Saturday, November 7, 2009

Carolyn's Family Room Redesign

Hello! I thought I'd share one of my consultations today, since the guest bathroom won't be ready for another close up 'til tomorrow.

A while back I got a letter from Carolyn. She purchased one of my Photo Consultations and wanted my advice on how to re-work her family room using items she already had. She was looking for some fresh, easy-to-implement ideas to help pretty up the place pronto!

Here's an except from the letter she sent me....

Dear Layla,

I think I've arrived at a furniture arrangement that I'm happy with, but that leaves me with a HUGE blank wall. And for the life of me, I can't figure out what to do with it.

Most of the pieces in the room are inherited (sofa, hutch, sofa table, large chest, mirror). I'm a huge fan of using what has been in our families. That's how I ended up with a blue sofa, and a chair & ottoman that are mostly green. (we bought the chair/ottoman before inheriting the sofa) I've tried to pull the blue throughout the room, and it's ok- but I think some color on the walls would really help. And perhaps either new window treatments or something to spiff up of the current ones would help as well. I threw together the things in the hutch using items I already had. I'm also open to suggestions here.


So keeping all of her requests in mind, I emailed her a slew of suggestions and put together the following photo drawing for her to use as inspiration to get her creative (re-design) juices flowing...

(hover your mouse back and forth over the photo to see my suggestions)

A few days after I sent my email to her, she sent me this updated photo of the room:

She said she plans to continue to add things to the room over time, but boy did she do a great job of shopping the house in a hurry, eh? :-)

I asked Carolyn if she would send me some more updated photos of the room so I could share her "Before's and Now's" here on our blog. She said yes, and was sweet enough to send over the ones shown below.

In my consultation, I suggested she try swapping the large chest that was up against the wall between the windows with the smaller-scale table behind the sofa. Considering the width of the back of the sofa, and the width of the wall space between the two windows, I thought it might be nice to switch the two pieces.



I also thought she might try placing a large mirror over the fireplace and a grouping of smaller, framed prints above the piece of furniture to the left of the fireplace.
Carolyn made the switcheroo, and here's how it looks now...

Over on the other side of the room, for a little contrast, I suggested that she use a bunch of lighter-colored items inside the dark wood, corner hutch. I also suggested that she try using some books as "lifts" to create more visual interest. Lastly, I suggested using baskets to add some texture and offer a little hidden storage. (I keep extra light bulbs, candles and small extension cords in the baskets in our living room!) Here's what Carolyn came up with...



I love that she was able to incorporate things from around her home into what turned out to be a dashing little display of accessories here. I also like how she staggered similar-shaped/colored items from one side of each shelf to another.

(Click on this photo to see what I mean)

Here are some more shots of the room that Carolyn sent me...

Before, the large chest between the two windows felt a little too big...

Now, the drop leaf table feels just right!

She used a collection of things she found around the house on top of it...

She decked out the top of the large chest, shown here in its new location, with a variety of recycled goodies too...

She even already had a monogrammed white pillow to use on the side chair, just like in my drawing!

I also had the pleasure of helping Carolyn with her kitchen, so if you'd like to read/see more about that room, stop by her blog, "Lettuce Be Glad".

I'm so honored everytime someone allows me the opportunity of collaborating with them on their personal spaces. This particular consultation really spoke the re-purposer in me. When Carolyn first contacted me, I could immediately relate to her request to work with a lot of the things she already owned. Re-doing our house on an almost non-existent budget has become a way of life since Kevin and I left our small, but stable, paychecks to chase our dreams last year. We knew it was risky, but we were compelled to follow our hearts nonetheless.
Since then, a few things have worked out, and a few things have not. And let's just say the things that have not have made life...uh....interesting around these parts as far as finances go. (You may have noticed that Kevin is now at home more than he is on the road touring, and you will soon notice that Lettered Cottage Home will be closing it's virtual doors.)
The honest truth is, without our Sponsors, a handful of new clients, and our True Value gift card, there may not be a whole lot to even blog about. It's not fun to think about, but like they say, sometimes the going gets tough. If you are going through something similar, and I know there are a lot of people out there who are, our hearts go out to you. For me, writing about our experiences here at TLC has been very therapeutic this past year. There's nothing like having a great group of great online friends with similar interests to bond with! :-) So we'll continue to blog our little hearts out, and share as many shoestring budget-friendly decorating tips and tricks as we can think of along the way. Our hope is to inspire, and to be inspired in the process.

