Need help with my lifeless living room!

karen.izMarch 15, 2013

I'm trying to update my LR - and could use your suggestions. I just bought new pillows and a yellow lamp to brighten things up.

The artwork over the sofa is what I had hanging in the hallway; I think I'll have to go buy a third print (they are part of a series of four) to add to that wall. They're just hanging on the existing nails - will adjust them later.

I want to replace the rug; I think it's too big. i was thinking a 6x9 striped or chevron rug with lots of yellow. Or maybe green? Something cheery.

I need to have the Martha Washington chairs recovered - the current blue is a colonial blue that's dull and dated. Have no idea what fabric to put on them. The practical side of me says a solid cream fabric (and the adventurous side of me yawns).

Window treatments? No idea.

What would you do with this room?

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Here's the front wall:

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 5:59PM
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That room is not lifeless, it has a happy, clean look. You have a nice balance of colors there.

The blue chairs are a little off; I would bring them to the tone of the walls, which I think is a blue/green? The rug looks like the right size to me. And the color is fine - a neutral background for the seating area.

You could dress up the windows, but I like them as is. IMO, you are close to being done with this room.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 6:25PM
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I wouldn't call your room lifeless at all! I think you're in the home stretch of decorating this room. I would recover the chairs in something fun and maybe glaze the wood on them to better match the drop leaf table. I can't tell from the photo, but if the little table with the yellow isn't a valuable antique, I'd paint it to for a fun pop of color. Add some curtains and the third piece of art over the couch and it's done. Maybe you could also add something colorful (bowl? vase? books?) to the top of the drop leaf table too.

I wouldn't swap out for a smaller rug. A too-small rug can really make a space look off. The rug you have looks like a good size. I think it connects and grounds the furniture and provides a good neutral base for the brighter colors you want to add.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 6:38PM
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You know what, I might take back what I said about adding curtains. If it were my room, I'd want to see that mocked up first before deciding. If you want to try it, use a table cloth or a sheet, gather it at one end and use some painter's tape to tape it up. You'll have to use your imagination to picture it in a fabric you like.

This post was edited by TheRedHouse on Fri, Mar 15, 13 at 18:46

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 6:45PM
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I agree with the other posters. I think your room is really cheerful. I would definitely recover the chairs in a fun fabric that brings in your wall color in some way. Beautiful job.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 6:49PM
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Thanks - maybe I'll hang on to the rug for a while longer and work on other elements.

What kind of fabric would you put on the chairs? A solid or a print? Stripe? I like the idea of darkening the wood... will look into that.

Yes - the drop leaf table needs accessories - I just pulled some things off it and put them in the cabinet across the room. Will find some other things to put there - maybe a plant? Is that lamp too different from the new yellow one to work?

Thanks for your help so far!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 9:13PM
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I think a more contemporary lamp would be great on the drop leaf. If you do want to darken the wood on the chairs, you might get away with using gel stain rather than full stripping and refinishing.

To get a sense of fabrics you could use for the chairs, try heading over to a couple of online fabric stores and search the home decor fabrics for colors and patterns you like. You can order samples or just get a sense of what you like before heading to an actual fabric store and/or reupholstery shop.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 9:54PM
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I'm no help, but Iove your wall color - what is it? I think you have a really nice room!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 9:55PM
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I'm no help, but Iove your wall color - what is it? I think you have a really nice room!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 9:59PM
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Thanks, TheRedHouse - will look for fabric and another lamp.

Honeybasil, it's Wythe Blue (Benjamin Moore). I love the color, too - thanks.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 10:06PM
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I think your room looks great! The wall color is so cheerful, such a breath of fresh air from the usual beige/greige.

I think the chairs would look lovely in a print with a good dose of yellow. Something to tie into the lamp.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 10:25PM
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I think a geometric print fabric in yellow would look great on those chairs!
Try googling that
Nice room!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 11:17PM
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I think it's a nice room and I love the chairs although I can see why you'd like a different color for them. Not to be too literal, but I would add something alive--like plants, and maybe some texture in the form of a basket or something carved...

