From Blank Slate to Stylish Abode

When new homeowners had no idea how to decorate an open layout living and dining area, designer Valerie Ruddy stepped in to save the day.
Neutral Living Room With Blue Accents

Neutral Living Room With Blue Accents

A palette of cream and blue sets the mood of this comfortable living space, with the large area rug unifying the style and forming a powerful anchor.

By: Barbara Ballinger and Keri Sanders

A couple had no clue how to furnish their open plan living/dining/foyer in the home they had recently purchased. Their wish list was an updated contemporary look that would provide enough room for their large gatherings. Designer Valerie Ruddy developed a plan that met both functional and aesthetic desires and also fit totally within their budget of $20,000.

Describe the homeowner's wish list.

The homeowners hoped to create an entryway, living and dining room in their open concept home. The homeowners entertain family and friends often and needed a versatile space that allows for individual activities, but will visually appear cohesive.

Open Layout Decorated for Entertaining

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Open Layout for Entertaining

The bench acts as a bridge between this open-plan design and can be used for groups in either or both areas without obstructing views. Plenty of plush furnishings provides comfortable seating for friends and family when entertaining.

Living Room With Blue Accents

A palette of cream and blue sets the mood of this comfortable living space, with the large area rug unifying the style and forming a powerful anchor.

Dining Room With Elegant Chairs

Upholstered dining chairs with high backs are a transitional design element. The look is borrowed from the classic Wing chair but appears more modern and sleek here.

Transitional Decor With Industrial Touch

Quartets of framed mirrors act as art but also help magnify this open-plan living space. An industrial-style console table adds character and charm to the transitional decor.

What was the biggest issue the design addressed?

The biggest issue was creating spaces that allow for many different scenarios – whether they are entertaining formally or casually. We also wanted to make the furnishings comfortable for small or large groups.

How did the end result match your original vision?

I have to say that this design went fairly smoothly. We had an issue getting the wall color right since this room gets sunlight from two sides of the house, and initially the colors we liked appeared too bright when there was full sun coming from the side of the home. We toned down the final selection and came up with great colors that the homeowners love.

Describe an obstacle in the space.

Since we needed to design and furnish three separate spaces, the budget was my biggest obstacle. We were able to come up with vendors that would allow us to accomplish a furniture, lighting, window treatment and accessory plan in a modest way, which still looked attractive.

What lessons did you learn from this project?

We knew going into this project that we would need to be careful with our budget. So, we are still in the process of completing one section of the space as we prioritized the process for the clients. They loved that we started with as a main plan and were able to stick with it over time with a great result. Every couple of months, the couple called, and we would get a few more things done. This worked out wonderfully, so that the clients were comfortable with the progression, and we kept to their price list.

What are the hidden gems that make a big difference?

The long center white bench with pillows, which straddles the dining and living areas, provides seating to both spaces when needed and subtly divides them at the same time. Benches are wonderfully versatile pieces that we use often for this reason and others.

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Valerie Ruddy

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Decorating Den Interiors
local.decoratingden.com/valerieruddy Verona, NJ 973-239-3004