Decorating & Design

September 16, 2012

Ask A Designer: Cold & Bare Living Room

Q. My new Miami home has only one living area, so it needs to be practical and pretty. I recently bought the sectional, and still need a rug and a coffee table. I find the dark grey sectional, pewter walls and white, tiled floor difficult to work with!

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

A. You’re on the right track with the charcoal sectional, softer grey walls and window treatments. And I like the floor tiles — they’re a nice change from hardwood and are perfect in a beachy climate. A cool palette that pairs more grey with green and blue, as in our inspiration room, will give the space an airy, contemporary look.

Adding a soft rug over the tile floor is a good idea; an 8′ x 10′ one should be large enough to define the seating area. Look for one with a fluid yet graphic pattern, like the 25701 rug from W Studio. Its painterly green tones will work well with your grey envelope.

A pair of armchairs will offer more seating. I like the vintage style of the Louisa chair by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, and the grey upholstery will suit the space. Place them side by side where your woven chair is currently to create a conversation area. (Or, you could keep the woven chair, and find a second one that matches.)

At 40″ square, Bernhardt’s Sydney cocktail table is a nice, big size for your room, and its open metal base keeps it visually light. The mindiwood-veneer top in sandblasted Driftwood is constructed of four removable trays, making it über practical.

Consider replacing your single floor lamp with a pair of Ikea’s Kulla lamps, and placing one at either end of your sectional. The glossy black shades will be punctuation marks in the space, strengthening the modern aesthetic.

A large sectional like yours is a great backdrop for lots of colourful, patterned pillows. Keep your houndstooth pillows, then introduce a few new ones in colourful prints. Tonic Living has a wide selection that works with your overall palette and will pop against your charcoal sofa.

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1. Kulla lamp, Ikea. 2. Louisa chair, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. 3. Pillows, from left: Joy in Pearl, Gazebo in Cloud, Tonic Living. 4. 25701 rug, W Studio. 5. Sydney cocktail table, Bernhardt.