Hey! Speaking of inspiration, stay tuned for some updated photos of the guest bathroom tomorrow. The built-in shelves are coming along great, and with a little bit of (okay, maybe a lot-tle bit of) caulk, our guests will never know they weren't built by a professional! Ha! :-)


Wanna hang plates on your wall like Carolyn did? Check out these incredible invisible plate hangers from!


geri said...

Love the re-design. You have helped another person to see a different take on their surroundings and things they love. You also have given a breath of life to some items that may have been on their way out.
I think you and Kevin offer so much on your blog. I am not just talking about the great ideas and the great way you know how to make "pretty" on a very low budget. I am talking about sharing your life and trials and tribulatins. I am talking about sharing who you are as people and a couple who laughs and loves and stuggles like the rest of us.
I hope you will continue to do virual consultations,redesigns and spreading your cheer through your words, videos and every day adventures.
You are definately a SILVER LINING in todays ups and downs.
I hope you will continue to share all your talents and fun selves with all of your friends that follow you daily.
Prayers and warmest wishes always.

Lettered Cottage said...

Thank you Geri. Your words are so uplifting and encouraging. We always look forward to hearing from you...your'e such a great writer! You should start a blog.
We'd never miss one of your posts!

Kevin and Layla :-)

The Old Painted Cottage said...

Beautiful words, spoken from the heart my friend. With every new post you write, you continually take my breath away.

Thank you for all that you do for us.


The P*dunc's said...

you are a rock star.

i look forward to your posts and am quite giddy when I see a new one.

sara@augustfields said...

layla...this is a great consult. i really enjoy seeing how someone can make such a difference to a room just by rearranging and adding a few details! you did a great job with the inspiration and kudos to the client for such great implementation. :)

Lauren said...

looks beautiful & you all did such a great job!! love that you were able to repurpose so much & i'm sure carolyn did too!

just hang in there and more good things will come!! you guys are doing an amazing job & just keep going!!! i SO know where you're at right now.

big hug & keep it up!!


Wendy @ The Shabby Nest said...

Oh Layla...Don't I know about the tight budget thing. But I think chasing your dreams is a great thing to do...especially when you have the opportunity. So hang in there...with your talent and drive, I know you have great things ahead!

Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary said...

This is AMAZING! You have a real GIFT!!

I'm really new to your blog, but I love what you guys are doing. Not just your talent for all things DIY, but also for your guts to take a risk for what you love. Hope things turn around soon!

Hopeful Housewife said...

Love the redesign! You took an everyday living room (her before is what I imagine most of America has) and made it absolutley fabulous! Like "come over and look at my stylish home" fabulous!!!

Tera said...

Hello Layla (and Kevin too). I have only commented a few times but I read each and every post (and my husband is impressed with your videos...hee hee...I joke with him about how KEVIN has a smile on his face while HE'S working on home improvement projects...hee husband is very impressed with that...LOL). Thank you for sharing with all of us. Times are indeed tough...we are down almost the equivalent of a full time income every's not easy and times are tough. We can relate. I know that it sounds so cliche but hang in there. I am SO hoping to be able to request a consultation at some point...our living room and adjoining dining room need a lift and we want your help!!! Hugs to you both. Praying that you will have what you need for each new day. Jason and Tera

Aura said...

I love what you said at the end, Layla. How inspiring!

Kate said...

