Arranging furniture and Decorating a 19 foot long by 14 foot wide Living Room with a Brown Leather Sectional Sofa

img_3024 Recently a reader, whose husband is a house builder (Texas Barndominiums out of Floresville, Texas, asked for my help with the decorating of their new house that is also a “show house”.  I said yes to her inquiry, but would only do it if I could turn it into a blog post that might inspire my readers. Melissa,  the builder’s wife, had already purchased some furniture and wanted suggestions for extra things to buy, so she could create a home that is a warm and inviting place for her family,  friends and husband’s clients to see. Looking at what she already has, the size and height of the room, its location in the house, and what textures for surfaces are already in the room, this is what I think she should do. img_3026
img_3032 First of all the living room of the house is 19 foot long and 14 foot wide.  The room is located in the center of the building, so it has no windows that look outdoors, which means there is no natural light coming into the space, other than what could possibly come from windows in adjacent rooms.  The room, according to the house plans is 14 foot tall, and about three-forth up the wall is some nice “heavy sized” natural colored wooden crown molding.  The room has an aluminum toned metal ceiling and there is a large fan at the top of the room to move the air.  As seen in the above photos, there is a dark  stained floor, and there is a stone wall, called “English Milk”,  which is at the base of the wall looking into the kitchen and that same stone is used at the bottom portion of the outside of the house.

When it comes to the picking of a paint color for the room, the color choices for carpeting, upholstery fabrics, framing of wall decor and other decorative items for the space, I first looked at (1) the color of the stone “English Milk” which is a built-in item in the room, (2) the color of the metal ceiling, and (3) the darkness of the floor, the leather sectional sofa and the end table. Being that the room has no natural light, and there is the heaviness of the dark sectional sofa, end table and stained floor, I feel that light elements should be injected into the space to make the room brighter.

In a room with natural stone, like this one has, the stone colors is the first place that should inspire the picking of a paint color for the room. Right now, according to the photos, I think the room is too light, there is too much of a high contrast between the light cream of the walls and darkness of the sofa, end table, TV stand (also a dark wood color) and floor color.

The above photo shows an open paint fan which displays an array of colors that might appear on the color of the stones (English Milk).

When picking a paint color to go with stone, first find a paint color on any of the individual paint color strips, that matches close as possible, the color of the stone that you want the paint to go with.  If you want a calming effect, match your paint color to what is the color of the majority of the stones.  If you want something more bold and dramatic, match your paint color to any of the accent stones.  On the one paint color strip that you finally isolate, any one of the lighter or even darker colors will work perfectly well with the stone that you have picked as your inspiration piece, and have chosen to match.  After finding the paint color you like, go back to the paint store and get about 6 of that paint color strips.  Cut out the paint color sample, that you like, from the 6 or so strips and tape them together, you will then have a larger sample of the color.

Looking at the above opened fan, I think the lightest color on each of the paint strips ( which would be considered a tint) is too light.  I would suggest painting the room the next darker color above it (since the room has no windows) or the third darkest color (if the room did have windows).  In this house, which has crown molding 3/4ths up the wall, I would repaint everything below the crown molding the new color (pulled from the stone), and I would leave everything above the crown molding the color it is now. By adding the darker color it would also cut the high-contrast between the wall color, that is there now, and the color of the natural colored crown molding.
img_3043 The above photo shows a sample of the kind of area rug that I think should be put in the space. First of all the rug is light of colors, so once laid on the floor it will instantaneously cut most of the darkness that the floor possesses. Secondly, and most important, it looks to have many of the different tones seen in the “English Milk” stone used in the room.

The above rug has different tones of golden tans, golden browns and golden taupes (gray beiges).  Golden toned fabrics are yellow based. and are considered warm colored.  There are also blue based, cool colored fabrics, they would be rose based golds, rose-tans and rose-browns, they have rose undertones.  Golden based fabrics and Rose based fabrics do not work together that good, so stay with one or the other (most fabrics color stories seem to be yellow based).  To know more about yellow based and blue based colors read Color Theory…When Interior Decorating a Room, Remember Wood is a color too and When Decorating a Beige room, think Tones, Texture and Sculptural Interest.

When going shopping for the area rug, the homeowner should bring a cushion from the leather sofa, a paint sample for the walls, and even a stone sample if they have it, to see how the different decorating elements go together.  To read more about picking colors to go with a patterned carpet read my post titled How to Pick Paint Colors that go with an Oriental Rug.
img429 (1)… The above illustration shows the layout for the 19 foot by 14 foot living room. The arrows on the illustration show the different entry ways into the space. Looking at the illustration, notice the line on the floor that frames the seating area; that is where the outside edges of the area rug should land. Being that size, the seating area is defined, and there is no rug, out in the walk-by traffic path for a person to trip on.

