Fresh Traditional Interior Decorating Reveal

 Weird times right now.  I’m so happy that we could squeak this installation in before the government shut down all non-essential businesses because the reaction from the client will carry me straight through to the other side of this pandemic.

Heating “You’ve made my first home on my own finally feel like a home” was just the best gift a girl could ask for.  It was SO hard to maintain #socialdistancing and not hug my client during this reveal! 

Really.  I wish you could have been there to see it.  It was a heartwarming moment.  

But since you couldn’t, I thought I’d share the complete before + after reveal on the blog here as I haven’t don that in quite a while now.

So, you know me.  I always say that my style when it comes to being a designer is YOUR style. My goal is to make every home a reflection of who lives there.  This home was no different.  The client loved her antiques.  Had a light and bright traditional style, however she described her home as builder basic.

It had beige walls.  Beige floors.  Dark cabinetry.  It was more drab than fab.

Here’s what the open concept living, dining and kitchen area looked like before we got to designing… 


The client had struggled with the layout of this room setting the dining beside the kitchen and then the living area next to that.  Sitting in the living area felt cramped.   And though the sofa was new, it was the least comfortable thing any of us had EVER sat on.  Seriously, you might as well had been sitting on a bed of concrete!  The client hated it, and we could certainly see why.

On the other hand, there were a lot of really good things in this space.  The wingback chairs are timeless and, unlike the sofa, they were incredibly comfortable.  And the client’s dining table and chairs were just the right size and wood tone to complement the cabinetry.


This is a new build that the client purchased from the original owner.  So the cabinetry and countertops were brand new and it would be irresponsible to change them.  This meant we had to work with the dark wood and layout that both us and the client would have opted to do differently, however we were tasked with lightening it up and helping it feel more modern.

Can we just talk for a minute about this glass backsplash tile?  Are we seriously still using it?  This tile was popular in the early 2010’s, and is still being used far too often today.  It’s too busy for most homes and doesn’t suit the style of the vast majority of homes in this area.


Just beside the kitchen was what I lovingly referred to as the “hallway of doors”.  Including the bi-folds that house the laundry (not shown here), there were 7 DOORS in this small hallway leading to the front bedroom, bathroom, entry, garage, basement, laundry, and storage.  

This wasn’t something we could change without completely redoing the entire floor plan of this house, so it was a challenge we needed to work with to help liven it up and make it feel more like a home.


I’m realizing that my before photos don’t show the original layout that well.  This is what I get for going to a consult without Kyle!  This is usually his job… lol.

But, so that you can get the picture, this media unit was across from the sofa and chairs.

The sofa on the back wall was under a window.  And next to the sofa on the same wall was some slider patio doors.  You’ll see that better in the after photos!

Step 1 of the Interior Decorating Process:  Getting Measurements + Client Interview

The first thing we do with any project is to get measurements of the room and sit down with our clients to really understand their personality, what they love, what they don’t like, how they use the space, and even things like where they travel.

The layout was the biggest challenge in this space.  A living room and dining room didn’t fit well side-by-side.  Especially sitting in the living room you felt too close together.. it was very awkward.

The tray ceiling also posed a challenge because the lighting was hung dead centre and the ceiling was textured.  We didn’t have in the budget to scrape and smooth the ceiling.  We also didn’t want to have to get into redoing the electrical.  So the layout needed to work around the lighting, whereas we would typically do it the other way around.

The kitchen layout was fine, but the cabinetry sucked up a lot of light in the room and we wanted the space to feel lighter and brighter.  Though the walls and floors weren’t dark, this particular shade of beige felt a bit repressive.

The client described her style as “what they used to sell at Bombay Company”.  Remember those stores?  I’m sad they went bankrupt.  Their stuff was really pretty! 

Essentially it’s ivory and soft whites.  Rich dark wood tones.  And a luxe and layered styling.

The client was a bit afraid of colour.  She’s actually joke when I came over “I was going to buy the white tulips at the store today, but I knew you were coming so I had to get some colour in here!“.  She was open to it, but I think she was a little afraid I’d make her home super bold and colourful.  


