The 7 dec­o­rat­ing mis­takes ev­ery­one makes in their liv­ing room

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Real Estate -

When en­ter­ing a metic­u­lously de­signed liv­ing room, we feel it right away: the per­fect pro­por­tions giv­ing the space a cer­tain grandeur, the plush seat­ing draw­ing us in, each well-ap­pointed seat sug­gest­ing long lazy af­ter­noons spent with­out hav­ing to leave the liv­ing room… Just like a beau­ti­fully di­rected movie, a well-dec­o­rated liv­ing room is at once en­gag­ing and im­pres­sive, but it’s also fa­mil­iar and safe. Try­ing to repli­cate this at­ten­tion to de­tail in

our own homes, though, is an­other chal­lenge. As much as we try to repli­cate the feel­ings we’ve ex­pe­ri­enced in cer­tain rooms (that we’ve vis­ited and loved), there’s usu­ally some­thing that’s just off.

In­te­rior de­sign­ers spend their lives study­ing the lit­tle de­tails that make a room per­fect. And some­times, what is wrong in our own liv­ing rooms can be as sim­ple as a painting hung too high or a lack of eye-level lamps. To shed some light on the most com­mon liv­ing

room dec­o­rat­ing mis­takes that may be plagu­ing our spa­ces, we asked a stylist, an in­te­rior de­signer and a res­i­den­tial ar­chi­tect to share the dec­o­rat­ing mis­takes they fre­quently no­tice in liv­ing rooms ev­ery­where. The liv­ing room of your dreams may not be so out of reach — sim­ply fix these mis­takes, and then en­joy your new and im­proved space.


De­sign­ers agree: A great liv­ing room starts with a great sofa. “So of­ten I come into a house and the own­ers have good taste, but they al­ready have a sofa that they want to work with,” ex­plains stylist and TV host Emily Hen­der­son. “They don’t want to re­place it be­cause it’s not that old and they don’t mind it. I’ve had to break the news over and over that with a sofa like that, they would never get the room they want,” says Hen­der­son.

David John Dick of DISC In­te­ri­ors agrees, “We hear time and time again from our clients how the sofa they pur­chased in the past was not com­fort­able or was too big (or too small) for the room. In liv­ing rooms, a good sofa is key to com­fort, but it’s also cen­tral to how a room feels and looks. Our tip for get­ting it right is to pay at­ten­tion to sofa seat height (a low seat is hard to get in and out of ) and to draw a fur­ni­ture floor plan be­fore pur­chas­ing. Buy­ing on im­pulse is great for ac­ces­sories and side ta­bles, but never for a sofa, as it can be a very costly mis­take.”

“To avoid choos­ing the wrong sofa, stick to some­thing sim­ple,” adds Hen­der­son. “No one loves a sim­ple sofa more than me be­cause they are so easy to style.” She rec­om­mends pay­ing par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to the qual­ity of the fab­ric and the time­less­ness of the shape. Hen­der­son rec­om­mends stay­ing away from overly or­nate de­tails like curved legs, winged arms, tufts, and nail­heads.


An­other mis­take that plagues liv­ing rooms ev­ery­where, ac­cord­ing to New York-based ar­chi­tect El­iz­a­beth Roberts, is the “show­room feel.” (In other words, a room that looks like it’s all been pur­chased from the same store.) “It’s im­por­tant to us to mix new and vin­tage el­e­ments in or­der to cre­ate an in­ter­est­ing, eclec­tic, and in­di­vid­u­al­ized room,” she says. DISC In­te­ri­ors agrees: “We love the patina of vin­tage fur­ni­ture, es­pe­cially paired with mod­ern up­hol­stery.”

To avoid feel­ing like you’re in a store, Roberts also rec­om­mends leav­ing ad­e­quate room in the bud­get for light­ing, tex­tiles, and ac­ces­sories after large items are se­lected. “The small pieces are what add personalit­y,” says Roberts. “We also pre­fer to light the liv­ing room with low light­ing in­stead of over­head light. Floor lamps and table lamps are best for liv­ing rooms,” she says.


