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Refresh living spaces on a budget

When the Allison family moved into a recently renovated home, the house was a great fit for the size of their family, and since it had recently been updated, it didn’t need any structural changes. But many of the rooms were dark. The pair began in the living room, an especially important space since it’s the home’s sole gathering area and needs to function well for both entertaining and daily living.


The large room features a pair of French doors leading to the garden and an expansive window, but heavy draperies and cornices cut down on the flow of natural light. Similarly, Amanda had added a streamlined sofa and armchairs in a neutral, textural fabric, but had mixed in an old leather chair as well. The room became the impetus for defining the style of the home.

Down went dark draperies, up went simple, colour-banded silks, with sleek rods hanging above transom windows for full access to sunlight. Away went a leather chair, in came a cushioned ottoman, a family-friendly alternative to a coffee table - add a tray and it can sport appetizers during a party, remove it and it’s the setting for family game night. The upholstered sofa was cleaned and refreshed. You can hire a good dry cleaning machine for a day to refresh your upholstered furniture.

TIP: Wherever possible, take upholstered furniture outdoors for cleaning. You want to be able to turn the unit upside down, or on its side. Before starting the cleaning process, a tennis or squash racquet come in handy for giving the furniture a good beating to release all the dust that has accumulated over the years.

New side tables and sturdy lamps to accompany the current sofa and armchairs, created a seating grouping while leaving open spaces for the boys to play. Working with the existing light green paint colour, bright white accessories were added for contrast, including a bookshelf in an open niche alongside the fireplace.

Are you under the impression that white must be banished from a family home? That serene hues, shimmering surfaces and chic accents won’t work in a household full of boys? Homeowner Amanda, who, along with her husband, Scott, is the proud parent of three young sons, proved that with thoughtful planning and wise purchasing, stylish rooms and family living can co-exist peacefully.





With budget in mind, an existing set of chairs were re-purposed for the dining room, where they were mixed with a table the family already owned, and updated the room with a fresh coat of grey paint, soft silk draperies and a shimmering Capiz shell chandelier.

It's easy to remove or modify items to make this house more kid-friendly just as easily as you can add elements to get it party ready, and that’s important when spaces in your home do double duty.