Grace’s Living Room Makeover with Lulu and Georgia

by Grace Bonney

One of the interesting things about decorating any space is how much pressure there can be to make big decisions about decorating as soon as you move in. When we left NYC and bought our house, the only things we could afford to do were things we had to do: re-drywalling the upstairs (the walls were rotting from the inside out) and fencing off part of the yard (our then-neighbor’s dog was free-roaming and aggressive). Neither were the design-oriented decisions we wanted to make — which is so common with very old houses like ours — but they were the ones required at the time.

A little over four years later, we’re finally at the point where we can afford to make a few design-based decisions that don’t have to do with solving a structural problem. Both Julia and I spend a huge chunk of time in our living room and for the past four years it’s been the coldest (and one of the darkest) rooms in our house. We painted it a deep dark green a while back, but it’s mostly been a hodge podge of mixed furniture and styles and, honestly, more of a dog play room than anything else. But now that we’re settled in and have a better feeling of what we’d like this space to feel like, we’re ready to make some big changes. We’re thinking of all new paint, new furniture and a new layout that will be realistic for our many pets, but also create the more modern and pulled-together look we’re hoping for.

We decided to partner with Lulu and Georgia for our makeover because both Julia and I love the bright, modern feel their designs have. While we live the opposite of a modern California life, we want this living room to have that feel — something light and breezy to counteract the low ceilings and lack of sunlight this room gets on a daily basis. So we started pinning and making plans and today I’d love to see what you all think about our possible choices for decorations — and, most importantly, paint color. Here’s what we’re thinking for living room decor:

We’re definitely sold on the larger of the two sofas pinned above (I know, it’s white and we have pets, but I want a white sofa in my life just once and we plan on stain-treating it) but this Janice RAF sofa also caught my eye. For the rug, we’re torn between this Erin Gates rug, this striped Leesa rug, or this Nurae rug in Rust. All of them indulge in my love of graphic patterned rugs and will, thankfully, save me from my recent Sisal rug purchase that I realized I am allergic to (along with our pets who have been sneezing all the time) .

What I’m curious about is placement of things in the room. I’m tempted to rearrange things to make room for a left-sided sectional (with the chaise on the left), but how would you arrange things in this room? That door opposite the TV opens into the mud room and we can’t change it for now without major wall and carpentry work.

Facing east

Facing south

Facing southwest

Facing west

Facing northeast

Facing north

The door: I was thinking of stripping this down to the old original wood – thoughts?

Now let’s talk paint. My inspiration is something peachy and pink and fun, but I’m trying to find the perfect warm color that won’t feel like a pair of cold pink ballet slippers or a little girl’s room. Here are my choices. Do you have a favorite or a color you think we should try?

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  • A: How refreshing it is to see little chew marks on baskets and scratches on furniture. I often wonder how everyone on the face of this planet has pets, and immaculate furniture. Thought we were the only ones with animals who behave like, well, animals.

    B: That old, green door is what old-house dreams are made of-it’s perfect as is! :)

  • Oh I’m so excited! Love all of your choices and the overall feel of the design.

  • Can you let me know what paint color the walls are?? Perfect shade of dark green!

    • Chris

      It’s Benjamin Moore’s Sharkskin. BUT, it was mixed locally and came out WAY greener than it should have. Our painter agreed it probably was off a bit and isn’t true to the original color (which should be grayer)


  • I LOVE that you’re planning a pink toned living room! I am closing on a house soon and itching to paint the living room a pink hue, so eagerly watching what folks are going to suggest for you…. Also envious of those sofas. They a bit beyond my current budget. Hooray for dog friendly decor.

  • Well, I think if you got that sectional (or the larger of the couches) upholstered in leather you’d be good to go. Just put a furry throw on it for the dogs. Move the TV to the corner where your sectional is, now. Looks like there’s plenty of room in that corner. Then position the couch or sectional facing that wall with the two windows. It looks like that wouldn’t block the entrance to the kitchen. The wall units that you have already could have open shelving above them for books and other display pieces. I love that striped chair. If you go with the longer couch you could get another nice comfy chair. I like your color choices, too. Keep us posted!

        • the door? it requires new drywall and changing the other room attached (because it opens into the mudroom) so it’s a few grand, which i don’t know if we want to spend on that right now :(

  • what a beautiful room (as it is)

    enjoy the makeover

    my only advice is to sit on all the sittable furniture to make sure it is cozy and pleasant as your current ones seem to be,

    I had a pink living room once (including the ceiling), but quickly repainted the ceiling to white, then late,r the walls to a cornflower blue,
    someone mentioned the pink gave the sensation of being inside an organ, LOL

  • I used Benjamin Moore’s Sugarcane in my daughter’s room & it’s such a nice, peaceful pink. I can’t wait to see your finished design, I’m sure it will turn out beautifully!

  • We love Sherwin Williams Pink Shadow. It fills the room with such a beautiful warm color in the evening. Good luck!

