Decorating Dilemmas: Ronnie May’s Extra Living Room

Ronnie May's living room with furniture and accessories from Ballard Designs

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,

Please help me arrange and style my extra living room. I want it to be a great space — inviting, comfortable, and beautiful. It’s off our foyer, but visible from our family room. I plan on painting but need more suggestions.


Ronnie May





Dear Ronnie May,

Thank you for submitting your design dilemma to the Ballard team! We have developed some stylish and inviting ideas for your extra living room. We have utilized both your existing furniture and utilized new pieces as well.

Let’s jump right in and start with your floor plan. That is one of the foundations of any great room. You had indicated that you wanted the space to be welcoming and inviting when viewing from the foyer.  We have set the room with, not one, but two very inviting focal areas!

Looking in from the foyer, we are suggesting utilizing our Sisal Wallpaper in silver as an accent on the far wall. We think that will be a lovely compliment and a stylish addition to your room. We are suggesting the paint color, Benjamin Moore’s Berber White #955, for the remaining walls and then keeping your trim white.


In the far left corner, we love the Harper Campaign Bar. It is such a fun piece and offers great advantages when entertaining. We also like the Karen Task Lamp for on top of the bar for task specific lighting, and perhaps a stack of vintage cocktail books and a few decorative pieces such as our Suzanne Kasler French Bisque Lamp Slips to complete the vignette.

In the center of the wall we have placed your existing sofa, which is much like our Hudson Settee, with your own white garden stool as an accent table to the front right of your sofa to place a drink. We have centered the Paris Mist Art on the wall, behind the sofa, to bring more opportunities for color into the room. Speaking to that idea, we added a 12 x 20″ pillow in Safari Brown Animal Print, an 18” pillow in the Soho Peacock and a 22” pillow in the Butter Twill fabric. Next to your settee we have selected the Chloe Side Table for its clean lines and great nail heads. It is the perfect table for book storage and adds another little piece of fun to your room. On top we are suggesting the Luciana Table lamp in distressed blue and behind the lamp we have hung the Suzanne Kasler Sunburst Mirror #4.

We have placed your two wing chairs adjacent to your settee, sitting side by side with your single pedestal accent table between them. We have placed the Julian Floor lamp in brass centered between your two chairs for additional lighting. Against the wall behind your two wing chairs we have relocated your bookshelves. We would like to see you take advantage of the shelf space and place some favorite photographs, special artifacts, and perhaps some books artfully arranged. The bottom shelves would make a great place for baskets for seasonal throws, books or periodicals to keep things neat and in place with easy access. And for a cocktail table we are suggesting the Durham Cocktail Table, it will be a sturdy companion piece and can be dressed up or down for any occasion. As you will see we have also grounded your room with the gentle tones of gray, cream and soft gold with the placement of the Tabitha Rug.

Shifting focus on the opposite wall, we have kept your existing desk against the left wall flanking the foyer with your desk chair pulled up to it and the small console table on the right opposite wall. We would suggest recovering the chair seat with a complimentary fabric such as the Soho Velvet in Peacock or Twill in Butter. We would like to see you place some pretty art work above the desk and the companion console, the Swept Art pair which continues to compliment the colors in the room, would be perfect.

For some extra seating we would like to see the Leyland Slipper Chair upholstered in the Haviland Pewter tucked in the corner by your console table. Go ahead and throw a lumbar pillow in the Soho Velvet in Peacock or in butter twill to spread the color interest to that side of the room too.

Enjoy, have fun and explore your options!

Happy Decorating!

Ronnie May's living room with furniture and accessories from Ballard Designs

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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.