ask a designer living-dining room with built-ins

Ask A Designer: How To Add Interest With Built-In Bookcases

In this Ask A Designer column, Jennifer Koper shares her ideas for making an awkward living-dining room more polished.

Jennifer KoperQuestion: The angled wall in my living room has me stumped, and I’m not sure what to put on my bare walls. Could you help me with furniture and lighting? T.M., Dawson Creek, B.C.

ask a designer awkward living-dining-room

Answer: You’re on the right track with your deep wall color, but the bare walls make the room fall a bit flat. A wonderful way to add architectural interest and texture to a space is to invest in built-in bookcases. Consider having shallow, wraparound built-ins made for both long living room walls, as well as the angled wall. Paint the bookcases the same dark hue and fill the shelves with books, art and decorative objets. Be sure to vary the “fullness” of each shelf to avoid a look that’s packed too tight. Treating all three walls the same way will also help disguise the awkward angle.

ask a designer living-dining room

Next, update your sofa with a contemporary charcoal-colored version with subtle texture. The tone-on-tone effect of the sofa, walls and bookcases will create a snug, cocooned feeling. Consider choosing a sofa that’s slightly less deep than your current one to gain back some of the space that will be taken up by the new bookcases.

ask a designer sofa

(Source: Kimberly Sofa in Midnight by Distinctly Home, $1,599, thebay.com)

I recommend swapping out your love seat for two luxurious club chairs in a channelled black leather.

ask a designer chair

(Source: Schuler Club Chair, $999, shelterfurniture.ca)

Then, add a smoked glass coffee table for a modern touch; the glass, although tinted, will make the table feel lighter.

ask a designer coffee table

(Source: Verre Square Coffee Table in Grey, $599, eq3.com)

A round wooden accent table placed between the club chairs and a nubby wool rug underfoot will bring in a touch of warmth.

ask a designer rug side table

(Source: Trill Round Wood Side Table, $499, cb2.ca)

ask a designer rug

(Source: Hand-Woven Chunky Woolen Cable Rug in Off-White by NuLoom, $444, homedepot.ca)

In your adjoining dining area, replace the exposed bulb fixture with a more streamlined shaded version that will cast a softer glow. Its classic style will also temper the more modern pieces in the living area.

ask a designer light fixture

(Source: Piaf 39 Inch 4 Light Chandelier by Thomas O’Brien for Visual Comfort, $1,467, robinsonlightingcentre.com)

This mix of textures and styles will add plenty of interest to your space and give you a cozy but dynamic room, perfect for relaxing or entertaining.

Do you have a design dilemma? Send your questions to askadesigner@hhmedia.com.

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Author:
Jennifer Koper
Photographer:
Alex Lukey (portrait); Monic Richard (living room)
Designer:
Scott Yetman
Source:
House & Home February 2020
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