Living Room Makeover in Benjamin Moore's Dragonwell - Before and After

© Kelly Berg, 2012

It's been a few months since I painted my living room in Benjamin Moore's glorious full spectrum green, "Dragonwell." I've posted a few pics here and there, but never got around to showing the full before and afters of the space. It's been quite the process, and even though it's not "done" to my complete satisfaction, the fact of the matter is it's how we live and it is our real space. Since I'm all about authenticity and bravery, here goes!

The living room looked like this for the first 4-5 months. Totally unfinished. I bought a rug our first month here and, well, that was pretty much it. No sofa. Bare walls. And a paint color that I really couldn't stand. The furniture was a complete hodgepodge. And, did I sofa?

To be completely honest, I agonized over paint color for some time. For many reasons. (One of which I will get into eventually on The Brave New Home, but it's along the lines of this post.) I purchased the rug quickly because we needed something for our dog, at the request of our landlord. I found this beautiful rug on Overstock by Safavieh.

But then what?

We finally picked out a sofa and it was delivered in December. Another agonizing decision. However, our fabric selection - a dusty turquoise velvet -  got us one step closer to the wall color. The pillows helped, too. I picked these little guys up at Ross for $8 a piece. Total score considering I've seen the same thing at Anthropologie for five times the cost.

And here's the state of the room after the sofa. Oh geez. Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. What an eyesore!

There was a big problem at this point. And it's a problem I see again and again with light colored walls. I have found that when you bring in richly saturated pieces of furniture into a space, like I'd done here, and you don't give the walls some good depth of color, you end up creating a feeling that your furniture is floating. Of course, there is also the problem that there is nothing on the walls. That is definitely contributing to the overall sense of unbalance. But artwork can only go so far. And I wanted this space to feel cohesive, and rich and funky and cozy. I wasn't going to get that with those pale yellow walls.

So, I tested some greens. It's hard to see, but there is a bit of olive green in the area rug. And I was  completely inspired by the crazy green of my Ross pillow. Oh, and also the color of wine bottles. I became a little obsessed in my quest for the perfect "Wine Bottle Green." 

That's Dragonwell on the bottom. It was the clear winner.

Ahhh. Much better.

However, now there was an issue with furniture layout. At first it seemed like the most obvious place to put the sofa was directly across from the TV armoire (which couldn't move, by the way, because of the cord situation.) But, as we lived in the space, we realized it wasn't working out. You had to sit sideways and strain your neck if you wanted to stretch out and watch TV. Not to mention the horrible glare coming from the big picture window. So...the sofa moved to the wall. 

I purchased a few new/old things throughout the decorating process, mostly from estate sales. You may remember my very excited post about the pink chair. And the vintage bird prints were quite a find at 10 for a dollar. They are actually old menus from Swiss Air from 1958.

I also found a great brass sconce (shown in the far left corner of the room) after falling in love with some from Schoolhouse Electric. It's ingenious because it needs no wiring. It plugs right into the wall and the cord is hidden with a brass cover. Two screws and a couple of minutes and it was installed!

And these wall plaques I picked up at Tuesday Morning. I was hoping for something vintage, but they were so beat up they certainly looked the part.

The rest of the styling was done with stuff I already had. Mostly vintage. Books, silver dishes, candlesticks, an old game of dominos. Oh! And I did give my yellow mirror a coat of pink paint. Inspired, of course, by the lovely pink chair. (And it just so happens to be the same pink I used on the bedroom walls: Embroidered Flower, another full spectrum paint by Benjamin Moore.)

Here's some "final" befores and afters. And I use the word "final" loosely and in quotes, because I don't think a room should ever be "done." As I've said before, our homes are ever-evolving just like us. Or, at least, they should be. So, even though I'm done...for now, I know that this is just one version of our living room. Whether here or in another home entirely, this space will always be changing. And that's good, because that way I'll never run out of blog post ideas!


And a few more shots, since I only took about 300 of the space! 


Need help with your home's evolution? Give me call at 650.867.3896 or send me an email at to discuss your project.