interior design / makeover / one room challenge

The What and Why – Classic, Modern Living Room


classic modern neutral rich living room

Where to even begin with this one?? This project was a labor of love for my parents but SO worth it in the end.  They were left with a space they love and I was able to add to my portfolio (plus I can enjoy the space as well when I’m home visiting).  It was a win for all involved.

Because my mom is wonderful and so supportive of what I’m doing, she granted me full control on this project.  Yes, I formally presented the design plan (she approved everything), but it was made known from the  beginning that I could create what I wanted as long as it was somewhat cohesive with the rest of the house.

My parents have a lot of neutrals in the house, which is why I stuck with neutrals here.  To be honest, when I was planning the space, I freaked out several times early on because it felt like it wasn’t going to be enough.  Painting the walls white was a HUGE step, and I knew deep down that it was the right choice, but a part of me also thought, “what if it’s TOO white, what if it feels empty???”

classic modern neutral rich living room

You can see in this picture that we took the paint color (Farrow and Ball Pointing) into the dining room and removed those existing shades.  It really helped with the transition.

one room challenge before

We also took the paint color into the entry, which again, helped with the transition.

classic modern neutral rich living room

Another change that I knew HAD to happen was new, custom drapes.  There obviously aren’t any ready made drapes for those monsters of windows, so I knew we had to go custom.  I worked with Janine from Tonic Living to create what the space needed, and I’m actually planning to do a separate post on this and talk about window treatments in general and what I learned from Janine (A LOT).

Backing up a bit….. The fireplace was the very first thing that I envisioned for this space.  As soon as my mom gave me the okay to redo this room, I immediately went to the fireplace.  I LOVE the natural wood mantel and think it has so much character, so I never considered removing it.  I  wanted something chic, and something that would also give that mantel a run for its money.  Something that would contrast the style of the mantel because I didn’t want the fireplace to read traditional and the mantel itself very much so gives that vibe.  My gut told me matte black marble….

classic modern neutral rich living room

My mom okayed the black marble, but I could tell she wasn’t totally convinced.  Once it came in and I held it next to the wood floor I literally suffered from indecisiveness for two plus weeks.  I mean it looks pretty terrible here.

black marble

I finally HAD to make a decision or else the mantel would stay as is because time was running out.  After the space was painted I knew it was the right decision, but I had to pull the trigger before I was totally convinced of that.  (Glad it worked out in my favor.)

classic modern neutral rich living room

With so much white in the room through the paint color and window treatments, it was a much needed bold and rich moment in the space.

After I decided early on what I wanted the fireplace to be, I started planning around that. ORC Design Board

Backup….before sourcing these items I made sure that each item was appropriate in scale.  Because this living room is so HUGE, I knew that a too small pendant, sofa, rug, art, anything really, would look silly.

I wanted rich neutral shades and LOTS of texture.  The pillows were actually all last minute, but the texture was very much so needed.

classic modern neutral rich living room

I used the lighting to add a chic, modern feel and tried to add as much interest as I could through the art.

classic modern neutral rich living room

classic modern neutral rich living room

I wanted the furniture to be a mix of modern and traditional and used the leather accent chairs to achieve modern and the vintage gold chairs to add character (and a bit of color).

classic modern neutral rich living room

classic modern neutral rich living room

Basically once I chose one modern element, I bounced back and tried to find a vintage or classic piece to offset it.  I didn’t want the room to have to answer to any one particular style.  I wanted it to feel unique and like no other.

classic modern neutral rich living room

After all of the furniture pieces were finalized, I went to town with the accessories.  Such an important element as they can totally make (or break) a space.  While most of the accessories can’t be seen from the full room shots, I wanted them to add a crazy amount of interest to the space.  I went for a mix of quirky, classic and random with the accessories but tried to keep them all within the color scheme.

classic modern neutral rich living room

classic modern neutral rich living room


classic modern neutral rich living room

classic modern neutral rich living room

Classic Yet Modern Neutral Living Room

classic modern neutral rich living room

The giraffe is my grandmothers.  She drove to meet my mom the night before the shoot to hand it over :).  She was so excited to contribute it to the space.  I love that quirky guy.

The cabinet was an heirloom from my other grandmother.  The pictures inside are of my grandfather and dad as babies.

classic modern neutral rich living room

While I don’t particularly love when a space screams FAMILY, I love to incorporate pieces that are meaningful to the people who live in the space.

classic modern neutral rich living room

And now the less glamorous part….the budget…..

I was able to create this space because of extremely generous people.  My parents approved a 5K budget on their end and the rest came from sponsors.  A not so brief breakdown of the budget………

Budget Breakdown:

*Indicates product that was generously donated by sponsors.


