This readers question is such a great example of a lesson we can all learn from because I think we can get a little too used to looking at our own stuff and stop seeing it objectively.
The answer here is not an inexpensive fix, but if you want to move forward, start counting colours in your space. Sometimes, there’s just too many and that’s why you can’t find that elusive carpet to pull it all together.
My living room floor has been bare for years because I cannot choose a rug color or style. The problem is it’s close proximity and openness to my dining room which has a very colorful rug and is very unique to that space.
I finally decided what style I love and want for the livingroom which is Hollywood Regency…mirrors, metals, gold, silvers, crystals pattern and textures and as you see I have a long way to go still.
I really like chevron, moroccan and trellis or similar geometric patterns from that era but I don’t know if I should because of the rug in the dining room. I’m also giving myself headache’s trying to decide on a color, should it be gold, red, black/white, cream, white…I just don’t know.
Also the two chairs are throwing me off because of it’s color and pattern, I’m open to reupholstering them or replacing them altogether because they’re at least 10 years old. Your help is appreciated. Kim
Hi Kim, I love your light-filled living room!
You are right, it’s the black chairs that don’t work (yet) because the area rug in your dining room has 4-5 colours in it and not a stitch of black.
Your dining room chairs look pink beige in this image so you should switch them out to coordinate with the colour scheme as well. It also appears as if there’s no yellow in the rug either, so although yellow works with those colours, it starts looking a little like you’ve just moved in and haven’t replaced the drapes yet.
I would also eliminate the green ottoman, and all your toss cushions because everything is basically solid here and your ottoman should be a pattern that introduces the other colours in the room. Four solid colours is too many.
And this advice is for everyone, if you buy a sofa and it comes with two matching toss cushions, get rid of them immediately. Cushions or throw pillows make a living room and the matching ones add zero appeal to the finished look.
If you are going for Hollywood glam I would replace your area rug (which is not glam) and dining chairs since you have a lot of silk drapery and I’m guessing you won’t want to replace them.
One more thing, a more interesting, sparkly chandelier (above) would be better suited for the look you’re creating.
Here are some of my suggestions for area rugs, dining chairs and accent furniture. Your end table is too small and would look better if it was square instead of round.
Hope this helps!
Red is so strong that too much of it can be overpowering, here are some more rooms that I think are very skillfully decorated using red:
Martyn Lawrence Bullard
Image via Pinterest
If you love red, you’re someone with an enthusiasm and love for life!
Who loves red? Raise your hand?
If you have a question for an Ask Maria post, email me here.
Elizabeth’s Turquoise and Red Family Room
Do’s and Don’ts for Decorating an Empty Room
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I have a large square livingroom. I have a 2 piece sectional. I don’t want to rim the room with furniture, but rather break it up to give it some dimension. Any suggestions ?
Two piece sectional, antique sideboard, long chaise, TV and stand.
Hi Shannon, I would need to see pictures in order to give you accurate advice, feel free to send them in to [email protected] and I can add them to the list of readers participating in my ‘fix your colours’ series on Facebook: https://mariakillam.com/fixyouroom/
Do you use SampleBoard to create your boards? Just curious as I was just introduced to it (http://sampleboard.com/).
Your post of “Do’s and Dont’s of Decorating an Empty Room” states how hard it is to try to match a rug to a completed room. Your suggestions are great Maria, but the client must look at the appropriateness of the existing art and accessories, which wouldn’t complement the Hollywood glam recommendations.
Thank you for your input! I’m actually going for Hollywood Regency and I’m open to replacing some existing furnishings, accessories and dining room rug. Some items are old and I feel comfortable replacing them while some items are new and I can return them !
That’s why it’s best to START with the rug…
Wake up Maria – someone that knows what they’re doing will have to go pull it all together for her.
“Wake up” yourself. She gave a thorough and thoughtful response to someone who obviously doesn’t *have* a decorator. I would be delighted with all that feedback, had I written for help.
You’re right Lexy, I’m delighted and thrilled to have Maria’s input!!
Even with the problems you point out, her rooms are very attractive.
In the first picture, the black chairs relate to the black piano. With some black in the dining room (as in the chairs you suggest), I think black chairs would look pretty with the red sofa. The problem (IMO) is the brown in the pattern, which introduces another color that is not glam. If your client wants that look, she will have to change an awful lot.
