Decorating Dilemmas: Bettie’s Living Space

Helping Bettie decorate her open living space with furniture, paint, and accessories

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 moved into our house a few years ago, and I’ve been struggling to pick a paint color. Our living room is adjacent to the sunroom, and we don’t know how to arrange the furniture in our open floor plan with columns and few walls. I don’t like the color gray. My favorite color is orange, tan and some blues.

We’d like an elegant neutral color for whole inside of the house. Is it possible to have a different color in the kitchen and sunroom? Our kitchen needs help — the paint wipes off the walls! We’re ready for a change.

Thanks for your help,




Dear Betty,

We’re happy to help you make the most out of your space! Columns can be tricky to work around in open spaces, but it’s best to remember that creating unity and harmony in the space, along with proper size and scale of furniture, can create a beautiful home that flows and functions for your family.

We’ll start with the living room which looks like its being utilized as a more formal space. We love Benjamin Moore Sail Cloth for this space- which is the perfect cream color to build off of. We can really detract some attention from the beams by enhancing the fireplace as the focal point. Our Elizabeth Tall Consoles, Suzanne Kasler Crackle Ceramic Vases and Olive Leave stems help create some symmetry on the fireplace and helps add additional storage to this room. Adding our Grand Palais Mirror above the fireplace, finishes this side of the space off and really helps the fireplace pop, while adding some light to the space.

To create a more squared off seating arrangement, our Louis Armless Chairs in Aryanna Spa are perfect for across your existing sectional- and they’re the perfect size to not block the walking way and add a great style touch to the space. Simple accessory choices, like Custom Pillows in Queens Velvet Sage, our Carrington Coffee Table and Lacquer Louis Side Tables help carry these relaxing and calming tones throughout this room and create some unity that will transition to the family room.

The family room can use a darker paint, like Benjamin Moore’s Annapolis Gray, a beautiful taupe tone, since it is brighter in color. Furniture that is scaled a bit smaller would work great in the family room. Our Cameron Loveseat in Suzanne Kasler Linen Parchment and our Joselin Chair in Haviland Spa are the perfect size for this space. These comfortable pieces are the perfect size for this space- and the textiles help add texture and interest, while pulling the colors from living room into the space. This is important for creating unity in the room- which helps these rooms look complete. Our Bornova Side Tables and Curved X-Benches are the perfect size and the benches can be used for extra seating when entertaining. Pops of coral, like our Lauren Lamp and Tassel Pillow help add a fun touch to this space.

Happy Decorating!

The Design Team

Helping Bettie decorate her open living space with furniture, paint, and accessories

Do you have a decorating dilemma? Send us your own questions here.

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

    Gail Ernst

    January 27, 2017

    The pieces look beautiful, but it took me quite a few readings to visualize their arrangement in the room. I would love to see a drawing of the room with the pieces placed where they function the best. Thank you.

  2. Reply

    Jeanne Hobson

    January 24, 2017

    I like what you picked for Bettie’s living room. I don’t see an “After” picture with the space completed – do you do that in this column. Or, maybe do a 3-D drawing using your suggestions in the clients space.
    Jeanne H.

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      January 25, 2017

      So glad you like these suggestions! We actually don’t have any ‘after’ photos — at least not yet. That’s a great idea though!

  3. Reply


    January 18, 2017

    This set up is beautiful!! What rug would you recommend with these pieces and colors (the pieces and colors in the picture)? Thanks