With the multihued curtain fabric as her jumping-off point, designer Ashley Whittaker splashed an amped-up version of pink in three places in the living room—the footstool, the contrasting pillow welt, and the slipper-chair trim. "We wanted the home to feel bright and colorful like Florida but not like a vacation home," says Ashley. She pulled off the cozy yet elegant vibe by grounding the sun-and-surf palette with serious touches, such as the antique demilune tables.
In the living room of designer of textiles and interiors Kathryn M. Ireland's compound in Santa Monica, the custom sofa is in a linen velvet from Ireland’s fabric collection; the armchairs are covered in an Otis Textiles linen slipcover (left) and a fabric purchased in Marrakech (right). The rag rug is from Amadi Carpets, the steel-framed sliding doors are by Chateau Domingue, and the wall hanging is a 19th-century suzani.
Get the furniture layout just right, says interior designer Amanda Teal of Amanda Teal Design. "Always measure your space and start with a plan, so you know the furniture sizes that best suit the space. In this room, we started with the perfect spot for the piano and layered in the sofa and plush lounge chairs around it. Because we had a plan, the scale and proportion of the furniture is harmonious in the space. This configuration also maximizes seating and creates multiple intimate conversation areas."
Materials that connect to the location are key to character building. Sisal hints at the marsh grasses in an elegant way and is also durable, easy to clean, and ideal for layering. The alligator skull speaks to the local wildlife, while palms in antique glass and fern-patterned pillows are additional nods to the room's Lowcountry vibe and provide a carefree polish.
You'll find affordable area rugs suiting every style at big box stores, discount home shops, and even home improvement centers (shop end-of-summer sales for outdoor rugs that can work inside). Use simple (and more affordable) large rugs to anchor a room's furnishings and smaller rugs to define conversational groupings or activity areas. Experts recommend that all furniture sits atop the rug and that an ample border of flooring is seen around the rug's perimeter.
This homeowner bucked the “matchy, matchy” rule by placing different end tables and lamps on either side of the sofa in her living room. The mismatch works because, even though one table is a white Asian-inspired look and the other is a black step-like design, both tables are the same height. A sleek brass reading lamp pairs nicely with the simple white table, while a large silver-leaf table lamp fits with the more substantial black table.
For a Gramercy Park apartment, designer Bennett Leifer upholstered a settee in a Sabina Fay Braxton velvet, and chose a pair of carved wood armchairs by de Gournay covered in a Stark velvet. The Empire console is from Lucca Antiques, the cocktail table is by Ebanista, the vintage stool is by Maison Baguès, the Louis XVI secretary was purchased on 1stdibs, the Tabriz rug is antique, and the walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Alexandria Beige.
Architect Luís Bernardo Brito e Abreu renovated his São Miguel home to reflect his family's artistic, maritime history. The living room features a vintage chair by Illum Wikkelsø, and the mantel and stone benches are both of local basalt. The sculpture of a head on the bench at right is by Ernesto Canto da Maya, and the wall sculpture above the mantel is a 16th-century naval decoration.
Some old homes harbor a gorgeous secret beneath plaster -- rough pine paneling, which some designers refer to as shiplap. It's an ideal wall treatment for staging a rustic living room. If your home isn't old, you can re-create the look in a new house with salvaged shiplap. Take the look floor-to-ceiling, as shown here, for dramatic impact, or design a more subtle rustic decor statement with shiplap wainscoting.