Decorating Dilemma: Elizabeth’s Living Room

Decorating ideas for Elizabeth's unused living room

Decorating ideas for Elizabeth's unused 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.

Dear How to Decorate,

I could use your assistance with our living room! We have a small 11×12 living room that I’ve never really decorated and is currently unused space. I think it has potential to be a pretty room, but I’m not sure where to start.

Our home has a separate family room where our 3 kids play, watch tv, and generally monkey around. In the living room, I’d love to have a space for entertaining where an adult might safely put down a coffee cup. I have debated about moving the piano out of the room and adding a small writing table for paperwork (note the printer in the adjacent dining room).

The sofa will need to stay for now. I would love some help choosing accent furniture , sofa pillows, and wall decor. The current paint color is Benjamin Moore Ladyfinger but we are due for a refresh so that can be changed. Thanks so much!


Helping decorate an empty living room
Helping decorate an empty living room
Helping decorate an empty living room


What a great little space to work out a beautiful plan! Your room for entertaining is sure to be a conversation-starter.

Because of your need for a small desk, we selected a beautiful piece that can close up for privacy: the Large Eastman Secretary in an Old World Brown. Pop in a Louis side chair by the window for a dual purpose.  Great for the occasional guest but it can also be easily pulled up to the secretary when it’s time to do desk work.

A good table for drinks and entertaining is the Olivia Cocktail Table. Pair the cocktail table with its counterpart, the Olivia Side, for plenty of tabletop space. Additional seating can be brought in with the Armless Leyland in our cool-colored Felicity Spa. Our File Ottoman in Suzanne Kasler’s Sky Linen is another piece that gives a dual purpose. Pull up seating for the occasional guest but then lift up the upholstered top for hidden file storage. You can roll it over to the secretary since the ottoman is on casters.

Hang Garden District Mirrors to the left of your front door to balance light into to room and give a place to double check your appearance before heading out the door.

A floor lamp, such as the Helene Arc, adds more style and light to the room, while a set of abstract art, like our Cloud Stack Art, adds a splash of color to the wall. Finish the space off with a Catherine rug to bring the different colors together.

Happy Decorating!

The Design Team

Decorating ideas for Elizabeth's unused 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


    November 28, 2014

    Love this site! Very helpful. My dilemma is front door opens directly into small living room with a lovely patio bordering a man made lake. . It ‘s location is Mid state Florida, so it might be a bit Floridian. As you can see I am confused about a beginning point.
    How do I start? Area is small, open dining area comes into play. I do have a smoky blue sofa and love seat maybe a bit bulky.
    Simply looking for ideas and a theme.
    Those are my comments. Thanks for listening,

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      December 2, 2014

      Hi Alice,
      Thanks for your comment. We actually have a design team that can help you get start laying out and decorating your space. It’s a free service we offer all of our customers! Just send in some photos of your space using this form, and our team will create a plan for you!
      Happy Decorating,
      The How to Decorate Team