A Design Mystery

I’m just gonna say it–sometimes, I feel like a detective. A design detective.

Picture this: A client comes to me and says, “Nagwa, I’m not sure why, but we just don’t like to use this room. Maybe it’s the furniture layout…Maybe it’s the color… Maybe it’s the lighting.”

So, I look around, and I sit in every seat, turn on all the lights, turn off all the lights, and I ask questions. Even while I’m asking questions, my eyes are studying the space around me, snooping for clues, any small hint that could lead me to a solution of what the problem, the mystery, is.

Here’s a BEFORE picture. Can you figure it out?


Well, the good news is that the mystery has been solved and the room is done. It’s actually been done for over a year now and the mystery as to why I’m just sharing it with you today, is one I’m still trying to figure out (I suspect the culprit is procrastination).

But I digress…

Challenge number one with the space was dealing with it’s formality. The main offenders: the perceived height of the space, the overly ornate or foofy mouldings (yes, foofy is a word) on the walls and fireplace, and the dramatic overmantle that seems to dwarf any other element in the room.


Overwhelming overmantle.


Low foofy wainscoting. No good for a casual living room.

 Oh, and did I forget to mention the pink marble fireplace surround? The client hated it and planned to address it at a later stage, since replacing it proved to be a costly job.


The solution: remove the low, fancy wainscoting and moulding details, and camouflage the overmantel, which really just accentuated the height of the space. High spaces have a tendency to feel formal, and we want cozy!


So, with those details gone, we needed new design elements to bring the look home. I started with cleaner lines on the existing fireplace mantel since it was in good condition.



I should note: the client couldn’t handle seeing the pink marble amongst all the changes and asked our contractor to come up with a budget friendly solution. He sanded down the marble, primed and painted it with a special fireplace paint that could be custom colored. The result was astonishing.

Next, I added wide horizontal planks, raised to the right height and scale for the room (approximately 55″ here).


Finally, came textured walls for warmth (grasscloth wallpaper to be more specific).



Notice how I had the wallpaper continue from the walls onto the overmantle, so that it would mask it’s height. This, along with the new horizontal planking, was enough to dramatically change the space and accentuate a more horizontal perspective, rather than vertical, making it feel more inviting instantly.


Layer in some fabrics with interesting patterns and warm colors, and baby, this case is closed!







Thanks for reading!

For a closer look at other projects that I’m working on, you can follow me:

On Twitter: @NSIntDesign 

On Instagram: @nsinteriordesign

On Facebook: NSInteriorDesign


This entry was posted in Client Projects and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .


  1. Elle November 25, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    Wow wow wow! Such a lovely room!

    • Nagwa November 25, 2013 at 9:43 pm #

      Thank you so much!

  2. Dina November 25, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    This room is fantastic! I want one just like this!!

    • Nagwa November 25, 2013 at 9:44 pm #

      Thanks Dina!

  3. Ruba November 25, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

    You are so talented!!!

    • Nagwa November 25, 2013 at 9:43 pm #

      Thank you Ruba! 🙂

  4. Heba Armand November 27, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    I have been admiring your work for a VERY long time 🙂

    • Nagwa November 29, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

      Thank you, Heba! I look forward to our first meeting!

  5. tarek November 27, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    Beautiful transformation! Night and day, very nice work Nagwa! By the way, my office is looking great since you’re consultation! Thanks again!

    • Nagwa November 29, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

      That’s great to hear, Tarek! Thank you for the kind words!

  6. jacqui April 12, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

    where did you get the awesome set of four tree art frames?

  7. plenty of fish March 4, 2015 at 2:03 pm #

    Very nice post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wanted to mention that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your blog posts.
    After all I will be subscribing in your feed and I hope you write once more soon!

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *