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‘Dream Home Makeover’ Reveals the Living Room Design Rule To Break Right Now


On “Dream Home Makeover,” Shea and Syd McGee know that big, spacious houses come with one huge downside: The spaces lack that intimate, cozy, family-friendly feel.

In the episode “The Dream in Dream Home,” the McGees grapple with such a house when helping some of their earliest clients. About four years ago, Neil and Liz had hired the McGees to build a home in Park City, UT, for their family of five. Soon after that was finished, the couple decided they wanted another home, in Southern California, so they called upon the McGees to help them design their second home, too.

The blueprints promise a massive 9,000-square-foot, five-bedroom, seven-bathroom mansion. But their goal is to make this humongous house feel like “a place where you want to have your friends and family, and where they’re going to want to come,” says Neil.

“It’s about family, 100%,” Liz adds. “Being together and just keeping our family close.”

While most of us can only dream about having a house this huge, the McGees give us some great ideas for bringing both luxury and family togetherness into any home no matter the size.

Carve out intimate spaces within larger rooms

This cavernous family room still feels homey and intimate.
This cavernous family room still feels homey and intimate.


All the rooms in Liz and Neil’s house have soaring ceilings and wide-open spaces. Even the bathrooms are spacious. But the family doesn’t necessarily want it to feel that way.

“In a home this grand, it’s important to think of ways to make it feel intimate and cozy, ” says Shea. “The family room is an example of a room that should feel close and comfy.”

She advises using nooks, pillows, texture, and sectionals where you can put your feet up.

“Have individual spaces” within the larger space, Shea says. “The most important space is where you’re all together.”

Turn your formal living room into a place you use often

A functional formal living room
A functional formal living room


It’s traditional to have a formal living room that’s used only for special occasions, and most go unused 95% of the time.

Shea would like to turn this design convention on its ear and create a formal living room that people will feel comfortable using anytime of the day or night.

To pull off this design, Shea avoids furniture sets with matchy-matchy features.

“Every piece of seating has a different piece of fabric on it. Nothing actually matches,” she says. “That’s what helps keep things more interesting and not too fancy.”

She also notes, “We added some hints of color in the textiles and in this dark blue sofa. It creates a room that feels warm enough that it makes you want to spend time in that space.”

Darker colors create a grown-up atmosphere

A mature wine tasting room
A mature wine tasting room


Neil is perhaps most excited about his wine tasting room and the adjacent room for elegant wine storage, which they call a cellar. This is the special place in the house for the adults to feel relaxed and comfortable.

“For the wine room, it was all about depth of color,” says Shea. “We brought in these navy blue walls. There is actually no white in this space. We have dark color on dark color. The drapes match the walls. The sofa and the chairs are dark, and that creates a mood, because there’s very little contrast.”

“I feel manlier just being in here,” says Syd when they show the couple the finished room. “It does feel like the place where wisdom will be imparted.”

“When the kids are in trouble, it’s ‘Uh-oh, you gotta go see your father in his wine room,'” says Neil.

Just a hint of blush adds a feminine touch

Pink ceiling
Pink ceiling


Liz and Neil’s daughter Lucca gets her own room, and while they’d like it to be classy and ageless, Liz worries that her daughter’s room won’t be feminine enough.

Shea suggests adding a touch of femininity without going overboard by painting the ceiling a pale pink.

“Then with the canopy bed, it just draws your eye up,” she says.

That allows Lucca a lot of leeway to add her own touches as she grows.

The new right way to style throw pillows

Pulling the corners to style a throw pillow
Pulling the corners to style a throw pillow


You know how almost every designer you see on TV gives the throw pillows one final chop in the middle right before the big reveal? That’s no longer enough, according to the McGees.

“You chop, smash, and fluff,” says Syd after watching as his wife style the pillows.

“No,” she responds, elaborating. “Chop in the middle, pull it out at the corners, then push it back.”

To which Syd responds, “Then repeat 50 times for every pillow in the house.”

How does this dream home makeover turn out?

After well over a year, the house is finally complete, and the family takes a tour with the McGees for the first time. Liz and Neil are thrilled with the results.

“We love the house. … It’s finally come together,” says Liz. “It’s awesome!”

Lucca says her bedroom ceiling is just the right shade of pink and happily throws herself on the bed so she can admire it. The boys think their rooms are “sick,” which is the ultimate compliment.

Shea is also happy with her work.

“Like Liz and Neil, I believe family comes first,” she says. “And a family home is a place that you want to spend time, because it’s comfortable and also beautiful.”

The post ‘Dream Home Makeover’ Reveals the Living Room Design Rule To Break Right Now appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

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