We all have rooms in our home that are bursting with potential but haven’t been given the time and love required to bring it up to its very best. This was the problem that interior designer, blogger and DIYer Melanie Lissack was facing when creating her new living room design.
She tells us, “I knew this living/sitting room was the best room in the house – it had the log burner, marble fireplace and a giant sash window that let in all the light. The problem was it had just been painted magnolia by the previous owners, which did nothing for the space. Plus, we had filled it with furniture from our old house, or ‘temporary’ furniture when we moved in. The room was being let down as its ‘best bits’ were not being made to shine, so I knew it was ripe for redecoration.”
With a love of both traditional features mixed with contemporary styling and bold, colourful pattern and texture, Melanie tackled the space in just four short weeks. In that time, she created a beautiful grown up and sophisticated space in her home in Essex which she shares with her husband Russell, her 5-year-old son Jaxon and Bowser, the family’s King Charles Cavalier.
With an adjoining snug where the family watches TV, Melanie was conscious that the two rooms needed to feel visually connected. “I added in traditional panelling on the walls but placed in a bold blue velvet armchair and a modern statement light fitting.”
She goes on to explain, “I also needed to upgrade the storage space in this room without compromising on style, so I planned out an elaborate Ikea bookcase hack to create what now looks like bespoke integrated shelving.”
Aside from electrics, Melanie did all the work herself from the carpentry and building through to the painting and decorating. Of course, every renovation has its challenges. “I decided to wallpaper one wall [but] once I had finished [I realised] it was a mistake. I tried to take the paper down quickly but when doing so, I took a lot of plaster off the wall with it! I rectified it all by applying a thick lining paper and painting over the top of it. It was a really annoying waste of time and effort, but these things happen.”
Despite the challenges, the result of Melanie’s planning and execution is evident throughout the new look living room. The walls were painted with a soft modern grey called ‘Cats Cradle’ by Earthborn Paints while the panelling which Melanie added has given the room depth and compliments the fireplace.
Of the new DIY panelling and bookcases, Melanie tells us, “Adding wall panelling has made it so much more visually interesting. The storage provided by the bookcases has also been great for me as I am a great lover of vases and decorative pieces – now I have somewhere to display all my treasured finds!”
Even smaller changes made a big impact. “I replaced the original mirror with a gold edged, large circular mirror and the dynamic of the room completely changed. Circles are so pleasing to the eye and it just made the room feel much more modern.”
With the adjoining snug, there was no need for computers or televisions but there was still a requirement for a bit of tech and so she chose a number of items from AO to complete her space.
“As this room was to be the ‘grown up’ room, a place to relax, I really wanted it to be a space where I could enjoy music and it be removed from computers and the television. We brought our vinyl collection into this room to sit on the bookcase and so from AO I chose the Crosley Portable Record Player. The player neatly folds up into a case, then you can just bring it out to play your vinyl as and when required without the need for a big hi-fi set up. I also got a Google Home Mini Smart Speaker which I use every day to listen to the radio or find out the weather. Although it’s small, it really packs a punch with great sound quality.
“I knew [the wooden floors] would take a beating with all the re-decorating so I chose the H20 Power X Steam Mop which I love and use on all my floors in the house every week since I got it. It gets the floors really clean and really shiny, then you just wash the pad in the washing machine. I also wanted to get the rugs deep cleaned after DIY work so selected the Bissell 2.0 Pet Carpet cleaner. As I have a dog, I knew this would come in handy and oh my! I was astounded at what this machine gets up out of carpets and floor coverings. I hoover regularly but I was so surprised at how much dirt the Bissell got out! The rugs and carpets look great after using the 2.0. I use it on upholstery also, which is so helpful keeping the velvet chair in the room looking like new.”
Considering this entire renovation took place over 4 short weeks, we asked Melanie what some of her top tips would be for those who are updating a space without the luxury of time. Here’s what she advised:
- “If the room needs to be updated fast, don’t try and do something overly complicated or attempt something you are not confident you can easily achieve. If you have never wallpapered before, paint the room rather than trying to wallpaper all the walls – save that for when you have more time to learn and rectify mistakes!
- Invest in multiple tester pots and paint large sections of the wall, looking at the colour in different lights at different times of the day. This will save you from making a mistake by choosing the wrong colour.
- Colour wash your room by painting the windows, doors, skirting, trim and perhaps even the ceiling all one colour. The effect is really cohesive and modern and it will save you time trying to cut in the edges and get neat lines between the skirting and door frames, for example.”
Never one to rest on her laurels, Melanie currently has 3 different projects in the works! “I’m turning a very basic white en-suite completely pink with scalloped panels. I’m making the most of the space I have in my home by clearing out the guest room (which became a dumping ground) and making it into my office by changing up the furniture. I’m also giving my hallway an update as it is suffering the same problems the living room did – not having it’s best features on show!”
All images copyright Melanie Lissack and used with kind permission.