An interior design blog with furniture reviews, interior decorating tips, DIY projects, and home furniture guides.

Posts Tagged ‘living room interior design’

From the Design Files of Heather B – Furniture for Living Room with lots of Doors

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Design Question

Our living room is 18′ x 22′ with a vaulted ceiling about 12′ at the peak (which runs East/west). The rear (south end) 3′ are taken up by a staircase descending to the basement and is separated from the rest of the room by a 4′ partition wall. This leaves about 18′ of useable floor space, making the floor area nearly square. The opposite side (north side) has an entry door about 4′ from the West Wall. The West wall has two doorway openings, with about 6′ between them, One next to the partition wall over the stairs, and the other about 4′ from the North wall. The East wall has a garden door somewhat south of center.

My question is this. What is the best furniture arrangement for this space to allow people to watch TV and entertain? We have a front projection system that displays on the North wall. We are shelf mounting above the partition wall by the stairwell, to avoid conflict with the ceiling fan. I have attached a few Computer renderings to show door positions. We are planning to purchase newer living room furniture over the next while as our children are now older.

Design Answer

Yes, I agree; you will have to arrange the furniture in relation to all of the doors in the room.

I would start with the couch and place it parallel to the stair (south) wall, leaving a path to the kitchen and stairwell. I would see how it looks, but position the couch so that it lines up with the kitchen door frame closest to the north wall. A path that is a little wider than the door should be enough room to ensure easy traffic flow to and from the kitchen door to the basement stairs. You’ll have to take measurements, to see if it will work for you.
Also take measurements of wall that has the kitchen door. You might be able to fit in a recliner, club chair or even loveseat.

You could also put a chair in the left-hand corner of the north wall and of course, you would want to keep the French doors wall free.

Thanks for writing in. Let me know how it turns out. Come back next Monday when I will be tackling another design dilemma.

From the Design Files of Heather B. – Wall Color for Yellow Furniture

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Design Question

Hi, I found your email on a website and I don’t know if you answer personal emails but if you do, then I have some questions. I need to decorate a room that’s got yellowish/beige wallpaper and yellowish/beige floors. I have dark yellow couches and from there I am stumped. I was thinking since there was so much yellow that I would work with grey and dark blue, but what do you think? What colors would complement all the yellow and actually make it look classy instead of boring. Should the carpet and curtains be the same shade of grey, or different? And what colors should the lamps and accessories be? What other colors could I incorporate? Thanks for your help.

Design Answer

Since there is a lot of yellow in the room and yellow is a “warm” color, balancing it with “cool” colors like grey and dark blue is actually a good idea. I know this might sound funny when discussing neutral colors, but if you go the grey route, you will want to make sure that the shade of grey you pick will “play nice” with the beige hues of the wallpaper and the floors.

Pale green is another cool color that will go with your yellow sofas and your floors. The carpet and curtains don’t necessarily have to be the same shade of grey, but they shouldn’t be jarringly different. If you are purchasing either a carpet or curtains or both with a pattern, the ideal window treatments/area rug combination would be to choose a shade of grey that appears in both – again, they don’t have to match exactly but they should be in the same “family.”

Another option would be to use navy blue for the curtains, carpet and accent pillows, gray for the walls and a soft shade of lime as the accent color for one wall.

You didn’t mention what style of living room furniture you currently have in the room you are in the process of decorating. But black and white – white on the walls and black for the curtains and carpet – could work especially well in a contemporary environment. Pairing black and white with the yellow would also be a stunning color combo for a traditional décor as well.

If you have dark wood in the room in the form of coffee tables, accent chairs, etc. adding red and blue to mix, all primary colors, is an alternative to using neutral shades. The rich wood tones will balance the primary hues in the room. You could offset these colors by using white paint for the trim (windows, doors, baseboards, etc.).

Eclectically Speaking – The Living Room Eclectic Style

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

The living room is often the first room in your home a guest or visitor will see. Nothing makes guests feel welcome faster than walking into a well-designed living room that perfectly reflects you and your family’s style and personality. The overall effect of an eclectic style living is an interior décor that is unique to your home, because you can choose how relaxed or sophisticated you would like it to be. By selecting furniture from different sub styles ranging from traditional to contemporary and anything in between, you can focus on including furniture pieces into your living room design regardless if the “match.” This is the ultimate appeal of decorating a living room in eclectic style.

