Transforming An ’80s Living Room Into a Modern Haven
Leg warmers and toe socks might be making a come back, but when it comes to interior design, the 1980s should be banished forever.
Nikki and Peter purchased their home from her parents, who were downsizing. But along with more space they also found themselves in possession of their very own time warp — a salmon-pink living room, complete with her parents’ matching floral furnishings.
Stepping into that room was enough to transport any visitor back to the decade of big hair, blue eye shadow and skin-tight jeans. Nikki and Peter avoided using their living room at all costs and so it languished, unused and unloved, until we arrived with a plan to transform this distinctly dated space into a welcoming haven with truly timeless appeal.
Along with the pink walls, the living room featured more horrors — a gas fireplace surrounded by tacky pink-veined marble, uninspiring wall-to-wall broadloom carpeting and a cove ceiling backlit by harsh fluorescent lighting.
The first step in bringing this space into the modern age was to cut down the coves and install recessed halogen
lighting. My makeover master plan also called for a chandelier and two wall sconces to provide more attractive — as well as functional — lighting.
And that eyesore of a fireplace was definitely not a focal point! So I ordered a new, high-efficiency gas insert and replaced the cheap marble with clean, contemporary tiles for a fresher, modern appeal.
I believe in recycling materials whenever possible, so one of Nikki’s tub chairs was sent off to be reupholstered, and the old fireplace mantle was repurposed into a shelf that we positioned under the room’s new flat-screen TV.
I chose a soft buttery-yellow paint for the walls to help lighten and brighten the space and, mainly for Peter’s comfort, we incorporated a masculine touch by adding a leather club chair along with a modern wooden coffee table.
But the best piece in the room has to be the sofa — I definitely struck gold when I found it. It’s perfect: long enough to lie down on and comfortable enough to encourage people to do just that. I’m pretty sure that the sofa — along with the big-screen TV — will be enough to earn Peter’s gold stamp of approval.
But I certainly haven’ t forgotten Nikki. For her I’m incorporating features like custom drapery panels that frame the room’s wall of windows in a softly muted print. To provide a place to store her books, I designed two custom shelving units to surround the new fireplace. These shelves are the perfect place to showcase photos, artwork and other decorative pieces.
To accent the clean ivory-and-yellow palette, I splashed teal and turquoise accessories around the room. Along with the wood accents in the room, the overall effect is one of tranquil, spa-like relaxation and comfort.
Nikki and Peter now adore their new living room. For the first time since moving in, they can envision entertaining guests in this new warm, contemporary space. Best of all, every trace of the 1980s is gone — and there’s not a hint of salmon pink anywhere.
In its place we have a classic and contemporary haven that has become the couple’s favorite room in the house.
Interior decorator Candice Olson is host of HGTV’s “Candice Tells All.”