Furniture Arrangement Options for a Small Living Room

Jenn recently approached me asking for decorating help with her small, awkwardly shaped Living Room. She is tired of her hand-me-down furniture and is looking for something stylish, neutral and more modern.

How to arrange furniture in small living room

The first thing I always tackle whenever I start a new room design is the space plan. And, you’d be amazed at what a difference a new furniture arrangement alone, can make in a room. When I do a custom decorating plan for clients I would only every decide on one space plan, but, for this blog post I thought it would be fun to visually show you the options I consider before committing to one.

OPTION 1 – Using a Sofa to Enclose the Room

Living Room Furniture Arrangement with Sectional Sofa

DECORATING TIP   Always have  at least  one seat positioned  opposite to  the sofa This configuration gives the room a really intimate feel. Using the sofa as a virtual wall encloses the space, but, because the sofa has a low profile you’re not making the space feel cut off. This option also has lots of seating options both on the sofa and also on the small decorative stools (like the ones shown here) along the opposite wall. Having enough seating in the room gives it a really welcoming feel.
Accent stool for living room space plan

OPTION 2 – A Wide Open Walkway

Space Plan for Awkward Living Room with Sectional Sofa 2

DECORATING TIP-   Use a side table  to anchor an occasional chair that’s floating  in the roomAnother option for this space is to push all of the heavy elements to the back of the space leaving a wide, clear pathway into the room. This option uses a full occasional chair instead of the two decorative stools, making it a better option if you entertain more and would like a comfy seat for your guests to sit in. Whenever you place an occasional chair in the middle of a room always include a side table, it helps to anchor the chair and it gives you a spot to rest your drink. In this configuration I also moved the TV out of the odd little niche and into an actual media cabinet. A proper media cabinet is a great solution for small spaces, because it not only houses the TV and media components but you also get additional storage. If a full media cabinet like this one isn’t in the budget you could also use a bookshelf.

Black Armoire TV Cabinet for Living Room

OPTION 3 – An Ideal Entertaining Layout

Odd shaped Living Room Furniture Arrangement with Sofa and Occasional Chairs

This last option is the most formal layout, and a great space plan to use if you entertain a lot. It’s the most dramatic and stylish of the options but probably the least practical for watching TV. Again, this layout pushes the heavier sofa to the back of the room and uses the two lighter occasional chairs to define the space. This furniture layout is a great way to feature a pair of decorative accent chairs like these sensational grey chevron chairs, I’m a little addicted to chevron prints right now!

grey chevron armless accent chair for living room

Having the right furniture arrangement in the room will not only make the space look better but a great space plan will also  make your room more functional. So when preparing your space plan always consider your lifestyle and needs, like I did for Jenn’s room.

Of course the space plan is just the beginning of a whole decorating plan. I’ve included a few furniture ideas but I might do another post that shows a few additional decorative accessories. Once I get started on a design it’s hard to stop!

Decorating Advice to Help You Choose a New Kitchen Backsplash Tile

Recently a reader wrote in to me asking for help choosing her backsplash tile. Like a lot of people Rajwinder had it narrowed down to two very similar selections but couldn’t decide which one would ultimately look better in her kitchen. So she very wisely asked for help. Kitchen backsplash tiles are one of the few decorating elements in a kitchen so a mistake here can be obvious.. or costly to change if you really can’t stand the selection.
So here is Rajwinder’s Kitchen:
Kitchen Backsplash Tile Style Options
And here are the two backsplash tile options she gave me to choose from:

kitchen backsplash tile selections

My Decorating Advice:

There are several things to consider when choosing a backsplash tile for your kitchen

Would you like your tile to be a feature in the room or simply compliment your cabinets?

Because there is so much contrast and pattern in these tile styles the the backsplash will be a feature in this kitchen and the unifying element between the lighter granite countertop and dark kitchen cabinets.

Once you’ve got that decision made it’s time to consider style.

