Three Designers Later, I’m Up To Bat

When this client first contacted me, I wasn’t sure I would be able to help her.  She told me that over the last few years, she had hired three different designers to help her pull her home together, and she was yet to be happy with the results.  

via Pinterest 


In spite of all that help, her home was still in a bit of disarray.  The previous designers had her buy lots of furnishings, but didn’t appear to be able to pull it all together in a cohesive way.  Upon entering the front entry, this is the sitting room/office you see to the right.



One wall of this room is built-in bookcases, and the room serves as a pass-through to the living room.  Here’s the view from the living room (the bookcase is on the wall to the right):



Clearly, there’s a lack of good space planning here.  The furniture was pretty much lined up around the room like a doctor’s reception room.  When she asked me what I thought she needed to purchase next to pull this space together, I told her NOTHING.  Instead, what needed to happen was to re-imagine and rearrange what she already owned – then and only then did we need to discuss what she may need to buy.  I began moving things around immediately.  One more before:



I think I may have hit a home run!   There’s nothing like a good “after”:  



So much better!   We took this cluttered room and transformed it into an lovely, inviting space for sharing conversation.  In the three hours I was there, we redesigned this room, chose the “right” color for her entry, chose two updated hanging light fixtures, and tweaked the adjoining living room arrangement as well.



I swear, y’all, the right furniture placement is KEY!  Oh, and what do you think about the new art arrangement?  Many of these pieces were not even being used and were stored in a back room.  My client is already wanting to schedule our next appointment so we can work on her other rooms.

 New Furniture Arrangement and Art Placement


Sometimes you just may have all the right stuff (or most of it, anyway).   The hardest part can be pulling the look together to create a space that simply “feels right.”   I’m thinking about developing a Design Workshop that teaches homeowners how to arrange furnishings and accessories the RIGHT way.  Would you be interested in a class or an e-book like that?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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38 thoughts on “Three Designers Later, I’m Up To Bat

  1. Susie says:

    Nice job, Kristie! The room felt cold and the pictures were too high. See, I learned that from you! We’re still enjoying our redesigned space.

  2. Elizabeth Evans says:

    In baseball, the 4th batter is the best hitter on the team. Sometimes, they call the 4th batter the cleanup hitter. Your arrangements were just what a cleanup batter would do. Nice job.

  3. Eileen says:

    Fantastic transformation! Was the desk the only furniture that got moved out? It’s look so much less cluttered now.

    I think a furniture arranging class would be great!

  4. Kristie Barnett says:

    from my email:

    “I think you are a genius at what you do. I love what you did with this room. I wish you were in Carmel, CA where I live! I would be very interested in an ebook or class from you. Perhaps learning some principles would help me make improvements myself.

    Blessings to you ~

  5. Marilee says:

    It is so amazing what placement of furniture and art can do! I would love to experience a class with you, Kristie! Please consider sharing with us. Marilee

  6. Paula says:

    Love the new room above. I have a den that is Grand Central Station in my house with too many doors, a baby grand piano and a rock fireplace. It needs your amazing touch.

    YES! I would buy an airplane ticket to come to such a class. Do it in conjunction with a color class and I will book a hotel room too.

  7. Erin @ The Impatient Gardener says:

    Excellent job and I bet your client was so relieved that you weren’t going to tell her to buy new stuff. I have to say though, that I’m a little shocked that other designers had touched that room. That was horrible furniture placement and if I had paid someone to do that to my living room I would have been really angry.

  8. Nicole says:

    Oh YES! An e-book or online design class would be wonderful! I found your website about a year ago, when I was looking up something about flip-flopping the dining room with the family room. Turns out we have some of the same color combos too!

  9. Caitlin says:

    I would LOVE a class like that!
    Just moved into a new house with “open concept” living room/kitchen/dining and not sure what to do with my couches to keep that open feel!

  10. Lija says:

    Amazing. And another call for some sort of online webinar or ebook to help those of us out who don’t live locally! I would love to attend an online webinar where you show before and after slides, talk about what works and doesn’t, and then leave time for questions. I would definitely pay something to attend that!

  11. Nancy says:

    Such a stunningly beautiful transformation. From uncomfortable to even look at to amazingly welcoming and inviting. I’ve been following your blog for a couple of months now. You have a very special eye. A natural gift.

