It's easy to envy those perfectly styled rooms featured in the pages of magazines. But it's easier than you might think to bring that look home without spending a fortune. "It's all about the finishing touches," says Grant K. Gibson, a designer based in San Francisco. "This living room is the perfect example of a blank canvas," he says. "The key pieces are neutral, which is just fine, because that palette gives us the freedom to go in any direction we want."
Inspired by a few accents already in the room -- an aqua lamp, a warm orange throw, and a small photograph of pink peonies--Gibson went shopping.
Small money and big ideas took this room from "just fine" to fabulous in an easy-to-achieve makeover.
Color, pattern, and a see-through coffee table turned this brown, boxy room into a vibrant, finished space. The photograph in an oversize frame fills the wall above the table and helps balance the windows. Gibson used a $3 place mat to anchor mementos on the coffee table and grouped white pottery on the end table. "Show off your collections and the things you've treasured over time," Gibson says. "Every room needs good conversation pieces."
1. Toss In Pattern: "What the room needed was a little bit of life," Gibson says. "Pattern and color really give it the personality it deserves." He found fun, inexpensive fabrics at Calico Corners and made simple pillows for the chair and sofa. He also dressed up the existing pillows with a bit of grosgrain ribbon.
2. Corral It: A yellow tray adds color to the coffee table and turns a stack of books and a few remotes into an organized, decorative display.
3. Think Big: Gibson took a small peony photograph that was on the end table and turned it into a focal point by enlarging it on his home printer and hanging it in a large poster frame. "With a good printer and paper, we were able to create a much bigger impact for nothing but the cost of a frame," Gibson says.
4. Go Lighter: Gibson replaced the boxy wooden coffee table with a chrome-and-glass piece that was an amazing $70 Ikea find. "I could not believe this table was so inexpensive!" he designer. "It is quite heavy and well-made."
5. Shop at Home: The existing blue lamp was one of Gibson's inspiration pieces, but he didn't love the stark white shade with all the room's creamy neutrals and brown tones. He found a softer linen shade in the bedroom and swapped them.
6. Cover up: "We needed to enliven the corner of the living room," Gibson, who fashioned a tailored skirt for the end table out of a colorful tablecloth Bonus: Now there's hidden storage under the table.