When Do You Need a Room Makeover?

I’ve been wondering about those one-day room makeovers. You know those transformations you see on TV decorating shows, where a designer comes in, paints the walls, and rearranges your furniture and accessories? In 24 hours presto! The space goes from sad to stylin’.

Is it really possible to improve a space that much without buying new furniture?

To learn more, I visited with Distinctive Nest’s Sara Hunt Malone, a professional member of the Interior Redesign Industry Specialists, who has performed these makeovers for the past ten years. Take a look at this Before and After from Sara.





Wow. That Before reminds me of the keen bachelorette pad my pal Lisa and I shared in our twenties. We had the same dark-beamed ceiling and track lighting.

The key to this makeover clearly was the color. With the white paint Sara Botoxed the ceiling, and taking a cue from the art piece, she bathed the walls in bold color. Sara says, “Color can make a room more cohesive and attempt to bring the style of the room into the 21st century – even when you can’t afford to replace certain items and furnishings.”

The room looks and functions better; the new furniture arrangement beckons visitors to enter. I’m impressed with what Sara accomplished using existing pieces.

But there are times when the old furniture really won’t work in a space, and new things are in order. Like when the scale of the pieces is wrong, as with this room:





Sara says, “Choosing the proper size furnishings and knowing how to place them can be the key to making a difficult floor plan work for you and your family. It isn’t always easy to choose the right variety and size of furnishings to enhance the esthetic value and maximize the space of your rooms. It’s very spacial and many people aren’t trained to see that.”

Many of us Design Junkies are talented DIY designers who likely see more than the average person. But even we sometimes hit a room roadblock. I asked Sara how somebody knows that they may be in need of a room makeover.

Often, they are just sort of stumped by something; sometimes a decision that can’t be made. Maybe they’ve been mulling over swatches up on the wall for a while now. It could be some life event that triggers a change, and the client just needs a little hand holding.”

Even if you suspect you may need to call in a pro for a problem room, “sometimes it’s hard to ask for help,” Sara says. “Especially with us women. We think we should be able to do it ourselves, we should know where to put our couch and what color to use in our rooms, but we can feel that something isn’t working.”

Here are the most common problems Sara sees with the rooms she’s hired to make over:

  • Lighting
  • Color
  • Weight & Balance
  • Furniture Placement, so items relate to one another and the room as a whole.

According to Sara, two of the most helpful steps people can take to improve a room are:

  1. Add more light. Have at least 3 sources of light in a room: Overhead, lamps and mood lighting.
  2. Think about the senses of sight, sound, smell and touch. Incorporate all of these in a room.


I asked Sara to describe one of her most successful room makeovers. She replied, “There was a couple who had separate homes and we redid a room, combining things from both homes. After a week they set a wedding date.

Sara says, “People don’t realize how they are affected by their surroundings. It can change their life. You can’t explain that to someone until it happens.”

Sara Hunt Malone plans to share more room makeovers with us here at HomeWorkshop. In the meantime, you can reach her through her San Rafael, CA design business, Distinctive Nest.

Is there a room, or a problem part of a room, that’s got you stumped?

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4 Comments for “When Do You Need a Room Makeover?”

My basement is a wreck right now. My parents are just too busy and they do so much for me. This would help our family out a lot! Thanks.

Thanks for the note, Kari. Sorry to hear about the basement. I’m not sure from your comment, but just in case you think this is some kind of a contest it’s not; it’s just an article about when somebody might need to makeover their room or in some cases to hire a designer to help.

Here’s a thought. Can you get some of your friends together and plan some kind of a “work party” to help organize the basement?

Take care,

We have a pier style bedroom set that I’ve always disliked and have convinced my husband the same. Any ideas to reuse/rearrnage the pieces? Thanks

Hi Connie!

Thanks for your note and I know you aren’t the only with furniture you either don’t like, or that you’ve tired of.

I’m sure you can transform it somehow that will lend a fresh look to your room. Any chance you can email in a couple photos? Then we can get advice from some of the many designers in the HomeWorkshop.com community. Email the photos to makeovers@homeworkshop.com.

This will be a fun project!

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