Ask A Designer™

October 22, 2019

Ask A Designer: How To Transform A Living Room With Shades Of Blue

In this Ask A Designer column, Jennifer Koper shares her ideas for bringing a dated living room into the present with a cool-toned palette.

Question: I’d like to update my living room, but I’m not sure where to begin. Please help! — L.J., La Salle, Ontario.

Living room before with grey walls and dated furniture

Answer: I love that you went bold in this space with a dark color, but the grey tone feels a bit dated. One of the most inexpensive things you can do that will have dramatic impact is to update your color scheme with paint. Try a rich, inky blue to give your walls more depth (like Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue). Just look to Brian Gluckstein‘s moody living room for inspiration (below).

blue bedroom inspiration from designer Brian Gluckstein

Match your trim and drapery to the wall color for a fresh, modern look.

Ezria curtain panel in blue from Crate & Barrel

(Source: Ezria Curtain Panel in Blue, starting at $154,

Next, reupholster the chair and ottoman in a smaller-scale, global-inspired patterned fabric that has a lighter background.

Dash off fabric in Espresso by Nate Berkus from Kravet Canada

(Source: Dash Off Fabric in Espresso by Nate Berkus, price available upon request,

Update your rug with a solid blue version in a paler shade for a tone-on-tone look. Elte’s Linear Khotan rug has a lovely muted pattern that will give your space some dimension.

linear khotan ws11 rug in blue from elte

(Source: Linear Khotan WS11 Rug in Blue, starting at $3,245,

Your matching leather chairs are quite bulky; replace them with more contemporary iterations that have an airier silhouette. The Anders chair from Cocoon Furnishings has a thin metal frame and low back — perfect for chairs that are adjacent to another space.

Anders armchair in natural light hide from cocoon furnishings

(Source: Anders Armchair in Natural Light Hide, price available upon request,

I recommend swapping out the tall table lamp for a lower, weightier one for your side table near the sofa.

gannet table lamp in drizzled cobalt from cocoon furnishings

(Source: Gannet Table Lamp in Drizzled Cobalt, $703,

Then, opt for a simple, height-adjustable floor lamp to place near your newly upholstered chair and ottoman for reading.

Trenton floor lamp from Shelter Furniture

(Source: Trenton Floor Lamp, $499,

Try abstract art above the sofa in a thin, contemporary frame, or with no frame at all, and replace your current patterned throw pillows with textured blue-toned versions.

ellsworth inspired framed print from wills & prior

(Source: Ellsworth Inspired Framed Print, $570,

batik indian throw pillow in teal from memo showroom

(Source: Batik Indian Throw Pillow in Teal, $207,

Finally, open up the space by removing the chest that’s against the wall. With these changes, you’ll have a contemporary living room that’s ideal for relaxing and entertaining.

Do you have a design dilemma? Send your questions to [email protected].

Author: Jennifer Koper

Michael Graydon


House & Home October 2019


Brian Gluckstein