This is a very traditional style kitchen, the ornately detailed cabinets and the detail on the panel over the stove are all strong traditional elements so you’ll want to compliment the cabinet style with your tile selection. Of the two styles shown above the one on the left is more contemporary and the right more traditional. The tile on the right has granite and marble inserts giving the tile more variation and texture; a more traditional look. Even though both options are similar the tile on the left has sleeker lines making it a better fit for a more modern kitchen.

Finally choose your tile color.

Both tile options here have great colorways for this kitchen, but if you are in the process of choosing a new tile for your kitchen now is the time to consider your color selections. ALWAYS look at the tile samples beside your cabinet color, I can not stress this enough. Color draws from whatever it is near so you want to make sure that your new tile selection is going to compliment the color of your cabinets, just like Rajwinder has done here.

For Rajwinders kitchen I would recommend choosing tile option 2

If you have a decorating dilemma that you’d like help with, send in a picture of your room along with you request to and we’ll answer your question just like I’ve done here.

Or, if you’d prefer a private consultation check out our e-decorating or design question & answer services

Choosing a Hardwood Floor Color

“I would like to put dark cherry hardwood laminate in my open 27′ by 13′ Living Room / Dining Room. My separate but adjacent kitchen has medium colored maple cabinets that match my dining room furniture and living room coffee table (and end tables). Would this work?”

Absolutely, I always recommend that the flooring be the darkest element in the room, it helps to ground the space. Darker floors and lighter walls make the room feel more spacious. The only thing to watch out for is choosing the right colors, to avoid any problems get a few different colored samples of the flooring you are considering. Place the samples on your table (not the floor) to choose your color, the color you initially liked in the store may not actually be the best color next to your dining room table. One final tip: Always be sure that there is enough color variance between the floor and furniture, if the colors are too close it will look like you tried to match and missed!

A dark hardwood floor paired with a light wood Dining Room table

Sneak a Peek at The Decorative Accents That Inspire Me

BIrch Coffee Table with Decorative Scrollwork Top

I am a decorator because I couldn’t afford to do anything else.
I love pretty things,
I connect with them,
fall in love with them,
and instantly I’m consumed with an urge to showcase them.

I have a hard time explaining this obsession to people. But if you’ve ever felt the “I have to have this” about a painting, or a vase, or a pillow… you have an idea of what I mean.

Finding the right home for a pretty thing satisfies me, even if the “right home” isn’t my home. In a nutshell, that’s why I am a decorator. Without this creative outlet, I’d probably wind up a hoarder.

Whenever I come across an item that takes my breath away, I add it to my “Decorating Inspiration List” so that when the right home comes along, I can match it with the perfect accessory. Until now I’ve kept this list to myself. I guess it’s never occurred to me to share it, but that’s about to change…

Consider this my online decorating inspiration binder, my collection of pretty things that need a home, and it’s yours to enjoy.

Here are just a few of the items that made the cut, but there are a lot more. Click here to see the growing list.


Printed Cotton Drapes

Want to see more of what inspires me?
Click here to visit the complete Pretty Things That Need A Home list

A Traditional Family Room with a New York-Italian Flair

So many homes that I see from our eDecorating clients are so close to being gorgeous rooms, they just lack the finishing touches to bring everything together. As is the case with this Free Room Review; Christine from Nebraska submitted pictures of her open concept Kitchen / Family Room, looking for my help to bring some style to the space.

Christine’s Decorating Goals are:

  •  To introduce some color to the space.
  •  To have the room reflect their NY Italian Roots.
  •  To feature the fireplace and their gorgeous new custom kitchen

Christine Likes:

  •  Dark Colors
  •  Traditional Rooms


The Problem (as I see IT):

[expand title=”Test your inner decorator!
See if you can identify the design problems, then click here to see what I said!” expanded=”true”]The room is missing a strong focal point and there is too much happening in the space. When looking at this Living Room I find it hard to focus on any specific element. By creating strong visual anchors in the room we can transform this space into a visually stunning, welcoming room.[/expand]

The Decorating Solutions:

Save 15% on these drapes with Promo Code CAT15 Click Image


Dramatic window coverings are the answer to your style problems. These drapery panels will make the space feel taller, and the stripes bring a modern NY feel to this traditional room. To avoid covering your windows completely, purchase drapery rods that are about 10″ wider than the window and let the fabric hang over the wall instead of the window. You’ll need 4 side panels, one for each window beside the fireplace and two panels for the larger Living Room window.


