Laura Rennie

Room makeover // Cait’s living room

DecoratingLaura RennieComment

Last spring I was looking to get as much decorating experience as possible and decided to offer a free design service giveaway. Cait won, and we spent the next few months e-mailing about her living room until I was able to make the drive down to her home in Richmond, Virginia. This project ended up being a mix of an e-design and room makeover. It was a wild (but rewarding) ride!

Cait described her style as a mix of traditional and contemporary. She leans toward neutral colors and asked me to not use coral or yellow in the room (as she had already tried those colors and didn’t like them). She also used the words crisp, clean and cozy.

70 e-mails (!!), three months of shopping and two sweaty days in Richmond later...

As you can see from the before pictures, the room was off to a good start. Most of the big pieces were in place (rug, curtains, sofa, tv console, shoe storage), but Cait needed help finding art, a coffee table and/or side tables, different lighting and decorative accents. She had previously paid for an e-design with another decorator and was disappointed to find that the items picked out for her were out of her price range. I didn’t want her to have the same experience with me! I was determined to stay within her budget of $500.

Over a period of a few months, I shopped online and in-person for items I wanted to try in Cait’s space. One thing I often stress to clients is that most items can be easily returned, therefore try, try, try! (Just save your receipts!) Remembering that you can return an item can take the pressure off of feeling like you have to love and keep it. For example, both Cait and I fell in love with a pair of prints from Bed Bath & Beyond online, but we ended up hating how they looked in person. No problem — we returned them! I purchased a large piece of abstract art for Cait from HomeGoods knowing it would be a bit of a stretch for her to try something so modern-looking. Thankfully, the abstract art was a huge success! We were both struck by how the art instantly brightened the room. Notice how the colors in the artwork perfectly reflect the gray sofa and blue curtains.

I purchased some of the items ahead of time and brought them with me (thanks minivan!), while other items I had Cait purchase online and have delivered to her home. Cait ended up receiving two sets of nesting tables for FREE due to damage on her first order. We love that the smaller tables can be easily pulled out and placed in front of the sofa for entertaining! The gallery wall by the front door adds a touch of quirk to the space with the mismatched frames and adorable moose hook. We used a mix of new and previously owned items to create the gallery wall and tried various layouts by placing everything on the floor. 

We shopped together for the table lamp, baskets and plant. I wonder what the employees of Home Depot thought of us lugging baskets into the garden center and plopping various plants into them!

I’ve left Cait with a little bit of homework: order a print for the large frame in her gallery wall, and collect a few more colored glass vases in various sizes for the mantel. I’m pushing for her to buy this print of the Amalfi coast. She has plenty of room in the budget thanks to free nesting tables!

I had a blast decorating Cait’s living room. Cait and I were Facebook friends because of mutual friends we had in college, but before this summer we had never spent time together one-on-one. We felt an instant connection when I arrived at her home. It was hard to focus on decorating because I wanted so badly to sit and chat with her for hours! Cait was the most gracious host, offering me coffee and snacks while her 13-month-old son followed me around and kissed my toes. (Babies and their silly quirks!) As thrilled as I am with how the room turned out, gaining a new friend in Cait was the sweetest reward of this project.


Walmart floor lamp - $60 / Wayfair at Walmart nesting tables - $0 (regularly $153) / HomeGoods task lamp - $30 / HomeGoods floral wall art - $25 / HomeGoods large abstract art - $60 / HomeGoods pair of white pillows - $40 / HomeGoods blue lumbar pillow - $25 / HomeGoods basket - $15 / HomeGoods white-bottom basket - $20 / HomeGoods large frame - $20 / Home Depot plant - $15 / Target snails (set of 2) - $7 / T.J. Maxx moose hook - $6 / T.J. Maxx light bluish-green vase - $5