I just wanted to say that I love reading your blog and you've given me so many good ideas and so much inspiration. As a fairly recent graduate, a newlywed, and a one-income household (my husband has yet to find a job since he graduated almost two years ago), I've been looking for lots of (very) inexpensive ways to turn our apartment into a home. Your blog has given me ideas of how to use random things we already had and that lots of wonderful things can be found in thrift stores. I wanted to thank you for all your ideas and projects. I hope things work out better (money-wise) in the near future!

candy haymon said...

i read your blog and drool, laugh, and drool some more! you both bring such joy and life to this cyber world we live in! i check out blogs often, but i don't (gasp!) communicate with the real people who write the blogs. however, i have to respond to this post. yes, we are all going through challenges these days. i'm saddened to hear your LCH is closing its doors. i want you to know i began praying for you guys a few days ago for some reason. now i understand why...and i'll keep praying. these are days when our roots can grow deep and our trust bears new fruit. may blessings of peace be yours on the journey.

Funky Junk Interiors said...

Great consult Layla!

And I hear you on the other matters of the heart. I'm redoing my bedroom wishing I had 'better' stuff to work with, but I don't. So creative I will get once again!

And honestly? My best stuff has come from having no funds to buy new stuff with. One thing the economy cannot take away from us is our creativity. :)

Wishing you two the best!

Funky Junk Interiors

carolyn said...

Layla- I am so blown away by your post! You're consultation and encouragement along the way were so genuine and exactly what I needed. I adore my room now.

I had so much fun looking at my "stuff" in new ways and showing off things that were hiding in boxes and drawers. You've got such a gift and I'm so thankful that you're sharing it with all of us.

Thank you too for your honesty- and for reminding us all that there are real lives behind the blogs.

Many hugs!

Linden Townhouse said...

I have been a faithful follower of your blog from the beginning. I do hope you will stay encouraged. Often, these trials are just for a season to refine us! Your cheerful outlook has always lifed me.

Loved this consultation. My favorite suggestion that you made was putting that glorious trunk behind the sofa as a sofa "table." It's stunning there!

whatthevita said...

you inspire me with every post you write. thank you for continuing to write in the midst of these tough times :)

Katie Lewis said...

Having just moved into a 1940's home with a limited military salary budget and five kiddos, I completely understand your fears and trials this year. I can only say thank you for not allowing it to stop your creativity and dreaming and for sharing it with all of us so we can make our homes what we want them to be with whatever funds we may have available! Hoping the road gets easier for you two and everyone else that may be struggling right now..

Brynwood Needleworks said...

I love the room redecorating. It really helps to see all the photos to get a good idea of the before and afters. Thanks!
Also, I have those new dish hangers. I absolutely love them. No more metal "feet" sticking out on the plates from the old hangers! You just have to make sure you follow the instructions, and don't rush the drying process so they're thoroughly secure before hanging.

So Not Martha said...

I am so sorry to hear that you are closing Lettered Cottage Home. Maybe one day you can re-open??

I love the re-do you did, and it has inspired me. I too have a big blank wall in my living room and I love your ideas. I already have many black frames and two big black floating shelves, so I think I can re-create your look for next to nothing.

I am broke too- I know how frustrating it can be to have a million projects on the brain and all that is standing in the way is $$$$.

I love your blog! Keep your chin up!

The Flying Bee said...


Just want to let you know how much I enjoy reading your blog. You and Kevin are such an inspiration! You both represent most of us out there....we all want to make our homes beautiful and most of us are on a budget! Thank you for taking the time to share with all of us and showing us it CAN be done...with a little hard work and a great attitude, even if you don't have a ton of cash! Thank you, thank you!

Take care,

twinmommydiva said...

Girl, just keep on being a blessing to others and you in turn will be blessed. There's nothing better to do in life than to do what makes your heart sing! Like Design! This is just a snapshot in time and one day you'll look back and remember how incredibly 'creative' you guys were with your desins in those lean years! I'll be "purchasing" a consultation here soon!
you're very talented!

Ele at abitofpinkheaven said...

Nice work. Both of you! Finding things around the house is the best way to decorate. I always look forward to your suggestions and projects. IF only the time spent blogging paid.....ah....that would be the life!

Carla said...

great design! again. I love this blog and you guys. I am so excited when I see that you have anew post to read.
Hang in there I am sure there are great opportunities right around the corner for the two of you.

4kids said...