For Hen­der­son, one of the main of­fend­ers in liv­ing room dec­o­rat­ing is the poorly sized rug. “Amer­ica has been suf­fer­ing for too long from ‘small rug’ syn­drome,” she says. “I see it vir­tu­ally ev­ery day, and it pains me — es­pe­cially when it can be so eas­ily avoided.” Huge rugs can be ex­pen­sive and can feel like such a scary com­mit­ment, but ac­cord­ing to the stylist, it’s one of the most im­por­tant as­pects of a room.

“Liv­ing rooms al­most al­ways need at least an 8-by-10-foot (if not a 9by-12-foot) rug. Un­less you have a tiny liv­ing room, stay away from any­thing un­der 6-by-9-feet. A 4-by-6-foot rug might be fine next to a bed, in a kitchen, or in an en­trance, but it will as­suredly not work in your liv­ing room,” ad­vises Hen­der­son.


While it may be tempt­ing to push a sofa against a wall fac­ing the TV stand and call it a day, Roberts re­minds us that there is more in­volved in plan­ning a great liv­ing room lay­out. “It’s im­por­tant to con­sider and cre­ate con­ver­sa­tion group­ings, es­pe­cially if the room is long and nar­row

like many town­houses and lofts,” she says.

“It’s also very im­por­tant to con­sider views from ma­jor seat­ing el­e­ments. In a large open room, it’s nice to be able to sit on a fa­vorite piece while ad­dress­ing the rest of the room. In a small room, it’s im­por­tant to con­sider nec­es­sary win­dow views. In a room with a fire­place, it’s of­ten dif­fi­cult to know where to put the TV — large TV cab­i­nets are cum­ber­some and don’t fool many. My fa­vorite solution is a pro­jec­tor that projects onto the white wall above the man­tel,” says Roberts.


“Art hung the wrong way on a wall is like a char­ac­ter in a movie wear­ing a re­ally bad wig,” Hen­der­son says, “it’s just kinda hard not to see it, and you wish so bad you could just rip it off, know­ing that every­thing would be so much bet­ter with­out it. It doesn’t ruin your ex­pe­ri­ence, but it’s just ter­ri­bly dis­tract­ing.”

While some agree that art should be hung at eye level, the stylist stresses that this doesn’t ap­ply in ev­ery case. “Yes, the art should be at eye level, but not if your ceil­ings are re­ally low and not if you are re­ally tall,” she says. “If the wall were cut up ver­ti­cally into four sec­tions (go­ing from bot­tom to top), think of the art be­ing in the third quad­rant (count­ing from the floor),” says Hen­der­son.


While the days of un­used “sit­ting rooms” and plas­ticwrapped fur­ni­ture are long gone, Roberts still in­sists on pay­ing spe­cial at­ten­tion to mak­ing your liv­ing room fits the con­ve­niences of ev­ery­day liv­ing. “Se­lect tex­tiles and rugs that can take the wear and tear of ev­ery­day liv­ing,” she rec­om­mends.

Roberts says, “There are some great out­door fab­rics that we’re us­ing in­doors that dogs and kids can­not de­stroy. It’s im­por­tant to se­lect rugs that will wear well. Be­ware of the se­duc­tive silk rug. Wool is a much bet­ter rug for a fam­ily. Make sure that there’s ad­e­quate stor­age in the liv­ing room to con­tain all of the items that we like to have around: toys (if you have chil­dren), books, re­motes, and a junk drawer. It’s al­ways help­ful!”


Dick says, “Of­ten times peo­ple feel boxed in and lim­ited by the ar­chi­tec­ture of their home and se­lect fur­ni­ture based on the home’s ar­chi­tec­ture and time pe­riod. Our solution is to mix fur­ni­ture styles with the style of ar­chi­tec­ture.” In one Ge­or­gia home, the de­sign firm merged con­tem­po­rary fur­ni­ture with tra­di­tional crown mold­ing, Moroc­can an­tique rugs, African beaded benches, and con­tem­po­rary art. “We love to re­cover and re­work vin­tage pieces and mix them with cus­tom so­fas so the liv­ing room feels time­less and ap­proach­able,” he adds.

Roberts has one in­dis­pens­able trick for com­bin­ing pe­ri­ods and styles: “When mix­ing new and vin­tage el­e­ments, pay at­ten­tion to fur­ni­ture heights, as tra­di­tional fur­ni­ture is typ­i­cally higher than mod­ern pieces.”

Color gives this room in­ter­est, and styles are var­ied, re­sult­ing in a room that is wel­com­ing.

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