Inviting Music Room

Dear Style Studio,

We have three piano players in our house, so I want a warm and inviting room for us and our guests to listen to live music.  Sorry my question is so long, but (except for a piano and a lamp) I’m starting with an empty living room!  The piano is black.  The hardwood floor is natural maple, and the carpet is off-white with a swirly vine pattern.  I used natural light in one of the pictures so you can see it has some texture which defines the pattern.

Some requirements for this room are :

  • Good lighting for the piano area – the floor lamp we have now works great
  • An attractive piece of furniture wth a few drawers to store some piano music
  • Conversational arrangement with chair seating for 2-3 people and associated table(s).  I don’t want it to feel cluttered with a big couch.  There’s a lot of seating in the rest of the house.

Ideas-wise, my concept is that this room could have a neutral tone with off-white and pewter, and the black piano, while utilizing interesting textures and fabric prints.  I like furniture with ‘legs’ on it so I can see the nice carpet and hardwood.  I would like to put a number of framed family heirloom pictures – wedding and baby pictures from the early 1900’s plus some recent sepia-toned ones that look ‘retro’ – on the wall somewhere.  I love the striped paint concept in Jennifer’s dining room (see your column “Finishing Touches in a Butter Cream Dining Room).  I love the Julia Chairs and the Classic Footstool, and your clocks (especially the Emma Clock).  I ordered fabric swatches and some that I like are Nottingham, Hudson Moss, Poppiano Brown, Anya, and Venetian Brown.  I badly want a Document Brown pillow!

My main dilemmas are:

  • I don’t know what fabric to use for the chairs.  Could they be a print?
  • If not, what solid color would work?  Do you have a darkish pewter color fabric?  What patterns would coordinate well for pillows and footstool?
  • Does the ‘neutral tone’ concept work, or do I need a bit of color?
  • What to use for music storage?
  • I would like your advice on wall color and window coverings (note that we don’t ever need to close the drapes in this room)

Elsewhere in the house I use Tuscan-type colors – gold/yellow, sage green, tomato red, etc.  Some of my accessories have botanical, garden, or vine-type themes, and I like scroll-work metal decorations as well.

I am excited to hear your suggestions on how to make this work.






Dear Carolyn:

Thank you for your recent Decorating Dilemma.  How wonderful to have such a talented family.  We want to make your living room into an inviting and warm space where you can enjoy the music.  Our first thought is to paint the walls above the chair rail Kingsport Gray HC-86 for a dramatic transformation.  If you feel that it is a bit too dramatic, we have another choice which is Brandon Beige #977 which is a bit more subtle.

We know that you love the Julia Chairs, but we feel that they are a bit too low in profile for your space.  Instead, we chose the Chesterfield Loveseat covered in our Creamy Pintuck.  We also chose the Bergere Chair with distressed parchment finish, covered in Hudson Moss fabric.  The Loveseat can face the window wall but centered in the room.   Along the solid wall have the Bergere Chair squared on the loveseat.

Instead of a coffee table, we love the idea of the Olivia Side Table placed in front of the loveseat.  On the staircase wall, we chose the Serpentine Chest in distressed black to house your music material.  We also think the Parke Clear Crystal Lamp with the black shade would add a wonderful touch sitting on the chest.  You can hang your sepia photos above the chest for added interest.  If you wish to keep the floor lamp next to the piano, it is fine, but we did choose another in case you wanted to change the look – Blakely 2 Light Floor Lamp.

On the back wall of the living room, we think a collection of sunburst mirrors would look fabulous.  Try to hang them in a series of three or five.  Another option is the Sauvignon Mirror centered on the wall instead.  Lastly, the drapes on the windows should be kept simple and elegant, so we chose our Ballard Essential Panels in Creamy Pintuck hung straight down from the cornices but off the window to provide maximum light.

We hope that our ideas and suggestions help you with your dilemma.  Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance, and drop us an email to let us know what you think of our suggestions – we love the feedback.  Don’t forget to send some photos when you are complete – we would love to post them on Style Studio.


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.