Classic Design: Living Room Décor

By: Doug Wilson
livng room decor
Let your interests inspire your living room!
Photo courtesy of Pier 1 Imports



Why is it that when we set out to update a room sometimes it just doesn't quite hit the mark? Yes, we can be proud of the new window treatments and the couch has some smart new pillows, but it still has a time-worn feel.

As I’ve looked at numerous living rooms in dire need of a facelift there are repeat decor offenders time and again. Our heavy and dark floral patterns on curtains, chairs, couches and pillows are among the worst. Dated and muted paint colors probably run a close second, with decorative items such as picture frames, lampshades and filler accessories a good third. So, what to do to fix this?


When attacking a true room update, regardless of the room, one needs to look at the big picture. You can fix one main problem and then another area stands up and screams for your TLC. Don’t freak! There are so many choices in the marketplace that allow any budget to make a difference.


Stand in different locations in your room and take a good look at what is there. You are going to see obvious items that are just downright past their expiration date. Remove all these items without thinking twice, and set aside for donation or DYI rehab. Now clear the room of every movable item and, if you need an update you most likely need paint, prepare for your new paint job. Before you choose paint, let’s address the other elements of the room first. Remember, paint is easily available and you have infinite colors to choose from.



Your flooring is going to set a certain tone for the room. Wood flooring is great because you can venture in many different directions with area rugs and well as color palate. Carpeting can be a bit of a problem if it has a strong color palate and or pattern. A neutral carpet is always best as you are able to create many different looks and styles over time as well as layer it with bolder area rugs to create individual spaces and add a punch of color if desired. If you are locked into your carpet color spectrum note that even though it might have a prevailing color there are many colors within the pattern that you can pull from. Just because the overall color is green does not mean that the whole room has to be crammed with that green.



Vendors have heard you and now have created so many choices for window style at great prices. Whether it is roll-down natural shades or big, bold patterned curtains you are looking for, the choices are plentiful. Layering window treatments are a great way to create a plush look for your home. With all the geometric patterns, solids and sheer curtains available, a blind added in combination can quickly modernize. Try darker matchstick blinds with a bold curtain pattern to create a fresh and earthy balance. Sometimes the changing of a curtain rod can be all that is required to bring your window wear into the modern age. Another trick is to remove the curtains altogether and just use blinds for a nice change of pace.



Free your furniture from the imprisonment of dated décor! Sofas are one of the biggest problems we face. They are big, take a lot of fabric and can be costly to reupholster. Obviously if your couch fabric can withstand your update transition, throw pillows that work with the entire rooms decor is the easiest fix. There are a lot of great slipcovers now on the market that can make quite a transition but consider having it tailored a bit for a nice snug fit. I’ve seen a lot of great new sofas at very reasonable prices, so shop around.



Whether you simply add a new chair or two, or have one reupholstered, chairs can make quite a difference in a room. Chairs can be utilized to add a shot of color, be somewhat sculptural or even a “folly” as an interesting art piece. Remember paint or re-staining is always an option depending on the chair.



Dated lampshades are an obvious red flag for a dated room. Dry, brittle, stained and dusty are all too common. Lamps will always outlive the shade, however that message is lost on many. Pleated and angled shades was the standard for years. Many a lamp will look brand new with a current “drum” shade or something other than the pleated old stand-by. Try painting a shade for a pop of color as well, but make sure to coat it several times. This works best on heavy paper or fabric.



Artificial flower arrangements and greenery are in most homes. Judging by how old and dusty they look seems it seems some homes were literally built around these arrangements. Many a homeowner appears to think that once they have one of these “festive florals” they “never” have to replace it! Artificial flora has come a long way in recent years. I have often been caught off guard as to whether some are real or not. Spruce up those arrangements with some fresh stock and revive your look. Check craft stores for some great new “cuttings,” but be careful since there is still a significant supply of the plastic-looking flora.



Old frames are another obvious dated look. Vendors have been able to provide great looking inexpensive frames. Unless you have a table of sterling silver frames in various shapes and sizes or various antique frames with old masters artwork, try to keep a uniformed look for showing off your pictures. All white, black or wooden. Just keep it consistent.



Unless you are an art collector, you need to have filler accessories. These items might be vases, bowls, sculpture etc. As these items are meant to fill out a room, they probably don’t have much sentimental value to you. Clear out your shopworn “stuff” and find things you like that will work with your new fresh look. Also don’t be afraid to mix some modern pieces in with your traditional feel. Variation, to a certain degree, keeps your room interesting.


Your ceiling fixtures are probably one of the last items you want to think about. We all know lighting has become more affordable, but the electrician might cost a little something. All I can say is that it will be money well spent!


Painting or refinishing a dresser or cabinets might not be what you want to take on. New hardware is an easy fix and a project you can do yourself. Make sure to buy hardware that is interchangeable without drilling or patching holes.

So that's is the “Big Picture”! Some of you might need help in one or two of the areas I’ve spoken about and others might need the “Big Picture”. You are the only one who can decide for yourself.

NOTE: If you have to think about whether it is old and dated -- it probably is! Move On, Move Up!