Decorating Dilemma: Sarah’s High-Traffic Living Room

Design plan for Sarah's high-traffic living room

Decorating Dilemmas is a weekly column in which our stylists answer your design questions, so you can tackle your home decorating project with complete confidence.

Hi there!

We live in a beautiful 107 year old house in North Avondale, Cincinnati. Our living room has 2 pocket doors on 2 walls, and 1 glass door & fireplace on the 3rd wall. We currently have 1 sofa, 1 love seat and 1 chair in the room but it is awkward, a little tight, and only provides seating for 6 people at a time. We’re not sure where to place furniture to accommodate more people and not hinder traffic flow. We use both pocket door entrances on a daily basis, so want to keep them open for use.

The room is 15 feet wide (from pocket doors to window) and 14.5 feet long (from the wall with the fireplace to the opposite side).

We love Ballard and have quite a few pieces throughout our house. We’d like to get new sofas – possibly 2 trim sofas that can face each other, flanking the fireplace. Do we have enough room for this? We do watch the TV hung above the fireplace, so we need to allow for that in the room set up.

Thanks for your help,


facing fireplace directly

corner to fireplace left

living facing out

facing front door

Dear Sarah,

Thank you for your Decorating Dilemma. Your home has so much character and is a wonderful space, but we understand the difficulty of working with open walls and doorways. We have a few recommendations that will help open up your space and provide enough seating for entertaining.

Since rearranging your current sofas may allow more flow coming from the base of the staircase, we recommend moving the two cushion sofa across from your three cushion sofa. Now, bring your chair out of the corner and place it across from the fireplace. This placement will allow you to use that door and make it feel less constrained. Once you’ve moved the major pieces, we recommend bringing in the Ananda Serving Table behind your two cushion sofa at the entry of the pocket door. The Ananda table will be the perfect space to set extra lighting and a tray to catch keys and remotes.

Next, consider replacing the tall white side tables with the Olivia Side Table. The Olivia will take up less space than the table you already have, but will still allow for a table lamp. To add additional seating without taking up too much space, we recommend using the Leather Pouf in graphite or mineral by the fireplace. Also, a couple of Courbe Ottomans can be placed under the Ananda table when not being used and then brought out for extra company.

We look forward to seeing photos when you are finished with the project.

Happy Decorating,

The How To Decorate Team

Design plan for Sarah's high-traffic living room

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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


    July 16, 2014

    Hello, I have an entrance on the side of my home that flows into a room that has a stairway going down to the basement against the far wall. on the other side of the wall is a gally kitchen with a dinning room to follow on the other side of the gally kitchen. I want to make the entrance room a media/ tv room with a small eating area.There is a large picture window on the same side of the entrance door and as you walk into the room you will see against the far wall a stairway going down. Can you suggest how I would go about planing the layout of this room and the best way to make use of it??.I would say it is about 25 by 20 feet. Thank you for your advice

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      August 4, 2014

      Hi Michele,

      We would love to help you create a plan for this entryway. To submit a question for our Design Solutions team, go to this page and complete the form (with pictures!), and we’ll have someone from our create a plan for you!

      Happy Decorating,
      The How to Decorate Team

  2. Reply


    May 31, 2014

    Lovely furnishings, wall color etc. Agreed..chair looks awful in corner. Its hiding beautiful French doors. You have lovely pieces just need to pull together. As a Interior Designer, I may add you need some pattern at your windows that won’t fight with your area rug.. You may contact me for window treatment ideas.

  3. Reply


    May 28, 2014

    Beautiful room! Love the wall color and rug! My suggestion is to pull in and group the furniture closer toward the fireplace/center of the room with the ottoman closer to the hearth. Especially the chair in the corner where it looks lonely. Then move the basket from the hearth and replace it with a topiary for some greenery. Maybe another topiary or plant on the other side of the hearth or on the table below the clock in the corner. Also, move the mirror and other photos/Art to the same walls in the corner as the clock and group them as your wall near the staircase instead of scattered. Use your candlesticks on the mantle on the new serving table or table under the clock. Maybe a small tray with a plant or flowers on your ottoman to finish the look.

  4. Reply

    Deborah Ellenburg

    May 25, 2014

    Sarah, your home has so much character and is very welcoming. It is beautiful. Could you tell me the color of your walls in the living room? They are a beautiful color. Thanks.