Raised Ranch Living Room Before And After: The “Mom Cave”

The client on this project definitely makes the list for top favourite clients of all time.  She came to us because her and her husband had just purchased a new raised ranch style home just a few blocks away from their current home in the same style.

It’s a bit larger, but the living and dining room was small and a bit of a challenge to envision just how it could all come together.

This house has a cool basement space that her husband and the kids hang out in all the time so the upstairs living room was all for her.  When the kids go to bed it’s where she settles in to watch HGTV shows and scroll on her iPad.

The house had a very deep and moody vibe to it.  The walls were mustard yellow — definitely not her colour.  And there were overstuffed brown leather sofas on a weird angle.

The previous owner’s dining table was very similar to theirs that would need to work into the room, however she just couldn’t work out how to place furniture an a TV in the space and still make it feel light, airy, and welcoming.

Here’s what it looked like before:

Okay, so let’s break this down.

First, if you’ve been reading here a while you know that I’m certified in Design Harmony which is the study of how we neurologically respond to beauty in our home.

Every single person has their own personal definition of beauty that is hardwired into our DNA.

So, while the previous homeowners loved the warmth of the mustard and chocolate, this scheme made our client feel queasy.

What’s interesting is that when we walk into a room that we don’t find aesthetically pleasing, our body gives us a shot of cortisol.  Yup — that’s the stress hormone.

We couldn’t have that!  This is supposed to be a “mom cave” for this young mom to chillax in.  No. Stress. Allowed.

On a side note, can we just talk about overstuffed sofas for a minute?

This sofa is angled because it’s too big for the room.  But the sofa we chose was actually longer and had more room to lie out on it.

Overstuffed is not only ugly as sin, but it’s an ergonomic nightmare.  

While it looks cozy and comfy, long term these overstuffed sofas can wreak havoc on our back, hips, and shoulders.

They should be outlawed.   I’m not even exaggerating… when I’m Prime Minister I will outlaw overstuffed sofas.  It’s for the good of the people. 

I’m currently awaiting Orthopeadic Surgery for my back and the waiting list is over 18 months.  I blame these sofas for the long list of people in line ahead of me.

I digress… 

We began this project during COVID shut downs so we worked primarily from the Real Estate Photos because the old owners wouldn’t let the new owners back in for measurements and such.

This always makes our clients nervous, but honestly we do a lot of Distance Design work so it was nothing new for us.

The first step, as always, was to conduct our Style + Ideas session.

Here are some of the pictures she sent over and liked:

This is probably the inspiratio image I’m sent most often by clients.  It’s a room done by Studio McGee and the architecture in this space is just incredible.  Look at those beams!

What she loved about this room was the rustic vibe that the beams gave.  She also liked the colour of the sofa and the lighting fixture.

She didn’t like the chairs, coffee table, of some of the more muted colours in the room.

This is about a $30,000 living room (the living room area only) and we had about 1/3 of that for this room.

But she just kept coming back to those beams so I knew we had to get some reclaimed wood in there somewhere.

The client told me that this is how she’s doing her Master Bedroom.  Basically an exact copy of this room.  She loves the rug (but didn’t want one similar in the living room).  

She also adored the watercolour art.  Anything watercolour is something that just lights her up.

The colours also appealed to her.  Peach is her favourite colour of all time.  She’s loved it her whole life since she was a kid. 

Her husband didn’t like this style of chair.  He wasn’t super picky or involved in the process, but husbands always know what they don’t like!

This is another living room that the client loved. It has a much more Boho vibe then the last one.  She liked the colour of the sofa, but not the thick track arm.  She prefers a thinner arm.

She also loved the rug in this room that has big pattern and colour to it.

And there’s that peach again!

When narrowing inspiration images I always ask my clients to send images that inspire them without thinking about how it’ll work in their space.  Heck, it doesn’t even have to be the same room type (or a room at all!  Sometimes they send nature photos or vacation photos.)

This client LOVED the green sofa in our studio:

Get all the key furnishings for your room for one flat fee

However, she wasn’t quite ready to invest in a green sofa at the moment for her living room.  That felt a bit too bold for her.

But she loved the idea of adding a hit of gold in the space and also some green somewhere.

This was the last inspiration image.

When we broke down this one it turns out she only really liked the art and the hit of rose gold.

She wasn’t crazy about the english roll arm sofa, the wall colour, or the bright blue.

After doing her style profile, we defined her style as “Soft European Transitional”.

This client chose our 1 Room 1 Price Living Room package at the “Key Furnishings” level which means that all of the key furnishings for the living room was included along with the design fee.  

When I saw this designer fabric that comes out of Europe, I just KNEW we landed on the inspiration piece for the space.  It was so her!

Watercolour?  Check.  Peach? Check.  Green? Check.

