Morning Call Makeover in Hellertown

Before, the homeowners felt their Hellertown living room was not very inviting; now "it just feels warm, and it looks much more full," said owners Art and AnnaMarie Hunsberger. (Ryan Hulvat/Special to The Morning Call / April 28, 2006)

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    • With heavy living room furniture, sometimes less is more.
    • Don't go furniture shopping without a floor plan.
    • Use lace, especially heirloom lace, to soften the look of wood.
    • Arrange personal treasures in a room so they face you when you're sitting in your favorite place.
    • Use a mirror to add depth to a wall across from an entry door.
    • Don't obsure an attractive focal point with furniture.
When I arrive at the Hellertown ranch house of Morning Call readers AnnaMarie and Art Hunsberger for the makeover of their living room, the affable Art is fully engaged in a lively discussion with photographer Ryan Hulvat about the virtues of the iPod.

AnnaMarie and Morning Call Makeover designer Nancy Carroll are nowhere to be seen. It's not surprising to me that the women aren't part of the techno-talk, but where are they?

Art and Ryan shoo me to the basement.

Of course.

The idea of The Morning Call Makeover is to draw from what a homeowner already has, adding advice and accessories, to help solve the problem they identified when they requested their room makeover.

AnnaMarie had told us that her living room just wasn't cozy enough -- despite a four-piece living room suite, new coordinated draperies, family baby pictures, her grandmother's lace and other decorating statements she had made.

As I head down the basement stairs, I can guess what Nancy is doing. I hear AnnaMarie's voice: "I just had no place to put it."

I join AnnaMarie and see that Nancy has pulled a sizeable black-and-white, vintage wedding photograph in a dark wood frame out of storage.

Looking out of this photograph are bride and groom Mary Zegalia and John Begovich, AnnaMarie's parents. The new Mrs. and Mrs. Begovich came from Croatian stock. Mary was 15 when she married in 1922, AnnaMarie says.

Nancy has scored her first hit, an heirloom, something meaningful and personal to restore to a place of honor in a room AnnaMarie feels is too cold, maybe too impersonal.

A little more rummaging and Nancy comes up with a pretty pastel oil painting in a white wood frame. "My sister-in-law painted that," says AnnaMarie. "I had country decor in my old house and it just seemed too big for that."

Nancy adds this painting to what's going upstairs.

The women continue to trawl the basement for things that AnnaMarie acquired because she liked them. Brass pedestal candlesticks, a wooden garden rocker painted a muted cranberry red. These are going to the living room with the wedding picture and painting.

Art has joined us now, and he eyes his New York Jets clock. AnnaMarie and Nancy stare him down. "The Jets are in the cellar and so is my clock," Art observes wistfully.

At least he prevailed when he suggested that AnnaMarie abandon the country theme that dominated their former Cape cottage when they moved into the ranch last June.

To turn over a new leaf, the Hunsbergers bought four pieces of attractive light ivy green upholstered casual furniture to fill the 17-by-21-foot living space, which had been created by knocking out a wall between a small living room and dining room.

AnnaMarie found a muted-floral fabric from which drapes were made to cover the room-length picture window behind the sofa. Her china cabinet dominated the right end of the room as you entered from the front door. Two matching utility shelf units were tucked next to the fireplace on the long wall across from the sofa, one holding the TV.

And it just didn't work.

AnnaMarie and Art did not find the room cozy enough to compel them to gather there. "I wanted to appreciate the fireplace," says Art. "I just couldn't bring it together," says AnnaMarie.