Color your World (or at least the living room)

Implementing eclectic style in your living room allows you to contrast soft neutrals of earth and sand with warm, bold colors like fire engine red, vintage rose, intense golds and oranges. This can mean anything from painting the main walls earth tones then adding an accent color in bright orange or vintage rose to one wall to choosing accessories from different period styles. The way you use color in an eclectic style living room should definitely include laying shades and hues throughout the room by piling the sofa with accent pillows; selecting curtains in a different fabric from the other principal fabrics in the room such as the upholstery for the sofa and armchair; and adding a colorfully patterned area rug that will give the room more texture and definition.

Choosing Eclectic Living Room Furniture

When furnishing an eclectic living room, start with a focal point, which can be an architectural feature such as a niche, built-in wall unit or a wood burning fireplace. It can also be a piece of furniture like an entertainment center, bookcase wall or an electric fireplace.

Choose a sofa that has plenty of “character;” one that will blend easily with a variety of styles.

The secret to a successful eclectic living room design is to provide the senses, especially the eye with dramatic contrasts, like a vintage chandelier or vintage floor lamp with a contemporary area rug comprised of geometric shapes. Contrasts that pair the unexpected together – a modern polished metal floor lamp with a 1930s velvet button tufted sectional – create visual surprises that add texture and interest.

The reason eclectic style living room ends up being so personal and exclusive is because it is the result of an imagination, creativity and resourcefulness that is unique to each person. While there are supposed to be a mix of styles – that’s the whole idea behind an eclectic décor design – all elements should “play nice” with one another. To prevent an eclectic style living room from feeling busy or “disconnected.” you can ensure visual cohesion by doing one or all or a combination of the following:

  • Regardless of the styles, furniture pieces and/or accessory items, repeat shapes and textures throughout the room
  • Especially if furnishings are different colors or possess different finishes, replace the handles and/or drawer pulls of your living room furniture case goods; this will lend each item commonality
  • Particularly when furniture and collectibles are from a variety of eras decades or even centuries apart from one another, be when accessorizing; “connect” items to each other through a distinctive feature such color or shape.
  • If there are too many different kinds of finishes (including colors and textures like matte, distressed and highly polished) in the living, choose the furniture pieces that appear the most “jarring” and refinish them to match at least one other piece in the room.

Making Your Living Room Pop

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

While the living room is typically the place where you relax in front of the television, entertain family and friends, or just veg out in the recliner by the window on a rainy day, in today’s housing market many of the rooms in our homes designed to be dual or even multipurpose spaces. From an interior design point of view, the living room has always been a “multipurpose” space, in that it is intended to accommodate a variety of activities as opposed to say a dining room where eating is the predominant activity. Keeping this in mind, living room furniture like a sofa, accent chairs, a coffee table and other occasional tables should be versatile, functional and stylish but above all it should be comfortable and fit your lifestyle.

Pick a Style

To create a living room that is cohesive and esthetically pleasing, pick a style that reflects your lifestyle and personal tastes. Like stopping in to take a look at the trendy boutique in the mall before you start in on your “real” errands? Perhaps contemporary or modern is the design style for you. Do you find yourself admiring the Victorian furniture in a period film? Then traditional style will be a good choice for you. If you like the clean lines and sleek look of modern or contemporary furniture but also find some aspects of traditional appealing, transitional style is ideal, because it combines both contemporary and traditional design principles for a look that is sophisticated yet inviting. There are no hard and fast rules: maybe you’ve decided on a contemporary style décor but need to find a place in your living room for the antique curio cabinet you inherited from your great aunt. By combining different styles together that work for you, you create a look and feel that makes your home unique.