Functionally, drapes won’t work in the kitchen or on your French Doors. So for these locations I’d suggest Roman Shades in this stunning red color. You could also install these shades on your Living Room windows in place of the existing blinds for an ultra glam finishing touch.

Get 15% off these Roman Shades! Use promo code CAT15 Click Image to Learn More

This Chaise is a Steal of a Deal! Check it out.


A decadent Chaise Lounge beside the fireplace will give you a comfy spot to curl up and enjoy the ambiance of a fire. The soft lines of this chaise are a perfect fit for the traditional style of the room. Place it to the left of the fire instead of your pink chair, place it on a 45 degree angle from the fireplace wall (just like your pink chair is currently set).


The photo’s you’re currently displaying are getting lost on the fireplace mantle. Instead of pictures I’d suggest a assortment of textural red vases. Pottery vases are a classic Italian style element.

You Can Buy These

Vases Right Here!

Click the Picture to Learn More about this GORGEOUS Area Rug!


The colors of your existing area rug do work with the new design but I wanted to give you an alternative that would fit more with the traditional style of the room.


Accent Pillows are a fantastic way to bring a pop of color and texture to the room. These gold damask and chocolate vintage velvet pillows are perfect for your sofa and new chaise.

Want this Toss Cushion? Order Here

Order Your Vintage Velvet Thow Pillow Here

Sherwin Williams Paint SW6136 Harmonic Tan


I’d suggest keeping your paint color neutral in the room because we’ve done so much with the red accent color in the decorative accessories. A darker neutral color like Sherwin Williams 6135 Ecru on the walls will give you that warm intimate feeling in the room and not fight with the dramatic accessories that we’ve added to the space.


This is my favourite new design element in your room. To showcase your extensive collection of family photos I’d suggest creating an eclectic framed photo arrangement on the long wall behind your TV and desk. Use an assortment of large and small frames to create interest, and get creative with what you display, it doesn’t have to be just pictures.
You could also showcase Vintage Treasures in Shadow Boxes or on shelves.

  •  Vintage Silverware or China
  •  Italian Lace
  •  Carved Wood Pieces

.. and your antique clock would look sensational in this arrangement.
Here is a tutorial on How to Create Your Eclectic Family Photo Wall Arrangement.


Notice how the computer monitor disappears into the picture arrangement? Your arrangement will also disguise your TV!

* Photo Compliments of SFGirlByBay

Would your doggie like a stylish new home? Click here to check the availablility


I thought I’d include this as a little bonus! These wood dog kennels are so much prettier than the traditional plastic crates.


A gorgeous tufted leather chair would be a beautiful finishing touch for your desk.

Buy This Gorgeous Leather Chair Here

Well Christine, I hope you love the new decorating plan for your Family Room. These new items will create the stylish space you’ve been looking for. The traditional pieces make a pretty grand statement and the new colors are rich, warm and very welcoming. And, I’d love to hear your thoughts, please feel free to share your comments below!


Creating a Kid-Friendly Living Room that the Whole Family Can Love

Kids come with a lot of stuff. And, it’s usually not long after you experience the the thrill of watching your child take their first steps, that you begin to realize your home is no longer the peaceful, organized sanituary it once was.

KID-friendly spaces can also be PARENT-Friendly rooms if you have the right tools in place… a.k.a. awesome storage solutions.

Jennifer from Massachusetts recently submitted a request for help decorating her family room. They are a family of 5 who’s Living Room has become a multi-purpose space office/playroom/media room. Jennifer likes traditional rooms and warm colors but what she’d really like, is a sofa that the whole family can enjoy together.

Jennifer's Family Room Before Picture

Jennifer, here are my decorating ideas for your Family Room decorating project:

Click Here to Order This Sofa for Your Family Room


I’m on a bit of a sectional sofa kick lately, but they work so well in family homes that I’m going to suggest one for you as well. This one works because:

  • It’s small enough to fit in your 11′ wide room
  • It’s a mid-tone color, perfect for disguising anything the kids throw at it, literally.
  • It’s soft curving lines lend itself to traditionally styled rooms.


