How to Decorate a Living Room: Designer Tips

Work in some wood. We can’t talk about texture without talking about wood, one of the top materials for bringing a sense of warmth to a living room.

There are so many ways to add wood, any of which will make a space feel a bit more inviting. Consider wall paneling, side tables, movable stools, picture frames, sofa legs and carved pieces of art as just a few of the many options.

Next time….Mix up your upholstery.

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How to Decorate a Living Room: Designer Tips

Play with texture. Texture is easy to overlook when decorating a living room, especially since we don’t see it so much as touch it. But it’s important for making a living room feel cozy, and that goes for plush textures that appeal to the touch and harder textures that add contrast. Include leather, cotton, wool, metal, stone, glass, plant life and as many other textures as you can.

Pillows are a great place to start, especially if you’re decorating a living room on a budget. Look to other accessories and furnishings to add new materials to the palette, even in small doses.

Next time….Work in some wood.

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How to Decorate a Living Room: Designer Tips

Contrast your neutrals. Beyond including some white and some black, decorating a living room with a variety of contrasting neutrals goes a long way toward making it feel rich and welcoming. In this example, the white walls, caramel leather, brass hardware, gray sofa and blue-gray cabinets all contrast with one another, which highlights their different finishes and undertones. This makes the palette feel rich even before other key elements, such as color, pattern and texture, are added.

Next time….Play with texture.

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How to Decorate a Living Room: Designer Tips

Whether your style is traditional or modern, relaxed or formal, bold or subdued, your living room should be a place where you can feel comfortable, let down your guard and spend quality time with friends, family or just yourself. There’s an art to decorating a room that looks great and works well for you. So before you dive into a living room redesign with your pro, arm yourself with a few designer tips and tricks.

Mix light and dark. When a living room is all white and bright, it can feel too “clean” and unapproachable. When it’s all dark, it can feel like a cave. But mixing dark and light colors creates a dynamic look that has depth and balance. The design of any space benefits from the inclusion of at least a little white and a little black.

Next time….Contrast your neutrals.

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Bathroom Makeover Ideas

Shower Wall Feature Tile

Designer: Melinda Wolrab of Archetype
Location: Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York City
Size: 80 square feet (7.4 square meters); 8 by 10 feet 

Homeowners’ request. “The client loved the color blue, so we incorporated that in each of the four bathrooms we designed,” designer Melinda Wolrab says. 

Great idea. Geometric-patterned tile feature in the shower. “The client saw this tile on one of our shopping trips and fell in love,” Wolrab says. “We decided the mosaic was very busy for such a small space to have everywhere, so we created the small inset in order to incorporate the feature.”

Other special features. Brass bath fittings and accessories. Imported Italian marble wall and tub-surround tile. 

Designer secret. “Use a neutral palette with a pop of color to create an impact in a small space,” Wolrab says. “And have a few complementary feature moments. Here we used the vanity and the mosaic inset as our star moments.” 

“Uh-oh” moment. “Waiting and waiting for the carton of Dolomite marble tile to arrive from Italy,” Wolrab says. “Luckily our client was very patient and willing to wait for this beautiful stone.”

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Next time….Designer Tips for Decorating Living Rooms

Bathroom Makeover Ideas

Wallpaper Accents

Designer: Maria DeGange of Chroma Home
Location: Jacksonville, Florida
Size: 62½ square feet (5.8 square meters); 12½ by 5 feet

Homeowners’ request. Convert an original 1970s guest bath into a practical, easy-to-care-for bathroom, on a budget, with a soaking tub and safe access to the shower for the homeowners’ visually impaired son. 

Great idea. Wallpapered partial walls (Aquarium by Osborne & Little). “It presents images of colorful fish made out of crochet-like stitches,” designer Maria DeGange says. “As the house is in Florida, and the wife loves crochet and a bit of whimsy, I knew that was the perfect choice. The paper comes in three colorways, but the black makes an amazing effect, especially contrasting white surfaces, which I had in this case.”

Other special features. DeGange placed the faucet controls on the long wall to make it easier to turn on without getting sprayed by the shower head. The controls sit amid cascade-style accent tiles that form a stripe, creating a focal point in the room. Other special features include ceramic subway tile for the main wall areas, a mercury glass pendant for the toilet area, wood-like porcelain floor tile and a mother-of-pearl vanity mirror. 

Designer secret. “This wallpaper has a pretty big-scale pattern, which could be a scary choice for most people for such a small space,” DeGange says. “Sometimes big-scale items make a small space look bigger, so I took that risk.”

“Uh-oh” moment. “When we gutted the old shower, we found a huge hole on the wall that you could see outside,” DeGrange says. “Ants were coming through. We had to seal and fix the wall from the exterior and also add insulation from the interior part of the wall. That was not part of the budget.”

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Next time….Shower Wall Feature Tile

Bathroom Makeover Ideas

Textured Tile Feature Wall

 Jennifer Corteville of Yellow House
Location: Birmingham, Michigan 
Size: 200 square feet (19 square meters)

Homeowners’ request. Transform an early-1990s bathroom into a serene spa-like space with a claw-foot tub. 

Great idea. Textured tile feature wall. “We chose the textured wall to bring warmth to this large bathroom and give visual interest behind the freestanding tub,” designer Jennifer Corteville says. The tile is split-face limestone from Ann Sacks.

Other special features. “The client really liked the look of the historical console vanity,” Corteville says. “It pairs really nicely with the claw-foot tub but provides a storage challenge. To keep the vintage look but maximize storage, we purchased RH console bases but used a custom countertop to span the console bases and a custom storage piece. The combination of these pieces marries the vintage and contemporary elements of this bathroom.”

Next time….Wallpaper Accents

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