Mix and match patterns, embrace bold colors, layer rugs, and so much more! Try these tips to create a pretty space to enjoy conversations with friends and family.
Scour thrift stores and estate sales for unique accessories. Here, brass tacks are used to hang unframed vintage art school
Use architectural details, like the cedar ceiling beams in this room, to help visually divide and define the rooms in the
open space of a great room.
You can mix old and new, formal and casual, neutral and bold to make an inviting and comfortable space. A neutral-toned sofa and armchair introduce contemporary lines while custom draperies add a touch of tradition.
Step away from neutral paint and fabric. Color is a simple way to make big changes in living rooms. The spring green in this space immediately brightens the room and creates the perfect base for a collection of brightly hued furnishings and accessories.
Make a classic print—like houndstooth check—modern by playing with the scale of the pattern and using it in an unexpected color.
Give a random collection of art pieces museum-worthy treatment by hanging them together on a single wall.
Use a flat-top trunk as a coffeee table to bring a sense of history to a room. This chocolate-brown piece coordinates with the neutral color scheme of the room, and the nail-head trim is mirrored in the decorative sofa hardware.
Punctuate a neutral color scheme with strong statement pieces like these red sofas. The classic color pulls together the adobe-style architectural elements with eastern accents like the chinoiserie screen.
To keep the traffic flow open, pull the furniture away from the walls and into the center of the room―a type of arranging
commonly referred to as a “floating furniture plan.” An octagonal ottoman in a bold fabric set on a cowhide rug anchors the
arrangement in this room.
Comfortable and formal can go together. Use antiques to anchor your room and then mix in modern touches with bold fabrics,
mid-century lighting, and sculptural accessories. Pair silk curtains and mirrored tables with clean-lined upholstery and lots
of colorful pillows.
A stone chimney is beautiful, but it’s also expected. The natural horizontal wood paneling around this fireplace ties it together
with the built-ins flanking the hearth.
This living room shows that you don’t need to shy away from bold patterns in a small space. A floral rug and coordinating
pillows add color to the space, while an animal-print chair heightens the drama. The herringbone fireplace tile is a nice
If you want a contemporary edge, you can’t go wrong with the modern classics like these white-leather Barcelona chairs and
Lucite coffee table.
Give your living room a focal point by creating a faux fireplace with an antique mantel. This fireplace was set on a rectangular
piece of slate as the hearth. .
Short on windows to capture natural light? Replace solid exterior doors with glass ones for an airy feel and pretty views
of your yard.
Take your decorating cues from your surroundings. This home is on a lake surrounded by trees. Moss greens and mushroom browns
paired with a twig-and-bark side table truly bring the outdoors in.
This living room was designed to resemble an early-1900s library; the living room contains a wall of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.
Two large double-hung windows punctuate these built-ins, along with cozy window seats below.
This living area has floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that fill the room with light. Horizontal mullions in the glass
doors are reminiscent of Japanese shoji screens. They complement the space and guide your eye around the room.
Don’t be afraid to personalize the items you buy. Almost every chair in this room was refinished: Two armchairs were whitewashed,
and the blue velvet chair was gilded.
This sofa with its supreme comfort, rich color and fabric, and clean lines is definitely a forever piece, so it was worth spending a little more money on. The honeycomb mirror over the fireplace was an inexpensive piece bought at a chain store.
Use naturally occurring colors and textures to give an earthy feeling to your living room. Potted plants and wicker furniture give this home a casual comfort.
Don’t be afraid to fall in love with a bold print. The designer of this living room was inspired by the floral side chair
fabric and let it dictate the colors found elsewhere in the room.
This homeowner found inspiration for her walls in a bag of gourmet marshmallows: She used the soft, sophisticated colors to
dictate her palette. The plate rack that once showcased antique plates in her parents’ home holds cherished photos.
This living room is a genius use of often-overlooked space; the upstairs landing was transformed into a small den that makes
an inviting, casual family hangout. An upholstered wall softens the space above the built-in bench, while bamboo Chippendale-style
chairs and vibrant turquoise Moroccan poufs add plenty of extra seating.
The designer of this room added trim to the bottom of a basic sofa to dress it up and used a mix of custom pillows to pull
colors from around the room.
Use large-scale pieces in unexpected places. This distinctive coffee table is constructed using the base of two columns and
a stone slab.
Layer floral and geometric patterns on casual furniture for a cozy, cottage feel. Punch up your floral patterns by pairing with them with fresh flowers in mismatched vases.
