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Ask A Designer: Library-Style Living Room

House Home Photo Ask A Designer Library-Style Living Room

Arranging furniture in a long space.

Q. I need help arranging the furniture in my living room, which has one wall with dark wood built-ins and a fireplace. The room is long, so I think it needs two separate seating areas. What about tables?

— A.M., via email (To submit your own question, see our Ask A Designer™ page.)

A. With all that lovely dark wood, I'd like to see you create a handsome library-style space just like in our Inspiration shot. To start, consider painting your walls a few shades deeper and warmer than your current colour, like Exploring Khaki (UL190-20) (shown) from Behr, to soften the contrast with the millwork.

I don't think the room is large enough for two full seating plans, but I do think you can fit a small reading area as well as an intimate conversation/TV space. For the reading nook, move your wing chairs to sit in front of the window (see floor plan) and position them to face each other. Instead of a table, place an upholstered ottoman between them — it can also act as extra seating.

For the conversation/TV area, keep your sofa where it is, but pull it in from the reading nook a bit to create some breathing room. Then, further define the area with another piece. The Austin lounge (shown), upholstered in a brown velvet like Kravet Smart 27042-68 or a classic herringbone like Kravet Smart 30628-106 (both shown), will strengthen the tailored look we're going for.

You should have enough room for an armchair opposite the lounge, but it can't be too big — thankfully, small doesn't mean uncomfortable! I like the Professor's chair (shown). It has a small footprint (2' sq.), but the cushy seat makes it supercomfortable.

Now, for the finishing touches. With its gold-leaf frame and curved stretcher, Annie Selke Home's Gardiner cocktail table (shown) is a nice feminine note to offset the more masculine elements. Layer in pattern with throw pillows made up in Schumacher's Elton Bird (shown). It has an old world feel that will enhance the library theme. And, finally, to play up the cosy factor, bring in a large neutral wool area rug.

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1. Austin lounge, Cisco Brothers. 2. Paint, Exploring Khaki (UL190-20), Behr. 3. Fabric (from left): Kravet Smart 30628-106, Kravet Smart 27042-68, Kravet Canada; Elton Bird, Schumacher. 4. Annie Selke Home Gardiner cocktail table, Vanguard Furniture. 5. Professor's chair, Restoration Hardware.

Author: 

Cameron MacNeil

Photographer: 

Ted Yarwood (inspiration room); John Cullen (paint); Felix Wedgwood (fabrics).

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