I choose this pattern because the off-white background color keeps the space from feeling too heavy and the traditional pattern introduces the chocolate brown colors you love.

And you can SAVE 15% off your order! Use coupon code CAT15 (offer subject to change without notice)

Want these drapes for your home? Order Yours Here!


Love this Rug? You can get it here... just click!


An area rug will not only save your hardwood, it’ll also make your front entry feel more comfortable.

It’s completely psychological but having a large area rug at your front door makes the space feel larger and more welcoming.


A full wall of bookshelves will give you tons of storage and consequently more floor space.

You can use the bottom shelf to store the kids toys in baskets.

The decorative cornice moulding and dark wood are an ideal fit for your new more traditional design.

NOTE: You won’t need this entire piece, just the center and end pieces will work for your room!

Affordable Solid Wood Bookshelf, Would This Solve Your Storage Problems? Click Here to Find Out

Shine a Little Light in Your Family Room! Order Your Own Traditional Floor Lamp Here


You don’t have any ceiling lights so I chose a lamp that we could use in 3 different locations in the room. One beside each door and one for the Family Room. This lamp is solid, curvy and gorgeous!


Lockers are fantastic in entryways and these Pottery Barn wood lockers are pretty enough to display in your Family Room.

Pottery Barn Storage Lockers

And Jennifer here’s how it’ll all fit into your space:

Family Room Furniture Arrangement
  • There is a lamp beside each entryway for safety and functionality.
  • The third lamp will light up the family room side.
  • Your TV in this new location will give you enough space for the sectional sofa.
  • I’ve also pulled your sofa away from the wall a bit so that it doesn’t affect the airflow around the baseboard heaters.
  • The large area rug will give your girls a spot to play and save your hardwood floors.
  • The large bookshelves will create a sensational focal point on this wall.
  • This arrangement give you a perfect wall behind the sofa for displaying an arrangement of family photos.
Jennifer, I hope you like these decorating ideas for your Family Room. I think the new design is as function as it is beautiful. If you like the items that I selected for you ordering them is easy-peasy, simply click the images to order or learn more about the products. Also, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the ideas that I came up with for your Family Room, feel free to share your comments below.
If you are reading this and would like help decorating a room in your home, have us create a complete style IT e-decorating plan today!

Surround Yourself With Exotic Beauty: Travel Inspired Decorating Tips

There’s a moment, in every great vacation that takes your breath away.
It’s that moment when you’re overcome by the beauty surrounding you.
You feel inspired, alive.

It’s in the afterglow of that that glorious moment, when you (like most) start devising a plan to make your home feel just like that moment.

Faraway lands are inspiring. Exotic furniture and textiles have made decorators gush for centuries.

Newlyweds Liz and Dan from Virginia, are inspired by exotic locations. They recently returned from Bali and Thailand and they’d love to incorporate some exotic elements into their apartment decor. They love Black and White photography, travel and cooking. Their paint color has to stay the same but they are open to any decorating ideas that will help them create a home that reflects their passions.

Liz and Dan's Dining Room Before

Liz and Dan, here are the decorating ideas that I came up with for your Dining Room:

Travel inspired decor can be tricky, and there’s a fine line between being stylish and looking hokey (think: tacky 70’s Tikki Lounge!). So the trick is pinpoint the essence of what you want to create, then marry that with the American functionality and style. To me, Thailand’s essence is lush greenery, rich carved woods, and dazzling textiles.

Let’s start with the wood elements. I know storage is an issue for you Liz so I wanted to “pack” as many storage options as I could into your Dining Room. The logical first choice is adding a china cabinet; for your room I found this charming glass and wood display cabinet. The glass sides and front will keep it from feeling too heavy in the space and allow you to see the items in the cabinet from the Living Room as well. You can fill this cabinet with pretty china and treasures that you’ve acquired on your travels.

China Cabinets with Glass Sides Keep the Piece from Feeling Too Heavy in the Room.