I love your blog! It has become a daily stop for me. You have inspired me. I wish I had your guts though. I am still debating about painting my kitchen cabinets black. I do not like the current ones, but just a little nervous to take the plunge. I really enjoy seeing what you and Kevin will do next. I to have my own "Kevin", and my husband's name is really Kevin! I am glad he is willing to try things in the house. Looking forward to seeing your talents shine tomorrow!

Heather Lameda said...

Amazing job on the consultation! It's so helpful just seeing the little suggestions that you make to others in their journey towards the perfect space. Not only that, but seeing what you and Kevin have done with your house is enough to make me want to visit flea markets, little dive stores, and even stopping to pick up a piece of furniture someone's written off as "junk" and left by the road. These are the reasons why it saddens me to hear that you may be closing the blog. Would you still write every now and again? Or take down the blog for good? I hope all works out in the end and please remember that you two could write about the art of correctly hammering a nail into the wall and those who truly love your blog will enjoy every second of the reading material :) On a side note, I showed the picture that you posted of your husband's gold record to mine and we both had a little freak out moment at the computer. Yeah, we saw a show of his at Springfest in Pensacola, FL, a few years back. Note from the two of us: Your music is amazing and keep doing what the both of you do best. Inspiring.

mkelton24 said...

Ok, this is it- I AM SOLD! You are not real, right? No one can be that cute, likable, and talented!
The room looks beautiful and I can't wait to get started in my fixer-upper! I looked at your consultations page and saw a lovely kitchen redo! My 1949 kitchen has much lacking. The green countertop, back splash, cabinets and walls may have been killer in the 50's, but they are just killing me now! Wish you could work your majic on my kitchen!

The Keltons Cozy Cottage

Tiffany Larson said...

Hi Layla,

Thanks for your honesty! 2009 has been a challenging year for our family as well. We are all looking forward to a NEW year! I LOVE your blog, I check in every day just to see the new projects you are working on. You are always providing me inspiration for our home. Thank you!

Alison Gibbs said...

Hi Layla, love the work you did on carolyn's room.
Life has challenged so many of us over the last 12 months or so - job retrenchments, no work for months..arghhh.. oh well it is amazing how things work out. We all make the most of what we have at the time.
Life goes on and we become stronger for it!!

stacey said...

Kiddos, you both have such great talent and energy. Hold on tight to each other and keep the faith. I believe that all the enjoyment and inspiration you give to others will come back to you.

Lynn from For Love or Funny said...

I'm so sorry to hear that Kevin isn't touring with his band as much as before. He must miss the music. I tell you what, I bet there are TONS of people nearby who would love for him to do some work in their homes...he's become an expert carpenter in my book!

I LOVE your blog, your shoe-string ideas, you positive outlook, and your sense of humor. Keep it coming! I'm addicted. :)

My name is PJ. said...

Love your redesign, but I love ALL of your redesigns! Carolyn has a decorator's eye, as evidenced by the way she redecorated her hutch shelves and her ability to pull together new vignettes. Job well done ladies!

Kevin and Layla, this IS the time in your lives to chase your dreams! Keep on keepin' on! You're both so talented and this blog is so much fun to read!

Twice Remembered said...

Layla, I'm amazed everytime {amazed, but not surprised!} at your decorating genius and how you can pull things together so nicely. I have a hard enough time with my own space so I really admire anyone that can tackle others' spaces - and without even seeing the spaces in person! Keep up the great work!

I am so sorry to hear about Lettered Cottage Home:( I didn't get to shop there yet {same here with finances} but I know in just the right time, you'll be able to open the doors again or pursue something you love even more. Your chin up attitude is to be imitated and I'm sure you know that things always work out in one way or the other. Hang in there, girlie - we'll be reading even if you write about how fast or slow your grass is growing!

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams...

Susie from Bienvenue said...

Hi Miss Layla! I miss our email chats...If you need any help at all at the 7oo Club just call me. I wouldnt mind a bit...hehe. Im so exicited for the both of you and cant wait to see what yall will be up too!

MilkMaid said...

I KNOW I'm not the only fan of yours that would tune in to watch you and Kevin work your magic in an old house...say like.....the one you posted a few weeks ago? ALA Sarah Richardson on HGTV...for real people!

