Decorating & Design

July 24, 2011

Ask A Designer: Inviting Living Room

Q. My husband and I cannot decide what to do with our living room. He wants to put the sofa along the wall with the wallpaper, but I think it should go in front of the window. Please help! Also, any other furniture and accessory suggestions are welcome.

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

A. What a great room to work with! I love the distressed floor and the large window. You can easily build a cosy living room with pieces that have enduring style. Let’s start with the sofa. First, I have to agree with your husband. Since you don’t have a fireplace, situating the sofa along the full wall will let you create a strong second focal point — your window being the first. The Kingsley sofa (shown) from Barrymore Furniture has a classic shape with English-style arms and a long dressmaker skirt. Choose slightly textured neutral-coloured upholstery for a look you won’t soon tire of. To strengthen this focal point, hang one large piece of artwork or two framed prints above the sofa, as in our inspiration shot.

Move your side chairs to the wall opposite the sofa. Then, bring in two slipper chairs in a handsome striped upholstery, like the Naomi chair (shown) from Bernhardt Interiors, to anchor your window and introduce pattern.

A large flatweave rug will add another layer of pattern and texture and help draw attention to the neutral sofa. The Wilander rug in Ivory and Grey (shown) from Elte has a geometric pattern to contrast with the zebra print of your side chairs, but the subtle colourway will keep the room from feeling too busy. An 8′ x 10′ should be the right fit.

A coffee table like Ethan Allen’s Collector’s Classics (shown) with a rustic pine top will reference your distressed floor nicely. And the utilitarian steel base is unexpected.

Tie the room together with a few key accessories. The Lisburn lamp (shown) from FlowDe?cor has a lovely mercury-glass base; place one at each end of the sofa for a touch of sparkle. Finally, frame your window with textured silk drapes in a pale greenish grey to soften that wall.

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1. Wilander rug, Elte. 2. Lisburn lamp, FlowDe?cor. 3. Naomi chair, Bernhardt Interiors. 4. Collector’s Classics coffee table, Ethan Allen. 5. Kingsley sofa, Barrymore Furniture.