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 11:41PM
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I think you're right about the room looking rather lifeless, and IMO the problem is the lack of pattern or texture. I'd definitely look a different rug, and recover the chairs.

I notice that your new pieces are more contemporary than the traditional furniture, so I'm guessing that you want to move it that direction?

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 12:19AM
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On second look, I also notice that the room is 'leggy', so I'd perhaps relocate the side table and bring in a drum or garden stool type side table without legs.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 12:22AM
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Looks very pretty! I think it needs some soft flowing panels at the windows. I imagine something light and airy but other types could be more lively. Maybe panels at the larger window could be mounted outside the inset? Not sure but it would keep the pretty windows free and not reduce the light.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 12:30AM
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Your room has lovely bones to it and you are off to a good start. I love the Wythe Blue, the pillows, the lamps and agree your rug is a good size for your room. What you have now is fine, though could see a colorful floral one there alternatively I find the height of your chairs is too tall in relation to your sofa. They look like a nice set of host chairs for a dining table, perhaps you could use them there and look for something different for this room?

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 2:50AM
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Beautiful room. Pattern on one of the major furniture pieces (a chair or 2) would go a long way.

I like the artwork, but think something taller (or more prints on top) would take advantage of your gorgeous height. What is the view across from the sofa? Maybe a mirror (horizontal over what you have) might work.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 3:19AM
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I like how my eye is drawn from the medium-color wood on the chairs to the same shade of wood on the lower shelf of the coffee table.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 8:39AM
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robo (z6a)

Love the lamp and pillows!

Instead of getting rid of the rug, how about a smaller more colorful rug on top?

Or I could picture a cream coloured rug instead of beige.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 9:06AM
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Wow I love the room and would also say you're almost done! I would put curtains up and add yellow to the chairs. Are you daring enough to have yellow chairs instead of the blue?

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 9:47AM
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I also think you need soft, fairly narrow full-length curtain panels, hung out to the sides of the small window, and just covering the sides of the front window. I wouldn't worry about closing off the sides of your front window, since you have so much light coming in all the way to the top. That treatment would also balance the sizes of the windows, and keep the side one from looking a little forlorn.

I'd look for a yellow and white print, lattice pattern, or simple smallish stripe, to lighten and break up the lovely but a bit overwhelming dose of Wythe Blue.

The pictures over the sofa are not large enough in scale to be balanced in the composition of the wall. I would add a good sized vertical mirror over the center, and move the two pictures down and out to the sides. The mirror will add light and sparkle, and spreading the whole business out will furnish the wall better.

And you need another lamp - I'd move the desk lamp to the other side of the desk, and add a floor lamp to the unlit side of the sofa. You have a dark corner there that is killing the life of the room. Then I'd add a green plant and a stack of pretty books to the desk, and I think that's all you need.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 11:29AM
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I guess I am the dissenter here but I actually like the blue chairs with the color of your walls and might even play it up a bit more with a print that includes both blues.

I was quite shocked to open your thread and expected to see something very different than your beautiful room. Not lifeless at all!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 11:43AM
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Your room is definitely not 'lifeless' and you have a great start with a very nice color scheme.

I'd recommend finding a print to reupholster the two blue chairs that has the darker colors of the print in the pillows. Perhaps a geometric print with brown and the moss/avocado and one other accent color.

I think the wood color on the chairs is fine as it seems to be similar to the coffee table shelf.

Yes, definitely larger art above the sofa and some panels on the windows if you like. In time if you keep both lamps you might buy a white one for the larger lamp so both shades are the same color.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 11:55AM
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That's a good point about the chairs being very tall. Maybe it's the photo? If they are, maybe a taller galleria of pictures would look good over the sofa to play to their height (bring the others down closer to the sofa). I think that would look interesting, either way.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 12:08PM
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Excellent ideas above!