This fabric is available by the yard through our shop.  It’s also available for custom furniture, pillows, and drapery panels.  Email us to inquire.

From here we pulled out the very light grey colour for the upholstery pieces.

We went with the Audrey Sofa (which you can purchase from our online shop here):

This is a larger scale sofa which I loved because in a small space I like to use fewer, larger pieces to avoid “leg clutter”.

Leg Clutter is when there are too many furniture pieces with legs all sitting close to each other.  All you see is a bunch of legs and the room begins to feel overcrowded.

By using fewer pieces and incorporating some that are on a pedestal rather than legs it really helps to open up the space and help the room feel larger.

The Audrey sofa has thin track arms which ties in nicely to the European influence that this client loves.

Whenever you’re buying a sofa with back cushions make sure that the back cushions are loose and never sewn onto the back of the sofa.  They do that to save on costs — sewing the back cushions to the frame can save hundreds of dollars in fabric but it almost always rips at that seam. Especially if you have little ones or pets.

Having a back cushion that’s reversible prolongs the life of the sofa overall.

For chairs, the clients couldn’t resist our Mollie Chair when they saw it in the sofa.  It’s definitely our top seller.  Nice and big and comfy with vertically channeled detail on the back and a peg leg.


Modern Purple chair from Comfortable Dwelling in Tilbury Ontario

You can get the Mollie chair in an array of fabrics from our shop here.

With all of the light grey furniture, we had to add in a nice pop of colour to bring some life into the space.

Grey requires colour to come alive.  Without colour, neurologically grey has a real negative impact on our mood and we can’t have that when this is a place for mom to unwind!

I picked out this gorgeous peach and coral rug because it also had hints of green and light blue to incorporate their current dining set:


This is part of our rug collection over on shopcomfortabledwelling.com.  You can get it here.

Now we needed to add in some case goods for function.  A console for the TV, a coffee table, and an end table.

This was the 3D drawing that we did when presenting the space plan:

They have a dark brown table with dark brown chairs that they wanted to keep a few more years while the kids are young.  So, we needed to bring some of that dark wood into the living room area in order to ensure the table fit in well and didn’t look like something that needs to be replaced.

Also, remember how the client loved the rustic feeling that the beams in her inspiration photo brought in?  I knew that a dark reclaimed wood was going to be the perfect choice for the space.

It ties in to the dining table well and gives that bit of rustic mountain edge that the room needed to suit her style.

What’s more, natural elements like reclaimed wood have a calming effect on us.

Biophilic Design refers to using nature-inspired pieces in our spaces.  In fact, many advanced medical research facilities are actually prescribing biophilic interior design to their patiente instead of prescription drugs for chronic pain.  Cool, right?

Here are the pieces that we choose.  Our Bohemian Coffee Table and End Table are from the Comfortable Dwelling Shop (not available online, however available for purchase through inquiry).  And we got the very last one of these end tables before they were discontinued.  I’m sure glad we did because it suited the space perfectly and we needed a pretty small sized console to fit the space.

The pieces were chosen for the 1Room 1Price package and because we got some steals from our supplier with the console being discontinued and the rug being a flat woven that’s a bit less than we’d normally include, we were able to also include this amazing textured wallpaper.

It’s very subtle but adds this nice hint of texture to the space:

It’s just this hit of texture because a raised ranch style home has a LOT of wall space that’s visible and not very many natural breaking points to do a statement ceiling or anything like that.

It’s done in an ecru colour — which is basically an off-white.

This led us to our perfect paint colour.  The client really wanted white walls.  But a pure white like Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore would have been too stark and contemporary.

We opted instead for Alabaster by Sherwin Williams.

It’s an off-white that’s a bit warmer overall.  The perfect shade to tie in the light grey tones on the sofa, the ecru in the wallpaper, and the bits of off-white and cream in the rug.

It’s a very similar shade to White Dove by Benjamin Moore but just a touch warmer.


So now that the plan was complete and approved by the client it was time to get to ordering!

Every furniture project will have a delay at some point.  Something will come in damaged (about 20% of items do because furniture is very tough to ship!).  Sometimes parts get backordered.

In this case, the fabric for the sofa was snagged and had to be reordered.  Then the frame came in wrong to the supplier and had to be reordered.

Part of our 1 Room 1 Price service is dealing with these issues as they arrive.  We act as the advocate for the client to get suppliers to rush shipments that have been delayed or to find alternative solutions when COVID puts a knick in our plans.  It’s great for the client because they know they’re taken care of and don’t have to be involved.

Despite the unavoidable issues with the sofa, we received everything in time for them to get the house and be done with painting and papering.

(In this case we were doing the Key Furnishings Package, however some of our 1 Room 1 Price packages include a professional painter and wallpaper trade!)