(2)... Look at how an upholstered arm-chair is floating in the center of the room, pointed in the direction of the sectional sofa (to see the room better look at the cover illustration for this post). Notice that the chair has exposed legs, and that it is not too large of scale. Being that the living room is not all that large, and there is already a lot of visual weight provided by the sectional sofa, adding a chair to the room, that you can see under adds lightness of visual weight to the space instead of more heaviness.  A 3’x3′ chair was placed in the space, but a chair even 2 or 3 inches smaller in either direction would provide surprisingly more walk-around space in the room.

(3)… On the room floor plan and the cover illustration for this post notice that I’ve put a stripe fabric on the chair. When working with upholstery fabrics, patterned carpets, drapery materials, wallpaper and even pillows or a throws you want to mix things up. In interior decorating there are different kinds of patterns. The carpet seen earlier is classified as having round motifs, the upholstered chair seen in the room is in a striped  fabric and the two upholstered benches seen in the room are in a dot pattern (as in dot and medallion motifs). To know more about the different patterns used in interior decorating read my posts …Looking at Patterns used in Interior Decorating on Fabric, Drapes, Wallpaper and Carpeting,,,,  Interior Decorating..Looking at the Different Size of Patterns used on Wallpaper and Fabric and Mixing and Matching Fabric and Wallpaper Patterns.

Looking again at the above illustration, the cover illustration for this post and the rug sample. Notice that the fabric colors used in the room are pulled from the colors seen in the patterned carpeting placed on the floor. Next notice that six throw pillows have been placed on the sectional sofa. There are three in a stripe that match the striped chair, and three that are in a dot pattern that match the two (not matched for shape) upholstered benches. The addition of the pillows to the leather sofa add lightness to that dark piece of furniture which helps to cut its visual weight. Also, by having pillows that both match the fabric for the upholstered chair, and the fabric seen on the upholstered benches, they ties the room together from one side of the space to the other.  In a situation like this, before purchasing any upholstery fabrics, the home owner should place next to/on top of the patterned carpet, the paint sample showing the room’s color,  a cushion from the leather sofa, and a sample of the stone, along with the possible choices for the upholstery fabrics to see how all the different parts of the decorating puzzle go together with each other.   Too often people pick out things randomly, not having all of their decorating elements with them, and end up being disappointment with their choices.img_3027 The above photo shows the metal ceiling in the room, a large fan, and a bit of the crown molding that runs around the upper part of the space. Having the corrugated metal ceiling in the space, it has to be addressed and its presence must dictate part of the color story for furniture and decorative accessories seen in the middle and lower portion of the room.  Interior decorating is all about moving color, pattern, and even metal finishes around a room, not isolating it/them in just one place.img425
img426 Now lets look at how I think the different decorative accessories should be placed in the room…

(1)… Looking at my illustration of the room, let’s look at the artworks seen behind the sectional sofa. When picking out artworks for a room with a tall ceiling, which in most cases costs more than one with an eight foot ceiling, you want to accentuate what you have paid extra for, not cut it with your decorative accessories. Look at the large picture hung over the sofa, it is a vertical format piece (taller than wide). In a room like this, an art work 30″x40″, 36″x48″,  36″x60″ or even possibly taller, would work well hung over the sofa. In the room drawing, you see two light sconces at the top of the room, in this case the art work lines up with the tops of the two light fixtures. The art piece could also line up with the bottom of the light piece, or be hung a few inches below the lights. Before deciding on and paying for the large piece to go over the sofa, the homeowner should get the dimensions of the piece that they like, go home and tape newspapers together to make a template/cutout showing the exact size of the piece in question, and tape the cutout to the wall with painters’ tape, to see how something that size works in the space. When hanging artwork of any kind over a couch, the piece should hang 8 inches to no more than 12 inches over the back of the sofa. To read more about hanging artwork over a couch read Hanging Pictures over a SofaA picture was shown hanging over the sofa, but a large metal piece, found at a place like Hobby Lobby, Pier 1 Imports, etc could also be used.

Now let’s look at the framing for the large piece hung over the sofa and the two other pictures seen on the left side of the room. The frames for the pieces are in a silver tone; they could be a shiny or brushed silver, nickel, pewter or aluminum colored. The framing for the artworks brings the color of the ceiling down onto the walls of the room. If the large piece, hung over the sofa did not come with a frame, it could be just hung as is, at least it provides vertical/up-right tension in the space.

