Easy upgrades to dining and living rooms transform a typical tract home

Kirk and Suzanne Hoffman had all the right ingredients for a beautiful home: open spaces, large windows, and some good pieces of furniture. Yet the living and dining areas of their 1960s suburban ranch house, though adjacent, never seemed distinctive or visually connected. Interior designer Gregory A. Peters helped them pull together a harmonious whole.

Living room

BEFORE (click first thumbnail image, below left): The room felt dowdy, and the fireplace front of dull gray limestone and two-toned wood wasn’t doing its job as a focal point.

AFTER: After contemplating wallpaper found elsewhere in the house, Peters established a palette of pale gold for walls, ivory for molding and architectural features like the fireplace, and celadon for accents such as pottery, pillows, and upholstered seats.

He replaced the stone of the fireplace front with glossy white marble tiles. “This room is meant to be a little more formal, and the fireplace reflects that,” says Peters. “It also ties in with the white marble floor of the entryway.” Texture ― in the form of a sea grass rug, silk curtains, and silk and velvet pillows ― helps soften and define the room.

Peters retained the original coffee table and added a couch. Reupholstering an existing armchair and draping a round table with pale ivory quilted fabric adapted them to the updated color palette. He replaced the array of stereo, speakers, and framed pictures on the mantel with a few strong celadon-colored pottery pieces that reinforce the fireplace’s function as the focal point of a casually elegant room.

Next: The dining room 

Dining room

BEFORE: The “formal” dining room was anything but. A dated wood-topped metal railing seemed out of place. At the other end, bifold louvered doors ― one always kept closed to block the view of the television ― separated the dining room from the more casual family room.

AFTER: Two small doors and a wall create a more elegant relationship with the family room while providing built-in space for the television (on the family room side). The old railing was replaced by classic turned-wood balusters. The color scheme now spans two rooms, with celadon in the dining room chairs and the white of the balusters reflected in the adjacent living room.

The golden yellow walls warm both spaces and make a glowing background for the furniture. “Painting is such a simple thing, but color really livens up these rooms,” says Peters. And the use of muted accessory colors helps each room reflect its own understated personality.

DESIGN: Gregory A. Peters, ASID, Peters & Associates, San Francisco (415/282-7041)

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