As someone who is not a decorator but has been learning how to pull things together, I can say that for the non-expert it is extremely difficult and requires a lot of time. One thing that has helped me a great deal (in addition to studying pictures and reading about decorating) is browsing on One King’s Lane. If your client does not have the time to hunt, even with your sample board it’s going to be very hard.
Maria, my sofa came with two pillows. The sofa is slipcovered in plain linen, with contrasting ivory cording, and the pillows are a print that goes with the linen. Do I have to get rid of those, or are you referring to pillows of the same fabric as the sofa?
Thanks Kay! I think my chairs must go but to be replaced with what?
Maybe you could keep them until you find just the right replacement. Do look on One King’s Lane–lots of stuff comes up for sale there that is your style. I’ve bought tons for my house there, including furniture and even rugs. It’s best to browse daily and be very patient. And set strict spending limits–it’s addictive!
Yes I have been on that site a few times and LOVE it!! I’m in no hurry so I can wait to introduce pieces a little at a time. As you read, my floor has been bare for a few years now and I’m just now succumbing to defeat on the issue, lol. I’m so grateful Maria has this segment on her blog now, it’s so beneficial.
I don’t usually go for red but I love the viniette with the red roses. I could get into that (again). I haven’t been interested in red roses since the 90s but it may be time for a comeback! Also, I do love deep red with a pale blue. That is so classic yet so fresh!
What a perfectly sunny and inviting living room! One reason for it’s success is the light reflecting off the hardwood so your suggestion for the area rug is spot on. Very glam but light and reflective as well. The reader could look at having a patterned slip cover for the ottoman which is a nice inclusion in the room for extra seating.
So, back to the question of floor coverings: if she chooses the lovely area rug you’ve picked for the living room – what then should she select for the floor in the nearby dining area?
I love this new addition to your blog!
Nevamind!!! I looked back at your pin board and see the answer right there. Great choice as well.
Hi Maria, My favorite posts are the Ask Maria ones.
Your advice is so helpful. I can see why people get sucked into buying “sets” at furniture stores. (Not that Kim did.) But it’s difficult putting separates together & having it look cohesive.
You mentioned that sometimes a room doesn’t work is because there are too many colors in the space. How many colors would be enough?
And if the walls are neutral, is their color part of your color count?
When you have too many ‘solid’ colours and no pattern to start tying them in together it starts looking like everything was bought at Costco and HomeSense. 3 ‘colours’ is a rule of thumb but that does not include neutrals unless everything is solid like in this example. Maria
Maria I’m looking to get rid of the two black patterned chairs and you suggested a solid black chair. Can you recommend a chair at restoration hardware, preferably leather but I’m open. I think the ones I have now are too big. We’d like a classic, timeless piece that can blend with my ever so changing home decor. Thanks!
Thank you Maria for the wonderful advice and everyone for your reader input!!
The suggestions are great, even my husband is saying “I told you so”, lol. I have just recently recognized my style as Hollywood Regency so yes, I have a long way to get there.
The dining room: the chairs (they are pink beige now that you mention it) were bought knowing I would replace them eventually so I’m open to that. You’re also correct in that I’d rather replace the rug and not the silk drapes. I love your rug recommendation…I saw one at pottery barn in Wheat (same as the drapes). I love the chair you recommend but I think I would have a difficult time trying to match the wood or is that even necessary??
Livingroom: the tiny round end table is just a stand-in piece until I purchase another which was the Clairemont end/cocktail tables from crate and barrel. Why square and not round?? The other end table half shown in the pic is square and is from pottery barn so I can buy another one. I also have been contemplating taking the green ottoman back to the store and you’ve just solidified that for me…thanks. Can you recommend an ottoman/color? Also, all the toss pillows can go so I’d love if you an recommend more. So should I keep the chair or change it out? I went to get both pricing quotes for leather and fabric reupholstering and it’s just way to expensive and will be less expensive to buy new chairs…can you recommend a set or colors to look at? I can replace those faux silver dollars with red roses. Where can I buy that rug?? It’s funny that you recommended a toss pillow with the Greek key because I just bought a mirrored tray with the Greek key!! I’m so excited you featured my space now I can stop bugging my family about it ;-).