About 2 weeks before installation, we did a Styling Meeting where I ask the client a bunch of questions and show them a lot of photos to understand how they like a room styled.

This client loves decor and likes a lot of it on the tables and such.

She didn’t like as much on the walls.

She loved colour and texture and really, there wasn’t much in the decor arena that she didn’t like.  So that made shopping for the decor really fun.

We decided that since they were on a budget after moving costs that we would do decor from Homesense and other inexpensive retail stores.

This is always a challenge because finding exactly what you need at stores that don’t carry regular inventory and are very picked over right now can be tricky.

Add to that the fact that I haven’t been able to walk or stand more than 2-3 minutes in months with my back injury… well… it was interesting.

Basically I brought Kyle (our Project Manager and husband extraordinaire) with me to the stores. 

I’d lean over the cart using it as a crutch for a 2-3 minute dash throwing things in then I’d leave him with a list and we would FaceTime from the car so that I could pick a bunch of pieces that might work.

We bought a LOT more than we needed because I wasn’t able to play around with things at the store.

Instead, we brought it all home and I taped out the size of her coffee table, end table, dining table, and console table at my place then arranged the pieces we had onto the taped squares until I was happy with the outcome.

We packed up the “yesses” and set the “no’s” in a pile to be returned or used in a future job.

It wasn’t the most efficient way to use our time, but hey!  It got the job done and we were able to get some really stunning decor pieces to wrap up the job.

Are you ready to see how it turned out?

Here’s a little before + after action from the same viewpoint so that you can really see the transition:


Isnt’ that just a breath of fresh air?

Even their beat up table looked so much better after complementing the colour throughout the room and adding some easy-to-move styling items:

Once they finish up the work in the kitchen and get some art on that wall this view will look even better!

Notice that even though there were blinds for light control we still added draperies.  This is because the ceilings are only 8′ tall and by hanging drapery to the ceiling we create the illusion of more height.  It also is an opportunity to add a bit of soft colour to the room without having to paint an accent wall (which can look cheap).  These curtain panels are hung 5″ from the ceiling which is my go-to height for grommet panels.

I WISH the wallpaper showed up better in the photos.  It’s on this back wall behind the TV and it’s a stunning texture that’s so subtle and pretty.  With the lights on at night it REALLY shines!  Usually we have the pros over at Art & Spaces do our photography, but because of my back injury these were done by Kyle (Project Manager and Husband Extraordinaire) on his fancy new iPhone.

These are store-bought panel draperies so you’ll see that they still have some wrinkles in them.  We steamed them and pressed them twice, but you’ll never fully get all the wrinkles out on an install day with store-bought draperies (which is why, when the budget allows, we almost always go custom!)

But with some training, these guys will learn to behave.  You can read more about training store-bought curtains on my post here.

There’s that beautiful watercolour floral fabric from the Comfortable Dwelling Boutique!  It’s just the perfect hit of pattern on this sofa.

And check out this lamp I found at Homesense!  It has a pink tweed shade on it and a little pink tassel pull chain.  I almost died.  Can you believe it was only $69.99?

This coffee table is so fab because it has drawers on both sides so there’s plenty of spots for her iPad, chargers, remote controls, etc.  This means the top could be used for all the pretty stuff like a watercolour vase and that pretty seeded glass ball.

You can see the subtle texture of the wallpaper a bit better in this image.

All of the upholstery was done with an Alta treated fabric.

It’s magical if you have kids, or pets, or friends who like to party because:

1.  It’s chemical-free unlike the spray-on alternative that has been proved to cause Cancer.

2.  It’s done in a way that makes it an inherent part of the fabric itself so there’s no need to recoat every year like you need to with a spray-on treatment

3.  It repels stains like nothing I’ve seen before.  I’ve seen lipstick come out with just a paper towel and a bit of water.  Juice.  Red Wine.  Seriously, this stuff is good.

We have a huge selection of fabrics that are treated with an Alta stain-free technology.  Look for “kid and pet friendly” when shopping online at shopcomfortabledwelling.com.

Let’s take one more before and after look:

Doesn’t it look bigger and taller?

It’s amazing what the right scale and the right layout can do.

Now, if the warm colours of the before are more your jam, you could switch out the rug and the curtain panels and this would feel like a completely different room with the same impact of more height and space.  The sofa is bigger than what’s in there before, but takes up less space visually because of the tall legs and it not being an overstuffed monster.  We even fit in a TV!

Here’s what the client had to say after our installation:

I cried getting this email in the morning.  Seriously, top 10 client ever she’s just so sweet and was so fun to work with.

If you want your own 1 Room 1 Price transformation experience, click here to book a discovery phone call in order to get started.  We will chat more about your project, your budget, and whether the 1 Room 1 Price is the right fit for you. 

See more of our before + afters along with design tips on our Style Blog:

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