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I meet a lot of people who are stuck in their decorating journey. They know what they like, they’ve got a mental image in their mind of the finished product, but somewhere along the way they lose steam. The building blocks for a finished room are there, but they need help to push things over the edge and knock it out of the park.

It’s those all-important layers that really make a room. And to be honest, it’s the type of stuff we stylists bring to a house-shoot for House & Home magazine — many people just don’t finish their rooms in this manner. Well, if you’ve ever wanted your place to look like it jumped off the pages of a magazine, here’s what you need to know.

Photo: before photo

BEFORE: This room is fine (a lot like your average house). It has the basics of a good living room. Now let’s get styling…

Photo: Living room, stripped rug, green walls, white drapes

AFTER:  This adorable bungalow comes to us from Country Living magazine and illustrates tons of tips! Notice the sofa, wing chair and wall colour haven’t changed. What makes this the AFTER is the styling. Anchor your seating area with a rug — it’s so important! It defines the area and pulls everything together. Drapes add softness and verticality to the room. Notice how this designer replaced one wing chair with a lighter and more open Windsor chair. This shakes things up and takes away that "matched-set" vibe. A metal coffee table also keeps the room from being about wood, wood and more wood.

Photo: before shot - dinning room

BEFORE: This dining area isn’t too bad (although I'm not loving those chickens!!). But again — too much wood, not enough softness.

Photo: dinning room, round table, braided jute rug, tray-table bar

AFTER: I love how the designer painted out this round table with grey and a whitewashed technique! It looks like zinc! The painted chairs are a switch out, but they could have painted the previous ones cream. The drapes are adding softness again, and so is the braided jute rug. I didn’t mind the china hutch before, but this tray-table bar is a nice alternative, and a little lighter.

Photo: before shot - bedroom

BEFORE: I love a twin bed! Actually, I’m hunting for a couple of them for a guest room right now (any suggestions?). But these ones look a little tired, agreed?

Photo: bedroom, funky pillows, simple bedding, fresh wallpaper

AFTER: Ummmm…don’t they look 1000% better now?! Same beds, better styling! Simple bedding (find it at your local HomeSense) with funky pillows, and lovely fresh wallpaper on the focal wall. Now that would be cheap! The little pendants are a fantastic idea and free up surface area for trashy novels (P.S. Suzanne Dimma says lamp cords are in). A sisal carpet never hurt anyone and yes, you can lay it on top of existing broadloom. No biggie.

Photo: before shot - bathroom

BEFORE: Bathrooms are often the most forgotten rooms in a house. And styling doesn’t even enter most people’s minds for this utilitarian space. Doesn’t this sterile bathroom look familiar?

Photo: bathroom, colourful wall treatment, neutral shower curtain, bucket of flowers, simple dish for soap

AFTER: POW! Look at that wall treatment! It’s actually pages from a botanical book pasted onto the wall! No need for bathroom reading material in this room! I especially like how the designer went neutral for the shower curtain and wowie-zowie on the walls. Most people do the opposite. A pretty bucket of flowers, simple dish for soap, and a Mason jar for the toothbrush and you’re done!

Now get styling people!

For more photos of makeovers, view our Extreme Makeover Gallery.

Photo credits:
1-8. From Country Living, photography by Lucas Allen

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