Happy Saudi National Day – I hope you all had a fabulous long weekend!

So you may or may not remember, but a few months ago I posted a TV room makeover (African Chic TV room), and told you that I was going to share the second part of it – the formal living room – a little later. Well that day is finally here!

Like everything in Saudi, it took quite a bit of time to get all of the moving parts into this room, but I think it was worth the extra months of waiting to find the most perfect pieces…

A Living Room Makeover | THE DESIGN SOUK | www.thedesignsouk.com

A Living Room Makeover | THE DESIGN SOUK | www.thedesignsouk.com

A Living Room Makeover | THE DESIGN SOUK | www.thedesignsouk.com

Helen absolutely loves warm colors, but when she tried using them in her home, she felt like she was missing something. This is where I came in…

While I’m not really a red and orange kinda girl, when I walked into Helen’s home, I immediately noticed her amazing collection of decorative items. For years, she’s been collecting beautiful pieces from all over the world, and I knew I just had to do them justice! So we began this project trying to figure out how to use color and her décor in the best way possible.

I’ve realized (and my momma – an artist – confirmed this observation!) that to bring out the colors in your space, you must also create the absence of color. Give your eyes some contrast and some breathing space. So I started off neutralizing the walls in Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter. This “griege” (gray and beige) color not only brightened up the space, but added warmth and allowed me to highlight some of the items against a lighter backdrop.

The most challenging part about this room, however, was the very large red leather couch. I had a healthy budget to bring in quite a bit of furniture, but a large red leather couch is an extremely bold statement to work with. I found that the best way of using it was to move it away from being a focal point, to the other side of the room, and then distributing pops of red throughout the space so that the color would balance itself out.

Check out how it turned out…

A Living Room Makeover | THE DESIGN SOUK | www.thedesignsouk.com

A Living Room Makeover | THE DESIGN SOUK | www.thedesignsouk.com

A Living Room Makeover | THE DESIGN SOUK | www.thedesignsouk.com

I think one of my favorite parts of this room is the piano corner. I remember seeing her piano for the first time and thinking that it really needed some space to shine. To add even more character to the corner, we put up some black & white photographs that Helen’s husband, David, received as a gift, and colored photographs taken by me and a friend. They were framed in a rustic wooden frame by Arabian Collections Gallery. The other side of the wall is now home to Helen’s absolutely gorgeous African masks. I am so in love with them!

A Living Room Makeover | THE DESIGN SOUK | www.thedesignsouk.com

The coffee (in stock) and side table (no longer in stock) in “Natural Mango” were purchased from West Elm in Jeddah and delivered to Dhahran.

We bought the rug from Pottery Barn and also had that delivered to Dhahran. It was necessary to add some color to the darker floors, but they needed to be less vibrant and light. They also needed to echo the colors on the cushions on the camel stool from Desert Designs. I find that common color schemes can be a good way to work with different patterns in a space.

While Helen had the camel stools from before, we asked Desert Designs to also make the beautiful white armchairs for this room. Stunning, right?

Helen bought the red painting above the chair while she was in South Africa. It’s a nice pop of red across the red couch and helps balance the room out a little. The photograph of the giraffe was taken by a friend, and the map of Saudi Arabia was from Arabian Collections Gallery.

A Living Room Makeover | THE DESIGN SOUK | www.thedesignsouk.com

The other thing that really had to stay in the room were the large African masks. They are amazing in person, and make the room feel so grand.

I remember walking into Helen’s house one night and feeling really depressed. We both felt it…

There was great furniture in the room, and the new color scheme was starting to work its magic, but something just wasn’t sitting right. I suddenly realized that it had nothing to do with anything in the room, but everything to do with lighting! I had never even thought about lighting up until that point since I was mostly there in the morning. I’m glad that it happened though because as soon as I brought a variety of light sources in, the whole vibe of the room totally changed.

My favorite light fixture though has to be the stunning floor lamp from West Elm that now sits behind the red couch. LOVE it.

A Living Room Makeover | THE DESIGN SOUK | www.thedesignsouk.com
Track lighting from IKEA
A Living Room Makeover | THE DESIGN SOUK | www.thedesignsouk.com
The West Elm floor lamp also adds a little bit of height to the other side of the room – balancing the room out in terms of visual weight too!

Helen bought all of the cushion covers and blankets from her trips to South Africa. Mud cloth pillows are my fave these days!


Overall, what I love about this room is that you can now bring in all sorts of bright colors without overwhelming the space. Helen can add a few colorful pillows to the red couch and the white ones and not feel like she has too much color in there. Totally the advantages of balance and the absence of color, I guess…

Hope you enjoyed the transformation!

A Living Room Makeover BEFORE & AFTER | THE DESIGN SOUK | www.thedesignsouk.com

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