In my last post, I explained how the living room gave me a lot of trouble as I tried to find a furniture configuration that worked, due to its doorway placement and smaller size.  After 14 months of coming up empty, I finally consulted a professional interior decorator by using a free e-consultation service that they offer to new clients. 

Here’s what the room looked like at the time I applied for advice.  (I marked my problem areas for this post.) It was the best I had figured out, but it wasn’t good enough.  I knew I had to get the furniture off the walls somehow so I’d rotated my desk out from the wall.  The landing strip to the right of the front door was working pretty well for us, the painted backs of the bookshelves added depth, and the round mirror across from the  beautiful windows was a favorite.  Other than that, there wasn’t a whole lot I was loving about this room in terms of form OR function.   (Sorry for the phone pix!)

What to do to make this better?? Basically, here’s what they told me, paraphrased Julie-style:

  • Get some color in there!  Take the rust red in the drum seats and spread it around, and add another accent color to finish it.  Follow the 60/30/10 percent rule – 60% neutral/main, 30% supporting color, 10% spicy accent color. 
  • The desk at right angles to the wall is good, but move it to the right corner of the room so that the landing strip is less crowded and so you can put that small corner to good use.
  • Since you want the 6-over-6 double windows to be a focus, bring a loveseat into an L with the existing sofa, slipcovering to match.  No need for a coffee table as space is tight: the drum seats can double for that if needed by adding a tray to one.
  • The bookcase on the back wall is one of the first things you see, so de-clutter it, and switch out the mirror for a bigger one.
  • add two more sources of light for greater ambience and an inviting, layered look. 

A fresh, professional eye speaking to some of the room’s details, and the encouragement that I CAN fit more seating and did not need a coffee table completely re-inspired me.  I spent that weekend rearranging and editing everything in there, and started to come up with more and better ideas.  Around the same time, I discovered The Nester’s blog and was convicted by her posts about using lots of little junk to personalize a space when really you are just fussing because the big things about the room are bothering you.    Here’s what I came up with on my own, in addition to/instead of what the designer suggested.

  • Acknowledge that I hate the sofa, and make peace with that while saving for a new sectional.  Meanwhile, concentrate on making the rest of the room better and cohesive, so that the sofa doesn’t stand out so much.  Don’t allow it to dictate what else happens with the room, but make it fade away as gracefully as possible.
  • Make that bookcase into a substantial feature to love! by buying another of the same for cheap on Craigslist and putting them right next to each other, thus making one big piece instead of lots of little furniture bits scattered around.  I am really proud of this idea!
  • Switch out the beloved round mirror for a huge [frameless] rectangular one currently collecting dust.  Get husband to mount it and install a mitered frame around it.Use the loveseat and armchair from our sofa set for the L seating configuration, switching them out of our TV Watching Room in exchange for the sofa piece.   Since our bachelory leather sofa set is large, these smaller pieces will fit in the living room better and leave us room to breathe.
  • Turn squared off gallery collection into freeform gallery wall.   I’ve lived with this square configuration for several months and it feels too angular, too narrow, and hung about three inches too high, going from A to B: 
  • Add in robin’s egg/aqua/turquoise accents around the room.  Blue-green is my favorite color, so why not use it?  Plus, I always liked the combo of muted red and light blue-green.

Now this is a big room change, so I don’t have a fancy look-I-threw-$5000-at-it-and-have-a-new-living-r0om “after” to show you.  You knew that though :)  I’ll be back soon with a sneak peek at what’s changed in the few weeks since I got my Room-ReDo design advice.  Plenty more to do of course, which I will expand on in future posts.

Has someone’s tasteful advice ever gotten YOU out of a design dilemma, or even sparked a whole room redo?