Decor Quick Change: Turn Your Coffee Table into an Ottoman

“My house feels so, I don’t know, flat,” my clients will tell me as we walk through their rooms for the first time. I nod, take snapshots, listen. We drift from room to room. In the end, five out of six times, my diagnosis is the same: “Sugar pie, we can fix this. Easy. Everything in your house is brown.”

Five of my last six decorating clients have suffered from the same affliction. They like neutrals. In furniture stores, neutrals are brown. “You need to add white,” I say. “But I have kids,” they say. “And that’s why God invented vinyl that looks like leather,” I say. A couple hundred dollars later, everyone is happy. Look:

My client Michelle wanted a quick change, an easy lightening up, without a big $$ investment. And so we turned her brown coffee table into a tufted white leather ottoman. Before, the house in deep Tuscan mode:

After, all freshened up.

My other decorating edict, besides adding a touch of white to break up all the brown, is this: did your sofa come with matching pillows?

Remove them from your house as fast as you can. That’s a lost opportunity to add something more personal with contrast and personality — and an easy fix, too. Just cover your old pillows with pretty new fabric.

For Michelle’s coffee table, my upholsterer used a textured white vinyl that looks exactly like leather. It’s scrubbable, bleachable, very inexpensive, and Michelle and her family can put their feet up without worrying about the white. Antique brass nailheads gave it extra custom panache. All of this cost a few hundred dollars.

Isn’t that a great trick?