Your existing Dining Room table will work with this new design however it does leave quite a bit of empty space along the sides of the room. The new china cabinet will help fill one side, but for the other side I’ve selected a unique storage bench. I choose a storage bench because it is an additional seating option when you entertain and it’s a great spot to stash additional table linens.

Pretty Storage Benches Can Serve a Dual Purpose in Dining Rooms -- Storage and Additional Seating

The next item that I think is essential to an exotic decorating plan is lush greenery and luckily you have the space to accommodate two large plants. Plants not only make your home healthier, they also bring vibrancy to the space. I’m a huge fan of using plants in my designs, particularly the tall, tropical-looking ones. The plant shown here is called Kentia Forsteriana and the fan shaped leaves have a tropical feel. But, the big plus of tall plants is that they add visual height to the space and, for the most part they’ll stay out of your way. I don’t have a good source for ordering plants online but you should be able to find this or something similar at your local nursery or hardware store.

Tall Plants Add Visual Height to a Room

Thailand (and most of Asia) is famous for their decadent textiles so introducing fabrics in your room is an absolute must. You could use a tablecloth as the fabric elements but I prefer the look of a wooden tabletop, so, if your table is in good shape I wouldn’t cover it up. A truly luxurious alternative is to place throw pillows on all of your dining room chairs. My first choice is a bit of a splurge item, but I love the rich colors and the pattern is reminiscent of an exotic lotus flower.

Get 15% off this pillow untill October 18th, 2011.

Layla Grayce is Celebrating their 7 year Anniversary and to celebrate they’re offering a storewide discount (some exclusions apply).

Click This Link & Use PROMO CODE:  LG7YRS

Luxurious Throw Pillow are a Fantastic Way to Add Texture and Color to a Dining Room

If the price of those made you choke, I also found this more affordable throw pillow option for you!

Affordable Alternative Accent Pillow

Your existing artwork is the element that’ll keep the design from becoming too “theme-ish”, your black and white framed photos work well in the space and I think they have personal significance to you; so I’d like to keep them. They have a modern feel and are a great way to incorporate the American style that I talked about earlier. You’ve hung them at a perfect height but I’d like to see them a little closer together, 2″-3″ apart would be ideal.

There is one last element that I’d like to suggest for your room, a new pendant light. Lighting is another element of artwork in the space, and lighting alone can dramatically transform the look and feel of a room. So I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t at least suggest an alternative. With that in mind, here is my pick, a sensational drum pendant light with decorative ironwork. It even includes a bottom cover to hide the light-bulbs from view when you’re sitting at the table!

Dramatic Lighting Like This Gorgeous Drum Pendant Light Can Completely Transform Your Living Room

I know you may not be keen on the idea but swapping out a light fixture but it’s a fairly simple task. Install and enjoy the new light while you’re living there, and when you move out just put the old one back up!

Tall Plants and a Few New Furniture Pieces will Completely Transform this Dining Room

Well Liz and Dan, that covers pretty much everything in the new design. I’ve included the space plan above to help you position the new furniture pieces but I think it’s pretty straightforward. If you have any questions about your Free Room Review please feel free to send me a note or post a comment below, and thanks for submitting your pictures!

If you are reading this and would like to have us create a Free Room Review for one of the rooms in your home, click here to learn more. We also offer complete decorating plans, similar to what you’ve seen here but much, much more detailed and private of course. To learn more about these full service decorating plans, click here.

Timeless Decorating Advice for Trendsetters

There is nothing more thrilling for me than decorating someones’ new home! It’s even more exciting when the room’s a blank canvas, like this Free Room Review. Emma from Vancouver, BC sent in a picture of her new condo. She actually sent in the real-estate Listing pic that showing the room completely empty; so I wouldn’t be influenced by the existing furniture, that she hates (her word, not mine!). Emma and her boyfriend are young trendsetters who love spending time at home and the only color she doesn’t like is orange. Based on the pictures she selected in her stylefinder I’d say that her style is fusion-modern;  clean simple style mixed with classic elements.

