Can this Living Room be Saved?

Six Design Tips to Elevate Your Space

By Dylan Roche

Has your living room become a living hell or something in between?

If so, you may not need to do a full renovation or redesign to get a fresh look. Small, realistic changes can make a huge difference, especially when you do them with intention.

Following are six designer-recommended tips for you to consider:

1: Swap Out And Rearrange


Be selective in what collector's items you display. Pare down the clutter and focus on statement pieces that will leave an impression, as Cathy Newman did on the shelves in this living room. Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg.

Sure, everyone’s go-to move is to rearrange the furniture or to swap out the throw pillows on the sofa. But don’t stop there. You can also change out lampshades, draperies, and collection displays.

If you do choose to move your furniture, think about whether you want to give your living room a new purpose. “Consider your view and what your goal for the space is,” says Cathy Newman of C. Newman Interiors. “If it’s for conversation, make sure your furniture is oriented facing each other. If it’s for watching television, make sure you’re focused on the television.”

2: Declutter


And when it comes to accessories? Newman says less is more. “People can overload their homes with little cluttery things,” she says. “Go for a couple of statement pieces.”

If your home is full of collector’s items, consider which ones are most important to you and choose places on shelves or tables where they will stand out. Put the rest of your collection in storage. If you have many items that are meaningful to you, you can always cycle what’s in storage and what’s on display throughout the year.

3: Re-Color Your Room—And Not Just The Walls


A fresh coat of paint offers new life to a room. This design by Karen Renee Interiors goes bold with red, but you can always go for neutral or even a shade of white if you want to play it safe. Photo by Pete Albert.

Choose a new favorite color and bust out your paintbrush. “A can of paint can work wonders—changing wall colors or even a piece of furniture,” Newman says. Don’t be afraid of dramatic colors, as dark or saturated colors will make a bigger impact.

Prefer A Shade of White? Sophie Honeywell of Karen Renee Interior Design says she doesn’t expect shades of white will ever go out of style. White comes in many shades, such as pure white, antique white, winter white, powder, ivory, seashell, and snow. Whites are not all the same, so do a test area first before tackling a whole room.

4: Take A Chance On Wallpaper


You might have heard that wallpaper is outdated, but it’s not. Newman calls it a “gamechanger,” one that she uses wherever she can. 

“It’s something that can be done fairly quickly and unobtrusively,” she says. “Wallpaper is the quickest, easiest, most exciting way to add color, texture, and interest to a room.”

Although wallpaper is more expensive than paint, it can add patterns to your walls in ways that a simple coat of paint cannot. 

5: Add Or Replace A Rug


Carpets and curtains give color and texture to a room, such as they do in this design by Interior Concepts. Photo by David Burroughs.

You’d be amazed at how much a rug affects the look and feel of a room. If your living room has been sans rug all this time, maybe it’s time to add one. And if your living room already has a rug, consider swapping it out for a new one.

You’d be amazed at how much a rug affects the look and feel of a room. If your living room has been sans rug all this time, maybe it’s time to add one. And if your living room already has a rug, consider swapping it out for a new one. 

Courtney Griffin of Interior Concepts states that scaling makes a big difference when it comes to placing a rug. An undersized rug can make a room feel smaller because it draws the eye to the area where all the furniture is anchored around it.

Instead, Griffin encourages buying a large rug to fit the entire room. “Begin by determining your room’s focal point,” she says. “Center the rug off of this feature, and then size the rug from there.”

6: Change Out Your Artwork.


Art by renowned Donald Judd and Linling Lu add raw power to architectural details and interior design that welcomes four-legged creatures as well as humans. Photo by Francesco Lagnese.

Changing out the artwork you have displayed is always a great way to give your home life. Your own life will be enriched if you spend time learning what makes a high-quality work of art. Furniture stores are rarely the best place to find contemporary art.

Visit art galleries and professionally juried craft shows to connect with artists and see new art. And it is always a great deed to support artists in your city and region. To get you started, we recommend the following four galleries that showcase regional or national contemporary art.

Jo Fleming Contemporary Art

68 Maryland Avenue

Annapolis, MD 21401

joflemingcontemporaryart.com

HEMPHILL

34 K Street Northwest 
Washington, DC 20001

hemphillfinearts.com

  1. Grimaldis Gallery

523 North Charles Street

Baltimore, Maryland 21201

cgrimaldisgallery.com

Goya Contemporary

Mill Centre Studio 214

3000 Chestnut Avenue

Baltimore, Maryland 21211

goyacontemporary.com