Denise’s and Joe’s fabulous living room. How can we bring it into the 21st century?

by Patricia Cove

A few weeks ago, I had asked for readers interested in a virtual redesign of a space to send me photographs of rooms that needed some updating or a new look. I received many terrific photos and landed on a project belonging to a terrific couple, whose home we helped design nearly 20 years ago.

The owners of the home, Denise and Joe, are both creative themselves and wanted a home that was warm, inviting and expressed their love of both traditional and modern furnishings and an aesthetic that would serve well for both entertaining, and comfortable living.

The photos accompanying this article are of the room as it was designed nearly 20 years ago. And although it still looks fabulous, there are some changes that could be made to bring it into the 21st century, while still maintaining that warm and welcoming feel.

The Dutch Colonial home, purchased in the early 90s, was solidly built, but the interior rooms were stark and devoid of interesting architectural features.

So Denise and Joe went about adding deep crown moldings to the over eight-foot-high ceilings, purchased a beautiful fireplace surround from a Lambertville antique store and selected a warm color scheme of taupe and cream that would soon coordinate with furnishings and fabrics.

On either side of the fireplace, two symmetrical doorways lead into a sun porch/logia room that would become a light filled workspace and office.

The seating arrangement naturally surrounded the fireplace, and a flared, armed, tufted sofa was chosen, teamed with an existing, comfy loveseat that was recovered in a black and taupe miniature animal print. Buffalo silk plaid drapery panels atop three taupe silk shades were designed to feature a trompe l’oeil filigree decorative painting that was centered above the window frame and directly below the crown molding. A black and cream area rug delineated the seating arrangement with a rectangular cocktail table and rounded back armchair. The color black, used as accent throughout the room, complemented the warm tones and added sophistication within the space.

The room became a respite for Denise and Joe, especially after they converted the right-side sunroom entrance into a compact entertainment center. Folding French doors were added, and the interior mechanics and woodwork were all painted in dark tones to help camouflage the components. So, when the doors are closed the symmetry of the room remained.

Once the entertainment center was added, the room became more of a gathering space and took on the dual functions of entertaining and living. This avoided the common occurrence these days of ignoring a formal living room to spend time in a more informal family room/kitchen space. Denise and Joe began to realize that as beautiful as this room was, it was in need of some changes that would make it more appealing as this dual functioning space.

Now comes the fun! In Part Two of this project, we are going to explore the various ways that this room can become even more functional, while also taking on a more modern, twenty-first Century appearance! Watch for Part Two in the June 11 issue of the Local.

Patricia Cove is the Principal of Architectural Interiors and Design in Chestnut Hill, and can be reached through her web site at

Please take the time to support our journalism. You can do that with a subscription or with a tax-deductible donation to the Chestnut Hill Community Fund, which launched a support fund for the Local to help us remain funded during this pandemic. Thank you for your support!