Help with living room with fireplace!

Dear Ballard Designs,

I just moved into an apartment with a huge fireplace as the main focal point, black painted cement floors, and white walls.

The furniture I have is dark brown and might be too large for the space. I was looking for an ottoman but now I’m hoping you can help me tie everything together.

I need help with furniture placement/possible slip covers, area rugs, coffee table or ottoman and fireplace decor.

The ceilings over the living room are vaulted and there is a bedroom door on the wall to the left of the fireplace.

It’s an open concept plan with no walls to the kitchen. I’d like to focus on making the area comfortable, livable and functional.

Attached are a few pictures of the room just thrown together. The space has so much potential and I love all of your products, please help me bring it out!


Lane Nygren

room and fireplace room and fireplace


Dear Lane:

Thank you for your recent Decorating Dilemma. We love the space!

Open concept rooms appear to be difficult to arrange as you visually see no stopping point in a room. Try imagining your space with walls dividing it. Now try to arrange your room as if it did have walls. It really becomes an easier task when you apply this concept.

Although we have no dimensions of your living room space, if possible try squaring off the sofa and loveseat. It is easier to define the space with an area rug, and we chose the LePoeme Rug (RT102) in chocolate or if you want a more subdued look – the Light Sisal Rug with chocolate border (RT106).

We also chose the Ananda Table (TC323) to be placed behind the sofa with a set of 2 Corsaire Lamps (LT681) placed at either end.

In front of the sofa, we placed two Durham Bunching Tables (TE122) instead of a coffee table.

On the sofa and loveseat, try adding some pillows like our Limited Edition Parisian Pillows (FP898) mixed with some of our French Grainsack pillows (FP712) to add texture and interest.

Above the fireplace, it appears cluttered as there are too many small items. You are better to place a few larger items grouped together for the most impact. We think the print you have is bright and interesting, so we are fine with it staying. On the left side of your mantel you can use the two candlesticks you now have – but place them together and add perhaps one of our Mercury Glass Candle Holder (AC315) for a bit of shine. Don’t forget to add candles!

On the right side of the print, we love the idea of a large and a small Typesetter Plaque (WP236, WWP235) leaning against the lower right corner of your print. To complete the look, hang one of our Fringed Burlap Panel (FD057) in Ivory, on the far side of each window flanking the fireplace. Make sure that the panels are hung on decorative rods as close to the ceiling as possible.

We know you asked about Ballard slipcovers, but all of our slipcovers are custom designed to work with our upholstery only. If you want to slip cover your existing pieces, check with a local upholsterer and get the yardage needed as well as the cost.

We think you have such a special space that deserves these added touches. We know making these changes will reach the potential you are seeking. Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance. We have enjoyed working on your space. Please let us know what you think about our ideas – we love the feedback!


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.


  1. Reply


    October 22, 2011

    Same problem at my home for 6 years. I cannot find a way to change my furniture placement. The family room is open to the kitchen, with a fireplace directly in the center of the opposing wall. Good luck!