The living room of Nancy Engler’s Alexandria home has become a playroom for Caroline, 2, and Evan, 5. Now the family wants to reclaim the space to showcase collectibles and entertain company.


By including display space and hidden toy storage, designer Melinda Cunningham makes the room work for everyone.

Cunningham (703-323-0911) is based in Fairfax.

Use a leaning shelf to display photos, plants and books. It adds industrial flavor to a room.

Subtle patterns spice up a neutral space. The window panels and rug add a hint of glamour.

Nancy Engler and her daughter Carollne, 2. (Leah L. Jones/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

Paint the walls a neutral color such as Manchester Tan by Benjamin Moore.

The more lighting options, the better. This way, you’ll have complete control when it’s time to entertain.

Closed storage units can double as a console table. Use them to keep toys out of sight.

Keep it casual. A pair of ’50s-style leather chairs are great for informal gatherings.

Designate an accent wall for art. Paint it Benjamin Moore’s Rhubarb, a traditional yet unexpected choice.


Furniture: Cavett chairs ($1,199 each) and Era coffee table ($499), both from www.crateandbarrel.com; Freeman storage units with solid doors ($449 each, www.westelm.com); Studio shelf ($349, www.potterybarn.com); Lucent nesting tables ($349) and Foundry C table ($129), both from www.cb2.com.

Lighting: Kenroy Reeler lamp ($110, www.lampsplus.com); Peter Talbot lamp in brass ($525, www.homeclick.com).

Accessories: “Inloveness Revisited” prints by Jeff Lewis ($60 each, www.20x200.com); window panels in Scribble Lattice ($34 each) and Gemma Orkin Protea pillow covers ($34), both from www.westelm.com; Morph vases ($49 each, www.home


Vaughn apartment sofa in Pebble ($1,499, www.crateandbarrel.com).

Istanbul rug ($699 for 8-by-10, www.westelm.com).

. . . OR SAVE

Loring sofa in wheat ($1,099 for 78-inch frame, www.roomandboard.com).

Capel Sahara rug in beige ($448 for 8-by-10, www.rugsdirect.com).

See past room makeovers by local designers.

Wanted: Photos of kids’ rooms for a House Calls makeover. Send photos, dimensions, ages and contact information to makeover@washpost.com.