Decorating Dilemma: Amy’s Townhouse

Decorating a townhouse 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,

My husband and I recently purchased a charming row home in the heart of Philadelphia. We move in a few weeks and will be starting with a blank canvas in our main living area. You enter our main living area from a front entry vestibule. We would like to use the first half of this area as a living room and the second half as a library/music area. The current owners have their couch against the small wall the vestibule creates and it juts out past it several feet. My husband thinks placing a couch in the same way is our best option but I am hoping there is a better way to lay out the first half of this beautiful room to be a relaxing and inviting living room area and to maximize our space. Your ideas and inspiration would be so appreciated!

Worthy of note we have two active (sometimes rowdy) young sons. ๐Ÿ™‚

Attached are pictures of the current owner’s layout from the home’s listing. Also, I am primarily seeking help with the front living room portion, but suggestions of how to make the transition to the back library/music area would be welcomed. ๐Ÿ™‚

Thank you so much for your consideration.

All Best,

corner of living looking at back of house


What a luxury to begin with a blank canvas and to have such a lovely home in Philadelphia.   Rearranging the seating layout will open up the floor plan. This approach will allow you to maximize your seating potential and open up the traffic flow.

A Choules

We began by anchoring the living space with a 9’x12′ Harrison Rug and faced the Candace Sofa, wrapped in Sunbrella Basketweave Flax, towards the windows to create a simple division between the two spaces. We think the brown Bornova Coffee Table is the perfect coffee table to compliment the space and it has ample space to add favorite coffee table books and a few accessories. Tuck a Shiloh Spool Chair in Buffalo Check Spa fabric then pair it with an Allen Side Table for creating a cozy reading nook next to the fireplace. We suggest facing two Carlyle Chairs towards the fireplace. Upholster them in Sunbrella Capri Spa for a durable yet soft result. The Annette Magazine Table tucked between the two chairs finishes off the trio.

To illuminate this end of the room, we placed a pair of Union Floor Lamps in each corner — simple, stunning, and stately. Lastly, we suggest hanging our ready-made Courtney Drapery Panels and adding two 20โ€ Courtney and two 16โ€ Capri Spa Pillows to the sofa for a touch of furniture โ€˜jewelryโ€™.

Now letโ€™s examine the music/library side of the space. We began again by anchoring the space with a great rug, the an Aster Seaglass is fabulous. Two leather Spencer Chairs facing the staircase will provide a comfortable place to relax and read or listen to music. A Hayes Tufted Round ottoman in front of the chairs a great place to prop your feet but can also be moved when additional seating is needed. Here, we reintroduced the Sunbrella Basketweave Flax for upholstering the ottoman to repeat the color and texture.  The Sunbrella fabrics are ideal for your lifestyle with active little ones in the home because their designed to hold up but still remain soft.  Consider adding two 16โ€ Sunbrella Capric Spa Pillows to the chairs, again repeating patterns to tie the spaces together.

The Morgan End Table, tucked between the two chairs, will nicely display a Suzanne Kasler Chapelle Urn Lamp, providing ample light. Between the window and doorway, we suggest placing a Salerno Cabinet for oodles of storage space for books and accessories.   The Paris Mist Canvas Art hung behind the two chairs will add depth and color to the wall. Again, we suggest adding the Courtney Drapery Panels to the window for a cohesive look.

Happy Decorating!

The Design Team

Harrison Rug


Decorating a townhouse 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.