Step 2 of our Interior Decorating Process: Conceptual Design

When I’m pulling together a conceptual design, I always begin by giving the project a mood board and some words.  I haven’t seen a lot of other interior design firms do this, but I really think it helps pull the thread straight through to the final reveal.

This project’s words were “Light + Layered Updated Traditional”.

This was one of the inspiration images for the space, except we knew we would use less colour as this client loves ivory everything.


Design by: Amber Interiors

It was the jumping off point for the soft blues, reds and barely there greens that we pulled around the space.

Now, white would have been all wrong for this room.  It would have dated the cabinets and made the client’s beloved wingback chairs feel dingy.  So, we decided to use Benjamin Moore’s Ivory White 925 on the walls throughout the space.

After I pull together dozens of images, I narrow down to about 6 with the direction of my words Light + Layered Updated Traditional and pull together the initial conceptual renderings.  

Here’s what those looked like:

Instead of having the sofa pushed against the wall under the window, I floated it about 2/3 of the way across the room leaving about 3′ of hallway behind it for easy access to the back patio doors.

This really opened up the layout allowing me to shift the TV stand to the opposite side of the room (it used to sit on the wall behind where we put the sofa) and put the two wingback chairs on either side.

We added some soft colour via an area rug and some thicker floor to ceiling draperies to help combat the weird tray in the ceiling. 


By shifting the dining table beside the kitchen peninsula the room felt MUCH larger and it eliminated the big dance-floor vast space as well as the cramped furniture arrangements.

There was a random flushmount fixture right above where we placed the table which we planned to swap for a pendant in order to anchor the table.

Behind the sofa couldn’t be ignored either!  It was the perfect place to plan for something special like a gallery wall.

We weren’t doing much in the kitchen but needed to lighten it up.  Changing out the backsplash was the most budget-friendly option to accompany some styling.  You can see already in this conceptual rendering how much lighter and brighter the kitchen feels!

You may notice that the flooring is dark.  The client originally wanted to change out the flooring throughout to a mid-tone walnut stained hardwood or LVP.

However, during our Trade Day we discovered that although the flooring and installation would cost just $5,000-$6,000, the removal of the existing tile and subfloor work that would be required would drive that up to $12,000.  That was 80% of the budget for this project, so we decided to forego the flooring in favour of more furnishings and decor.

We all stood at the final reveal and were glad we left the flooring as-is!  Even though the tile meeting hardwood wasn’t ideal, the furniture placement really hid it well and the lightness of the current hardwood lent itself well to the overall design.

Are you moving, building, renovating or redecorating?  Let us help you make your home stylish, comfortable, and a reflection of who you are.

Check out our full range of interior decorating and design services here.

Step 3 of our Interior Decorating Process:  Full Design Plan + Sourcing

Because our initial discovery process with our clients is so thorough, most of our clients love the initial concepts that we present and this client was no exception!  This meant that after the concept + budget meeting we could move directly to developing the full design plan.

We always present a budget during the concept + budget meeting and because we host a trade day before the client sees any concept, we can be fairly confident that what we present at the final design meeting will meet that agreed upon budget.

In this case we budgeted $7,000 for construction and finishes.  This included paint + painter.  Backsplash tile + installation.  Carpet in the adjoining bedrooms + installation.  And lighting fixtures + handyman to swap them.

Because we could re-use much of the furniture already in the space, our furniture budget was much lower than usual at $6,350.  Typically, if starting from scratch in a living room it would be $12,000-$15,000 for furnishings and decor.

Here are some of the items we presented at the design presentation:


I’ve been trying to get a client to use this sofa for a while and was SO excited when this client loved it as much as I do.  I just knew that in a lighter fabric this sofa would be a stunner (and once I show you the reveal photos, I think you’ll agree!)

We also modified the seat cushion to be a single bench seat so that this piece felt a bit more traditional.

The sofa is available through our Comfortable Dwelling boutique and retails from $1,915.00 CAD. (Price as of March 23, 2020 and is subject to change).

