A hap­pily-ever-af­ter liv­ing room

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - MONEY & MARKETS EXTRA -

The story of Les­lie and Dan’s house could have ended so dif­fer­ently. This charm­ing fam­ily home could have been re­duced to a pile of rub­ble, wiped out to make room for a sparkling new house. But af­ter sit­ting va­cant for nine long years, the house has been lov­ingly brought back to life, room by room, by this vi­sion ary­pair. To­day, I can’t want to show you around the liv­ing room, which per­fectly re­flects all the en­ergy and en­thu­si­asm of their fam­ily of six.


When Les­lie first saw this paint­ing by Kansas City, Mo., artist Jill Opelka, her heart started to ham­mer. It was love at first sight. She knew this vi­brant de­pic­tion of a pond team­ing with koi had to be the fo­cal point in her liv­ing room, which she was just be­gin­ning to dec­o­rate af­ter the home’s ma­jor re­model. “It all went from there. It was the in­spi­ra­tion for the de­sign,” Les­lie says.

The story of a room usu­ally starts this way. You have ab lank page, and t here­ar­eso many di­rec­tions you can go with your de­sign, you’re not sure where to start. Then, light­ning strikes. You see a fab­ric, a piece of fur­ni­ture, a rug, a paint­ing or an ac­cent that lights up your imag­i­na­tion, and you’re off. When cus­tomers come into Nell Hill’s, and they aren’t sure what they want in their spa­ces, our de­sign­ers will walk through the store with them, see­ing what they spark to, and start there.


Les­lie had the vi­sion for this fab­u­lous room. But some of the space’s odd ticks were throw­ing her a curve. Case in point: this bay win­dow. Les­lie wasn’t find­ing a win­dow cov­er­ing so­lu­tion she liked.

Anne, one of our de­sign­ers whoal­soloves­bri ght col­ors and happy pat­terns, helped Les­lie de­sign these marvelous win­dow cov­er­ings that ad­dressed Les­lie’s con­cerns and show­case the win­dows beau­ti­fully. The two hit it off and worked closely on the rest of the room’s de­sign.


The liv­ing room is at the front of the house, one of the first places vis­i­tors see. Les­lie not only wanted the liv­ing room to wel­come friends and fami lyw i thawarm em­brace, shew an­ted the room to be so invit­ing, peo­ple would gather here, not pass right by. Play­ful col­ors, a tum­ble of fun tex­tiles and in­trigu­ing ac­cents are the pow­er­ful lures that draws us all in to this splen­did spot.

“I love, love, love bold color,” Les­lie de­clares. “I al­ways have.” The in­spi­ra­tion paint­ing gave her lots of won­der­ful hues to splash around the liv­ing room. She chose a cheery shade of red and blue.

Anne helped Les­lie de­cide which pieces she al­ready owned would work well with the room’s scale and style, and what­new­piecessheshoul­dadd to take it to the next level. The wing­backs chairs are a great ex­am­ple. Les­lie had a set of smaller chairs in the space, but they just didn’t feel right to her.

Anne spot­ted the prob­lem: The spaced called for a larger scale chair. When Les­lie saw these great chairs Anne sug­gested, she knew they were spot-on. “It makes all the dif­fer­ence in my liv­ing room,” Les­lie says. “I get more com­pli­ments on these chairs.”


Les­lie and I share a love of in­te­rior spa­ces that are a wild mix of styles. Just like I do in my lake cot­tage, Les­lie cu­rates her rooms so they look like they have evolved over time. Look at the won­der­ful way shestyled the matched set of chests, which stand on ei­ther side of the door. Above, the red chi­nois­erie mir­ror and gold box are bright and bold. Then, she tucked in a bird’s nest un­der a cloche, a quiet nod to na­ture.

The large mod­ern paint­ing is lovely bal­anced with the tra­di­tional chest of draw­ers, with its bam­boo trim. The more mod­ern lamp is a nice con­trast to the old world charm of the trans­fer­ware plate used as art on the ta­ble.


One of Les­lie’s fa­vorite hobb iesiss­couti ng for great finds in an­tique malls. She just has a knack for spot­ting trea­sures t hat­ev­ery one else over­looks, restor­ing them and weav­ing them into her home to help tell her fam­ily’s story. When it came time to fin­ish the room’s de­sign space, adding in the fi­nal ac­cents, Anne felt l ikea kid in a candy store. There was so much for the two of them to work with. I think they nailed it beau­ti­fully.


This col­umn was adapted from Mary Carol Gar­rity’s blog at www.nell­hills.com


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