Before and After: A redecorated living room for a young family of four on a budget

First off, here is my PSA to humbly request your time and talents. I am working with American Family Housing to help decorate new shipping container homes for veterans in Midway City, California. We are in need of several donations in the form of fabric, window coverings, art, frames, furniture, pots/pans/kitchenthings, labor, etc. We will be completing everything THIS November/December 2016. Please contact me if you can partner with us in this endeavor!


Recently I helped a young family of four redecorate their living room. My friend is a stay-at-home mom, so she was tired of looking at her living room that had never been fully decorated the way they wanted. Two walls were pistachio and the other two were white. There was a semblance of the beginnings of decorating, but I wanted to help bring a point of view to this Southern California residence. I helped them create a new living room for a mere $140, and they love it! She said, “The other day we were just sitting, silent, just looking and enjoying.” Here are the before-and-afters!

Before: no color, venetian blinds
Before: no color, vertical blinds, one green accent wall



We started off by painting the walls one color so that the small room wouldn’t look so disjointed. We used a light grey color match by Behr at Home Depot. Similar: London Fog by Sherwin Williams or PPG Swirling Smoke.

The sofas definitely needed some fun, colorful pillows. I took four of their existing pillows and covered them with removable pillowcases made of utility duck cloth.

Budget tip: Upholstery fabric can be pretty pricey averaging $20/yard, and with family rooms, you definitely need a sturdy upholstery fabric. Since we were working with a tight budget, I got duck cloth at $7/yd and used Tulip Fabric Markers and fabric paint (tutorials to come) to create a textile design. Duck cloth comes in a variety of colors, but I love the unbleached natural cloth. I created textile designs that weren’t too loud so they wouldn’t tire of it too quickly. These fabric markers are great because it doesn’t need to be heat-set, it leaves the fabric with a smooth hand unlike sometimes when fabric paint is used, and it goes on quickly.

I made this drop cloth rug with the heavy cotton 8×10 drop cloth from Home Depot ($11) and a Tulip Fabric Marker. You’ll want a rug pad to go under it.

I rearranged the books on their bookcase and spray painted their plant pot white. Their 2-year-old had made this lovely piece of art that they had framed, so of course I put it up in this prominent position. We kept the vertical blinds for now, but with the curtains we added, it takes the focus off of the blinds.


One thing that was like at the end of Project Runway when Tim Gunn comes in and says the designers have to make another outfit in three hours is this camera crew decided to come and follow me around all day. “Can you do that a few more times, but slower?” All in all, we had a blast.

I layered the rugs, what do you think?
Before: How do we work with this huge heater?

I love this wall! The loveseat faces this wall, so I’m excited that now they have something lovely to look at besides this heater. I offered to handletter a quote, but my friend said she likes to do that type of stuff, so she both handlettered a beautiful quote as well as made some watercolor art. I’m glad that they have pieces they made around their home that they can be proud of.  The three of us collaborated on making this wall vase with some eucalyptus that I had bought from the farmer’s market and dried in glycerin.


I made some windowpane pillows and got the other three pillows at Big Lots: 2 blue suede and 1 chevron which I covered with a linen hand-painted pillow cover. Tip: I had linen so I made a pillow cover out of it, but word to the wise- linen is not an incredibly strong fabric like duck canvas is.



You won’t believe this- after we discussed redoing their living room, they found this dresser for free! We painted it white and made it their tv console. We used frames and tchotchkes they had around the house to decorate with. I gave them suggestions of what types of pottery and metal art they could buy to decorate the shelf with, moving forward.


There are a few more things in the room that I suggested they do to update it, but  we definitely got the room to look great and pulled-together for their everyday use.

I have a lot more things in the works that I’m really excited about… so y’all come back now, ya hear?!


What are your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s