Keep a file of your favorite samples and inspirational images even if you can’t afford a makeover yet, or haven’t found the
home of your dreams. This homeowner/designer kept all the fabric samples that she loved in a bag until she found the right
home to settle in. She'd also been acquiring updated yet traditional pieces for just the kind of collected look she liked.
This living room has a please touch, no fuss feel. It’s comfortable for a young family or grandparents with visiting grandchildren.
Hand-rubbed finishes on furnishings lend vintage appeal.
Make your living room unique and nostalgic by using heirloom pieces. This homeowner’s great-grandfather owned a bungalow,
and he fondly remembers childhood visits to the family home. He filled his own bungalow home with family furniture and one-of-a-kind
Use bright colors and strong patterns to punctuate an otherwise neutral space. The red accessories in this living room add an energetic punch without overwhelming the area.
You don’t have to give up style even in your high-traffic living room. Guests and kids need not reach for coasters before
putting drinks down on the distressed coffee table. Scrapes and dings only add to the character of the piece. A patterned
area rug is forgiving of spills and dusty feet.
You can pull off a patriotic color scheme without being kitsch. Try hints of red with a pretty blue backdrop. Use natural
linen instead of bright white.
Bonus Tip! Hide the flat screen. The painting above the fireplace can be rolled along the galvanized metal track, revealing a television.
Ceilings look taller when the baseboard and crown molding are the same color as the wall.
Use a fabric pattern to inspire the color scheme and style of your room. The fabric on these armchairs pulls together the
tones of this living room.
Since guests typically gather in the kitchen, a keeping room is ideal for overflow and comfort. Keep your furniture comfortable
and durable-it is sure to be the most used in your home.
If you have a lot of collections, always keep the base neutral so your displays won’t overwhelm the space. Here, a collection
of turquoise lighting elements stands out against the cream walls and plays off of the colors in the large painting.
If you have space, create a separate, more intimate seating area in your living room for quiet conversations.
Get the lodge look by pairing rich leathers with rustic wood elements and classic tartans. Candles and lanterns further add to the atmosphere.
Ready for a change? Washable slipcovers in lighthearted new fabrics perk up old upholstery.
Crisp whites combined with punches of bright colors immediately transport you to the coast. In this living room, aqua accents
in the pillows, throw, and rug mimic the ocean’s dazzling blues, and the pops of bright orange are inspired by the magnificent
hues of the setting sun. Whitewashed horizontal shiplap planking evokes the feel of old Gulf-front beach houses.
Inspiration for this design struck in the form of a 30-yard bolt of black-and-white- hound’s-tooth fabric that was on sale
for an amazing $30. Even after the window treatments, upholstery, and pillows there was plenty of leftover fabric to be used
down the road as seat cushions on new finds, lampshades, and even place mats or a tablecloth.
Asymmetrical arrangements can be intimidating, but formal symmetry is easy to pull off and adds a calm balance to a room.
The simple arrangement above this fireplace is clean and elegant.
Layer a variety of patterned rugs over a neutral sisal rug covering for an exciting floor treatment.
Add architectural interest to your living room with a ceiling treatment. The coffered ceiling in the room creates a striking
structural feature to the space.
This armchair is re-covered in a botanical print fabric. The legs are painted white to lighten the visual weight of the piece. Tucked into a corner of the living room and paired with a set of nesting tables, the chair is a perfect spot for reading.
Decorating is not like doing the laundry. Lights and darks go together just fine. In fact, they’re made for each other in
this living room connected by a large cased opening.
Although less than 2,500 square feet, this cottage feels larger because of the homeowners’ clever decision to open up and
connect the main living spaces. The family room is also vaulted to reveal the loft space above―yet another way of providing
extra volume to a relatively modest space.
This homeowner bucked the “matchy, matchy” rule by placing different end tables and lamps on either side of the sofa in her
living room. The mismatch works because, even though one table is a white Asian-inspired look and the other is a black step-like
design, both tables are the same height. A sleek brass reading lamp pairs nicely with the simple white table, while a large
silver-leaf table lamp fits with the more substantial black table.
These homeowners wanted to let their guests be the color to their space, so they painted all of the background surfaces, including
the brick fireplace, a clean shade of white. A vintage advertisement and an Arkansas license plate hang on the wall. The casual
furniture is covered in washable slipcovers for easy cleanup when inevitable spills happen.
If you’re a frequent redecorator, keep the base neutral in order to let accessories really shine. White or off-white walls
and slipcovers stay the same even as this homeowner flirts with new obsessions. She tires quickly of things, and has gone
through phases with several different colors, so she tries to change things up with pillows and throws.
Draperies do more than block out the sun. Window treatments can transform a room, adding personality and character. These
ceiling-to-floor draperies make the space seem taller and more grand.
