The Glassmans' dining room, before

When Kristin and Brad Glassman moved in to the Colonial-style home they built in upstate New York a year and a half ago, they tried to give a sense of history to their adjacent dining and living rooms by painting them a pale buttery yellow and adding elegant moldings. And while Brad, an immigration lawyer, and Kristin, a stay-at-home mom who used to work in civil law, were pleased with their achievement, they couldn't avoid the elephantine truth about these pristine rooms: They and their daughters, 6-year-old Isabella and 3-year-old Allegra, almost never went in them. "I joked that we should put DO NOT ENTER tape around them," Brad says. "They were too formal."

But when O at Home put the Glassmans in touch with Bridgeport, Connecticut–based stylist Corey Grant Tippin, things changed—fast. Charged with transforming the rooms into warm, inviting spaces, Tippin says he appreciated the bare bones on which he had to build: "I was digging the moldings and the French furniture, which blend well with modern accessories."

The Glassmans' dining room had been furnished with a dining-room set by Mona Liza Furniture and double scallop sconces by Circa Lighting, but it felt unfinished, he says.
The Glassmans' dining room, after

Kristin says she was wary of a jarring makeover, since she'd seen "all those crazy shows where people do over a room and it's so out of touch with the character of the person who lives there." But after Tippin, a master of subtle upgrades with serious impact, made just two opening moves—hanging linen shades and swapping oriental rugs for space-anchoring sisals that "give the rooms a sexy, relaxed feeling"—the click between client and designer was palpable. "The gates opened and Kristin trusted me," Tippin says.

Along with the Smith+Noble window shades and New York Carpet sisal rug, Tippin added an assortment of accessories—including a linen table runner from Pottery Barn, a resin clamshell from Oly and cast-iron urns from Lillian August to bring the room to life.

"It was a breath of fresh of air," Kristin says. She admits that, on her own, she would have chosen heavy silk drapes that would have looked more conventional than the window shades Tippin selected but wouldn't have added as much life to the room.

The fun of playing with dimension—for instance, topping their intimidatingly long dining table with an oversize centerpiece that makes the room feel intimate, "less like a banquet hall," Brad says—is just one of many lessons Tippin taught them.
The Glassmans' living room, before

The pieces Kristin and Brad had already selected for their living room gave Tippin a strong start, he says. To "out the latent hipster" he sensed in both Glassmans, Tippin decided to bring in accessories with crisp mid-century lines.
New accessories for the Glassmans' living room

Allegra immediately appreciated the more relaxed feel of her family's new living room. The difference, again, is in Tippin's playful additions, which include a geometrically patterned Jonathan Adler rug (on top of a second sisal), a Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams coffee table, and a leopard-print ottoman and a zebra-print stool from Dovecote. Pillows by Jonathan Adler and Madeline Weinrib Atelier complement the Glassmans' sofa.

The space was further punctuated by the dark, linear shapes of a few new pieces of furniture trimmed in burnished metal, inexpensive Ikea pottery, and one big, black-shaded Jonathan Adler lamp that, Tippin says, took away the piano's power "to overwhelm the room."

Tippin wanted "simple shapes, trays, and containers" for the coffee table, so he chose vases from Ikea, a Williams-Sonoma Home Lucite box (which he filled with coral), and a zebra-print tray from Decorative Things.

Abstract paintings Tippin hung below the sconces in both rooms underlined the moldings' graphic strength. "The great thing about abstract art is that you can impose your own thoughts on it," he says. "It brings intelligence and sophistication to a room." The abstract paintings are from Appleton Webster Home at Hiden Galleries.
The Glassmans' living room, after

Finally, Tippin slipped in a happy hint of Miami Beach circa 1975, with zebra-striped ceramic garden stools, bamboo-accented lamps and mirrors, and, beneath a Lucite console, a giant resin clamshell that he describes as a "pop piece you just have to touch."

The Stella shelves by Oly, on which Tippin placed art books and a ceramic hippo by Jonathan Adler, take advantage of and draw attention to the vertical space in the living room.
The Glassmans' sidetable

As he introduced textural thrills and the odd side table, Tippin always took care to tip his hat to Brad and Kristin's original goal of giving their house a feeling of history. So, formal potted lantana topiaries flank a bar, a streamlined yet undeniably classic bowl brims with coral on the sideboard, and an embroidered velvet ("but funky—not too serious") bolster is propped on one of the settees.

Tippin used pieces of both real and fake white coral to bring nature into the Glassmans' house. Here the coral is displayed in a serving bowl from Willliams-Sonoma Home and flanked by clear-glass candlesticks from Anthropologie.
The Glassmans' new bar

The Glassmans were thrilled with the casually traditional, artfully controlled eclecticism Tippin created. A Lucite table from CB2 is perfect as a bar. The Buddha head is by Emissary from Dovecote; the barware, by Williams-Sonoma Home; and the painting Untitled Abstract II , from Lillian August.

The best part of working with a stylist who intuitively got her and her family, Kristin says, was shedding her textbook ideas of how a house should look. Now that the living room is no longer cordoned off in their minds as a place only for company, Kristin and her girls visit the suddenly cozy and groovy space to read and hear birds sing. She jokes that sometimes—like when she was standing in a store and considering a Buddha statue that she wouldn't have noticed before—she wonders, What would Corey do?

But Tippin's greatest gift has been teaching her to trust her instincts. "What I want in the rest of the house is more youth, more vibrancy," she says. "I want our house to reflect our personalities. We are fun people, we do silly things here. I shouldn't feel I have to meet this criteria of what is ‘perfect.' I feel more confident now, more free-spirited. It's a revelation."

Get more tips from Corey Grant Tippin.