09 September 2009

A Recessionista Redecorates: Before & After's of a Silicon Valley Living Room

The clients had inhabited a Restoration Hardware meets Anthropologie living room for quite a few years. The colors were calming and restorative (blue, cream, brown and silver), and that worked for the frantic pace of Silicon Valley in the early 2000's, when we all needed sanctuary from the frightful rigors of the rise of e-commerce.

But that was before the Downturn of 2009; now there is a distinct need for energy, zing, cheer, a bit of glamour, some fun and comfort. Enter the interior designer on a mission!


Let's take a peek at the { AFTER } pictures first:

The clients wanted to keep two non-negotiables: the colorful and graphic Turkish rug that had been in the dining room, and the whimsical chandelier sitting now in the left rear corner. Since the rug brings lots of energy, color and pattern, it was perfect. The chandelier, with its bounty of treasures of the sea---coral, pearls, silver, mercury glass---becomes the room's folly, injecting a bit of fun and cheer.

An unequivocally warm and sunny yellow was chosen for below and a warm cream above the dado. The dado itself is stenciled with a favorite motif, coral, in a favorite color, coral.

The Picasso print from the thrift store, brought in for its calm nature and happy palette, looks perfectly happy leaning against the wall with that large coral piece for company.

The room was transformed by the curvy, nod-to-Louis XIV mantel, and by the nod-to-Empire style mirror above. The mantel and mirror were salvage finds, now painted and applied with a gold leaf finish. Stunning!

View of the living room entering from the dining room shows how all the elements fit together. The citron draperies, the coral sofa, the yellow walls, the jade green of the carpet all form a sophisticated, citrus-y palette that draws you in and ties the room to the outdoors just beyond. Peeking in from the left side is the citron media cabinet. The cabinet is a dresser found at Afterwards, a favorite resale shop in Menlo Park, California. With its modern lines, lucite knobs and citron color, it was the perfect candidate for repurposing as a media cabinet.

Is there anything fresher or more cheering than a
bowl of lemons on a white mantel?

The dahlia is a motif also beloved and repeated in all the cushions, tying the varied seating pieces together visually. The mohair was chosen because it is green and sustainable; it repels stains and it's naturally fire-resistant, and certainly for it's undeniable glamour factor.

A stencil of coral was found in a book and repeated around the circumference of the living room. It is subtle but adds grace and charm to the walls. The yellow below defines and warms the space of the living room, which is open to the kitchen and dining rooms. It repeats a theme found in the chandelier of treasures from the sea.


Now for the { BEFORE } pictures, below:

A Plain Jane flush mantel was too depressing.

A sweet, clutter-y space without a shred of glamour! The before living room had too much going on, and an awkward floor plan. The chilly blue-green wall color did not awaken the spirit.

Some of the elements..the Chinese cachepots on the table...made it into the redesign, but others were moved to different rooms, sold on Craigslist, or given to a grown daughter for her apartment.


We created an energetic, cheerful and room with a bit of glamour!


Benjamin Moore Frittata
Benjamin Moore Linen White
Custom blends

Mohair sofa: Sloan Miyasato (to the trade)
Damask on recliner: Sloan Miyasato
Trevira for draperies: Sloan Miyasato

Draperies by Correia and Rosetti, San Carlos
Cabinet repurposing: Joe Annuzzi Cabinets
Sofa: Pascual's Upholstery, San Francisco
Recliner: Decorator's Upholstery, Redwood City
Mantel: Whole House Building Supply and Salvage, East Palo Alto
Mirror: St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store, Redwood City
Smoky glass coffee table: Alemany Flea Market, San Francisco
Media cabinet: Afterwards, Menlo Park


in 2010, it's:

Kit Golson Design

for elegant, sustainable and pragmatic

Chic Provence Interior Design


  1. Lovely-I love the colors-the coral sofa, the citron draperies, that great dahlia pillow. Just don't make me comment on the La-Z-Boy.

  2. You are too glammy for words - I LOVE IT - that addition of the coral stencil is perfect - the whole room has a warm airy feel.
    Now you can sit back with earls grey and sing
    kisses doll

  3. Hi Style Redux! LOL, I know, but the LZB was actually the third non-negotiable....ah! the real world. I would have loved to use the gorgeous swivel recliners over on Patricia Gray...have you seen them?

    Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Bonjour Cam! comment ca va?? Thanks so much for visiting, and yes, a cup of Earl Gray with a good pal sounds perfect! Comment va la rentree?
    Biz a tous!

  5. Amazing colors and very special details! I loove your work !

  6. Hi Lina! thanks for stopping and for your kind words! Can't wait to see more of your work!

  7. Love the new look so much better. It's warm and inviting now.

  8. Hi Treasia! Thanks for visiting and for your feedback!


  9. Wow, what a change! I love all of the texture and color in this room. It looks very chic and expensive. Gorgeous job.

  10. jackie oglesby jacobson09 August, 2010

    Beautiful Kit, love the look you created. The colors are so vibrant but warm and soothing! Love it and want to see more.


I would love to hear what you think! merci!


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