Like the art piece hung over the sofa, the (pair) two pieces of art, seen on the left side of the room should be vertical format art works (taller than wide), so even though they are  smaller, they direct the eye upwards, versus across the space. The main thing, when hanging the art piece over the sofa, and the two art pieces seen on the left side of the room, is that the bottom edges of all three framed pieces should line up with each other at the exact same amount of inches above the sofa, so the eye moves from the bottom edge of the pictures on the left to the bottom edge of the big piece hung over the sofa in one straight line, without falling down or going up. To read more about natural lines in an environment read Hanging Pictures Around a Room.

When searching for artworks for the room it would be best to pick out things that have some of the same colors in them as the room does. In this room, as seen in my illustration, the predominately color is a dark brown, The subordinate colors are tans, golden browns, taupes, creams and golds, and the accent colors are silvers and a terracotta/red- orange. To read more about picking colors for a room read Pick (Use) four colors when Decorating a Room.

(2)… To further bring the color of the ceiling down into the room more, a silver tones coffee table was added. The table seen in the illustration is square and was figured out to be 36″x36″, but a round table could also be uses, and something a few inches less than the 36 inches would also provide more space for walk-around by the sectional sofa. Looking at the weighty furniture that has attracted the homeowners so far, I would suggest a coffee table that has a glass top or silvered metal frame with glass that you can look down through , and has exposed legs so there are things of less visual weight in the room.

Now look at the silver toned decorative accessories in the room. To move the metal color of the ceiling around the room, I’ve placed a silvered/pewter/nickel or mercury glass toned bowl and orb on the end table to the right of the sofa. Below the end table to fill in the visual space, and bring more of the metal color of the ceiling to the floor I’ve placed a, possibly galvanized finished, beverage cooler, that could be used to store papers and magazines, games for the kids or grand-kids, chew toys for pets, etc. Next look at the pair of silver toned candle sticks that are on the coffee table, they also keep the metal toned decorations going.

Before leaving this side of the room, look at how I moved the terracotta / red-orange from the bowl seen on the counter on the right, to the lamp on the end table, to the colors seen in the artworks, to the bowl seen on the coffee table and finally the color of the throw on the leather sofa. It can’t be stressed enough that color and patterns (stripe and dot patterns seen before on the chair, pillows and upholstered benches) must be used constantly across a room, from wall to wall, and from floor to ceiling to keep the eye moving.  (If the homeowner wanted to substitute a faux fur throw for the red-orange one seen in the illustration it should be in the colors of the “English Milk” stone used in the room).  To know more about combining table lamps and end tables read The Right Height of Table Lamp for your End Table.

(3)… Now let’s look at the above illustration showing the other side of the room, opposite the sofa, where the TV is located. The homeowner has already purchased the TV and TV stand. Notice the two boxes at the top of the drawing, they are light sconces, similar to the ones seen flanking the large picture that is hung over the sofa. To create more vertical tension and fill in wall space on this side of the room, a large art piece, with again, a silver toned frame has been hung over the TV. The combination of the TV stand, which is a horizontal format piece (wider than tall), the TV itself which is also horizontal format, and the art piece hung over it, again horizontal format, when stacked one above the other becomes one vertical format presentation.

When interior decorating a room, you are working with visual weights. The TV stand, TV and picture hung over it, counterbalance, the height of the sofa and large picture hung over it, on the opposite side of the room. To read more about the subject of balance read Interior Decorating is ALL about Equal Balance and look at It’s Easy to Decorate a Room with a Tall/High Ceiling.

To create more width to the grouping of the TV stand, TV and artwork hung above it, the addition of two horizontal format pictures, in silver toned frames, and two round terracotta/red-orange elements have been hung below them. I would have liked larger art pieces flanking the center pieces, but looking at the photos of the room, there is a light switch/plug to the left of the TV that would make hanging something larger there impossible.

Next,  look at the small upholstered benches, to the left of the TV stand, in a dot pattern and notice how it is counterbalanced on the right by a terracotta/red-orange floor vase with some silk grasses for filler. Notice again how the color terracotta/red-orange, which is one of the accent colors in the room, is seen as part of the color story of the art works.

When selecting artworks for a room, or placing things that you already have, you should take into consideration the natural directed action that the picture has. To know more about directed action read Make an Interesting Arrangement of Pictured and look at It’s Easy to Hang Pictures up on a Wall.