Arrange the Furniture

Once you have bought your new living room furniture or have decided what furniture pieces you will include in your living room interior design, you are ready to move the furniture into place. Decide what will be your principal focal point in the room: a fireplace, French doors, a library wall unit or an entertainment center are all ideal candidates for a main focal point in a living room. Then arrange the living room furniture accordingly, starting with the largest piece of furniture. Your lifestyle will also determine how you will arrange the furniture: if you’re a family that enjoys regular movie nights, then it will probably be important to you that the sofa is directly opposite the entertainment center and that the coffee table is wide enough to hold a couple of bowls of popcorn and a number of beverages in addition to all of the remotes.  You will also want to take into account traffic flow: this simply moves that you will have enough room to move around the room easily without bumping into things; ditto for being able to open and close the doors and drawers of case goods.


 The whole point of accessorizing is to make the room personable and cozy. In a living room or family the proper lighting is important. You will need a nice balance of table lamps for task lighting and an overhead fixture for ambient (general) lighting. Choose artwork that features colors already in the room, as well as being bright and colorful. When accessorizing a living room, you want to make it homey and comfortable without being cramped or cluttered. Think functional with style like baskets for added storage on a shelf or underneath a coffee table or console table. Place decorative candlesticks and one or two detailed picture frames on a fireplace mantel. These little touches will personalize your living room and make it “livable.”

If you are in the process of furnishing a new living room or updating your living room furniture, send me a picture of how it turns. Still not sure what style you should choose? Write in; maybe I can help.

Country Living Cottage Style – Cottage Living Room Ideas

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Cottage style is an ideal choice for a living room because it is laid-back, inviting and comfortable. It creates the feeling of welcome; of time passing without the watchful eye of the clock; and of being “lived in.” Cottage style, in many ways, shares similar elements with casual country. Both styles are eclectic in nature, relaxed and unpretentious and display a folksy warmth that is very inviting. Where these two styles differ, cottage style themes and motifs tend to be centered around water; reflecting lifestyles lived near a lake or by an ocean. Today, we’ll begin a new a series called “Country Living Cottage Style” and talk about how to create that cottage style look for your living room.

A cottage style palette reflects nature, especially water and sky. Pure whites and creams are a good place to start for colors for windows, doors and baseboards, and even the walls themselves. But whether the color in the cottage style living room is added to the walls directly or introduced through the furniture and when accessorizing, it should also incorporate soft, pastoral shades such as pale forest greens, tranquil shades of blue and the yellows found in summer roadside flowers.

Cottage style definitely has that country air, but lines a simpler, colors are brighter and while wood finishes are lighter, like casual country, they tend to be distressed. Cottage style living room furniture typically has decorative detail like turned legs, a milk-washed finish or louvered or beadboard panels. Fabrics and textiles for furniture and window treatments commonly make creative use of plaids, nubby wools, ginghams and small checks or floral patterns.

The sofa should have a wide, comfortable seating area, with an overstuffed backrest and rolled arms. It should be upholstered in homey fabrics that have an “arts and crafts” feel, like a quilted finish, a nubby cotton or florals. Sofas that include organic elements like wicker accents or rattan frames will also work well in a cottage style living room. When selecting accent chairs, an armchair or a recliner, keep in mind that they don’t have to match. Here is where the eclectic aspect of cottage style will manifest itself.

Tables should have a casual, yet charming appeal. Look for end tables, a coffee table, a console table or a set of nesting tables that have a distressed or washed finish; are painted white or cream with tabletops in a lighter wood finish like pine, cherry or oak. Accent chests and accent tables can have turned legs, stenciling or hand-painted designs.

When accessorizing, choose casual table lamps with checked, striped or plaid shades. Shades with in a gingham or floral print are also good choices. Lamp bases will often include organic elements like wicker or terracotta. Framed pictures should reflect the region, such as photos of the lake or prints of local attractions. Don’t forget those classic cottage accessory standbys like hurricane lamps, pillar candles on stone or ceramic candleholders and a hand-made quilt or hand-knit throw as added protection against a chilly night.

Next week, in the second part of the series, we’ll take a look at the cottage style bedroom.

Designing a Japanese Style Living Room

Friday, May 21st, 2010

In Japanese interior design less is definitely more, but even more so in the living room. Space is very much a part of the overall plan. Living room furniture is arranged from an “inside out” principle, meaning that furnishings are typically placed in the center of the room and then balanced with open space. This lets each piece “breathe,” creating a Zen environment that is ideal for down-time, kicking back after a long week at work or a stylish and sophisticated place to entertain friends.

