Decorating Dilemma: Dorothy’s Dream Home

Living room in Dorothy's dream home

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,

My husband and I are lucky enough to have just purchased our dream home, but we are having quite a dilemma with the furniture layout in our main living room. It’s a blank canvas as we don’t have any furnishings for this room yet.

There are several focal points, and it’s a large open space with cathedral ceilings. The dimensions are roughly 22′ x 27′, but there’s an open staircase that comes into the room. The left wall is about 13′, and has an arched doorway leading to the great room.

There is also a built-in shelving area that will remain. The back wall features two sets of French doors overlooking the pool. In the main entry way, it is open to the foyer, dining room, and hall way.

I wouldn’t mind floating the furniture for conversation, but I don’t wish to block the focal point. We would like to use a neutral color scheme, but also love spa blue. I am attaching photos with the current owners’ furnishings. We are partial to Old World decor, and love to entertain. Any suggestions? Thank you!

Kind Regards,

picture of stairs and windows
looking across at stairs
windows behind
view of floor layout

Dear Dorothy,

Congratulations on your new home. Your beautiful view makes a wonderful focal point as you enter the room. Adding variations of new seating options will help to maximize this stunning feature.

For your main seating area to the left as you enter by the front door, our Baldwin Sofa upholstered in Suzanne Kasler Camel Linen will be the anchor for the oversized room. Upholstered in Suzanne Kasler Blanc, the Helmes Wing Chair can face the French doors. Then, position the Edwards Library Chair across from the Helmes chair to give seating and character in the space. The London Coffee Table, in glass and brass tones, is light and elegant for this conversation group. Opposite the sofa, we suggest placing a pair of our Leather Cube Ottomans in Mineral for a pop of the spa color you like. Plus, they’re perfect for extra seating and an occasional footrest.

Accent lighting brings the drama into a space. Your drama should come from a Suzanne Kasler Gourd Lamp in Gray Green perched on top of our 30” Olivia Round Mirrored Table in Antique Brass at one end of your sofa. Now add drama to the other end with the Paulette Floor Lamp.

Our Firenze Drapery Panels in Spa will add drama and softness to the room. The Serene Reflections Art would be beautiful above the sofa and then ground the seating area with our Catherine Rug in a 9’ x 12’ size. The muted camel, spa, and warm tones of beige and cream in the rug will marry the color story.

The area in front of the stair railing should not be left without equal drama and we suggest placing the Sofia Settee, in Natural Flaxen, as a start. A Louis Salon Chair in Salisbury will be a comfortable, moveable addition to this area. Bringing in our Casa Florentina Isola Pedestal Side Table in Distressed Taupe with a Suzanne Kasler Chappelle Urn Table Lamp in Camel adds some beautiful function to this area. The small Olivia Side Table in Antique Brass will be perfect in front of the settee for a cup of coffee or book. Add a matching Catherine Rug in a 5’x8’ to hold the area together.

Near the bookcases is the perfect spot for a reading nook with a view. Why not add a Justine Bench and pair it with a Julian floor Lamp in aged brass. Hang our Portal Art above the bench and then place the Suzanne Kasler Lamp Slips throughout the bookcase for a look on a grand scale.

At the entrance to the stairs, a Casa Florentina Lungaro Console in Distressed Blue Green will make a statement. Add our Ogden Mirror above and an Anna Table lamp to make a beautiful and usable space.

Happy Decorating,

The Design Team



Living room in Dorothy's dream home

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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


    May 31, 2015

    I love it! In fact, I hope Dorothy doesn’t mind but I will using the recommendation for her house in my house too! Just two questions – 1) I have young children so an accent chair in white is not an option and my husband isn’t in love with the Salisbury fabric. Could you please recommended a couple of other fabric choices that would work with the decorating scheme. 2) Love the Catherine rug but I will need another rug to coordinate with the Catherine. What would you suggest? Thank you!!

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      June 1, 2015

      Hi Jessica,
      How exciting that this plan will work well for your home as well! Let’s see, we totally understand your concern about a white chair. Luckily, we have tons of Sunbrella outdoor fabrics that are stain resistant and super durable, especially if you have children or pets! One fabric that would work well on the Edwards Chair is our Basketweave Sunbrella Fabric in Flax.

      As a substitute for the Salisbury fabric on the Louis XV Salon Chair, we think you should still use a fabric that has a touch of that pretty spa color in it, and we prefer a patterns since most of your other upholstered pieces are solid neutrals. We suggest either our Document Fabric in Spa, our Buffalo Check in Spa, or our Pallini Fabric in Spa.

      Now, to coordinate with the Catherine Rug, we suggest you pick something very different, preferably a solid with lots of texture, in a similar warm beige. A natural fiber rug would pair really beautifully, like our Braided Jute Rug. Suzanne Kasler’s Sisal Rug with a Camel Border would be another lovely option.

      Alright, hopefully that’ll help you adapt this plan for your home. Happy Decorating!
      The How to Decorate Team

  2. Reply

    mary marshall

    May 29, 2015

    I was totally captivated with all the suggestions for the living room. You dropped the ball by not putting it together as a visual. It should be easy with the computer. I am interested but not enough to look up each item. I have just purchased a new home making me excited to see your results. It would seem to be my loss and who knows maybe yours also!
    It is like reading a good book with a cliff hanger…


    mary marshall