To enhance the home’s 9-foot ceilings, these homeowners upgraded to 8-foot-tall doors and 6-foot-tall windows to let in maximum
light. They also aligned the doors and windows at the same height to draw the eye up and create the illusion of more space.
Flip tradition and paint your ceiling a bright color while leaving your walls white. Bring the color down into the space with
coordinating accessories like window-coverings and pillows.
Tortoise and conch shells accessorize this coastal living room, while starfish adorn the mantel. Books on South Carolina’s
coastal area lie stacked on the coffee table and topped with shells. Vases of palm fronds simply picked up from outside complete
the tropical decor.
Everything this home can work in most any room in their house. Everything in the living room—the sofa, two club chairs, and
two armchairs—has lived and functioned in other areas of the home. The style continuity is part of this home’s peaceful, tranquil
Repeating patterned fabrics in adjoining spaces is a great way to tie them together. Here, the dining chair upholstery is
repeated in accent pillows on the living room sofa.
Over this fireplace, a painting by the homeowner’s aunt provides playful color inspiration. Its coral hues are repeated in
fabrics and accessories. Wallpaper remnants are placed inside the built-in glass cabinets to hide DVDs and toys and provide
an inexpensive style fix.
Anchor a room with a traditional rug and accessories, and then juxtapose them with modern art for a fresh feel. The hues of
this heirloom rug play off of the colors of the bottle-cap portrait above the fireplace.
These homeowners flanked the hearth with an additional bookshelf designed to accommodate the television.
Don’t be trapped by a light’s intended use. This homeowner painted an outdoor lantern and wired it for indoor use.
Hang art above cased openings to draw the eye up and make the ceiling look even higher. Here black and white photographs play off of other black and white patterns in the room.
A sectional sofa covered in a khaki Sunbrella sailcloth floats in the center of this room. The outdoor-rated fabric won’t
fade and will easily shed stains.
Mixing patterns is a great way to add interest to a room. To keep the look cohesive, use patterns from the same color family
and vary their scale.
The cheetah print rug in this family room hides a multitude of sins.
Antiques are the hallmark of Southern homes, but you don’t have to have a room full of fine antiques—one nice piece in a room can elevate everything around it. The antique desk in this room gives a sense of history.
This living area contains leather swivel chairs that can be rotated to face the kitchen or the TV and fireplace. The long
upholstered ottoman does double duty as a coffee table and a bench.
Bring the formal parlor back to your home—this one’s for Mom and Dad, not the kids. Created with the feel of a warm and cozy
den, this front room contains rich upholstery and textiles, dark-stained furniture, and a leather wing chair.
Above the mantel, this homeowner displays an ever-changing arrangement of artwork and accessories. An avid flea market and
antique store shopper, as he finds new collectibles, he likes to bring them in as a quick way to change up the look.
In this living room, rolled-arm sofas are sized up to fill the airy space. For a coffee table, the homeowner had a Duncan
Phyfe dining table cut down a few notches to a comfortable height for playing games or propping feet.
Coastal and nautical touches abound in this family room beginning with the seashell-print pillows. Coastal artwork over the fireplace flanks shelving that is filled to the brim with shell frames and boxes.
The easy flow between family room and kitchen is welcoming to all ages and offers plenty of room for this homeowner’s extended
family, friends, and groups from church to gather. This contiguous space is the heart of their house.
Local artwork is a meaningful accessory. A locally painted scene of Florida live oaks hangs above this family room’s cast-stone
Family photographs instantly add warmth and personality to your home. Take them out of the attic, off your computer, or out
of the infrequently viewed albums on your bookshelves, and enjoy them every day. Pick a wall, corner, or entire room. If your
chosen spot already has picture molding (found in many older homes), your job will be easy. If not, adding new molding is
not that complicated.
A stacked fieldstone fireplace takes center stage in this family room. Rather than just a sheer wall of stone, the exposed
chimney is designed with a central recess for artwork, along with tapered edges on either side, to keep it from appearing
too overpowering. Sconces mounted directly to the stone are an attractive way to shed plenty of light on the antique timber
Try a great idea from the past. The triple-hung windows on either side of the great room’s fireplace are found in many older
homes in the Deep South. When the two lower sashes are raised, the openings serve as passageways to the screened porch beyond.
Don’t forget to address the ceiling of your space. This vaulted ceiling has a rough-hewn wood treatment that warms-up the feeling of the room.
Picture yourself here after a hectic day. There's nothing more relaxing than kicking back in front of a fire to spend a few minutes reading or just daydreaming. Place a couple cozy armchairs and a blanket next to your fireplace for the ultimate in comfort.
