A Simple Makeover on a Budget

See how designer and BHG Contributing Editor Stephen Saint-Onge takes this once cluttered and disorganized living room to the next level with a $600 budget.

Before: A Mismatched, Cluttered Space

Designer Stephen Saint-Onge instantly saw the potential when he walked into this typical, tired living room. The fireplace and built-in bookcases had the potential to be an outstanding focal point, but were hidden by layers of picture frames.

The Mission:Clean out the clutter and give the family a new floor plan that would suit the room much better.

Step 1: Conquer Seating

The main seating area needed be the anchor point of the room. Stephen chose a sisal rug, which softens the beautiful wood floors. He thought it was appealing to keep earth tones and neutrality coming to life in this once-hectic space. Four wicker chairs (bought on clearance for $25 a piece) keep with the natural look and add additional seating that can be moved around as needed.

Cozy Up the Sofa

The most crucial element to achieving a comfortable living room is an amazing sofa. Stephen chose a neutral slipcover sofa to add to the earth tones of the room.

Tricky Window Solutions

The tiny windows in this very large room were a design dilemma. To make them look larger in scale and soften the look, natural linen drapes from Ikea were hung on old rods found in the homeowner's closet.

Designer Tip: By placing the rods higher and having extra drapery length, the windows have more of a presence in the room.

Before: Cluttered Bookcase

One of this room's biggest challenges was too much stuff especially the mish-mash of picture frames around the mantel. Stephen said the room needed to calm down and relax.

After: Classy Shelves

Stephen's final ensemble for the fireplace area is worlds apart from what it once was. The number of display items was greatly reduced and Stephen introduced a common theme -- simple and natural.

Designer Tip: Paint the back of your bookcase the same color as your wall to draw more attention to display area.

Simple Details

Natural elements such as rocks, wicker baskets and plants are paired with sculptures and beautiful family pictures.

Clean Theme

Stephen chose oversized frames with wide mats for a modern twist on the mantel artwork. Leaning the frames against the wall, instead of hanging them, makes it easy to change out and rearrange pictures. With the new and improved mantel space, there is more room for creativity.

Vintage Touches

Stephen found an old camera collection elsewhere in the homeowner's house. He used their vintage style as works of art. The antique pieces also fit in with the other black accents found throughout the space.

Clean Theme

Because you can see this part of the room from the foyer, Stephen wanted it to be a focal point. The display is a great introduction to the room as people walk in the front door. A trestle table top and saw horse legs were assembled to create the table. Black chairs from the dining room create another seating area.

Designer Tip: Shop your house before you start a project. See if there are pieces of furniture that can be moved into your makeover space. This will save you big bucks.

Before: Cabinet Revamp

The original black cabinet would have carried too much visual weight for the neutral space so Stephen gave it a quick makeover that anyone could do.

After: Distressed and Chic

In a money-saving move, Stephen decided to prime and paint the cabinet with leftover paint from the walls. Then, he took a steel wool pad to distress the edges. Inexpensive knobs from Ikea also revive the old cabinet. The finished product has a vintage look and re-introduces some of the cabinet's original black finish.

Resource List

Like what you see in this makeover? Re-create Stephen's look with these resources:

Designer: Stephen Saint-Onge; www.stephensaint-onge.com

Paint: Benjamin Moore; Monroe Bisque HC26; www.benjaminmoore.com

Rug: IKEA; www.ikea.com

Frames and Mirrors:IKEA; www.ikea.com

Drapes: IKEA; www.ikea.com

Lamps: Pier 1; www.pier1.com

Wicker Chairs: Pier 1; www.pier1.com

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," he says. "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." 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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