Paint Job: $850

Tile Job: $425

Lighting/Curtains Installation: $200

Sofa Upholstery: $750


Marble Tile: $665*

Paint (10 gallons): $1000*


Sofa (vintage): $250

Sofa Fabric: $335*

Vintage Gold Chairs (2) (Vintage): $300

Leather Chairs (2): $1100*

Coffee Table: $850

Round Accent Table: $175

End Table (sofa): $125*

Woven End Table: $70

Leather/Metal Stools (2): $180

Hutch (vintage): Previously Owned


Hand Knotted Jute Rug: $2600*


Overhead Pendant: $660*

Floor Lamp: $260*

Sconces: $200

Table Lamp (cabinet): $240*

Marble Table Lamp: Previously owned


Mirror (over fireplace): $445*

Hovering Union Art: $205*

Burl Wood Frame: $450

Casa Art: $325*

Lady Gray Art: $65*

Sketchy Lines Art: $90*

Ink Art: $105*

Black/White Circles Art: $150*


Fireplace Screen: $150

Dog Pair: $100*

Tortoise Hurricane Vase (2): $110*

Python Tray: $60*

Vase: $15

Rattan Tray: $20

Succulents: $50

Books – Previously Owned

Giraffe – Previously Owned

Window Treatments:

Custom Drapes: $1800*

Hardware: $325


Gunmetal Velvet (2): $75*

Hide Throw Blanket/Rug: $200

Marbleized Pillows (2): $65*

Woven Throw: $45

Faux Fur Throw Pillow: $50

Leather Pillow: $50

Crocheted Pillow$25

Ivory Linen Pillow$40

Moroccan Pillow$65

Solid Velvet Pillow$50


TOTAL: $16,360 

Again, thank you to the wonderful sponsors and my parents for making this project happen.  I am so appreciative.

I felt the need to be transparent about the budget of this space as it was a huge effort put on by many people.  It’s also something that I find myself curious about when studying most room makeovers.

Did I miss anything? Anything else you were particularly curious about??



A Soft & Feminine Nursery Reveal
A Cozy and Lively Outdoor Patio Reveal

25 comments on “The What and Why – Classic, Modern Living Room”

  1. I’m really glad you put the budget in there. Most that do the ORC sponsored dont do that and I think it really hides the amount of “help” thats been given to get such a beautiful room (none the less on such a short timeline). Not everyone has a budget of $16K for one general area, or even $4-5K, but being transparent about what it takes to get that exact room is very appreciated. You did a fantastic job, have some serious talent for bridging the gap between two very different styles and I cant’ wait to see how your career continues going forward. Congrats to your parents for their wonderful new space, and for being not only very generous financially, but also supportive to just let you have free reign.

    1. Thank you, Justynn, I appreciate it! Putting numbers out there is uncomfortable because I’m not sure how it will be received, BUT I thought it needed to be shared.

      Thank you for the kind words!!!

  2. Hi – I just found your blog from the ORC / Confetti Style blog.

    Like the comment above, I really appreciate the transparency of the budget.
    I work in product design but interior design is a completely different kettle of foreign fish to me and having recently moved house, looking for inspiration online can be amazing but also misleading. I prefer to hear the hows and whys and the pain barriers too!

    On a side note, Just to say I really like your writing style – I have a sister who blogs and know how difficulties of creating interesting content with personality and also treading the fine line between acknowledging the help from sponsors without becoming an advert.

    So will be following along and if you ever do a house styling personality post for classic library / apothecary / wood / brass / grey / eclectic I shall be reading with interest!

    1. Hi Noel, that’s a great question that I should have mentioned. I didn’t use their existing sofa because it read very traditional – rolled arms, overstuffed cushions – and I wanted something a bit more modern with clean, straight lines. Also – since the sofa was moved to face a different direction, I needed it to be longer than the other one. (Also – we sold all of the existing furniture, accessories in that room.) Thanks for reading!

  3. Claire! Absolutely gorgeous job! GORGEOUS! You have “it” girlfriend! I love the transformation. You created a young, fresh, yet classic living space. On top of that, GORGEOUS POST. GORGEOUS IMAGES!!! I thought at first it was from an article in Domaine or Lonny. It should be published! So happy for you! xoxo ~ Laurel

  4. I found you via the ORC and really enjoy your work! Thanks for breaking down the costs and what it took to create the room in this post. I’m also originally from Austin and now live in St. Louis, so I’ve enjoyed your updates that are related to Austin.

    Will you post more about the yellow rattan sofa you upholstered? Also, it seems like the upholstery job was a steal for that sofa!

  5. This is by far one of the best makeovers I’ve ever seen. I’m talking about Pinterest, Instagram, Design Sponge, etc. I appreciate you putting the budget out there also. I was curious if the sponsors covered all of it and how that worked, so thank you for that! I’m going to keep studying/obsessing over these beautiful pictures. AMAZING job Claire!

  6. stunning room, can I adopt you? also thank you for posting the budget. I wish more orc participants would share their budget.

  7. Love this. Thank you, thank you for listing the costs. This is a thoughtful, sophisticated room that still looks collected. Congratulations on a job well done.

  8. Thanks for being transparent about the budget! I LOVE this space, but it is nice to know I shouldn’t be comparing my home (where spending a couple 100 is a lot to invest) to a 16k room. It definitely helps me set realistic goals for myself when I get to see the design costs.

    1. It’s so true, Clarissa! I am in the same boat – I look at this room and want something like it, but it’s so far from realistic not only because of budget limitations but also because I don’t have a grand space with 10 ft ceilings!!! Loved your master bedroom makeover!

  9. Hi – what a stunning room – well done. I’m glad you posted the $, I wish more people would do this, it’s so helpful when planning your own space. That fireplace is amazeballs 😅

  10. First and foremost- hours was my favorite ORC by far (and there were some beautiful rooms this year!)
    Thank you for candidly sharing the budget…really helps me realize expectations for my own home
    I do have a few questions about the fireplace installation…how did you get the tile to look so good? I’ve never seen a tiled fireplace surround look like slab! Any chance (pretty please) you’ll do a post with process pictures? I legit want to buy that same role from lowes and copy you (sincerest form of flattery)

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