Decorating Dilemmas: Emily’s Hearth Room

Decorating a small hearth room for a family

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,

We have a relatively small hearth room that, over time, has become our primary living space – truly the heart of the home. However, it is roughly 15 feet x 15 feet, and with three small kids, two adults, and, depending on the season, a Christmas tree (!), it becomes easily cluttered.

Although we like the antique piece with the mirror for this or another room in the house, we don’t love the other furniture and the chairs are too big for the space. We need help selecting furniture that maximizes seating, comfort, and functionality – as the room is often a “drop zone” for shoes, backpacks, toys, etc. Our style is pretty traditional.

Many thanks for your help!





Dear Emily,

Thank you for your decorating dilemma. We see your challenge as a fabulous decorating opportunity. Small spaces can be a challenge but we can show you how to maximize it with great seating and storage options.

Antique pieces are great items to add to a room, but in your case … we suggest moving it to another location in your home. This will open up the space to allow more seating. We think two of the Leyland chairs would fit great in the spot where the antique lived. Since they are a smaller scaled chair, our Sunbrella Quaterfoil Sand fabric is a fabulous choice for this frame. The front legs have wheels so you can move them around when needed and we think that it will compliment your existing rug. We love using indoor/outdoor fabrics on our chairs because they are durable, easy to clean, and look great! We also suggest using the Morgan 3-Shelf Tower along this wall. By adding baskets will create storage for shoes, toys, and anything else that may collect here.

The sofa you currently have seems a little large for this space. We suggest using the Davenport Slipcovered Apartment size sofa. It has all the great characteristics of a standard sofa … just smaller in size. We chose the Bark Twill as the slipcover option. Our twill fabrics are cotton based -which means they are easy to clean (machine washable) and will hold up with the test of children.

On the opposite wall, we would love to see two Mathew Swivel chairs. Again, it is small in scale but they can be turned to watch TV. We show this chair in the Ryder Stripe Camel fabric. Also, this fabric will compliment the other fabrics already chosen for you in this room.

The Allen Coffee table and Side table would be a great way to introduce your love for antiques in this space. A side table next to the sofa is always a good place to a book or rest a drink while watching T.V. or kids play. Now let’s bring in some a fabulous color story. We suggest the Morning Light Canvas artwork and think hanging it above these chairs would be nice to look at as you come through the door.

It looks like your benches have an animal print fabric on them so why not add a few pillows in the Serengeti Camel fabric as a fun way to play add to what you already have. We also suggest adding a pillow or two in the new Soho Ginger Velvet. This color is also repeated in the artwork and will add a nice pop of color around the room.

We wish you success as you make some updated changes and don’t forget to send us pictures when you complete your look!

Happy Decorating,

The Design Team

Decorating a small hearth room for a family

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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

    Laura Davis

    February 1, 2016

    Would it be possible to show the drawing of approximately how you are envisioning the furniture placement? Thank you!