey cushiion nena von  trelllis cusion nenavon trellis cushion etsy nenavon Etsy: Nena Von Pillows

teal cushion etsy thehomecentric  teal cushion etsy thehomecentric 2teal cushion thehomecentric

Etsy: The HomeCentric


From Z Gallerie, left to right: Mediterranean, Bukhara, Totem

If the homeowners decide they want to inject some more colour into their living room, all they need to do is replace some of the accessories or throw cushions. The walls are already neutral, and teal looks great with lots of other colours…

night tides night tides night tides night tides chartreuse red orange purple monorail silver monorail silver monorail silver monorail silver

And finally, here’s the storyboard for the room:

storyboard 6

And here’s the pricing breakdown.

  • Turquoise ceramic drum stool: 85.91
  • Soho Sofa: 1,099.00
  • Eddie Accent Chair: 1,199.00
  • Metropolitan Console Table: 349.00
  • Tree stump side table: 199.00
  • Sweep arm accent chair: 599.00 x 2
  • Bridge coffee table + side table: 179.99 + 299.00
  • Maskros PS chandelier: 89.99
  • Hologram Panel – Platinum: 39.95 x 2
  • Chrysanthemum rug: 549.00
  • Painting: 200.00
  • Wire Capiz Sunburst Wall Mirror: 79.99
  • Custom floor lamp: 199.00
  • Table lamps: 69.99 x 2
  • Cushions: Ranging in price from 19.95 to 69.95

GRAND TOTAL: 5,946.76

(Plus the price of cushions, which may or may not put it over 6,000.00!!)

Hmmmm, I guess the price for the paint should be included too. Well, we can tweak things a bit to make the budget work… oh, did I mention that my home owners work for Sherwin Williams?? ;-)

So there you go, a brand new living room from scratch for less than $6,000!! I hope I’ve given you some ideas and inspiration for decorating your own home. And I bet the other Designer’s Challenge 101 participants have lots of other good ideas for you!! Be sure to visit them all and see everyone else’s living room designs:

I’d love to hear what you think about my grey & teal living room. Love it or hate it, don’t be shy, let me know!! And if you like what you see, hey, why not hire me!! I’d love to design a room for you :-)



Ann said...

That is one exciting project...Your living room rocks with the grey and teal color combo inspiration...I'm headed to check out your competition:)

Susan said...


Your room is awesome. Love everything about it. Then you likely knew that I would :) Great job on the blog. We're moving today!

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

Ha! How funny is that; I did gray, too! : ) Although, teal is not my accent color, gray was the first color that came to mind to do this. I love the teal with it! I came in about the same budget wise, too. {Get out of my head, Kelly!}.

You did a great job! I have the same furniture lay-out in mind, except where you have the chair in the corner is where I am picturing my hutch/desk piece. I love all the pieces you picked. I think the sofa is my favorite and I love the throw pillow choices.

Can I ask, Kelly {maybe you could e-mail me} who you are using for your online vision board that you show? I went to Polyvore and did mine, but I'm having a problem getting it over. I also have a site I printed out {that I need to find the paper} that was supposed to be good for this. Thanks! : )

Kat said...

Love it! I am crazy about that turquoise chair, what a find and a great inspiration piece. I love the reading nook - you are a gal after my own heart :) And the lamp - fabulous. Love your color and finish selections, very sophisticated and sleek, with perfect additions of nature and warmth. Beautiful! Kat (Oh, and Matt's artwork is PERFECT)

Sharon said...

The teal accent chair might be a tad too much for much, but everything else I take!

girlaboutOtown said...

FAB. :) And I'm in favour of the chair!

Vanessa@decor happy said...

Love it! Great finds and that painting by Matt is gorgeous. I would certainly hire you!

Maya @ Completely Coastal said...

I can see now, Kelly, how fast that budget is used up. Very elegant!!
We actually bought our white/creme letter sofa online and got a great deal, and it was a good experience. Only that I don't want leather again, haha, too cold!

Your glass floats are included in my today's post!

Have a wonderful weekend!!!

Unknown said...

Oh my - Kelly, your design is fantastic!!! Looks really lovely. I can see why that teal chair quickly became an inspiration piece. :) Your "really rough" sketch looks great to me, too!

Funny - I think we all incorporated a bit of ourselves in this project. Maybe we always do to some degree as designers, but I think when you don't have a "real" client, it's much easier to fill in the blanks with our own sensibilities.

Michelle said...

What a great idea Amanada!!

Your room is so amazing Kelly...I love having the freedom to design without a client to push my creative skills...sometimes that big leather sofa they want to keep creates TOO much of a

The lines of the wing chair are so great!!

I'd hire you :)


Marcus Design said...

I LOVE this room Kelly, the colors and all the furnishings are right up my alley!! I love the grey, and that teal chair is killer. I can't wait to pop over and see what everyone else did, what a fun challenge! You did an amazing job :)

Unknown said...

Kelly you did a magnificent job! I cannot believe how similar but different all these rooms are! Thank-you so much for participating! It is so awesome to see everyones approach to the same room!

traci zeller designs said...

Love!! It's totally fun to see how there are so many similarities in our rooms but that they are completely different at the same time!! I totally should have thought about the pot-lights in the built-ins. ;-)

Tammy@InStitches said...

So glamorous and pretty. The sofa is gorgeous !

Dayka Robinson said...

NICE! I love how your design is so modern & chic, and I definitely see similarities between our designs. The idea of switching out accessories and changing the look/feel of the space is so important (in my opinion), especially in these times. Great job all around!

Decor To Adore said...

You really rose to the challenge!

If you have a moment, please stop by and enter my Fab Fall French Giveaway.

Donna @ Paisley and Perspective said...

I love it Kelly! Especially the teal! I'll have to be upping my trips to HomeSense to get a better selection! And I love how you incorporated Matt's artwork too.

I've decided on teal as the accent colour in my new bedroom, so I'll be checking out some of your etsy finds.

What a great idea for a challenge!

Anonymous said...

It is pretty but I would tire of the bright turquoise quickly and want something more subtle. Even a print may work better and not be too overwhelming. Love the room by Susan Snow, more my style.

Lisa said...

Beautiful room! I love the pops of turquoise you've used especially the turquoise leather chair! And of course I love any wood stump table!

Marie @ MOOT said...

Great idea. I like your color palette. Next challenge should be a teenager's room for $1000 :)

Staci Edwards said...

Gorgeous Kelly... Although, I expected no less.
And don't worry, your guest post email is "in the mail"

wendy said...

sorry, i'm late commenting, i meant to on the day but didn't get there... my husband saw the post (since i left open to return to) and commented 'what a nice room'. Gorgeous!!!

Linda @ theLENNOXX said...

Kelly,I just loved every second of reading this blog post. So beautiful!! I love the color palette you came up with, and all the furnishings are so sexy! Thatæs the best way I can describe it haha! If I lived near by, I'd definitely hire you in a second!

xo Linda

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