Chin up, I just know that there are good things to come from both of you....♥

keepupwiththejoneses said...

Layla, I am a HUGE fan of yours and am so excited to click on your blog every day to see what's new. I am especially excited when you show us how to make so much out of things we already have or can get for super-cheap!! I can relate to your struggles-- we purchased a MAJOR fixer-upper (which is truly our dream home, but needs a huge amount of work) two years ago and, because of a series of financial setbacks, have had to put most of our renovation plans on hold, save for what we can do ourselves with a budget of basically zero. Plus, we both work full time and have two little girls, so we have no time to do anything! : ) There are many, many days that I just want to cry and give it all up. It is so hard to be patient and trust that one day, we can realize our dreams for our home. Knowing that you are making your dreams a reality uplifts my heart.

Honestly-- anyone with an open checkbook can go out and fill a rooom with lovely things. What you do-- create beauty for next-to-nothing-- is so much more special. Most of all, your designs always say "home."

Keep it up-- we are ALL rooting for you!!!

TRICIA @ The Zoo said...

Hi Layla and Kevin.
I always amazes me that you have such vision. The ability to share that with your readers and clients is truly a gift. Thank you for sharing it with all of us. I wish you both nothing but the best. Times are tough all over. It is indeed reassuring to know that our bloggy friends are "making it work" right along with us.

Have a blessed week.

Amber @ Two Nuts in a Shell said...

Great job Layla! I think attention should also be given to the new paint job which did WONDERS for that room! I might have to ask Hubby for a "gift certificate" for one of your consultations. You'd have quite a job on your hands since we live in military housing and can do very little to the structure itself! ;)

Aly sun said...

I am also a budget decorator. Amazing what you can do with a little inspiration and shopping in your own home. I really loved reading this post. Your design is beautiful.

PS I've also come to the necessary conclusion that decorating wouldn't be as fun if I could buy whatever I want. It keeps me creative. THanks for the always-good ideas.

lizzy said...

loved this!
it is very inspiring to see REAL LIFE design on a budget. I love your ideas! Thanks for helping me with my home's exterior, we are in a budget crisis too, but will send you pictures once we get it done.... please don't leave the blogging scene!

mistymaygrey said...

Kevin and Layla,
You're blog is just wonderful. I'm always excited to see what you post!
This feature with the shoestring budget is perfect for so many people right now. Right on the Mark!
You are both an inspiration for taking the leap and following your dreams. Not an easy thing to do. Kudos to you both! keep on inspiring us all!!
Love to read your blog and see all of your beautiful transformations. Keep it up and keep your chin up too. Good things will come of it!
Thank you for all the wonderful posts so far!!!

Shari Sunday said...

I love the redesign and I love that you work WITH people instead of just doing your own thing as many designers on TV do. I have been following your blog for quite a while now and I admire you even more knowing the ups and down you are going through. You and Kevin are creating your own job descriptions and I am pulling for your success as if they were my own. I'm trying to find my own niche and you are an inspiration in so many ways. Hang in there.

Shari Sunday said...

I love the redesign and I love that you work WITH people instead of just doing your own thing as many designers on TV do. I have been following your blog for quite a while now and I admire you even more knowing the ups and down you are going through. You and Kevin are creating your own job descriptions and I am pulling for your success as if they were my own. I'm trying to find my own niche and you are an inspiration in so many ways. Hang in there.

Jacci said...

Great work, both of you!!! Layla, good eye, girl. You nailed those suggestions spot on.

It look great, Carolyn!! You should really be proud of your work, and of course, pleased with Layla's perfect suggestions :) It's a lovely room. That close shot of the fireplace and the bureau beside it could be in a magazine. How fun for you!!!


Derek said...

I have enjoyed reading your blog almost daily since I discovered it! I love so many of your ideas and they have inspired me to even try some of them in our new house! Your kitchen was perfect insperation to me and I have even painted my walls the same color, though I am going to paint the cabints green instead of black.
Thanks for all of your great tips and ideas. It's helpfull to see every day people doing stuff that would often seem unatainable to us "normal" folks. I hope that there will be a way to keep things going for you all! Thanks again for having so much to offer and being a such a bright spot on the internet! Jill (writing from my husbands email)

sanctuaryhome said...


