Make Your Living Room Come Alive

LR Detail


It’s a sad story–hardly anyone “lives” in their living rooms anymore.  This is a tale we hear over and over, and here is one example of how we fixed it.   The “AFTER” detail above  shows a small slice of the adjoining living and dining rooms featured in this post.  When the homeowners called Emery & Associates in June of 2012,  the living room was the lowest priority on their list of residential “must haves,” coming in third after the family room (#1) and the master bedroom (#2).  Part of the reason they weren’t very interested in the space is because nobody ever went into this room except on rare occasions.

The living room looked like this “BEFORE”:

LR from  Entry BEFORE

BEFORE Living Room (view from Entry)

This view from the entry shows that the back of the sofa blocks traffic into the room.  The wife disliked the awkward furniture placement, and had tried rearranging things with no success.   I knew we could fix that with a different combination of furnishings, and I also felt that the peach walls and tapestry sofa fabric were dated.  The mantel needed reworking, and their beautiful antique furnishings which had been passed down through the family seemed lost in this “NW transitional” architecture (those furnishings really wanted to be in a more traditional space).

Living Room AFTER

AFTER Living Room (view from Entry)

With a large window wall and two large openings into the room, no wonder the owners were stymied about how to arrange the furniture!  We scaled out a new furniture plan on paper, then carefully introduced furnishings to exactly fit the space. We began by replacing the too small and informal teal Gabbeh rug with a room-sized Kirman from NW Rugs.  The melon and gold of the new rug established the color palette for the space.  We also dispensed with the sofa/loveseat combo, replacing them with a short sofa (right above), a large club chair/ottoman, and a pair of chairs.

Living Room Window Wall BEFORE

BEFORE Living Room Window Wall

Part of the difficulty with furniture arrangement was due to the necessity of keeping the large grand piano.   Centering the piano in front of the large window allowed us to use the adjacent wall for a pair of chairs.   Now the room is much more open and inviting, and offers more seating than was possible before.

Living Room Window Wall AFTER

AFTER Living Room Window Wall

Curtains hung from medallions frame the window, and add a dressy, traditional touch to the room.   We carried the same drapery fabric into the dining room, and added upholstered host chairs at both ends of the table for  warmth and cushiness.

View to living room from dining room

AFTER View to living room from dining room


AFTER Dining Room

AFTER Dining Room

Now these two rooms feel pulled together, because we have integrated the owner’s antique pieces with the perfect rug, comfortable upholstery, and elegant drapery.  The room is now comfortable  for one person to read, sitting in the big club chair with feet up, as well as for a small crowd.

I want to express my appreciation to the clients for their willingness to do everything I recommended, and I also want to thank my talented artisans for all their custom work:  my sewer, Tracy Quoidbach, for curtains and pillows; Triena Capers at Castec for the Roman shade in the living room; my window coverings installer, Ken Chupp, for measuring and installing all window coverings; Design Furnishings Inc., for fabricating all of the custom upholstery; and Parker Furniture for the pair of chairs in the living room.

“AFTER” photography by StickleyCreative.


There are 13 Comments to "Make Your Living Room Come Alive"

  • Vickie Grimes says:

    I would love to see a close up of the drapery material and the manufacturer’s name.

  • Kathia Emery says:

    Hi Vickie,
    The fabric is by Pindler & Pindler. I don’t seem to be able to add a photo to this post, but I can email you a photo.

  • Jeanne Adams says:

    The layout is perfect and I absolutely love the drapery fabric and treatment. It seems to pull the room together yet not overwhelm or call too much attention to itself. Looks inviting. How could you not want to spend time in this room?

  • Dinah says:

    This is so beautiful. I am totally in favor of everything you did, Kathia. What, BTW, is the color/paint on the walls? You have created the perfect setting with antiques that were misused before. I truly believe everybody will want to use this room now. I certainly would!

  • Dinah says:

    What happened to the antique card table? I have one of those.

  • Laura Erickson says:

    Another knock-out transformation! Now the room not only invites you in, it practically drags you to sit on the chair and puts your feet up on the ottoman.

  • Kathia Emery says:

    Thanks for all your lovely comments. To Dinah–the living room walls are Devine Manila, and the dining room walls are Anjou Pear by Benjamin Moore. At first I wasn’t sure what you meant by “antique card table,” but I think you mean the flip top table in the “before” living room shot. It’s now in another room. You have a good eye!

    • Dinah says:

      Absolutely, that’s the table I meant. Mine opens, spins out to be square and has a hidden compartment for cards. It’s in the theatre room downstairs! Love the paint too!

  • Shari House says:

    A great new look! The “before” was somehow choked with upholstery. The new wall colors seem to update the whole look. Of course it helps to have a grand piano to lend an air of entertaining potentials!

  • Barbara Shettler says:

    The colors have warmed up the room by several degrees. What shade did you change to from the peach.? And where did the new davenport and chair come from? Everything fits beautifully.

  • Kathia Emery says:

    To Barbara Shettler: We changed the living room walls to Devine Manilla, a very warm yellow, and the dining room is a light, sage green called “Anjou Pear,” by Benjamin Moore. All of the upholstery was custom made in Portland by my trade-only source, Design Furnishings (except for the pair of chairs near the piano).

  • Judi says:

    Another magical transformation! I love the melon and gold color combo; it’s so inviting, and sets off the dark woods of the furniture in a classic way. Upholstering two of the dining chairs in the warm yellow effectively unites the spaces. Very evocative, with the chaise next to the piano. All we need is Chopin! Beautifully done, Kathia!

  • Kathia… It was inspiring to photograph this gorgeous living room for you. Thank you. I couldn’t believe the transformation! And, the new shrimp colored rug was so deliciously beautiful, I wanted to cry…:) Awesome job!

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