The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

A piano goes out and a bar cart comes in to make a light, bright entertaining space

(The Washington Post)

Kathy Simpson wants to update the 13-by-13-foot living room of her Annandale, Va., home, but she needs help creating a cohesive design and coordinating colors with the adjacent dining area and kitchen, which are open to the living area. She plans to get rid of the piano and wants to brighten the space, which will be used for conversation and entertaining. She is considering replacing the French doors with sliding glass panels.

Designer Annie Elliott brightens the space with paint and bold accent colors to create a more inviting conversation area, and adds a bar cart and end tables with room to store small items and linens from the adjacent dining room.

Remove the chair rail to give the room a more cohesive feel. Brighten the space with a warm off-white paint color. Try Linen White from Benjamin Moore on the walls and Simply White on the trim. Use wallpaper to create an accent wall to define the space and provide a focal point in the open floor plan. Update the design and add texture by swapping a natural fiber seagrass area rug for the existing Oriental rug. Curtain panels in a vibrant shade of green make the room feel cozy and give it a finished look. Two chairs upholstered in a neutral tone-on-tone animal print are a fun and unexpected accent. Keep the lovely French doors, as well as the existing coffee table and settee, and incorporate them in the new design to leave room in the budget for other high-impact items.

Elliott, with Bossy Color (, 202-265-0443), is based in the District.

SPLURGE: Tides 11-by-12-foot wool area rug in Conch with a narrow cotton border in Butter Rum ($1,524.60,, left. SAVE: Maui seagrass 9-by-12-foot area rug with border ($461,

SPLURGE: Square balustrade table lamps in gilded iron finish with natural paper shade ($419 each,, left. SAVE: Metallic prism table lamps in gold ($249 each,

Furniture: Paidge 86.5-inch sofa in regal blue linen weave and poly-fill ($1,499,; Lorraine end tables in rustic brown ($599 each,; tripod iron side table in gold ($179,; Jill bar cart in antique gold ($499) and Leyland armless chairs in Cheetah Taupe Sunbrella Performance fabric and black finish ($1,034 each), both from

Accessories: Ezria green linen 48-by-96-inch curtain panels ($139.95 each) and CB brushed brass curtain hardware ($16.95 to $89.95), both from; stripe velvet jacquard pillow covers in green ($149 each,; Chinoiserie Chic hot pink pillows ($96 each,; gold crossed 28-by-42-inch etched glass mirror ($249.99,; country club adjustable floor lamp in natural brass ($263,

Materials: Thibaut’s Peacock Garden wallpaper in multicolor ($102 per roll,

See past room makeovers at Tell us about your design challenge. Send photos, room dimensions and contact information to

More from Lifestyle:

Wallpaper murals used to be a major splurge, but new tech is bringing them to the masses

How to keep towels soft and fluffy

How to make your outdoor space feel cozier and more inviting

How to buy a rug you’ll love — and keep it looking great