Thank you for this post today. As a fellow interior designer, I needed the reminder that we reinvent ourselves, when that doesn't work out as well as we had hoped, we re-reinvent ourselves.
Your blog is incredibly inspiring. With all the publicity you have in the works (magazine photo shoots, tv spots), I have no doubt you will have all the success in your dreams!

pk said...

I love all of your suggestions AND the way she implemented them so well. The room feel so much cozier and pulled together. Excellent job, as always! :-) said...

nice work!

I'm with Geri ;-)


stylefyles said...

I really love the wall color and the mirror over the mantle...I just recently discovered how one or two simple changes can completely turn a room on it's head, even if it's just a simple manipulation of furniture. Really love this post!

Cindy Logan said...

I am sorry to hear that things are rough right now. But I know that things are looking up for you. Your blog is my favorite and you have a great talent that I am sure will be recognized. I only see good things happening for you and Kevin. Keep your chin up and keep designing and inspiring!!!

katherinhanson said...

Thanks for sharing that part of your life which isn't easy right now. I really appreciate it. Many of us are in the same boat, struggling after being laid off, wondering when things will get better... well, you know. I feel it makes for a better blog when you let the readers see the whole story, not just the bright and shiny parts.

But, I do have to say, with much confidence, that I am certain, if you guys can hold on, someone out there will realize how entertaining and loveable you both are and will quickly grab you up for some sort of show. Truly!

You guys have something special!!

Thanks for keeping it real!

Denise said...

Love this post for many reasons, but mostly because Carolyn is a dear friend of mine! Love your suggestions and she did a great job finding things to go with them...I am so not good at that!

Thanks Layla for your continued inspiration!

Missy in Texas said...

Well done Carolyn and Layla. The "after" is such a huge improvement. The room looks much more balanced and inviting.

kaper54 said...

Layla....I love that redo GREAT JOB !!!

I am also like a little kid moving my mouse back and forth for the reveal !!! That is so cool... how do you do that ???

All the best,
Kathy :)

The DIY Show Off said...

I love the redesign you did for Carolyn. It seems easier to design a space with all new things but so real-life to see a beautiful transformation with things we already own or DIY projects. Great job.

I think that you have amazing talent and that good things are going to continue to come your way. Hang in there. There isn't a blogger I know of who isn't inspired by the beauty you create and the real, sweet person that you are.

I wish you two the best of luck. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. ((hugs))

Sandy said...

Brilliant. Just brilliant.
Always love it when I visit here, I'm inspired!


Crafty Niche said...

I love your consultation and the transformation! I understand about being on a budget. We are a one income family and I had gotten bitten by the decorating bug right before my son was born. I wanted to repaint and redecorate, but I was too exhausted with my very active 2 going on 3 year old and being very pregnant. Since my son was born almost 15 months ago, I've very slowly started working on my huge home improvement project. I love to read about your projects on a budget and I'm copying some of your ideas! In the kitchen I am going to repaint Sherwin Williams' Rice Grain (at Lowe's of course) and use drop cloth curtains in my bedroom. I also want to do beadboard in my kitchen around the chair rail and backsplash. Keep up the great work and I look forward to reading your blog each day. :)

Bryan, Jen, Noah and Kiki too! said...

Aloha Kevin & Layla! Thank you so much for keeping your blog real & simple, and for including your readers in your ups & your downs. We all go through them and I can definitely appreciate your situation. Bloggers like you help me to remember the positives and to always smile! I look forward to reading your posts every day, all the way over here across the Pacific! ;) xo

Catherine said...

Wow, this was inspirational. I keep thinking I can't make our house work with what we have when I'm not thinking I just need better vision. Thank you.

JamaGenie said...

What an eye you have, Layla! Often making a room work is simply moving a few pieces around. I re-did a friend's living room a few months ago, using pieces already in the house, and the transformation was amazing. The only new thing she bought was a throw pillow for the sofa.