Jenessa’s Dilemma

Ready for another re-do?  Woooohooooo!  Jenessa and Spencer live in Rexburg, ID and are parents to two little girls (they are A-DORABLE!).  They are renters and are in need of a little living room inspiration.  Here’s her plea:

Hey Jules! So I took a few different pictures so you can get the full effect. We can’t really rearrange much because our computer desk and entertainment center pretty much have to stay where they are because of the internet and satellite hookups. The coffee table is also in a kindof stupid place. I had it in front of the couch and moved it for some reason and I’ll probably be moving it back. Right now the pillows on the couch are tan and brown. I would love more colorful stuff, but I just can’t figure out what other colors would go with our couches. I don’t have any specific color scheme or anything in mind. I just want it to look good and be functional! Anyway, it’s basically just the two walls, but one of them is that horrible wood panels… so good luck! hahaha I can’t wait to see what you come up with! Have a good day!

Oooooh!  The wood paneling!  If you weren’t renters, I would say paint that thing a crisp white in a jiffy–but since that isn’t an option, I got other plans for you, little missy.  The good news is, your couches are lovely, you have a huge window and a large living room to work with.  However, the room is in serious need of light and color.  I am real excited about the things I came up with, and I hope you are too!  But before we get to the mood board, there are two things that you need to tackle first.  The coffee table and the entertainment center.  These are expensive items to re-buy, so to be easy on the wallet paint them and they’ll be like new.  True, you can’t paint the paneling, but to lighten things up in the room, paint the coffee table and entertainment center white.  (There is a great tutorial on painting furniture that I have used, here).  Painting those two things white will automatically liven and brighten up your room and set the stage for the rest of the mood board. 
Speaking of: 

EEEEeeee! Right?  Let’s jump right in.

1.  Art wall/gallery wall/salon grouping…It isn’t really an object to buy or scout out, but an idea for your existing frames.  And girl, you got a lot of them.  I am referring to more than just the five beautiful pictures of your family that are hanging in a grouping–although, that is a start.  I want you to grab all of those frames on the entertainment center (ALL of them) and that one on the right side of the window–as well as any others that I can’t see, even move that family plaque over–and hang them in a grouping above the couch where you currently have five frames.  It’s an incredibly hot trend right now and perfect for you and all your frames.  (For more examples on how to hang, check this out.)

2.   This carpet, my friend, is a must have for you.  Your floor is so open and big, you need a great area rug to tie things together (If you are not sure about the rug on rug thing, read this).  It’s the perfect size for anchoring your freshly painted white coffee table and it is under $40.  Go.  now.

3.  You know, I don’t mind your current throw pillows.  I especially like the ones with the sunburst design going on–but you’re right, we need some color in there.  So, keep your existing ones but add some like these found here, here and here.  Scout out a nice, white textured pillow; one with warm blues and greens, and one with a hint of red for a pop (don’t you love the little birdies?).

4.  Let’s talk about storage.  You need some!  To have the good-looking and functional living room that you have been dreaming of, you need some storage to tuck things away.  This lovely basket is currently on sale for less than $14.  Two of these slid under your crisp, white coffee table atop that lovely area rug would be money, Jenessa.  Money!  Throw in the diapers, wipes, toys, magazines–whatever–and slide it back under the coffee table so that you can actually enjoy the look of your space without sacrificing the function that needs to happen with kids in the house.

5.  With a room like this, we have to add color wherever we can.  Curtains are a great place to do that.  A light and airy, patterned curtain like this will not only allow some light in, but also contribute to the color-crises.  I also noticed you had a great sized curtain rod–but, I’d like to see it in a silver like this one.   To save some moolah, why not make it silver yourself on the cheap?

6.  Another storage solution would be fabric bins like this.  They are incredibly affordable, functional and clean-looking.  De-clutter the desk and the entertainment center and organize it into as many of these containers as needed and then slide them onto the shelf….oh yeah….

7. Shelving!  We need to disguise that paneling as much as possible.  Let’s face it, it’s dark and not that attractive.  White shelves on either side of the entertainment center would do wonders for the space.  You can get your hubby to take a trip to Home Depot and make you some shelves, you can scout out craigslist for some bookshelves, or you can buy some.  Whatever you decide, they should be white to match your entertainment center and shed some light on that wall and they should match each other on either side.  Another tip would be to place some lighting in the bookcases on each side for extra brightness.

8.  Once you have shelving in place, you can sporadically place the bins (see 6) on them and decorate the rest with other lovely things like this, this, this and this.  Choose a white ceramic animal, something with blues, a small plant (the others in your living room should go–they are just making it feel more cluttered), and if you choose to display pictures, find  (or DIY!) a funky frame to do it.  Don’t be afraid to display nice things out of reach of the little ones, this is your living room too and it should reflect that.

9. On the right side of the curtains, place a beautiful piece of art.  Something with red in it, like these poppies.  Ross always has great large canvases, so check there to save some money, or maybe you know a local artist you could commission to do this very piece for a fraction of the cost.   Make sure it is large so it fills a good portion of the space.

10.  Lastly, get that desk organized.  The things that need to stay on the desk, as oppose that you can stash in your storage bins, stack neatly in folders. Let’s not draw attention away from your new gorgeous living room.

So, there she is!  Your thoughts?  I am so excited for you Jenessa.  I hope you take some of these ideas and SPRINT with them.  I wish I could spend a couple days and take a road trip and help you out, but as that isn’t possible–I would love to see progress pictures as you go!

If there is someone else that is in need of inspiration for there space, e-mail some pictures to jmarcum1127 {at} gmail {dot} com.  I’d love to help!


  • Reply December 31, 2012

    Chris loves Julia


    I do offer personal design services and help for a small price. $20 will get you a just-for-your-space inspiration board with all the explanation you need like the one above. We can chat about colors that inspire you, budget, and layout. Email me at

    Some people would rather not have their mood boards published to our blog. That’s fine, too.

  • Reply December 31, 2012


    every single one of these is inspiring. really cool! good job julia!!

  • Reply December 31, 2012


    are you still offering inspirational help? I am in the middle of a huge redo on our rental. Help would be AWESOME!

  • Reply January 13, 2011

    Spencer, Jen, and Zoe

    Oh Julia- I knew you would deliver. I am so excited I can hardly stand it! I’m going to get started right away. Thank you! You are amazing!

  • Reply January 13, 2011

    Ryan and Meagan

    Awesome!!!! I am slowly working on our bedroom. I found AMAZING 500 thread count pillow cases in grey at Ross. I washed them up and we used them for the first time last night and it was HEAVEN!!!!

    I’m still stuck on finding the perfect lamps. I found ones I liked at Target but they were $16.99 EACH and I’m not sure how motivated I am to go thrift hunting…you know, with brinley in tow?? Not that much fun.

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