    My family has come through a very difficult time, more than two years, stemming from a government project that affected our home. It came harshly, it stayed long. Our health was affected, and our sense of home was shattered for a great while. Now all I seem to want to do is make our home a haven again. I have a deep need for things to be soft and welcoming. Our gardens are in weeds, and our home sits waiting for me to bring it to life again. We were redoing our kitchen before all the trouble started, we still have plywood countertops. We had just put in new exterior doors, they are unpainted with no inside trim. We had stripped a bathroom of wallpaper, it sits waiting to be finished. So much to catch up on. Where to even start is a huge question, but I feel so deeply grateful to be healthy enough to see to it again. At one long point I could not even eat, could not sleep, and now I can do all the thing things I love again. Each day I am thankful.

    I would be so very, very interested in a class. Some fresh direction would be gift.

    Seeing what you did with this room, using what was already available, moved me very much. What you do is about so much more than decorating a space. You show that so well.

    Thank you for the daily inspiration. You give me hope for how things can be. Nancy

  12. Lisa says:

    Oh my Goodness. Your version looks 10 times better. I’ve been loving the space planning part of my interior design course. That seems to be the hardest part for some people.

  13. Chris says:

    Your arrangement is so amazing and so much kinder to the eye. Seeing as I live in Australia an e-book
    would be the go for me. Keep up the great work.

  14. Pam C says:

    What a beautiful change. I would love some sort of book that would be able to guide me in furniture placement, but I am afraid my living room just can’t be arranged. I had a designer come to my house and basically give up saying there wasn’t much I could do unless I bought a sectional sofa. It is long and narrow, it has a corner fireplace, it has two entrances, a half wall and it has windows on the walls without entry ways.
    It is such a shame to have this awkward room.

  15. shelagh gombarcik says:

    Kristie I love your work…….I think I am so in sink with you especially after finding out you collect the same enchanted figurines as me. Wish I could come to your classes and learn from you but I live in Tampa
    Fl. Of course you could always branch out and I could be your Tampa
    Branch. Shelagh

  16. Kristie says:

    Kristie, I love reading your blog. You are the very first decorator I have come across that thinks like me. Even though my blog does not reflect it, I also stage homes, not for a living but more for a past time. I work with several real estate agents and have helped them sell many homes over the past 6 years.

    I consider myself and “emotional” decorator. Like you I am sensitive to my client’s style and pocket book!!!!
    My philosophy, like yours, is always to use what they have first and then we can talk about purchases. Most of the time there are no purchases needed or just minor ones like throw pillows, new updated lampshades etc.
    Knowing how to arrange furniture is a gift that not many people have. I think any instruction would be cool. I have been playing with the idea of giving classes as well, but haven’t been able to come up with a format that would work….thought about “home parties” choose a room and have them watch….mantles and bookcases would be good designing idea tools…can’t wait to see what you come up with.
    Anyway, love your frugal, practical and down to earth approach about decorating! Wish you were closer, I would take you out to lunch to share 🙂
    Hugs for now,

  17. jeannie casey says:

    Yes this is MY house and i LOVE this room now, I use the sofa as my office while on computer and phone.
    In the evening my husband or daughter now come and sit in here and talk to me. we had company this week-end and this actually now functions as a living room. we have more rooms to go and i am fired up with keep working with her. I teach Bradley method childbirth classes and had 14 students in my house this week and they were also blow away by the transformation. i will say i was so attached to that roll top desk and somehow she got me to move it and that make all the difference in getting this room together.
    now onward to hall new paint and lights, family room new drapes and hang artwork and get rid of more furniture. dining room new fixture and artwork. guest bathroom, i want it to feel like a glamorous jewel box or a beach retreat, if that is possible.
    as you know this is my 4th decorator and the best one i have worked with.

  18. Kelly says:

    This is why we have clicked so well! You did a fantastic job! The best is not buying anything- that is what we were taught in Lauri Ward’s class- Use What You Have. What an amazing transformation by just moving everything around!

  19. Laura Bervig says:

    You are so incredibly talented and versatile! I’d purchase an E-book in a heartbeat and even consider flying out fom Colorado to take a class! (and would love it if you incorporated color training too!!! ).

  20. Rory Vanlandingham says:

    Kristie, you are amazing! I have been reading your blog long enough to have picked out some of the things I knew you would change before I scrolled down. The desk and artwork were the first things I noticed in the room. So where did you move the all-important desk? I have one in my living room that has nowhere else to go as it is necessary (I think), but keeping it clutter-free is a struggle. I would def buy an ebook on arranging!

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      We moved the desk into the adjoining living room that had more room to accommodate the desk and it not be the first thing you see when you walk in. That was the problem with it living in this room – it was the focal point from the entry of the room! Thanks for the feedback – I may be working on a Staging E-book first, but I hope to do one specific to furniture and art arrangement, as well.

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