REVEAL // Traditional Challenge

Remember the reveal of Project Preppy Chinoiserie? So great, right? Well the greatest part was video that the client’s Mom filmed of her seeing it for the first time. (If you missed it, you can view HERE.)  I think Mom was more excited than she was. So excited that she enlisted me to to decorate her living room.  And ladies and gents it needed major attention.

Don’t believe me, see for yourself?

Before 4Before 2Ouch.  It hurts my eyes.

Now I love a good Before/After as much as anyone else, I was hesitant to commit to this project.  The budget was very, very modest, which doesn’t intimidate me as I myself and a babe-on-a-budget; but there were a lot of….restrictions, which makes things even more challenging.  See if designers take on low budget project it usually is under the condition that they can make-it-work and design as they see fit.  Not the case here.

The client’s conditions were:

1. No repainting.  All wall colors must remain the same. 
2. Existing carpet is staying. 
3. Use all neutral colors, nothing vibrant.
4.  Existing TV built-in, mantel, and fireplace surround must stay.
5. Very traditional furniture styles. 
6. Sofas must be very firm. 
7. New flat screen TV must be mounted above mantel. 
8. It has to be done and installed, like yesterday. 
9. Can’t go a penny over the (very small) budget. 


I wasn’t feeling too confident, but I agreed.  I mean, I was already designing the daughter’s room in the basement, they are one of the nicest families ever, and clearly they needed my help, I wasn’t gonna say no now was I?

Here we go.

The most challenging restriction was working around that 1990s Seafoam green accent wall.  In my mind the first, and most dramatic, change would have come from repainting the entire space.  But hey, I’m up for a challenge. The first design I showed them looked like this:OB MB 1With the floor plan like this:OB Option 1And her response was: She didn’t like anything but the sofa and matching loveseat.

Wah wah. 

I knew I was pushing it with the rug, but I wanted to show that using some vibrant color could work with the bad wall color.  I mean, that space was just not going to turn out all Restoration Hardware-monochromatic-traditional-sophisticated with that bad wall in the background and lack of funds. So we have to works with what we gots, naw I mean?

So I revised and submitted this:OB MB 2It’s difficult to tell in this mockup, but this rug is still very traditional and a neutral mocha color, but has small flecks of tourquoise  and navy to bring in some subtle color.  Luckily, she liked this rug. (Whew!) But still disliked all of the tables, art and lamps. Say what?

It turned out that a console table and art were going beyond the budget anyhow, so they were easily eliminated. I flipped the layout of the loveseat, sofa, coffee table and rug to fit better into the scale of the space now minus the console table to look like this:OB Floorplan FinalAnd what did I do about the tables she disliked? Um, what any reputable, professional designer would do; I pressured her into them!

Just kidding.

Well, not really. A big part of my job (and what clients fork over their hard earned cash money for) is to advise clients into decisions that they wouldn’t decide on their own. I mean, if your designer doesn’t know the best table for you, you probably shouldn’t be paying them money.  Luckily, it all worked out and, I quote, she said “I’m so glad you talked me into that coffee table”.  Ding! Ding! Ding!  And she was thrilled with the total package, which looked like this…


I came back the next day to do a little touch-up styling and take some pics for you folks. Enjoy.OB LR 3OB LR 10See the small touches of blue in the rug? Me likes.

OB LR 7She now even loves the Greek Key detailed side table. Score!

OB LR 13OB LR 16OB LR 14Big improvement, if I do say so myself.

So, was this a large budget project? A reflection of my personal style? An opportunity to live out my wannabe Kelly Wearstler fantasies? Nope. Not even close.  But in 100% total honesty is was an incredibly satisfying job.  It is beneficial in any profession to challenge your abilities beyond your comfort zone. But the best part is the whole family loved the results, and the motivation behind my profession as an Interior Designer is to create homes my clients are proud of. So thumbs up all around.

If you need help creating a home that you are proud of, please contact me at  But please, just let me re-paint. 😉


  1. This is great, Jessie! I think this really showcases that you have the ability to create a design that works with anyone’s taste. This is beautiful and updated…has your ‘stamp’ on it, but fits the desire of the client. I have to admit though…my favorite part of this post is the classic ‘wah wah’ of the Shawn Leigh days. LOL! Beautiful job!!

  2. Patty and Mike says:

    Jessie – The is beautiful! You are brilliant! I can’t wait to see how our great room and dining room are going to turn out.

  3. Ahh yes, the client on a tight budget is all too familiar. Stretching those dollars. You made it work, girl. If they’re happy and you’re happy it’s a job well done.

  4. Just found your blog. What you did with this room is simply “amazing”! I wish you lived near me I would hire you immediately. Can’t wait to follow your blog. Keep up the amazing work!


  1. […] client combo for me.  (Check out the previous daughter reveal HERE and her Mom’s HERE.) She’s a super cute, twenty-something, business professional who just moved into a new […]

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