  • sherwin williams – i’ve used their paint, and been happy with it. looked at farrow&ball, but didn’t see a color that i loved for that room – good luck! and maybe look at nail polishes for inspiration

    SW 6619 Sockeye
    SW 6625 Certain Peach
    SW 6611 Jovial
    SW 6351 Sweet Orange
    SW 6358 Creamery

  • This may or may not work depending on your dogs, but I cover our sectional with thick quilts that I wash on a regular basis. The couch is protected from our dog and our rotating cast of foster pups, but also lets me host company by simply folding the quilts up and storing them away. The couch also has washable slipcovers, so if accidents happen (and they have), the cushions aren’t ruined.

    Also, I love the pink. We’re planning to paint the outside of our bungalow pink, so I’m collecting color samples now. :)

  • Hey Grace
    what wonderful opportunity to infect your lives with all our ideas !

    I know Coral is the Pantone colour for 2019 but having lived/loved through it in the ’80s I am thinking of a really lovely eggy yellow. It would work perfectly with what you have already but it would change the mood so much. All dog /cats and girls would smile every time they came into the room AND it is like the sun…it warms everything up.

    Wishing you all the best post the demise of DesignSponge, have enjoyed looking every day for years…you were my first online home thingy and probably my last, x

  • I’m pretty obsessed with dark shades right now, but Farrow & Ball Setting Plaster looks like a bright white room with sunrise pouring in and that’s kind of perfect.

  • I think a white couch is a great idea ! We have always had really good couches and furniture and at one time we had 7 dogs and a cat ( down to 4 dogs now) . I used to cover couches with canvas drop cloths but they’re heavy to wash on the regular . I now use large Turkish towel blankets – light weight and large for coverage and easy to wash every couple days and they look really nice . I don’t recommend the stain treatment, they say it works but it really doesn’t.

  • That sofa looks HUGE AND DEEP…. I‘m small and I could never have a sofa that wide/deep as my legs would stick out in thin air…. I LOVE your old one – couldn‘t you just put throws on it and keep it?
    We had a sisal rug once in our kitchen & entry. The most annoying thing was the dust falling from it, and yes, the hay fever it created was gigantic too! But they are SO BEAUTIFUL….
    Leave that door alone, please – it‘s just so perfect in its old, rustic state.
    We once, when we rented, insisted to be allowed (in Switzerland you pay a fortune just to rent a place but you have NO RIGHTS whatsoever and MUST leave the place in the (perfect) state you went in, once you leave) to paint a few walls a very, very light ‚vieux rose‘ – It included a large fireplace, in a half moon shape and the owner of the whole building was adamant that it would be up to US to find either renters after us who would take over our ‚pink‘ or paint it all white again. It was however so stunning, made the room light and cheerful that, once we decided to move, EVERY single person coming to look at the lat insisted to keep the walls the way we painted them….. Living in our own houses in UK and France, we painted out hearts out, but always in light tones. We often found the dark tones too ‚closed in‘ or even depressing. I do LIKE to look at rooms in these colours but wouldn‘t want to live like that. So, I won‘t be a big help. Here in France, we live in a stone house from 1920 and it has large wooden panels with beautiful finishes, so we went for a ‚broken white‘ and in the entry with little light and mosaic floor we got a very light and friendly sunny yellow.
    Thank you for sharing your visions. You have a beautiful, cosy home and lovely pets!!!!! You know that a home without dogs is just a house; yours is a HOME :)

    • Kiki

      I don’t think I ever sit with my legs hanging over the sofa, we are big loungers, nappers and cuddlers, so I actually LOVE the idea of a deeper sofa where we can all pile up together and watch movies :)

      Our current sofa is trashed (down to the wood in the back, check my insta stories for more pictures) so I looked into having it reupholstered and it will cost as much as a new sofa to redo, so instead we found a place where we can donate it to a good home in our town.


  • Please please please…before buying furniture that has to be “stain-treated” look into the chemical/health ramifications of doing so.
    For you and your fur-babies….

  • I’ve recently become obsessed with pink – specifically warm, soft, enveloping pink, such as Sherwin Williams’ “Romance”. The green of the door would be a nice contrast; however, I’m with you on stripping it, but not too cleanly. I think that would give you a fresher feel. A couch slipcovered in a washable fabric would be a good pet-friendly solution to the wish for white. Whatever you come up with, it’s going to be gorgeous and I for one can hardly wait to see the transformation! And may I also say here that I have been a faithful reader of D*S almost since your inception, giving me so much inspiration and joy. Every day I open my email, yours is the first one I open before all others. Thank you!

  • I’ve never been a big fan of pink, but that’s just me. I prefer a raspberry color, like the rug shown. I ADORE that mcm burnt auburn chair! Sounds like you want to get away from green, so yes, I would strip the door. Love those cabinets also. Ok, this is going to sound weird, but there is a new line from Drew Barrymore at Walmart and she has amazing lamps with velvet shades. Good luck!

  • Love the Farrow & Ball pinks. Modern, but look nice in an old house and are soothing.
    Love your furniture choices. I agree about switching the placement of TV and sofa if you want something new, and also less glare on the TV, right? Seems economical to drop a new cable to that outside wall.
    I’m with you to strip the door back to wood. Think it would be beautiful with new light palette.
    This is going be a new light, fresh room for your new chapter! Good luck!

