Classic Look for a New York Home by Maria

Dear Ballard,
I would love some advice on decorating/arranging furniture in the formal living room of our colonial home. The room is 12 1/2 feet by 23 feet and as you can see in the photos I’ve included, over the last couple of years I’ve been adding pieces of furniture/accents to the room. My goal is to make the room look like something put together over time as opposed to a room filled with furniture just to quickly get the job done. I don’t even know how to describe the style of the room: there are some pieces evoking a more vintage feeling (i.e. the mirror above the fireplace that I purchased here on Ballard); there is a more modern loveseat in brown leather to juxtapose the formal/more classic look of the velvet accent chairs featuring a brown/blue paisley print accented with nailhead trim; there are pieces of mercury glass on the fireplace mantel and the piano (a family piano passed down to me from my parents); the windows are dressed with Roman shades in linen featuring a French script in a shade of brown; and a set of nine plaques in blue/brown hues (I also purchased here on Ballard) in one  corner of the room. It is also important to note that each of the windows has a cast-iron steam radiator below it, making it difficult to arrange furniture around.

My dilemma now is that I’d like to add final touches to the room and really create a cohesive space but I am confused about what other seating options to include; what accessories I can still add; and, more importantly, the most ideal arrangement of all the pieces in the room. One thing I’d like to do is add a club chair and small table to the left-hand corner of the room where the nine plaques hang (to create a small reading nook). Another loveseat would also provide much needed additional seating; I was thinking I should purchase a cream/ivory colored piece to lighten things up across the dark leather loveseat. Is that an option or should the second loveseat be the same as the existing one? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!


Maria from New York


Dear Maria:  Thank you for your recent dilemma.  We just love what you have done so far.  We think with a few “tweaks” you will have a spectacular room.  We have attached a floor plan that we think will meet your needs.  Let’s start with the rug – we chose either our Light Sisal Rug or our Jacqueline Rug to be centered in the room.  The rug will help keep the room centered and anchored. Next, we moved your leather loveseat to create a reading area under the window – add a couple of end tables and lamps and it will be an enjoyable space.  We then added our Manchester Apartment size Sofa (try matching  the light color from the back of the chairs) to the right of the fireplace and pulled the two side chairs (which we love) to the left side of the fireplace.  We added our Morgan small Coffee Table with basket storage in Mahogany in front of the sofa.  Your piano and wine cabinet remain in the same place.  Across from the fireplace, we selected two large prints to lean against the wall – Our 4 Seasons Prints (Winter and Spring).  Above the piano – either our Set of 3 Tapestry Giclees or our Allure Giclee would add interest and color.  We do hope these suggestions help you complete the project.  Add some “pops” of the bright blue (like the vase) for added interest – maybe pillows – some books, etc.  On the left side of your mantel – take the lantern from below the (9 prints) and replace what is there now and the blue vase on the other side of the mantel maybe with some large sticks in it for height.  Right now the mantel looks a bit cluttered and the items are not cohesive.  You can always place those items in other areas.

Happy Decorating,

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


    April 22, 2012

    I agree with moving furniture away from the walls & area rug, Also feel a nice long slim table under the Window over the (wall heater) with family photos would soften that area…

  2. Reply

    Sandy B.

    April 16, 2012

    Marie, the room needs an area rug, more pictures, tapestries, & placques on the walls. Don’t forget to put a family photo or 2 on the tables. They make a space feel like someone really lives there. I like the suggestion of moving the furniture away from the walls.

  3. Reply


    February 4, 2012

    You might also try looking at Lauri Ward’s Use What you Have Decorating, which –though the illustrations are rather ugly–gives excellent advice on how to organize furniture in a room.