I do think brownwynsmom makes a very valid point -- find a tall rectanglar mirror --paint the frame in bright white -- and hang it in the center of the area over the sofa. Then hang the four prints (two on each side) to really play up the height of the whole area -- and visually balance the height of the chairs.

Yes -- the blue of the fabric works well at this point -- but consider switching to a basic creamy white plain linen. Then you could add any color or pattern in a small pillow to the chairs to make an impact.

Perhaps consider adding a larger end table (in a bright white) to the far end of the sofa (where the yellow lamp now sits)

Yes -- as brownwynsmom suggests -- move the dark lamp to the left-hand side of the dark table (and switch to a more modern white drum shade) -- add a tall standing lamp to the left-hand side of the sofa AND then add the small end table (painted white)

Yes -- add a leafy green plant to the right-hand side of the dark table -- perhaps in a vintage white plant pot ....

Yes -- keep the area rug -- it is an excellent size for the area!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 12:20PM
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Okay, you guys are terrific. Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions! I think I'll remove the artwork and look for a taller piece - a mirror, with something on either side (sconces?).

I found some napkins in a drawer that helps me visualize what the chairs would look like with a yellow geometric print; while I love the look, I think it's going to clash too much with the adjoining dining room (pics to follow):

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 12:55PM
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I think I need to pull back from the "contemporary" look and stick with traditional - so maybe a more neutral pattern on the chairs with some jazzy pillows, like someone suggested.

I like the idea of a lighter side table; will look for one. Someone suggested a garden bench or drum table; I think that would work well.

Here's the adjacent dining room - I love the look, but was having difficulty carrying the feel in through the living room... it was just falling flat. So I went in another direction, and needed help!

Keep the suggestions coming... I appreciate every comment.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 1:02PM
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Another dining room view:

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 1:03PM
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I liked the first picture that you posted of your living room and didn't think it was lifeless at all, however the second one showing the front window did show an issue. The window is quite large and the drop leaf table in front with the low clock and lamp don't fill the space adequately.

Bronwynsmom suggested a floor light and I agree. I would also like to see something tall on the table but I don't think the size of the table can take it.

With the red in the dining room have you thought about bringing that colour into the LR to tie the two rooms together. What about a yellow pattern with some of the same red in it as is in the DR chairs.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 1:38PM
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Ah! You already have a mirror in the adjoining dining room -- so go for the four art prints over the sofa.

To add a dash of red to the living area -- perhaps paint the current small side table in white -- and switch it to the left-hand side of the sofa. Then add a small stack of red books -- then add the standing lamp -- as suggested above by bronwynsmum.

Then switch to a red shade on the dark lamp on the darker table -- plus a green plant in a red pot ....

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 1:54PM
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While both rooms are nice, you do have two different looks going on.
I like the suggestion of white linen fabric for the chairs. I would exchange the pillows for something more in keeping with the style of your dining room.
I would take a picture of your dining rooms chairs into a fabric store and have them suggest fabrics for new pillows.
If you have a Calico Corner, they can be very helpful.

This post was edited by kitch4me on Sat, Mar 16, 13 at 19:41

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 3:43PM
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PS-- I have to hastily pick paint colors for my LR and DR this week, which I think is a horrible idea . . .I have not sampled even one and I think paint should be LAST . . .

Anyway, I gravitate toward warm colors always, but mentally think blue would be a great color because it works with so much (I also adore coral and want to use it), but thought it would be too cold. Your room has completely changed my mind. Wythe Blue is now on my short list. I just love it because of your pics!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 9:30PM
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Your rooms are very pretty already. I agree that the pillows should be returned. There are some beautiful narrow striped fabrics that go beautifully with red toile, and many of them incorporate yellow. You might consider something like that for the chairs, or just pillows. A small multi-plaid is another consideration.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 11:50PM
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I'd say, either fabrics that bring in that aqua, red, and yellow.

or would a yellow white fabric work that's very similar to your DR style?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 10:54AM
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Anele - great! Get those rooms painted, then post pictures of what you've done with them, so I can get ideas! lol

Nosoccermom - LOVE that yellow and white chair. Wow.