Hi Kim, If you click on the image, it’ll take you to the Pinterest page where you can get the sources. I think your chairs can stay. I recommended a square end table because it would look more collected and less like you tried to match the coffee table and failed. The dining chair is black. Maria
Thanks Maria. The coffee table is not staying…I’m going with an oval glass and mirrored one.
Not sure if you are in US or Canada. The bigger chains have in house design services which can help with furniture placement options. Regarding pendant lights, West Elm has a capiz pendant which could be hung over the sofa end tables.
Thanks. I’m in the states.
Kim, the Clairemont tables are nice- gives the room some sparkle. Have you considered the Clairemont coffee table to replace the existing wooden one? Regarding pillows, many of the chains sell pillow covers, so changing and updating is easy. You might also consider tweaking the existing furniture arrangement, and you will want more lamps. The lamps don’t have to match, just make sure that they are all the same height.
Thanks Billp! Yes, I will be buying the Clairemont coffee table ;-). There are several recessed lights in the ceiling and we plan to install a light fixture above the coffee table…should I still add more lamps??
How would you place the furniture??
Hi Kim, oh, there is never a substitute for lamps. Different light sources are important for every room. The lamps should all be the same height. Regarding furniture arrangement, I’d consider the sofa against the wall (under the mirror), tables (with lamps) at each end), chairs at right angles to the couch on opposite sides, bench opposite when people want to sit around the table to chat. Your sofa cuts off the music area currently, the rearrangement with open this area up and improve the flow. Watch where people sit when they visit and use that as a guide. A light fixture above the coffee table may limit the furniture placement options. Good luck!
Thanks @Billp!! I have had the sofa on both walls and got bored with doing that so I decided to float the sofa. I’ll try it the way you suggest and see if I like it. You’re right, a fixture will limit placing…I have been playing with placement with a fixture in mind and the thought did create placement issues. Does anyone else think my sofa placement is off??
Love your blog and am learning lots from you. I have one niggle though and that is that the grey colour you are now using is not “happy”. What about another brighter colour (loved the green, but I guess you want to move on)?
I would love to purchase the rug you posted. Can you share where you can purchase/order it?
Hi Nora, Just click on the image and it’ll take you to the Pinterest board where you can get to the source. Maria
How do we get the “Truth About White Walls” is we are already on your newsletter email list?
Thank you for this very helpful post, Maria. More like this, please!
It really is difficult to objectively see a space we’ve lived with for a while. A trick I’ve used to gain a fresh perspective: I lean a door mirror against a wall in the room then view its mirror image. Sometimes what’s wrong with the space jumps right out!
That’s a great idea! I take pictures of everything and occasionally look at them to find problems, however somethings are even beyond the camera lens for me.
I’m in agreement with Mary-Illinois….I really gain a better perspective from these Ask posts. I think they’re my favorite too. I agree with the square coffee table–maybe with softened corners, as the space appears a bit small & shin banging might be an issue.
I’d go for a black finish there.It would also jive with the angularity of the handsome black chairs. Love the piano–[wish we could hear it play in that beautiful room when you pull it altogether, Kim!!!]
Hi Paula! I think we’re all on the same page with the coffee table, I’m replacing the existing one with an antique bronze oval coffee table. My 11 year old daughter is the pianist and yes, listening is nice from my view :-).
What perfect selections on the rugs. Wow!
Comment: on the picture you posted from Mary McDonald, I am struck by how the black beams really seem to be the wrong black. LOL They are too harsh for the rest of the room, and are jarring.
Would love to hear if you agree, hear your comments on that.
Learning to see through your eyes is quite a journey!
Love your advice about having too many solid colors! Very helpful and easy to understand.
So sorry, but I clicked and tried lots of things to open it. Even pinning it and it did not tell me the rug source. I even brought my 18 year old daughter over since it was not working. Therefore, I am sending you this e-mail, still asking how to source the gold area pictured in your latest post.
Thanks for your kind help! Nora
Nora I couldn’t open it either on my note 3 or my iMac. I went to Maria’s pinterest account, found the “Ask Maria” folder and opened my board there. You can then open it and get the info. I hope this helped.