I recently met with a wonderful couple on the verge of retirement who’ve been living with the same living room décor for 20 years. They have a comfy space, with grand ceilings and enormous windows like you only see in houses that are a hundred years old. But after 20 years of family living, the space is, not surprisingly, looking a little tired – and dated.
Tired and dated.
Not exactly the feeling you want to evoke when you walk into your sanctuary! They told me that they’re looking for a formal – but not intimidating space that’s in keeping with their home’s Victorian roots. They wanted airy and light, but nothing too colorful, and nothing too neutral. Sounded like a straightforward and fun design plan in the making! But then they threw me a little curve ball. They have a dark leather sofa and loveseat that they don’t love the look of, but do absolutely adore how comfortable they are. Therefore, they must stay! Well, apparently they’re not exactly what either of us would choose if we were starting from scratch, but I assured them, I will make them work!
So how do you work two dark, heavy sofas into a light and airy room design? Let me walk you through what I decided to do!
Good design is always about balance! Balancing bold colors with soothing ones, heavy objects with light, texture with sheen. Balance, balance, balance is key. So in this room, I’m working with not one heavy object, but two! And they are, well basically, black! Now don’t get me wrong, I love black for certain applications, but it definitely does not define light and airy. Okay, so I’m balancing these heavy sofas with a gorgeous, light as a feather but still present, coffee table. The lines are soft, thin, and feminine, which will be the perfect accompaniment to these MANLY sofas. I also chose to do them in an antique brass finish with antique mirror glass tops, which will help to reflect back some light that those sofas will be absorbing! Ditto on the side tables.
When you’re working with heavy objects in a design, a good way to lighten the load is with lighthearted patterns. You want movement, femininity, and lightness. I chose a semi-translucent drape with these beautiful but fragile looking willow branches. The pattern is refined, but kind of makes you want to hang out and read a good book! Formal, but not intimidating. Check! The pattern on the orange pillows is feminine, but the jute fabric gives them more of a girl next door attitude.
3. Lighten it up!
I didn’t want the end result to have a matchy, matchy, I bought the whole set look, so I decided to go with a beautiful pedestal side table to go between the two
huge beasts leather sofas *wink.* The table itself has these gorgeous traditional lines, but instead of going with the more traditional dark wood finish, I went with the weathered white finish, which isn’t purely white, or too distressed, but is going to perfectly lighten up the space. The wall color is an ethereal gray/barely blue, depending on the time of day. I chose pillows that are light in color and some with a feminine pattern. Again, perfect for lightening up the space, and the perfect way to balance a whole lotta manly!
Here’s where it’s headed, folks! Install day is scheduled for next week! I will post photos when it’s done!