Finally, before buying or ordering any piece of upholstered furniture or wooden item (chest, dresser, etc) always get the exact measurements for width, depth and height of the piece.   Go home and tape newspapers together to make a template/cutout showing the exact size of the piece of furniture and place it in the spot where you are thinking of putting it.  In one second you will know if it fits your room or not.  Also, if you are ordering something that is big, make sure it can get in your front door, elevator to your building, up or down steps, make a turn around a corner.  You don’t want to buy, then get stuck with something that doesn’t work for you.

So there you have it, a look at how I think this room should be arranged and decorated. I hope that there has been something in this post that has inspired you. Please look at the companion posts, as there are other things there that might be of help.

Companion Posts on Fred Gonsowski Garden……
The Right Way to Hang Curtains and Drapes 5-3-2011,
Hanging Valances, Curtains and Drapes on Different kinds of Windows 7-15-2012,
Arranging Living Room Furniture so Sofas talk to Chairs, like the Pros do 9-7-2012,
When buying Living Room Furniture, FORGET the Loveseat, buy Two Wind, Club or Occasional Chairs Instead 10-13-2012,
Arranging Furniture 12 Different way in the Same Room 9-15-2012,
Arranging Furniture around a Fireplace in the Corner of a Room 9-29-2012,
Arranging Furniture in a 12 foot wide by 24 foot long Living Room 2-5-2014,
The Answer to “Can you put a Floor Lamp next to a Sofa? 10-4-2012,
Paint a Room a Dark Color, then ADD Light Accents 4-2-2011,
Picking and Hanging the Right size Picture or Mirror over your Fireplace 6-23-2011,
Arranging Your Decorative Accessories (Knickknacks and Collectables) 6-7-2011,
Step-by-Step instructions for Hanging a Gallery Wall 2-15-2015,
Arranging Decorative Accessories on a Sofa Table, Buffet, Sideboard or Credenza 3-10-2015,
Bunny Williams’ new Studio at her Falls Village, Connecticut Estate 6-30-2016.


About fredgonsowskigardenhome

Your eyes deserve to view beauty. I hope Fred Gonsowski Garden Home helps to turn your vision, into a reality.
This entry was posted in Arranging Living Room Furniture, Interior Decorating Principles. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Arranging furniture and Decorating a 19 foot long by 14 foot wide Living Room with a Brown Leather Sectional Sofa

  1. It’s like getting to eat candy for breakfast when I wake up in the morning and there is a Fred post! Thank you so much for all you do. I grew up with a mother who was naturally good at styling so it’s fascinating to learn the rules behind it. You’re great!

    • Hi there CollinsFamilyMembers, I love the idea of candy for breakfast, and I’m admitting here that on occasion I’ve had part of a dark chocolate bar, along with a cup of coffee as part of my breakfast.

      I’ve always been attracted to how interiors are assembled; it started in the 1960’s and early 70’s when my Aunt Anna would give me her copies of House Beautiful and Home and Garden. Those places were so beautiful, and looked like nothing that none of my relatives or our neighbors had. Having gone to school and studied fine arts, I learned all of the principles of design, so when looking at anything “interior decorating” related I can easily break it down. The premise of this blog is to help people to understand the basics of design and why something works. Too often people like something, or think something seems somehow wrong, but don’t know why they feel that way. Here at FGGH I’m trying to demystify the design world.

      I do feel CFM that designing, photography, painting-drawing-etc, how a person assembles their clothing, gardening, cooking, playing and creating music and even writing things like a blog article, etc are all related in some way to each other (all part of the artistic world), and I think in most cases the ability to do artistic things is heredity, so I do feel that because your are your mother’s child, that you have some artistic abilities in you.

      Thanks for your comment ;-}

      • Kathy says:

        Mr. Gonkowski
        Help! Do you travel to CT? I, need to hire you to help with my 5 room 1952 ranch home. I, had two on line designers and these colors are wrong and I wasted a lot of money. I, have hand made antique replica half mahogany, half tiger maple case pieces throughout the house. Oak floors in most rooms, orange yellow stained. Red oak floor in kitchen with yellow orange cabinets. Each room is a different color as was told to me, for the furniture. But, based on your info blog it feels all wrong, and is. A picture is worth 1000 words. But, in person visual may be a must since two other pros got it wrong? Your, blog makes much more sense. But, I’m now overwhelmed. Can you help?
        Kathy in CT

  2. Robin says:

    I second that Fred, you’re candy for me as well. How I love and learn so much from your fabulous blog. I sometimes have to read things over a few times to “get it” but I’m learning so much. You make everything look so easy. I’m jealous that I’m not as creatively gifted as you, but thank you for sharing your knowledge Candy Man.

  3. Frans says:

    Hi there, I need to have your current insight about this. Please contact me instantly

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s