A Living and Dining Room Makeover

stephen portait
See how Better Homes and Gardens contributor Stephen Saint-Onge uses soft color and updated furniture to give these rooms versatility and a polished look.

Outdated Before

Somewhere in the midst of raising three children, the décor in the living room and dining room of this old farmhouse went stale. But with some chic new furniture and interesting color for the wall, designer Stephen Saint-Onge gave these adjoining rooms a pretty lift.

Stephen's Mission: Keep the home's historic charm but bring in a new sense of sophistication with updated furniture and color.

Step 1: Get a Plan

Stephen sat down with the homeowner to get an idea of what she was hoping to get out of the space. He firsts asked his client, "When you think of your dream home, what do you envision?" She had hoped to get the feeling of a cozy flat in Paris -- this inspired Stephen's vision for the makeover.

Step 2: Painting

To unify the spaces Stephen chose two colors that would blend beautifully, a soft green for the living room and a camel color in the dining room.

After: Living Room

Stephen chose sophisticated furniture with a soft modern look, including a small-scale sofa that frees up floor space in the modest room. He also added black accents for a contemporary feel.

Sleek Accessories

Contemporary lamps contrast with the traditional furnishings. The black color gives them presence, but the twiggy design keeps them light. Camel-color drapes bridge the soft color from the adjoining dining room.

Before: Drab Dining Room

The dated, raspberry red walls and simple furnishings were doing nothing for this underutilized room.

In the Round

An expandable round table allows intimate seating yet can seat a larger group, too. The pieces -- upholstered chairs, wood armchair, and roomy dining bench -- combine for a casual feel.

Simple Centerpiece

To add a pop of color to this relatively neutral room, Stephen placed a vase of limes on an orange runner.

Strong Furniture

To tie the rooms together, Stephen chose rich wood furniture and accessories with black touches, like this mirror, throughout both spaces.

Classic Touches

To highlight the home's beautiful millwork, Stephen painted it a subtly contrasting off-white, including this beautiful built-in china hutch.

Lighting Update

Stephen liked the classic look of the dining room light and chose inexpensive black shades for an instant update.


Pottery Barn: Twig Lamps, Draperies
Home depot: Shades for chandelier
Lowes: Rug, Blinds
Universal: Better Homes and Gardens Furniture
Paint: Benjamin Moore

Meet Stephen

Stephen's keen understanding of the homeowner has moved him into the spotlight in recent years through his work on television and in magazines. This understanding, accompanied by his friendly, approachable, and creative style, is making design accessible to everyone -- no matter who they are, where they are, or what their budget may be.

As a husband, father, and homeowner, he understands the needs of the family-focused lifestyle. "I have the same to-do list on my refrigerator that everyone has. There is always something to be to done with our homes and hopefully what I bring to the table will help everyone see the best in their homes," says the designer. He draws upon his background in film and design to help homeowners create a home that truly captures who they are, but at the same time captures a mood they are looking to bring to life that represents their home in the right light. Good home design has the power to change lives.

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