The furniture in a Japanese style living room should be chosen carefully – each piece in the room should not only serve a definite purpose, it also should work in harmony with the other furnishings in the room. Lines and profiles are soothing, unassuming and restful. Horizontal lines in Japanese furniture design are particularly important because they represent man’s relation to the earth. This is why living furniture sits low to the ground. Furniture and accessories like lamps or rugs should be made of or incorporate natural materials like wood, bamboo, wool and rice paper.

The Global Furniture USA 757 Series 3 Piece Sofa Set integrates the essential elements of Japanese design. The sofa, loveseat and arm chair are all low profile. Lines, while gently curved to emphasize shape and create visual interest, are simple and calming. The base and legs are made of wood.

When designing a Japanese style living room, accessorize very sparingly. Color palettes for walls, fabrics and curtains will be neutrals or earth tones. While every piece of furniture in a Japanese style living room is chosen for its functionality, it should also be esthetically pleasing as well. Use a focal point such as an entertainment center, bookcase

or armoire to anchor the room. Create balance and harmony by arranging the furniture in the space so that each elements “plays nice” with the other décor elements in the room. Incorporate natural elements into your Japanese interior design with a table lamp that has a rice paper shade; a sisal area rug or bamboo window treatments. Traditional Japanese design calls for bare walls; if you wish to hang framed pictures, prints or photographs, limit the number to one or two larger sized ones or several sets of a group made up of no more than four small pictures in each group. The result will be a living space that is truly comfortable while being tranquil and serene.

From the Design Files of Heather B – Apartment with Awkwardly Shaped Rooms

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Design Question

My roommate and I live in an apartment that has awkwardly shaped rooms. It’s hard to describe, but it seems that every room is on a kind of angle. We’re having problems arranging the furniture. Because of the weird shape of the rooms, we’re not sure how to make the furniture fit into the living space. It becomes more complicated because of the apartment’s open area design. We have antiques mixed with contemporary furniture, so I guess the style is best described as shabby chic. Right now it seems that everything is stuck just wherever and we’d like to find some way to make it feel more inviting. How do we arrange the furniture so that it looks right?

Design Answer

Arranging furniture in an apartment where there is not much continuous wall space does get tricky. But it is possible to arrive at a happy medium so that the living room furniture fits in the room in such a way that it is both esthetically pleasing and functional. I see that you have sent in just a picture of the living room (great space by the way), but you mentioned that the other rooms in your apartment suffer the same malaise. These following steps will be applicable to all of the rooms in your apartment.

  • Choose the biggest piece of furniture in the room
  • Determine which wall will be the best one to accommodate it
  • Decide what the room’s focal point will be. In the bedroom the focal point is typically the bed; in a living room, since you have one, it will be the fireplace
  • Arrange the other furniture in the room around the chosen focal point
  • Pay attention to the room’s traffic flow; you want enough room around each piece to be able to move freely. For bedroom furniture or living room furniture with doors and/or drawers, make sure that you will be able to fully open them

Specifically regarding the living room, in my opinion, in addition to the main problem of the odd shaped room, it is currently lacking a definitive focal point. Wherever there is a fireplace in a room, it becomes a natural focal point. In your case, nothing in the room faces the fireplace. Try the following to address both problems.

Remove the small bookcase from the left hand side of the fireplace.

Move the sofa into its place and put the bookcase and lamp (which may I add, is perfect shabby chic) on the left hand side of the sofa.

Place the armchair on the right side of the fireplace so that it is facing the focal point.

Put the coffee table parallel to the fireplace and in between the couch and armchair.

You have now created a conversational grouping in the room that makes the most of the fireplace as a focal point.

Let me know how it turns out and send me more pics! Thanks for writing in.

Keep sending me your design questions, and especially if you’re asking for advice regarding wall color, tips on rearranging a specific room etc., include pictures if you can.