  • Grace, do your cats claw your tugs? How do you deal with it? I really want to get a large rug for my living room. I saw some that I like at L&G, but I’m pretty sure my cat would destroy them. Is there such a thing as a cat-resistant rug?

  • I just have to say, I absolutely love your house so much! I love the oldness of it, the floors, the simple trim and things like the brick chimney in the corner. Even the doorknobs are perfection. And it just seems to be a happy home on top of being a beautiful house.

    I’m really biased by my preservation mindset, so keep that in mind here. I’d say leave the door as it is. That kind of patina is irreplaceable. And as for the mudroom door, I think it’s a little point of interest on that wall. I can’t see any reason to change it. Would it work to have a sectional sofa with the back of it creating a kind of passage to that mudroom door and kitchen? So in the “facing south” photo, have the corner of the sectional where the current end of the couch is. With the back of the couch where the cute chair is now. Basically the opposite of the current couch arrangement. Having said that, where your sofa is now is perfect because the dogs can lounge in the sun!

    I think you’ve already figured out your priorities: lounging and cuddling! That’s what this room is for! I share my couch with a salty smelling and constantly shedding little pug. I’d rather cover all the furniture with sheets and blankets, and have a steady laundry rotation, than give up my pug cuddles!

    )You’re so brave to open up to all the opinions of strangers!)

  • I was terrified to go pink but I when I finally did my large north facing living room in Benjamin Moore “Elephant Pink ” I LOVED it for 10 years- but it was too cold. You are right to go for a warmer tone. Now I’ve moved I have BM Alabaster in my smaller, south facing rooms, which reads as a expansive, subtle, soft plaster white that’s been there forever ( in a good way). When the sun sets it glows the faintest pink in the corners. For your space I’d say err on the side of more pink, less coral. It will age better and be more versatile over time. I would recommend the BM Soft Pink or BM Tissue Pink and swatch swatch swatch. Hope this helps!

  • Your room looks very cozy and I cannot wait to see the After. I love the beam ceiling and I would leave the door as is – or leave it as is for now and you always reconsider the stripping once the room has the new design.
    I would recommend that you consider buying the sofa (both are gorgeous) in leather. I have two dogs and white leather sectional and I have had zero problems. Any stains (like paw prints etc) – I am not talking about red wine or other heavy duty stains (no experience with those) – wipe easily off and all is good.
    I love, I repeat, I LOVE the Nurae rug in Rust – imagine how beautifully it will compliment the bit of the exposed brick and it will also go beautifully with the pink walls (I would choose pink that is leaning a bit towards peachy, just a hint).
    I have never been into pastel colours, especially not into pink, but there has been so much of it everywhere lately that I am starting to feel like light cracks in my armour.

  • I love the warm pink color Orlando Soria painted his bedroom: I suspect the color looks lighter than it is in pictures, but maybe that color in a lighter shade?

    One thing that really stands out to me in pictures is how your window treatments make your windows look smaller than they are, and they block a lot of light coming into the room. Have you thought of doing a window treatment that you could pull back to expose the whole window? Higher and wider curtain rods and a small light filtering roller shade like Daniel Kanter uses could look really good and maximize your natural light in there.

  • I used Benjamin Moore Sun Kissed Peach in three rooms in my house. It makes the walls glow but doesn’t scream “PINK!!”

  • I am so excited to see what this room turns out to look like, I love Lulu & Georgia products! In regards to the green door, I think it looks perfect as it is! I love the exposed/distressed brick pillar detail, so beautiful! And the white beams are to die for. But yeah your room is tricky nut to crack terms of layout! It’s like you kinda need to put the sofa in front of the TV but then there’s the mudroom doors there. And there aren’t really many other options for the TV position! Not that you can move it anyways (I read your comment). Side note – I know you can’t change the placement of the mudroom doors, however french doors might look amazing in the place of the current doors! I think they would really help open up the space visually. Of course that would then involve having an immaculate looking mudroom at all times (maybe you do already haha!)

    I’m curious to see how you solve it!
    xo Vivien

  • Have you looked at Room and Board for sofas? They have some deep ones that are great for lounging and piling on. We have three dogs so use lots of throws over the couch. And, they even work as an extra bed in a sudden guest pinch. BTW, we live in a house with low ceiling and vigas in NM. You might want to rethink the window treatments and hang whatever you choose closer to the ceiling. It makes the room look bigger. Have you thought about American Clay for the living area?

  • I’m late to the commenting game, but I love Farrow & Ball’s Calamine for pink paint. My home office was painted that color, and it was such happy place.

  • Pink Ground by Farrow and Ball is a nice pink without it being overwhelmingly pink.

  • F+B Setting Plaster is a great color! I painted a living room Calamine from F+B and it was surprisingly versatile. Always love a sectional–everyone fights for the cozy corner! I’d go for a bigger, more rectangular coffee table, or a big ottoman that can do double duty(triple duty?) as a foot rest, extra seating or dog snooze spot.

  • For a pink/peach, I like Clare paint in Wing It. It renders differently depending on the light (like all paints, I suppose), so def test it out first.