Okay, I'm on my way to the fabric store to get some ideas. I'll put the pillows in the bonus room for now (I'm sure you'll see that room in a few months when I start on that one - so be ready to deal with those pillows again!) The prints will go somewhere else, and we'll just start from scratch. I'll try to keep the lamp in there, though... I do like the splash of color.

I'll look for some fabric with some red and yellow in it - sounds bright and cheery... just what I was hoping for. Will let you know what I find. Thanks for your help so far!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 11:27AM
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I think you need to forget the yellow, except for small bits of accent color, and use red in the LR to make it congruent with the open dining room. Is the brown sofa a given? If you could slipcover that with the red and white pattern from the DR it would brighten up your room tremendously. Then do the Martha Washington chairs in a red and blue stripe. I would lose the yellow lamp as it looks confusing in your pictures. The more I look at the pictures, the more it looks like the brown sofa is a heavy weight in the room that can't be "lifted" with cheery throw pillows that have no relation whatsoever to the sofa.

I would also either use four of the prints, stacked two and two, or get something much bigger. I am not a big fan of large mirrors in living rooms, especially when one has the light and windows you have--- I'd much rather have something to actually look at, instead of in.

Would also replace the rug. The size is fine, but the beige does seem lifeless compared to the beautiful blue you have on the walls. A nice blue and red oriental rug would be perfect. Curtains would not be a must, but whatever you do I'd use the same treatment at the dining room window. IMO you need to treat the two areas essentially as one big room, style and color wise.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 12:09PM
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If you choose to do a red, instead of pulling it in directly from the dining room, try shifting the color a little. A deep wine or possibly a coral of some sort if it works with the wood tones.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Sun, Mar 17, 13 at 13:34

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 1:17PM
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What about the other way round and add some yellow to the dining room? It's mainly the two slipcovered chairs and the plates that are red.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 4:17PM
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There is probably a yellow that could be worked into the Wyethe blue and red scheme, but it would not be the harsh rain slicker yellow of the lamp pictured above. It's a perfectly good yellow, just not with the wall color and red. IMHO :-)

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 4:43PM
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I didn't read all the post so I hope I am not being redundant.I like both your rooms, but I think you need to coordinate the two. i feel when one room opens up to another this is a great opportunity to expand your look. Just think if you were to bring in one of the dinning room chairs for extra seating in the living you'd like them to go together. You have a great starting point with red print. I think that the long plantation style shutters to cover the windows would be terrific, it look like you have beautiful light coming through.
Good luck

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 6:04PM
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Does anyone have thoughts on the OP's dining room? I liked the colors and the individual pieces. However, something kept nagging at me, and I'm thinking my issue with it is that everything in the bottom half of the room is (and obviously has to be) large - the table, chairs, etc. However, everything in the top half seems to be not only small, but all the same size: the plates, the pictures, the lampshades on the sideboard lamp and the chandelier. The mirror is larger, but doesn't seem enough to offset the size trend. Perhaps it's just the perspective that appears in the photo, and in real life it appears balanced.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 8:31AM
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If you like the artwork above the sofa, hang them one above the other, and then get some corbels to put on each side with something sitting on them. You can fill a wall with more than pictures. The corbels would add to the traditional look you're seeking.

I also like the blue chairs. :)

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 9:02AM
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I agree that the room is very nice and not boring at all. On the table under the window, with the lamp and clock, I would add greenery here -- a live houseplant. Houseplants (done right) always seem to inject life into a space.

This is very minor but the dark color of the frames on the art over your couch looks a bit heavy. I would choose a lighter frame material.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 9:26AM
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Lori - i thought the same thing about plants. Maybe a grouping of jade plants in accent color pots, stalks of plain bamboo and a palm.

You're 90% of the way there. It looks great.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 10:29AM
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