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    Everything in this slideshow

    • Add Personality

      Before: Linda Thornburgh's living room lacked warmth and personality. She wanted a space that was more formal than the family room but comfy enough for family gatherings.

    • Window Space

      During: Designer Jodi Mensing Harris's first idea was to utilize the large picture window for a cozy window seat.

      The window seat was built off-site to fit the space then installed with modifications for window hardware.

    • Perfect Conversation

      After: The window seat now offers a cozy perch for reading or conversation and provides much needed storage space.

    • Softer Side

      The window seat is plumped with lots of pillows and a thick cushion. A casual shade diffuses light in daytime and provides privacy at night.

    • Personalize It!

      A pair of silhouette pillows featuring the profiles of Linda's two sons adds a personal element to the nook.

    • Accent a Wall

      A formerly bare wall comes alive with family photos, personal collections, and casual furnishings. The traditional elements of the accent pieces, such as turned legs on the tables and arched opening on the bookcase, create a balance with the more contemporary seating pieces.

    • Decorative Plates

      Painting the back of the bookcase in a contrasting color sets off displayed objects. The decorative leaf plate is made with special decal paper.

    • Wall Quote

      Linda Thornburgh chose the wall quote from among several favorites. She ordered a custom application form Wonderful Graffiti after determining the size she wanted and choosing the colors and font. When the quote arrived, Linda unrolled it and laid it out on the floor with the photos she planned to use to double-check the arrangement.

    • Application

      When she was pleased with the arrangement Linda prepared the quote following the manufacturer's instructions. First she rubbed over the letters on a hard surface with the burnisher (Linda used a credit card). Then she positioned the quote sheet on the wall and taped it in place along the sheet's top edge, checking the position of the bottom of the text line with a level. Using the tape as a hinge Linda flipped the sheet up and carefully removed the backing paper. Then, using her hand she smoothed the quote onto the wall.

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      Peel the Paper

      Linda used her credit card burnisher to firmly rub over the entire surface of the top paper to adhere the letters onto the wall. Finally, she slowly peeled off the top paper at a sharp angle. When the application was complete, she hung the framed photos around the quote as planned.

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      Quotes for the Family

      The completed quote provides a theme and holds the grouping of family photos together.

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      Don't Waste Space

      Before: Prior to the makeover, this corner of the living room was just wasted space. Jodi Mensing Harris had an idea to liven up the space and create a family activity zone. But first she wanted a way to visually set the space apart from the rest of the room.

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      Stenciling a Screen

      Su Feston, a stencil instructor at the Chicago Institute of Fine Finishes, prepares the walls for a damask pattern that would be painted on both walls of the corner to create a screen effect.

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      Control the Color

      Su mixes her materials on site to make sure the colors and finishes are just right for the space. She prefers to work on an eggshell finish because it allows more control than flat or gloss sheens.

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      Stenciling Brush

      Stenciler Kathy Sayers applies the first layer of color to the stencil. Su and Kathy recommend using a stiff dry brush for pouncing the color to prevent bleeding under the stencil: Dip brushes vertically into paint medium, just enough to wet the bristles, then swirl and dab on an absorbent paper towel until most of the paint has been removed from the brush.

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      Brighten Up

      The elegant oversized damask stencil mimics a screen and helps define the game-table area, separating it from the rest of the room. To brighten the space, Mensing Harris installed a large pendant lamp.

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      Sturdy Storage

      By investing just a few dollars, this old castoff becomes a storage treasure in Linda Thornburgh's new room. When you're considering an old piece for resue, look for charming lines and sturdy construction.

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      Concealer

      To refurbish the old bureau, wood filler conceals dings and holes from the old drawer pulls. A lot of sanding provided a smooth finish for the pretty top coats and stencil work.

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