This was the original rug from the concept, however when we do our full design plan we always order samples of rugs wherever possible.

Cameras use light in order to capture images and light hits horizontal surfaces differently than vertical ones.  This means that rugs are often a different colour in the photo than in real life.

This was one of those cases.  When we got the sample in, the middle wasn’t this pretty chartreuse, but a bright fluorescent green (seriously, neon!) and the soft greyed blue was more bubblegum than timeless.

So, we opted instead for this rug (also from the Comfortable Dwelling boutique) that had the soft greens and blues that we were looking for with some ivory and taupes mixed in to play nicely with the wingbacks.

Step 4 of our Interior Decorating Process:  The Installation and Reveal

I’ve said this before… but I’m skipping a few steps that aren’t really that sexy for a blog post…. really we go through each product approval, procurement, logistics of delivery to our warehousing facility, inspections, and THEN we schedule the reveal… Kyle takes care of all that because he’s much better at details than I am.  I just want to make everything look pretty and talk to people all day!

The sofa was a real SHOWSTOPPER in this living room.  I think it was genius to switch to a bench seat (modest, I am not).  And just LOOK at that curved frame with the knife edge back cushions.  Swoon!


Photography:  Art and Spaces

The back wall changed up because the client decided that she really wanted to pull her books out of storage.  So, instead of a gallery wall, we opted for her antique desk and a couple of bookcases!

Photography:  Art and Spaces

The wingbacks now look dynamic and chic rather than tired with updated toss pillows and a fresh ivory wall to be placed upon.

On the TV stand, we pushed the TV to one side to bring in this Monet canvass, a tall blue vase with olive branches, and some of the client’s grandmother’s crystal.

I just adore this view of the new living room!

Photography:  Art and Spaces

Are you moving, building, renovating or redecorating?  Let us help you make your home stylish, comfortable, and a reflection of who you are.

Check out our full range of interior decorating and design services here.

Moving the dining room in front of the refrigerator area (with plenty of room for ample walkways within the kitchen and around the table) really was the different maker in this layout.  Look at how much more pulled together this looks!

This is a great view to see the lighting changes.  We opted for antique bronze rather than the existing nickel fixtures to really warm up the room.

The antique dinner bell with pineapple topper was a special find at a local antiques shop.  I cleaned that sucker like 10 times to get all the years of dirt and grime off it and I think it makes such a special addition to the dining table.

Oh, and these are the tulips the client buys when I come over!  She opted for colour instead of white and I was stoked because there’s a hint of purple in the rug and this spoke to that beautifully.

Photography:  Art and Spaces

Can you believe this is the same kitchen?  It’s amazing what the right tile and some styling can do.

We opted for an arabesque tile with a subtle pattern and I worked my styling magic to bring this kitchen to life!

Photography:  Art and Spaces

Choosing a patterned tile that will be timeless can be tricky.  First, this tile is in a classic colour that never goes out of style: off-white.  It’s not in a trendy neutral like grey, greige, black or beige that come and go in short fashion.

Secondly, the pattern is super subtle.  Really it feels more like texture from any distance.

And third, the shape of the tile — an arabesque — is a classic.  Had we opted for a larger scale it may date a lot faster overall.


Before + After Design Comparisons

This project wasn’t easy.  It had a tricky layout and needed a ton of styling help.  In fact, styling items including area rugs accounted for nearly 30% of our budget!

However, with a lot of careful planning, it was another successful reveal for us.  The client said “now I know why people cry!“.  She was over the moon and send us this text:

That’s the power of diving into our client’s personal style.  You can see that this project is quite different than many others.  Most interior design professionals have their own aesthetic, but I don’t want you to live in a house designed for me.  I want you to live in a home that screams you.  The journey that we take you through in discovering and refining that style and really drawing it out of you is my favourite part of the job.  More than the design itself.  More than the installs.  More than all the pretty.  It’s the journey with the client that makes my job truly special.

Now let’s wrap this puppy up with some before and after comparisons!