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How One Designer Gave a Dark, Dated Home a Fresh and Fun Makeover

Bright living room with green and teal color scheme.

Design: Claire Paquin; Photo: Regan Wood; Graphic: MyDomaine

If there’s something we never get tired of seeing, it’s a great makeover. Whether it’s transforming a retro bathroom into a modern oasis or giving a lackluster bedroom a fresh look, pros perform these design miracles all the time.

To give designers a chance to showcase their favorite makeovers—and to bring you plenty of inspiration for your own home—we’re sharing the best before and afters we’ve seen in our series, Makeover of the Week. Take notes for your next renovation.

“This 1900s home boasts a design known as a ‘four square’ where the rooms are chopped into four architectural areas, in this case, a kitchen, dining room, living room, and foyer,” explains interior designer Claire Paquin. “The home was pretty run down, so after a few years of living in the space, my clients attempted a total home reno, which included updating the living room and foyer.”

Meet the Expert

Claire Paquin is a Managing Partner at Clean Design in Scarsdale, New York. She  likes to focus on creating spaces that are vibrant, contemporary, and livable.


Dark dreary living room.

Courtesy of Claire Paquin

“There was nothing at all inviting about this living room,” Paquin notes. “It was filled with dated furniture, including an unattractive sectional sofa, tired brass wall sconces, and cheap-looking black leather poufs that doubled as a coffee table. The ceiling and window trim were painted the same mint color, and the tired oak hardwoods had this tacky shiny finish.”


Sunny bright living room with large chandelier and blue roman shades.

Design: Claire Paquin; Photo: Regan Wood

“My clients are a young family who needed more functional space,” Paquin shares. “I moved the kitchen to the old dining room space and put in a more casual eating area where the kitchen used to be. The living room and foyer essentially remained the same. To create more open space and storage, I removed the radiators and 3-story fireplace, which was in the middle of the room, and then added solid walnut built-ins to house things like the family’s board games and books. The stairs were contained behind a wall, so I cut back the wall and built a fresh set of stairs. New black sashed windows and doors helped complete the look.”

What Changed:

  • Color theme: Teal + yellow + gray + white gives off a refreshing beach-like vibe.
  • Chairs: Modern twin rocking chairs are made of plastic, steel, and beechwood.  
  • Coffee tables: Nesting coffee tables are wrapped in leather and have a sturdy black steel frame.  
  • Sofa: Patterned gold and solid teal pillows pop against the gray microfiber velvet sofa.
  • Rug: The stacked brick pattern in this white and gray rug adds movement to the floor without overpowering the space. 
  • Floors: Two-inch cherry oak hardwoods were replaced with five-inch natural colored rift sawn white oak in a satin finish to lighten things up.
  • Built-in: A charming window seat abuts walnut cabinetry, providing storage and a place to sit.
  • Curtains: Aqua-colored Roman shades add color to the black window frames and extend over the wood trim for a more dramatic effect. 
  • Ceiling pendant: The natural-colored bamboo ceiling pendant is meant to resemble a sea urchin’s shell.  
  • Wall paint: Painting the walls a soft gray (Benjamin Moore Shoreline 1471) and the ceiling and molding a bright white (Benjamin Moore White 01) gave the room a whole new energy. 
  • Front door: The new front door was painted a bright blue (Benjamin Moore Big Country Blue 2066-30) and features modern polished nickel hardware.  
  • Table/stools: A narrow table and citrus-colored upholstered ottomans create extra space and seating. 
  • Wall art: Candy colors like yellow and turquoise in the abstract art pop against the gray walls. 
  • Mirror: A tall black mango wood floor mirror opens up the foyer space.
  • Entrance rug: A washable organic-shaped cowhide has a suede-like textured underside to prevent slipping. 
  • Molding: Flat stock molding with a back band was added to the ceiling for a clean new look.

Shop the Look:

Era Tables
Hub Modern Era Tables $800.00

“When needed, the nesting tables open to double the amount of coffee table space,” Paquin shares.

Bozeman Mango Wood Floor Mirror
Pottery Barn Bozeman Mango Wood Floor Mirror $1,299.00

“Leaned up against a wall, a floor mirror makes any space feel larger,” Paquin notes.

Watercolor Yellow & Fuschia Abstract
JillKrutickFineArt Watercolor Yellow & Fuschia Abstract $150.00

“I love this artist’s work because of her use of bright colors,” Paquin says.