With plenty of space and great views of the surrounding mountains and trees, the home is exactly what Melissa envisioned when she and Jason picked out plans and hired contractors to help Jason and his father-in-law, Richard Bauer, build the perfect place. "We like having things just the way we want," says Melissa.
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM THIS MAKEOVER Tame the looming look of a two-story wall with a treatment that brings the eye more down to the level on which you do your living.
A three-dimensional treatment may be better than a flat wall-hanging for a big, blank wall.
Use minimalist window treatments to take the edge off a too-severe window when you don't want to diminish the light.
You can emphasize architectural shapes with complementary accessories.
Don't be timid to use large plants in a large room.
But as soon as the house was framed, she knew she had an interior-design challenge on her hands. "I walked in and said, 'I'm going to have a problem with furniture in this room,' " she says. "I've rearranged the furniture so many times, my husband jokes that every time he comes home from work he wonders, 'Where's the furniture going to be today?' ''
And then there's the big, blank, two-story living room wall.
"I never thought, 'What am I going to put on that once the house is done," she says. She went online looking for something "to fill up that space" but couldn't settle on anything.
And window treatments? "I never knew what to do. I didn't want to block the view."
Facing her furniture puzzle, the window treatment question and the tall wall problem, Melissa registered for a Morning Call Makeover at www.mcall.com.
Readers nominated Melissa's house along with two others in online voting, and Makeover designer Nancy Carroll chose Melissa's challenge among the three to take on.
When I caught up with Melissa and Nancy, they had talked about the design issues, explored Melissa's tastes, looked through catalogs and settled on a budget of about $1,000. Nancy had done a power shop and showed up with her ideas and the shopping-spree booty to begin the makeover.
"I want the living room cozier," Melissa tells me. "The openness gives it an element of coldness."
Nancy observes that Melissa's room has the basics right. It has good bones. The green and harvest wheat colors on the walls are attractive. The cinnabar chenille sofa, love seat and oversize ottoman purchased at Nathan's in Hazleton work just fine. And the tapestry rug Melissa's mother, Julia, spotted at Home Depot is a great complement. (Good eye, Julia!)
First, the furniture
Solving the furniture problem is simple, says Nancy. The TV is in the wrong corner of the room, by the tall wall with the love seat. She moves it to the opposite corner of the room by the kitchen, puts the couch along the tall wall and the love seat perpendicular to the couch.
The dramatic fireplace remains the focal point of the furniture grouping, but this simple shift makes it possible for Melissa to watch TV from the love seat, where she likes to snuggle with baby, Noah, 41/2 months, son, Mason, 5, and daughter, Lexi, 7. Husband Jason, who likes to lie on the couch, gets an unobstructed view of his own.
In all her furniture rearranging, Melissa had never considered putting the TV where its backside would face the open kitchen. Nancy solves the sight-line solution by camouflaging the black behemoth with a lovely screen Melissa already has.
How about the windows?
Melissa doesn't want to cover up her wall of to-the-floor windows. "The light is good and because there is nothing but trees out there, I feel like those are my shades," she says.
Says Nancy, "She doesn't need privacy but we do need to soften up the windows a bit," in pursuit of warmth and coziness.