Decorating Dilemma: Nikki’s New Family Room

Decorating an awkwardly shaped 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’m a single mom, and I just purchased my first home for me and my son. I absolutely love the house, but I’m running into a bit of an issue with the layout of my living room. It’s a standard rectangular layout, but there are only two full walls, which fall on the two short ends opposite one another!

Initially, I thought of putting my sectional against the left-side wall and my television/entertainment center across from it on the right-side wall, but the living room is just too long. That would make the sofa too far away from the TV.

I also thought about bringing my sectional into the center of the living room, but because of where the entrance to the living room is located, I think it might be in the way to do that.

Previous owners / renters put their television in front of the left window and the couch along the wall that connects to the kitchen, but I really don’t want to block my window and all of the natural light that will come through there. Plus that leaves me with a whole other half of the living room that will be empty. (Picture 3 is of the previous owner’s layout)

The size of the living room is 13 1/3′ x 20 1/4′. I have a sectional, 3.5’x3.5′ ottoman, an entertainment center and a 5-shelf bookcase that I would like to incorporate into the living space.

Please help me layout the living room in my new home so my son and I can start off on the right foot!

Thanks for your help,


Looking from stairs
Looking from slider doors furniture tucked into corner


Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share a few design ideas for your new home. The neutral color story that we have selected transitions well with a plethora of styles, while staying elegant and soothing. We hope you and your son enjoy the space we have created for you.

To anchor the space, start with placing the Marchesa Rug in an 8×10 size in the center of the living room. After careful consideration, we have come to the conclusion that your living space will function best by placing the sectional sofa in the middle of the room on top of the Marchesa rug. The back of the sectional will face the opening of the living room and should allow for a defined walkway. Make sure the long side of the sectional is facing the fire place, while the shorter side is facing the far wall … adjacent to the kitchen.

The ottoman will have a “double life” – coffee table and foot rest. Place it centered on the sectional and the fireplace. To accommodate any drinks, you can put a large tray in the center of your ottoman. We would love to see you arrange the tray with the small Olive Topiary along with the Le Marais Tea Light Holders.

To give the fireplace much needed detail and attention, hang the Montepellier Mirror center above the fire place then flank the mirror with Elise Candle Sconces on each side. This will create a beautiful focal point in the room.

Place your entertainment center on the far wall closest to the kitchen. The couch should be positioned that one entire side is facing the entertainment center, and one side is facing the fire place. Place your bookshelf on the other far wall adjacent to the entertainment center. Directly behind the short side of the sofa, facing the newly positioned bookshelf, we suggest bringing in the Ananda Console topped with two of the Lorrine Table lamps on each end. This will give you needed incandescent lighting for your sofa and a great place to tuck a small bench for pull up seating.

As a final touch of warmth, we suggest that you hang our Burlap Panels on each side of the sliding glass doors and on each side of the double window. Hanging the same panels on both glass areas creates a unifying element to the two areas.

For an extra special touch, add at least 2 – 22″ pillows in Zebra Woven Natural to the sectional. You should also consider a few of our Kiki Frog knot Pillows in oyster to give a little more contrast.

Happy Decorating!

The Design Team.


Decorating an awkwardly shaped 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


    August 31, 2015

    As a long-time buyer and overall fan of BD, I am in the middle of a re-decorating conundrum. There are pieces in my shopping cart that have been sitting there for weeks so I am officially in need of a design intervention. I have my main pieces in place for my great room (family room) but can’t seem to pull the trigger on the accent pieces i.e.: area rug, coffee table, sofa table and other decor. My color palette is heather gray and kelley green with potentially coral accents.

    Please help me! Right now, I am interested in the Bornova coffee table, Andrews serving table and possibly the Arbor rug. But now I am worried it is too much gray. I am struggling most with the selection of a rug.

    Yours in design,