Emma's New Condo

The biggest challenge with decorating a blank canvas isn’t finding something that you like, it’s narrowing down the choices. When faced with 1,000’s of inspiring options, it can be hard to pick just one. So for Emma’s Free Room Review I’ve decided to start off with the basics and then show how easy it is to transform a room using strategically placed WOW elements. This is a fantastic strategy for people who like to freshen up the look periodically; the trendsetters!

So Emma, here are my decorating ideas for your Living Room:

I’ll start with the sofa. I choose a sectional for your room because they’re are ideal when you have 2 focal points in the room like you do (the window wall and the TV wall). By positioning each arm or the sofa towards one focal point you create a functional, multi-purpose space that gives you the flexibility to enjoy either the view out the window or the TV, comfortably. This picture shows the chaise on the right but you’ll need to order the left chaise option for your room.

decorating with a sectional sofa
"Sectional sofa's are ideal for rooms where you have two focal points"

I selected this sofa for your room because of it’s clean lines and transitional styling. The square arms and box cushions will work well with both traditional ornate accessories, or sleek modern pieces. The simplicity of this pieces gives it versatility, and that’s essential if you like changing things up on a regular basis. For practical reasons, I also love the fact that it’s a dark color, the Balance Midnight fabric will work beautifully for your room but if you prefer something a little lighter I also love the Mila Mila Grey fabric. Click here to learn more, or to order this very affordable sofa.

The next piece that I selected for your room is this gorgeous glass coffee table, again it’s simplicity gives it an elegance that will compliment whichever style direction you choose to go. And you’d be hard pressed to find any decorating magazine that doesn’t showcase this fantastic coffee table, making it a perfect trendsetter piece.

A glass coffee table brings a touch of glam to this Living Room's new look

To finish off the furniture you’ll need an accent chair opposite the sofa to create (what I call) a comfortable conversation area in the room. Even if you don’t  entertain a lot, having an accent chair opposite the sofa creates intimacy in the space and gives the room an easy, lived in feel. For your room I wanted to find an accent chair that had obvious style but could easily lend itself to either  traditional or contemporary accessories. Although there are several options that would work here I finally settled on this amazing armless chair. It’s square back connects it to the sofa style but the tufting gives it a touch of glam.

The clean lines and button tufted back give this chair style versatility

Here’s a sketch of the furniture placement in your Living Room:

Create a comfortable conversation area by placing an accent chair opposite the sofa

Now for the WOW pieces and your style options. I’ve confined myself to just choosing artwork and throw pillows, otherwise I’d be at this forever! Decorative accessories are the perfect place to express your style, and the options really are endless, particularly when you have a good neutral base to start from. Start by picking an item/color that you love, and then choose 2 (or more) similarly colored pieces and spread them throughout the room. For your room I’d suggest installing the large artwork on the wall to the left of the kitchen and of course the throw pillows on the sofa.


Use large scale artwork to inject color into a room


Economical Toss Cushions are another fantastic way to introduce color into a neutral space


Use a variety of complimentary pillow to bring texture to the room


Modern Canvas Art in a Vibrant Sunny Yellow Color


The gorgeous pillow compliments the artworks color and pattern


Ikat Patterns and Citrine Yellow are Two of the Hottest Design Trends Right Now

As you can see keeping your look current doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to spend a lot of money. The pieces I’ve chosen for you are gorgeous, but still affordable. If you’d like to purchase any of the items, simply click the image or link and it’ll take you right to the product listing page. And, if you’d like my help finding the rest of the pieces you’ll need to complete the room, check out our complete styleIT or styleIT 3D decorating plans.

If you are reading this and would like us to come up with decorating ideas for your home, just like I did here for Emma. Click Here to order your ownplan.


Through a Decorators Eyes

Today is a pretty exciting day for me, because, it’s the day that I get to share with you my newest venture. Almost 2 years ago now I started decorate IT online to help savvy DIY decorators like you, create sensational, designer-looking homes more affordably than ever before.

So, as part of my continuing effort to find new ways, to help you decorate your home. I’d like to introduce the first in what I hope will become an entire series of eBooks..

Through a Decorators Eyes: 67 Irresistible Paint Colors for Your Home

CLICK HERE to read more…