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Heather Scott Home & Design is an award-winning interior design firm and sophisticated boutique based in Austin, TX and Scottsdale, AZ. Our blog shares the tasteful home accessories, furnishings and gifts that you can find in our retail boutique. We also feature our design projects, industry trends and expert tips that hope to inspire homeowners to create the stylish & chic home of their dreams.

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Before & After: Formal Living & Home Office
April 24, 2015 in Before & After | 2 comments

One of our regular customers (and by regular I mean from the first month we were opened almost 9 years ago!) hired us recently to work on her ‘formal living’ room.  She knows her style and likes to purchase things from us, but this room really had her stumped.

close up of pillows

After a visit to the home, it was easy to see why.  It was long and narrow, but with double height ceilings.  There was no ‘focal point’ and it seemed to be missing its purpose. 

But, the room was important because this was also the room where our client works from home when she is not traveling for her busy career.  So, it was really key that we be able to design a room that she would want to spend time in, and was functional when she was at home.

Her main requests:

  1. This was a space for her to both work in and visit with friends.  The boys of the house had a media room upstairs they could mess up and hangout in, so we wanted it to be a space she could have a cup of tea with her sister and be comfortable.
  2. Some storage for work files that could be tucked out of site on the weekends.
  3. Keep the existing desk, rug and bergere style chair.

Our biggest challenges:

  1. The volume of the room and how to create character was paramount.
  2. Creating a multi-functional space that still looked like a ‘real room’ (not a home office), as this is the first room you see when you enter the home.


I think you can quickly see how tall this room is.  The sofa is dwarfed by the main wall. And, the white air conditioning grate you can see on the far left stood out…for the wrong reason.

living room before

The front entry is just on the right of this photo; the wood floor transitions to tile and with the stair well at one end and the window at the other we were really boxed in.  In terms of layout options we were really limited.

living room before, full

Design Concept:

You might be tempted to say: “Well, this room just needs some new furniture; you don’t even need a designer for that”.  However, this was one of those rooms that really needed a designer.  Someone not emotionally involved who could step back and think about the principles of design, particularly balance, proportion and emphasis.

A lot of time was spent thinking about how to create a more human scale and a focal point.

Accommodating the desk and traditional work space did not allow for a full-sized sofa, so I chose a smaller scaled, but tall back settee.  Our client really needed storage, so I chose two beautiful chests to create symmetry and focus.  Beautiful and functional. 

Her existing bergere chair had a beautiful back, so we positioned it backing to the front door for maximum visual interest.

birds eye elevation

Now, how to tackle the volume?

One of the great things about home design is that you can always add architectural details, even when you don’t have them.  We needed a clear way to bring your eye down to the main space, address the white air vent and create character.  We did that with one of my favorite design tricks: mill work.

Using the existing chair rail as a starting point, box detailing was added to the main wall and topped with wide molding to separate the upper part of the room from the lower.


Furthermore, I decided to paint the upper area a different color from the lower to bring an additional separation element.


The new room is much brighter, lighter and inviting.  Our mill work trick makes the room feel more human scaled and our fresh furniture and symmetry give visitors a place for their eye to rest when they come into the home.

straight view of living room

Our homeowner can still get her work done at her desk, only now it is a much prettier place to be doing business!

alt view of family room

main sitting area

The mill work adds character and a classic element that helps pull this room together and make it cohesive.  Fresh and functional. I hope you like it! 

full room view

If you are challenged with a room in your home, do not be intimidated to reach out and ask someone who specializes in interiors to see if they can help you.  That is what we are here for!