Splurge & steal: vintage chic living room

Written by erinn valencich
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A series from eHow UK Home

Splurge & steal: vintage chic living room
I love how the emerald green chairs make such a statement in this room. Paired with a soft blue-green wall and coordinating drapery, the colours actually glow together. (Erinn Valencich)

With a subtle infusion of colour, a few modern elements and patterns with personality, this drab living room came alive.

Family heirlooms and a touch of modern glamour turned this quaint country living room into a vintage chic living space.

Project background

This living room was full of family heirlooms and antiques, but looked dated and lacked a fresh, vibrant sensibility. The simple home needed everything from a new floor to windows and doors. With a subtle infusion of colour, a few modern elements and patterns with personality, this drab living room came alive.

How we did it: major pieces

Since this country home had been remodeled many times, and none of them good attempts, the structure had many different characteristics working against each other. One of the main updates this room needed was the addition of a new floor. The old floor had been covered with tile and was, sorry to say, ugly. While replacing a floor may sound expensive and quite messy, it can be quite the opposite experience when working with the correct material for the project. I chose to use a high quality laminate from Quick-Step's Veresque collection. It gives the most realistic hardwood floor look. I like this product for quick remodels because it can be installed easily over an existing floor and is very well-priced. The updated floor gave the room an entirely new look and a clean slate with which to design our furniture layout.

The family had the home loaded with antiques, some fine quality and worth keeping; some junkyard finds that had seen better days. Pieces passed down from generations had lost their luster but were still being held on to, causing the good pieces to get lost in the shuffle. To create the old-meets-new look we were going for in this living room required careful editing of their current "collection" paired with the modern updates the young family living there desired. One of the first things I noted to keep was the pair of wing back chairs. They had been well-loved, which also meant "well-worn," leaving them in desperate need of a facelift. The client had some vintage emerald green fabric from her grandmother that she loved, but had no idea what to do with - its subtle damask pattern was a perfect update for the armchairs! The frames sparkled with a coat of shiny black lacquer and silver nail heads replaced the tarnished gold around the frame.

With the green chairs as a centrepiece in the room, I next chose my wall colour and drapery silk. I wanted something soft, with just enough colour to shine from behind the black and gold vintage frames we had for the walls, but not too bright as to overpower the room and compete with the emerald chairs.

How we did it: drapery

Splurge & steal: vintage chic living room
The traditional fireplace came alive with a coat of black paint and touches of gold. To make it more contemporary, I paired a graphic mirror and just a few objects d'art to round out the display. (Erinn Valencich)

Since the room was going to err on the busier side, given all the frames and accessories we had planned, I wanted to keep the drapery monochromatic. I chose a silk in a similar shade to the paint, but with a touch more colour. After all, things don't need to match perfectly; they just need to flow together. When it comes to colour, contrast is interesting. I had the £5/metre ($8/yard) silk sewn at a local shop for the cost of pre-made drapery panels from the standard issue retailers. Custom drapery can often be the same cost as boring pre-made panels -- if you buy the right material. Silks are easy to come by for under £7/metre ($10/yard) at most big fabric stores or online.

How we did it: final pieces

Splurge & steal: vintage chic living room
Pillows are a great way to bring pattern and fun into a space. The mixture gives the appearance of being collected over time, and allows new and old pieces to work together. (Erinn Valencich)

With the walls, drapery and accent chairs in place, it was time to focus on the other main furniture items in the room. I loved this Asian-inspired daybed and felt it was the perfect casual compliment to the traditional and more formal, wing-back chairs. Pushed against a wall and filled with pillows, daybeds are tremendously inviting when used in place of a sofa. To make this comfortable, it needs to be filled with pillows. Starting with white 26" squares in the back, I worked my way forward filling the daybed with 24" ivory silk pillows and a few 18" chocolate silk pillows to work as the base. I then broke out my favourites - a few patterns with punch for the front. To contrast the sweetness of the space, I wanted to add a graphic masculine touch. The green and cream zig-zag pillow not only brought in a bit of colour, but the longer shape worked well to contrast the arrangement of square pillows.

The couple had a great pair of black lacquer end tables that flanked the daybed perfectly. The Asian flair really went well with the daybed, and I loved the dark black against the pale blue wall. Since all three of those pieces looked quite traditional together, I knew that the coffee table needed to be modern to break up the scene. I spotted this great white lacquered piece and instantly knew it was the perfect touch. The crisp white colour made the room come alive. Had I gone with gold or silver, the coffee table would have been lost against the neutral linen on the daybed and looked too "old." The white modern shape gives the entire room a lift.

This older home didn't have any electrical in the ceiling, so we added a location for a chandelier in the centre of the room to add drama and elegance, as well as recessed lights throughout. Having the right lighting not only increases the beauty of a room, it adds to the function as well. You want to have multiple light sources in a room, and the two table lamps flanking the daybed not only add a metallic sparkle with their brushed gold bases, but also a warm glow.

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