Budget Redo Brings British Colonial Style and Comfort to a Homeowner’s Living Room

Budget Redo Brings British Colonial Style and Comfort to a Homeowner’s Living Room

Budget redo brings British Colonial style and comfort to a homeowner’s living room.

Homeowner Larissa loves British Colonial style and wanted to replace her 17-year-old leather Sofa and chair with new white Seating. She felt indecisive about whether to purchase one Ethan Allen Hyde sofa (or two, facing each other) and whether to buy a new dark mirror. She also needed to know what size end tables and rug to purchase. “I wanted a more tropical look, but I wasn’t sure what would work. I wanted a warmer room…one that looked

While reading a “DAY Decorating” column in Houston House & Home, Larissa liked the fact that a tablecloth the featured homeowner had purchased on a trip was used as the color palette for the entire room and that his family pieces were reupholstered and painted rather than thrown away. The sources listed in the article were the same stores where she shops. “I figured if his home could look that good on a budget, why couldn’t mine?” Larissa says with a smile.


Before my intern, Leigh Diamond, and I met Larissa, we brushed up on British Colonial style. During the Victorian era, the imperial British had expanded their empire to more exotic parts of the world, from Singapore to East Africa, from India to the British West Indies. With them they brought their language, government, customs and, of course, their furniture. While the British enjoyed traveling to the distant outposts of the empire, they were often loath to for ego the comforts of home. As a result, they brought with them the sturdy furniture designs of England and adapted them to the tropics using hardwoods, such as teak and mahogany, which were particularly suited to humid climates without warping. Along the way, they adapted Asian and African motifs into their traditional furniture. Native carvers added little flourishes of Asian, Caribbean or African art to the more staid British designs — a mélange known now as British Colonial style, easily recognized by its mix of animal prints, white cotton fabrics and sturdy, yet sometimes fanciful, furniture.


During our meeting, Larissa pointed out the large round mirror and candlesticks, which she liked, but not in their gold finish. Rather than replace them, I recommended she paint them herself with a small jar of bronze metallic paint (#ME 525 “English Brown”) from the Modern Masters Metallic Paint Collection found at Benjamin Moore paint stores. Moving to the furniture arrangement, I suggested she buy just one sofa. Instead of buying twice as much very expensive fabric (directly from the manufacturer) to cover a new larger chair, Larissa could buy far less of the manufacturer’s fabric and have my upholsterer build and cover a new custom ottoman and a pair of 22-inch down throw pillows using forms from Interior Fabrics. Then to tie the chairs into the sofa, she bought inexpensive animal print fabric from Interior Fabrics to make an additional throw pillow. I then suggested she purchase a less expensive, matching leopard Shurwood Accent chair to match her existing one and have both chairs flank the fireplace. “I was shocked that you liked the leopard chair and suggested I buy another. Now with everything done, I love the balanced leopard chairs,” she admits. Additionally.

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