Warm up a room with interesting textures. Woven accessories and ottoman keep things simple and natural.
Cozy built-in cubbies provide the perfect place to display antique collectables and heirlooms in this living room space.
Your wood pieces don’t have to be the same color. Here, a dark wood desk is at home among blond occasional tables because the pieces have similar clean lines.
An inglenook is a space next to the fireplace that often includes seating. These built-in window seats provide extra seating and are a comfy place to read.
Add a little privacy to family rooms without sacrificing light by installing drapery panels that don’t have a thick lining.
In this living room, the heart-pine flooring came from a South Carolina textile mill. It has the original nail holes, and
if you look closely, you can still see oil stains from factory weaving machines.
Built-in bench seating in this small sitting room provides a lot of seating and storage for books and games.
Can't find the exact table or chest that you need? Just add your own touches, such as a paint finish or unique drawer pulls,
to convert an available piece into a one-of-a-kind item. The designer of this living room set a piece of custom-cut stone
on top of the wooden coffee table in the family room, giving it a more durable surface.
Several small tables in this living room offer enough room for drinks and can even be used as additional seating when necessary.
With impressive artwork and sleek, sophisticated furnishings set against a perfectly pale palette, this space is a constellation of star elements.
How do you make a gigantic room look cozy and appropriate for today when it's actually an old Virginia cow barn?
Steven Gambrel, one of America's top-tier interior designers, recently had a chance to consider the question. Although he lives and often works in the most urbane precincts of Manhattan, Steven grew up in Virginia and still has ties there. When the owners of a Middleburg horse farm asked him to convert one of their barns into a place for large, casual parties and just hanging out and watching TV, he took it on with relish—his first barn, and on home turf.
The designer started with fabric selections to set the room's happy mood and a bright color palette of pink, turquoise, and
chartreuse. Fabrics have to be matchy-matchy to communicate with each other. If they share a similar vibrancy and color temperature,
they'll look good together.
A geometric flat weave is more casual and youthful than a heavy Oriental or wool rug. Balance it out with a large piece of modern art framed in a simple white gallery frame. Finish with blue glass lamps or a pretty bowl to add sparkle and dimension.
Barn builders used post-and-beam construction in rough-hewn yellow pine. Linen curtains with vintage trim add elegance to
the rustic room.
Seating shouldn't be limited to club chairs and sofas. Utilize benches, ottomans, and odd side chairs to accommodate more
The homeowners combined several shades of blue, from almost-black navy to royal, in the light-filled living room. The hand-blocked
batik print on the curtains and bench is by John Robshaw Textiles.
Reclaimed-wood beams ground the airy, white space. A large but delicate chandelier with a burnished brass finish helps anchor
the room, while a vertical custom metal-framed mirror emphasizes the room's height.
A pair of oval mirrors bounces more light around the bright white room and draws the eye up, underscoring the lofty ceiling
A tufted chesterfield sofa covered in family-friendly Sunbrella fabric adds scale and traditional style. Tip: A large sofa
needs large pillows—ours are 26 inches square.
Editor's Tip: Reinvent vintage finds in a new setting. Here, an old flat file cabinet works as a coffee table.
A range of textiles (including velvet, wool, linen, and cotton) adds texture and keeps the muted hues of the C. R. Laine upholstery
from falling flat.
Front and back doors open directly into a two-story-high living room, where spruce-planked walls and wood beams salvaged from
an 1890 Tennessee barn reflect the home’s rural setting and give the space a refined, barnlike feel. Interior decorator Phoebe
Howard balanced the rustic elements with color. “I added an air of elegance with a soft color palette that reflects the surrounding
sky and hills,” she says.
With the multihued curtain fabric as her jumping-off point, designer Ashley Whittaker splashed an amped-up version of pink
in three places in the living room—the footstool, the contrasting pillow welt, and the slipper-chair trim. "We wanted the
home to feel bright and colorful like Florida but not like a vacation home," says Ashley. She pulled off the cozy yet elegant
vibe by grounding the sun-and-surf palette with serious touches, such as the antique demilune tables.
Love it? Get it!
Wall paint: Pale Powder; farrow-ball.com. Drapery fabric: Celeste Robin's Egg by Raoul Textiles, available through DCOTA; 954/921-7575.
Layers of classic patterns and bold prints connected by a warm palette of brown, ivory, and green give this D.C. cottage a
hefty dose of handsome hospitality.
Love it? Get it!
Designer: David Mitchell, David Mitchell Interior Design, Washington, D.C.; davidmitchellinteriordesign.com.