(Leah L. Jones/For the Washington Post)


Elissa Myers, a single mom with two toddlers in Waldorf, longs to make over her “dark and dismal” living room. Last winter, her husband died of cardiac arrest while watching football in the space, and she’d like it to feel “cheery” again. She hates clutter, wallpaper and “the country look,” and likes clean lines and beachy colors. Above all, the purple paint has to go.


“Simplify, simplify, simplify,” is the suggestion of designers Tracy Schlegel and Kelcey Huff. They recommend painting the walls a breezy blue and removing the stove and dark chair rail. “And when you think storage, think big.”

Elissa Myers of Waldorf is looking to lighten up her “dark and dismal” living room. (Leah L. Jones/for The Washington Post)

Light, airy color palettes make rooms appear larger. Trim is White Dove and walls are Paradiso, both by Benjamin Moore.

Open up the room to traffic. Eliminating the stove yields five extra square feet of space.

Choose appropriately scaled furniture. Pieces with small arms and high legs will lift weight off the floor.

Get creative with storage. Instead of plastic bins, a leather ottoman and wall unit will keep toys organized and out of site.

Trick the eye. The rug’s horizontal pattern makes the space feel wider. Replace tile with hardwood to brighten the floor.

Simplify the walls. Wallpaper borders and chair rails can make a room feel crowded and cluttered.

Replace shutters with woven blinds to add texture and allow for more controlled light.


Furniture: Expedit TV storage unit ($230, www.ikea.com); Avington 2PK nesting tables in dark tobacco ($100, www.target.com); Vaughn chairs in cork ($900 each, www.crateandbarrel.com).

Lighting: Kathryn table lamp ($220, www.crateandbarrel.com).

Accessories: Maya Fruitwood Roman shade ($40, www.overstock.com); hand-blocked tiger pillow covers ($10 each, www.westelm.com); Favorite throw in dandelion ($30, www.westelm.com); Gallery in a box black picture frame set ($130, www.potterybarn.com).

Huff and Schlegel, of Waterlily Interiors (301-674-7763, www.waterlilyinteriors.com), are based in Bethesda.


Marine Charing Cross rug ($995 for 8-by-10, www.serenaandlily.com).

Thompson leather square ottoman in distressed tobacco ($1,270, www.mgbwhome.com).

Sofa 1296-03 in beige ($2,985, www.leeindustries.com).

. . . OR SAVE

Zigzag rug in platinum ($480 for 8-by-10, www.westelm.com).

Baxton Studio Rocio brown bonded leather storage ottoman ($254,www.amazon.com).

Manchester sofa in microfiber natural ($1,760, www.ballarddesigns.com).

Tell us about your design challenge.

Send photos, room dimensions and contact information to makeover@washpost.com.