Using Accents to Lighten Up Leather Furniture

Dear Style Studio,

I need help to decorate my family room. I have been through the Ballard Designs’ catalog and there are so many items i want to order but don’t know how to pair them. My primary design challenge is this: I am stuck with the furniture you see in the attached photos – all dark brown leather! I want to brighten the furniture and room with new cushions, window treatments and great decor. I really love the Catana Floral Chocolate fabric. I would like to incorporate green with the brown, making green the the pop of color, but my instincts are telling me to stick with yellows. I am also looking for a side table.

Can you suggest fabrics for pillows and curtains as well as wall decor from Ballard Designs?
I am anxious to purchase these products from Ballard Designs.

Thank you


Dear Rosalie,

We think you are right on target with adding some pops of color to your beautiful room. The basics are there, just a few “tweaks” and you should be on your way. We do love your idea of adding some fabric into the room. Sometimes leather can become overpowering when it is not balanced with color or pattern. Our first suggestion is to add an area rug. Although the floors are beautiful, the room appears too heavy without some break in the brown tones. We love the idea of our Coventry Jute Rug in green. That will help to establish the green in the room.

As far as the windows, we love our Small Check Drapes in chocolate hung close to the ceiling on either side of the bay window covering only the side frame. You will need to find a new home for the prints on the right of the bay window, leaving that space bare. We also feel you should order additional Skylar Chocolate Check fabric and have tailored roman shades made for each of the French doors adding color and pattern. Now, the Catana Floral in chocolate can be added with pillows and we would love a 30” Terrific Trio Table in the Catana Floral placed to the right of the sofa. You can still add in your yellow pillows for visual interest.

As far as accessories, let’s start with the space above the bay window in between the drapery panels, a Set of 3 Entomology Plaques in bronze centered above the window will look great. The Cote d’Ivoire Table Lamp in antique cream is just the right touch on the Catana Terrific Trio Table. On either side of the French doors, hang our Hazy Dream Florals – one on each side to again pull the colors throughout the room. Place our Garden Seat in lime to the right of the chair and ottoman for another “pop” of color.  Lastly, a set of 3 Sea Glass Vessels placed on the cocktail table will finish off the look.

Our suggestions are a way of introducing a new color throughout the room. There has to be a balance from floor to ceiling to pull this off. We are basically following the 60/30/10 rule. The brown in the room represents 60% of the color, the yellow gold walls – 30%, and the addition of the green becomes the 10%. Most visually successful rooms follow this rule. Please let us know what you think of the plan, and don’t forget to send us some pictures of the completed room so we can post them on Style Studio. We think it is a winner!

The Style Studio Team

How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.