Decorating Dilemma: Eileen’s 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 purchased the Ballard Sea Breeze Art prints I and II (each print is 38″ x 24″) to hang above my sofa in my living room, but I’m not sure if this is the right size. Can I go with the bigger size at 48″ x 30″ each? The sofa length is 82″ and height is 35.” The wall side to side measures at 158″ and floor to ceiling measures at 92 ” so there is about 57 ” from the top of the sofa to the crown molding. The wall is so big, I want to make sure I fill the space.

How big of a print or prints can I have without going too big? I read on the Ballard blog that the prints should be about 75% of the length of the sofa but how high is too high? I plan to move end tables w/ lamps to the sides. Note the red sofa shown in this picture is temporary; I plan to move a new cream colored sofa in the room (the fabric swatch is shown laying on the red sofa).

Once my art is properly sized, how should I layout the rest of the room? I have a fireplace and two walk ways that make arrangements difficult. Like I said, I have a cream sofa on the way.



Dear Eileen,

Thank you for sending in your question. We’d love to help with you with your space. Let’s start with your question about wall art. The two art pieces you have now are nicely proportioned to your sofa, so we think they’ll work. There’s really no such thing as too big in terms of height. As long as it fits above the sofa and beneath the moulding, you can go as big as you want. It really just depends on the look you’re going for. Focal points are important, so if you want your sofa to be the main focal point in the room, we say go larger. If perhaps your fireplace is the main focal point, then the pieces you have in your photo will work just fine.

As for the layout of the room, from the dimensions you sent us, it seems to be a well sized space, and we love how it is centered on your fireplace. The mantle and wood beams are really beautiful! For a fresh and clean update you might consider painting the brick a nice antique white while leaving the reclaimed wood mantle untouched.

As for the furniture, there should be plenty of room for a sectional. We suggest the Baldwin 3 Piece Sectional in Twill off-white. This is one of our most popular and comfortable pieces. There is also good space for a pair of small club chairs. Our Elsie Swivel Gliders would look amazing in our Buffalo Check Taupe. Swivel chairs work well in this area because they can pivot for easy TV viewing. The wall to the left of the fireplace seems to be a better spot to place your TV and you should consider housing it in the Reston Corner Media Console with Hutch. To break up the linear lines of the room, try a round cocktail table like our Bornova Coffee Table.

Behind the sofa on the window side, is a great space for our long Ananda Serving Table topped with a pair of lamps. The Durham Rectangular End Table is a great choice between the sofa and swivel chairs. Remember to pair the table with another lamp to perfectly balance out your lighting. A 9 x 12′ Granada Rug, in navy, is the ideal piece to ground the entire space and pull the deeper indigo tones from the Courtney Peacock on the throw pillows. Samples of all our fabrics and most rugs are available in our stores or may be ordered online.

We know these suggestions will inspire you to create the inviting and functional family room you desire.

Happy Decorating!

The Design team

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


    July 15, 2022

    Is the decorating dilema column form Ballard design or something separate?

    • Reply

      Abbey Nolte

      July 18, 2022

      This is an old column we used to publish on our blog. We now answer Decorating Dilemmas on our How to Decorate podcast. You can find episodes here.
      Hope that helps,

  2. Reply


    September 15, 2018

    Nice stuff to decorate the living room beautifully. I really like this article so much. Thanks and keep sharing.

  3. Reply


    December 20, 2017

    Hello I bought these two beautiful velvet. blue barrel chairs to replace to other chairs in my living room but they are smaller than the other .Any idea to decorate so you don’t focus on there size

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      August 21, 2018

      Maybe add a great end table with a lamp and some striking pillows!

  4. Reply


    June 16, 2017

    I was wondering the same thing. You didn’t answer her question.

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      June 19, 2017

      Sindy and Mary,
      You’re totally right. We’re often emailing back in forth with about these spaces, so we did answer her question to her but forgot to include that in the response. I’ve updated our blogpost to answer her question. Thanks for pointing that out!

  5. Reply


    June 15, 2017

    Hi! Lovely design, as always! She did have specific questions about the size of the artwork–is there an answer to her question?