Lighten Up

In my experience, when people move to Florida they are seeking a lighter brighter look. After all, we are the sunshine state, so it goes without saying that things should stay fairly sunny and light no matter what your style of home décor.
I have observed in my fifteen years of experience, re-creating your northern home in Florida does not work over time. As homeowners live in the bright sunshine and visit other bright homes, inevitably within two years they begin changing things or completely getting rid of things and starting over. If a new homeowner has spent a lot of money recreating their northern home in Florida it might take three to five years before the home becomes light and bright. However, make no mistake everyone seeks to lighten up! Last week we learned how to brighten and update a kitchen. This week we will learn ways to lighten the living room by looking at the same Gardenia model from last week somewhere in the heart of The Villages.

• ComplianceMade-it-Light-and-Bright
It is no secret that I love it when my clients do everything that I suggest but that does not always happen! Most of my readers have seen how I open up a Gardenia living room by moving the entertainment unit off of the wall between the windows. However, I rarely show how I lighten a space when I am not allowed to move the entertainment unit. The homeowner really did not want the TV moved but he did not share with me the reason until later. We were able to work with the entertainment unit staying in its original place but we had to do some key things to lighten the space.

• Repaint
The wall color that was in the home was nice but it sucked light out of the space. I don’t know the name of the color but it was golden tan with a green undertone. The green undertone was just absorbing light. We repainted in Patience 7555 this color is the perfect crème, since it has a balance of warm tan with a hint of gold.

• Remove Valences
The windows already had shutters but the top of the shutter was covered by a red valence. Also, the slider had a large red valence at the top to cover the sliding mechanism of the vertical blind. The red color was lovely but the strong color band at the top of the window made the window look smaller and darker than in reality. When light is entering a window toward the viewer, whatever surrounds that window or sits on top of the window will appear darker than it is in real life. This is a function of the human eye. I always think of a large dark valance like a thick unibrow on a human face. It always calls attention to itself and draws the eye down. Women spend lots of time and money waxing eyebrows to add height to the eye to make it look bigger and windows are no different!

• Add headers
We added headers to the shutters and painted them the same white as the shutters. This addition of the headers made the shutter look taller and more to scale with the entertainment unit remaining between the windows. We added a large white wooden cornice to cover the vertical blinds over the slider. All the new white in the space really brightened the room.

• New floors
The Gardenia has tile flooring in the foyer and around the bar area of the kitchen leading into the laundry and master bedroom. We did not have to rip out any tile because we were adding engineered hardwood floors to the living room and dining room. Our flooring installer abuts the hardwood to the tile floor with no threshold. This allows the floors to meet with no bump. The transition from one floor to the other is perfectly smooth. We chose a wood called Tawny Maple by Bella Cera and it looks amazing and warm in the space. The new hard surface flooring offered more light into the space because hard surfaces bounce light.

• New area Rugs
We chose a new area rug in the living room to add a color splash. Light and bright does not mean colorless so the new living room rug has all the colors that would complement the art in the space and work with all the furniture.

• New furniture
We purchased two new love seats in a much lighter color than the furniture they had in the space originally. The loveseats were placed across from each other and the two new recliners were placed opposing the entertainment unit. This did make the room feel more open without a couch across form the TV and all the new light fabrics really kept the space light.

• Next season
The homeowner suggested that next season they might move the entertainment unit when they had the cable moved to the medium angled wall opposing the slider, as I usually do.(Moving the cable was the holdup) I expressed concern because they did not have the right pieces to do that configuration with the two recliners and two loveseats. I usually place a couch between the windows and a loveseat on the small wall creating an L shape. This allows me to angle a recliner inward beside the loveseat. However, I could not put a loveseat and two recliners on the angle; the room would be ill waited. We left it at, “We will see next season!”, and the very next week I solved the problem at another house. I will share that with you next week.

P.S. –Attention, club presidents! We give free decorating seminars. Call and schedule your club today. Also, we are on-line check out our web-site at and you can always e-mail us at Call Ruth your full service decorator at 352-804-2056.

Before and After Pics Below