Before and after – clever use of colour has transformed this living room

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  • A chilly, bland-looking living room is now relaxed and welcoming, thanks to a splash of dark blue

    The living room was the first space this busy couple tackled, after taking on the renovation of a one-bedroom flat in North London. ‘We chose it because we both have demanding jobs and needed a place to unwind at the end of the day,’ says the owner. ‘And we were excited at the chance to showcase the furniture and things we’d collected over the years!’

    See all of our living room ideas

    The worst part was the floor, which had been stained a dark orangey brown and had thick, shiny varnish. Stripping the boards and waxing them in a light grey instantly made the room look bigger. Building shelving also maximised the space, and created storage. ‘We opted for bespoke shutters for privacy without blocking out light,’ he adds.


    Image credit: Chris Snook

    Simple shutters
 are great solution for unusual shapes, such as these arched windows, especially because they don’t cover or detract 
from them.

    ‘The walls were sky blue and muddy magnolia before, which made the room look lifeless,’ says the owner. ‘I wanted to create some energy and impact, so opted for two walls in dark blue and two in soft grey for contrast.’

    Get the look
    Buy now: Walls painted in Farrow & Ball Stiffkey Blue Estate emulsion, £45 for 2.5L, B&Q
    Enquire online: Shutters, £1,200, Hillarys


    Image credit: Chris Snook

    A mid-century-style sofa has clean lines that don’t over-complicate the scheme, for a smart, simple look. ‘We think it’s best not to be afraid to go for a modern vibe in a period property,’ says the owner.

    Get the look
    Buy now: Brunel sofa, £999, Heal’s
    Buy now: Similar Gleam coffee table, £223,


    Image credit: Chris Snook

    Painting the fire surround in the same colour as the chimney breast wall gives the Victorian fireplace a more contemporary feel and simplifies the scheme for a clean, unfussy finish.

    Get the look
    Buy now: Stockholm mirror, £60, Ikea
    Buy now: Similar Axis pendant lamp, £313, Super Studio


    Image credit: Chris Snook

    ‘This corner was the perfect place for a leather chair we’d bought years ago,’ says the owner. ‘It’s next to the window and is a bright spot for coffee and the papers in the morning.’

    A case stack is flexible as storage and 
side tables.

    Get the look
    Buy now: Marlon armchair, from £1,290, The Conran Shop


    Image credit: Chris Snook

    The owners thought the dark blue walls would contrast well with bright accessories. ‘We also have a large collection of books and a dark backdrop makes the sleeves stand out.’

    Get the look
    Buy now: Similar Crewel Ombre Sunset cushion cover, £29, West Elm


    Image credit: Chris Snook

    Another fab transformation. Before and after: Take a look around this bright and airy living room 

    The project took about a month and was a labour of love as the couple did it themselves. ‘I’ve been studying interior design and have set up Andrew Jonathan Design, and this was my first chance to put my ideas into action,’ says the owner.

    ‘I’m really proud. I love the flow of the room now and how it all works together. It feels like such a calm, tranquil space.’

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