How One Designer Gave a Bachelor’s Living Room a Modern and Masculine Feel

Bright and modern living room with white chairs.

Design: Gillian Segal; Photo: Ema Peter Photography; Graphic: MyDomaine

If there’s something we never get tired of seeing, it’s a great makeover. Whether it’s transforming a retro bathroom into a modern oasis or giving a lackluster bedroom a fresh look, pros perform these design miracles all the time.

To give designers a chance to showcase their favorite makeovers—and to bring you plenty of inspiration for your own home—we’re sharing the best before and afters we’ve seen in our series, Makeover of the Week. Take notes for your next renovation.

“My client, a man in his twenties, wanted to create a sophisticated space where he could entertain friends on a more elevated level,” interior designer Gillian Segal says. “This living room was very disjointed—it was once two separate condo units with a number of partition walls dividing the large space into barely usable nooks. Our goal was to create a more modern, open, and cohesive feel.”

Meet the Expert

Interior designer Gillian Segal is the owner of Gillian Segal Designs in Vancouver, Canada. She is known for bringing an element of the unexpected to her designs, creating eclectic and glamourous spaces that reflect the owner’s mood and lifestyle.


Dark living room with brick fireplace.

Courtesy of Gillian Segal

“This was a pretty sad excuse for a living room,” Segal shares. “It had track lighting, dark and dingy hardwood floors, a blah brick fireplace and beige walls, plus a mishmash of furniture styles.”


Modern living room sitting area with shearling chair.

Design: Gillian Segal; Photo: Ema Peter Photography

“We achieved our goal of creating a more modern and masculine space yet kept things warm by filling the room with soft, textured materials,” Segal notes. “Concealing the television and upgrading the fireplace transformed the room into a more formal spot for entertaining, yet the design is relaxed enough for casual movie nights.”

What Changed:

  • Color theme: Shades of brown, tan, white, and gray reflect a neutral palette. 
  • Sofa: Knit wool pillows complement the deep-seated contemporary sofa.
  • Chairs:  The boucle chairs swivel for intimate conversation and an optimal view of the fireplace and television. 
  • Rug:  A green bamboo silk rug has a sophisticated look while being soft on the feet.
  • Window treatments: Sheer white linen drapes provide privacy over the sliding doors while still allowing in light. 
  • Built-in: The fireplace wall includes upholstered panels, a tarnished brass surround, a black painted mantle, and sliding white wood doors to conceal the television. 
  • Sconces: Two alabaster stone sconces provide a beautiful translucent glow. 
  • Coffee table: A monolithic marble plinth provides a spot for coffee table books. 
  • Floors: Solid oak plank floors were sanded down and restained in a light beech wood hue. 
  • Wall art: A modern piece of art features the word “abstract” spelled backward over the sofa. 
  • Poufs: The suede poofs provide a place to sit and along with secret storage.
  • White round table: A white plaster side table in the style of John Dickinson holds drinks. 
  • Wall/ceiling paint: Oxford White by Benjamin Moore.

Shop the Look:

Modern sleek fireplace with gray sofa.

Design: Gillian Segal; Photo: Ema Peter Photography

Porter Sofa
Rove Concepts Porter Sofa $1,699.00

“I love the stitching around the edges, a unique detail that makes this sofa stand out,” Segal shares.

Gwyneth Ivory Boucle Chair
CB2 Gwyneth Ivory Boucle Chair $999.00

“It’s hard to find a swivel chair that’s also aesthetically pleasing—these are both!” Segal notes.

Marble Plinth Coffee Table
Restoration Hardware Marble Plinth Coffee Table $4,225.00

“I love a solid and sophisticated coffee table,” Segal says.