When I saw this Ask Maria question, I immediately thought of Jeffrey Bilhuber’s recent spread in House Beautiful Magazine. The answer to your question today lovely reader, is inspired by my favourite decorator.
Here’s the question:
I recently moved with my husband into our first house! I have been so excited to make it our own, but I have gotten our living room stuck in a rut! I am a sucker for Oriental rugs, and found this one on craigslist for a bargain price. Even though it isn’t perfectly my style, I thought I could make it work because.
Now I’ve found that I am working everything around this rug, and not sure I love the way it is turning out! I feel like it is just lacking anything special, and definitely not sure about the wall color (which is maybe making the room have a weird beachy feel?)! The sofa is an old ikea couch from our last apartment, and I purchased a new slipcover for it so it could have a few more years of life before being replaced. The coffee table and console table are new, and not going anywhere. Please help to give me some direction! Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!
First things first, I love your area rug. Sure it could be a geometric because that might feel more modern but the colours are fresh and pink is the most current colour out there at the moment.
I fell madly in love with Suzanne Kasher’s La Cornue peony coloured range which debuted at the KBIS show last week. I wasn’t there but here it is on Instagram. When pink has made it’s way to a $10,000 range, you know it’s hot.
What’s missing in your living room is colour! Big time! That area rug cannot sit quietly in the background while the rest of your decorating remains neutral. If you wanted a neutral room, your area rug should have been seagrass. Your living room does feel beachy right now but when you add the colours from your rug, it will work with the colour you have now. Or you could paint it pink!
Since you bought the rug, I think your instincts are right, so keep going with some colour!
Look how much colour is in this room decorated by Jeffrey Bilhuber (below). You can see that the blue walls are the same colour as the carpet and provide a cool and airy envelope for all the colour.
And see the little corner chair that’s just floating in the middle of the room (below), move your antique chair into the room (above), it looks lonely in the corner.
I recommend new slipcovers from Bemz (the company that makes slipcovers for IKEA furniture) that pick up the colour of your rug. Here are two colours by Designers Guild that would work in your living room.
Since the wall behind your sofa is the first thing you see when you walk into the living room, it needs art that is large and colourful (below):
The chairs on the other side of your sofa are too small to work alongside your sofa and coffee table. The easiest way to solve this problem would be to buy a second sofa and slipcover it in the same fabric as the first one.
Your coffee table is already sporting a tray that just needs to be stacked with books, candles and flowers. Here’s a few inspiration photos to help:
If switching out your slipcovers is really not in your budget then you could introduce some colourful pillows instead (below), but make sure you repeat these colours on the coffee table and with lamps at the back of the room!
This white sofa provides some relief from all the colour in this house but it’s not far, you can see the purple walls in the adjoining room
When I first saw this photo, I thought they were two windows with two different coloured blinds in them. It wasn’t until I read the article that I found out that they are paintings by Dan Walsh. This green sofa (above) makes me want to switch out my yellow one I love it so much!
Jeffrey does it again. If you want to see more of his work, I have an entire Pinterest page dedicated to his rooms, see them here. You’ll notice that you can’t tell which trend was hot in Jeffrey’s rooms. Browns and greys are used when appropriate. And that, my lovelies is what makes a space feel timeless.
Notice when you combine colours that you don’t need to worry about the undertone. If you choose a yellow green (like the sofa above) and you want to add a blue to the colour scheme, you don’t need to look for a warmer blue (which would be more turquoise) it’s about combining clean and dirty colours properly.
In my Specify Colour with Confidence™ courses coming up this Spring, I’ll have you working with paint colour chips in 5 exercises so you’ll learn how to get it right. And then I’ll send you home with 2 pages full of colour combinations so that you can practice, practice, practice until you get it right.
One of the biggest mistakes most people make when decorating with colour, and it might be one reason so many people are afraid of colour is because it’s so much easier to be offended by a colour combination gone wrong than if you just chose the wrong neutral.
Here’s what Julie Kay a designer from Grand Rapids said:
“Before Maria’s course my business was very mediocre and what you call the run of mill design consulting. After I took Maria’s class in Chicago it has went from the average “Joe” to “WowZa” in less than 6 months.Whenever I go into a client’s home and show them the no-fail process Maria taught us, they are in awe and very impressed how quickly the correct color can be selected.Not only are they impressed at time of selection they are thrilled after completion of the project. It gives me “Joy” to be able to share Maria’s System with my clients. When I have made them Happy, I am Happy!
Confidence comes from knowing. There’s no other way to get it.
If you have a room that’s bothering you, send me a photo here. Clean it up to be considered and take it in natural light with no flash (flash kills the ability to see the colour accurately).