Got a space that needs a little decorating love? Take inspiration from Real Simple’s tricks and picks for one reader’s living room—and send us your images. Your own half-done space could be featured next!
With a high ceiling and plenty of natural light, reader Jessica Serna Carrillo’s living room feels lofty and sleek—but also pretty bare (how to handle that big stark wall?!). The open shelves in back are neatly styled, but the main part of the room could use more texture, a few hits of color, and some strategic furniture swaps. First suggestion: scooch the small coffee table to one end of the couch, to function as a side table instead. Check out the 6 other easy decorating moves that will ramp up this room.
Layer a rug
Just because you have wall-to-wall carpeting doesn’t mean you should skip the rug. In a spacious room like Jessica’s, it’s the only way to define the seating area—without one, furniture feels like it’s floating, not grounded and inviting. The solid cream couch and neutral walls make an ideal backdrop for a patterned floor covering; we suggest one with soft blue hues to preserve the room’s soothing vibe.
RS pick: Phoenix Wool Dhurrie Rug, $599 for 8 by 10 feet, westelm.com.
Right-size your furniture
The coffee table’s glass top, open base, and midcentury modern-style legs make it a pretty pick for the room, but because it’s small, it looks dinky next to the sofa. We suggest swapping it out for a bigger one in a similar style. A good buying guideline: choose a coffee table that’s about two-thirds the width of your couch.
RS pick: Stockholm coffee table, $229, ikea.com.
Wake up a blank wall
A vast, bare spot behind a sofa is an instant giveaway that a room is incomplete. Finding (and committing to) just the right art can be tricky, but you can’t go wrong with an oversize, clean-lined mirror to break up the blank space—it bounces light around and makes a room more welcoming.
RS pick: Upton Mirror, $299, potterybarn.com.
Play around with pillows
A cream-colored sofa is timeless and versatile, but topped with two matching pairs of brown pillows, it’s a little too safe (read: dull). This is the place to add a pop of color and work in some texture. Try natural fiber pillows—wool, jute—in hues that tie in to (but aren’t identical to) the rug colors.
RS pick: Birch Lane Becca pillow cover, $39, wayfair.com and the DR International Kaya pillow, $37, wayfair.com).
Elevate the look with accessories
Just like a buffet looks more appealing when you serve food in different-sized dishes, varying the heights of objects in a space keeps it from feeling staid and one-note. To add dimension (and interest) to Jessica’s living room, we suggest bringing in a tall, sculptural-looking lamp, like this brass-accented hexagonal model, to perch on a side table.
RS pick: Concrete Column Table Lamp, $298, shadesoflight.com.
Perk up the space with a plant
The table behind the sofa is partly styled with a blue vase, but with only one shorter object beside it, the setup looks awkward and arbitrary. Creating a grouping by adding a leafy plant (or two) would give that space a fresher, more sophisticated look. A low-maintenance plant that thrives in natural light, like a schefflera, is a smart pick.
RS pick: Delray Plants Schefflera Capella in 10-inch pot, $17.50, walmart.com.
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