Transforming Rooms into Sacred Places – Feng Shui Living Room

Friday, March 19th, 2010

With the busyness of modern day life and the stress that comes with it, it is even more important in today’s hectic world that our homes are a sanctuary, a safe haven from the daily pressures we all experience. Feng Shui is a multifaceted philosophy that prescribes the arrangement of objects in relation to space for the express purpose of achieving harmony. When Feng Shui is applied to interior design, it can help you transform any room, whether it’s the living room, bedroom, dining room, den or family room, into a tranquil, sacred sanctuary. And you’re not limited by bamboo or an Oriental décor design; Feng Shui decorating can be applied to a room of any furniture style, including country and traditional.

Through the proper application of the beliefs and principles of Feng Shui, a person’s natural connection with the five energies – tree, fire, earth, metal and water – that surround us can be a conduit to balance and harmony. In turn, balance and harmony create an environment that is positive and energizing in a calming, restful way. You can delve into Feng Shui as much or as little as appeals to you. But by following the simple rule of incorporating the five main elements into each room of your home and arranging the furniture in a certain way to create a flow of positive energy, you can greatly benefit from some Feng Shui basics.

Feng Shui Palette

According to Feng Shui principles, the color palette you choose for your living room will depend on where it is located in relation to the “bagua,” a map in the Feng Shui system that correlates nine geographic locations, (north, south, east, etc.) to nine aspects of our lives (health, fame, creativity, etc.). To simplify it, Feng Shui colors, while it does tend to focus on neutral tones and earth shades, it also can include muted shades of brighter tints as well as “metal” colors like gold and silver (color palette shown here from Benjamin Moore). The color of the living room determines the predominant energy or chi that will influence the room. Whatever color you decide upon, it should be gentle and calming.

Tree feeds fire; fire creates ash which forms earth; earth harbors ores and metals; metal naturally becomes water; water nourishes the tree. Profiles and lines of living room furniture pieces should be uncomplicated, flowing and tranquil.

The sofa sets the stage for relaxing, hanging out or just plain vegging. Since the tree is associated with the color green and represents prosperity and wealth, the green Klaussner Furniture Delaney Sofa would be ideal for a Feng Shui living room.

Because the most common material for living room furniture is wood, it will be easy to surround yourself with tree energy.

The lines of the Furnitech Contemporary Asian 70 Inch Wood TV Stand are clean, emphasizing the geometric detailing of the glass doors.

With its gentle spin on a classic style of bookcase, the Homelegance 4 Piece Dark Cherry Barrister Bookcase Set possesses subtle Asian influences.

Fire symbolizes action and liveliness; it is naturally energizing and is associated with people, art and animals. The Kenroy Home Flow Oil Rubbed Bronze Table Lamp with Poppy Red Shade would nicely add a little “fire” to a contemporary styled living room.

Since fire (the color red) is ideal for the areas in your home where you socialize, it is the perfect element for a living room. In a modern or contemporary décor, the red tabletops of the Modloft Crosby Rotating Square Coffee Table definitely contribute a little luck and recognition.

For a more traditional décor, place the Pulaski Accents Secretary Desk in Brown/Red against a short wall or next to a window.

Represented by the colors yellow and brown, earth symbolizes patience, stability and the center of all things. Earthy materials include terracotta and ceramic.

Essentially, these five elements create a circular flow of energies and all five should be present when decorating a living room. An end table like the Standard Safari End Table with Glass Top brings metal into the mix.

But you could also accessorize with lamps like the AF Lighting Danbury Table Lamp that have brass, bronze or copper or other alloy bases. Metal is symbolized by the harvest, a time to reap the benefit our labors and efforts. It also represents security, financial success and happiness.

The Kenroy Home Agua Indoor/Outdoor Floor Fountain is of course the color that most commonly represents water. The second color is black. But you don’t have to plan on putting a fountain in every room of your home that you want to Feng Shui. You can bring the water element into your living room through framed pictures of ocean scenes, waterfalls or lakes. When accessorizing the living room, include a fish bowl, aquarium or a vase of flowers.

Feng Shui is all about balanced and the balanced flow of energy or chi. To create the ideal living room environment, all five energies must work together in harmony. This simply means that no one element should overpower the other.

Come back next week for part two of Transforming Rooms into Sacred Places.

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