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An Interview with Carm Mirretta-Barone and Mara Schachter

How these two interior designers gave Nicole’s living room a makeover without spending a dime!

by Natalia Pack
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What did the client ask for your help with?

Nicole’s challenge to us was simple enough: help make sense of her family room/daughters’ play. But, we couldn’t spend a cent! The space wasn’t functioning well for her and her family. The backdrop of her house was lovely – good bones, a seamless flow from one space to another and a nice neutral palette. However, this is the space the family really lives in. It needed to function better, but just as importantly, it needed some personality. A good designer is able to make your home reflect the spirit of your family – to make it really feel like “you.” This room needed an overhaul and we were happy to help!

What were the biggest changes you made?

Definitely the furniture layout. The way the room was originally arranged just wasn’t working. The girls’ toys were scattered around the room (trust us, as moms we know how easily this happens…) and the large-scale pieces weren’t in the right places. The first thing we did was create two distinct zones – one for the girls’ play area and the other for adults to lounge and watch TV.

The chaise on the sectional was originally on the left side. We moved it to the right side and placed her armless chaise on the other end. This was a simple but effective way to delineate the two zones while still making them feel connected. From there, it became easy to reconfigure some existing pieces, remove others and organize the rest.

                                      Before                                                                                After                                                                                              

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 3.22.31 PM

What was the biggest challenge with this project?

That’s easy…to use what she had without spending a dime! Making something old feel like new turned out to be a very creative exercise.  Nicole and her family and friends were all shocked at the big impact of these small changes. It’s amazing what an afternoon and some fresh eyes can do!

 What was your favourite part of the room once it was completed?

Little did we know that Nicole had a not-so-secret secret. Not only is she the founder and CEO of Pink & Blue, but  she’s also an artist! Her beautiful pieces had been hiding in her basement, tucked away in storage. We used several of her works (and also a picture her daughter made) to arrange a gallery wall. We also found a larger piece that we used above the sofa. It was gratifying to give her work pride of place. It gave the space the injection of personality it needed and made it feel more personal.


 Before                                                                                         After

photo by nicole


What is your best advice for someone who wants to refresh a room in their house without spending a lot of money?

Edit, edit, edit. Did we say edit? It’s best to remove everything and start with an empty space. Begin by determining the floor plan that will function best for how you use the space. Position the largest pieces first and go from there. And, shop your house! The black metal console we used beside the sofa was actually in Nicole’s bedroom. It worked better here and really helped the space come together.

from carm and mara


Did you enjoy working together and what strengths did each of you bring?

Absolutely! We had such a great time working together. We met at design school and became fast friends. It was really fun to collaborate and share in a creative project together again.

Was the client easy to work with?

( tell the truth! haha)

Nicole was a pleasure to work with. She was open to our ideas and trusted us the whole way through. As an artist, she has a great eye; she just needed a little push. And, she was fun, which made the afternoon go by in a flash!

Learn more about Carm and Mara by checking out their interviews!

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