Designing around a Red Sofa

I’m working on a family room design right now that is to revolve around my client’s existing red sofa.  This is a (fun) challenge for me as I don’t often use red in large doses.  Red can often be overdone- the wrong shade on the walls, or just too much of it everywhere- but with the right design it can be powerful, warm, happy and chic.  Since the sectional is such a big piece visually  I’d prefer not to over-saturate the room with more red.  Instead, I want to find a way to tie it to other colors that will complement it.  

This is the sofa…






I plan to introduce new colors with a rug and pillows.  Here are my favorite color schemes that work well with red.  Which is your favorite?

I love red mixed with powder blue for a preppy, happy feel.  Tie in a powder blue rug with a pillow that features both red and the same shade of blue.


Interiors 1 2 3
I love red mixed with pink for a romantic yet vibrant room.  Mix in black to add a tailored edge to the space.


Interiors 1 2 3 4

Red and cerulean blue is a perfect combo to design a traditional room with a twist.  Mix in pillows that bring in a third color element so that the room doesn’t just read red-white-and-blue.


Interiors 1 2 3


Let’s Talk About My Fireplace

My Fireplace is a big priority to me.  1) I love fireplaces and am so excited I finally have one and 2) It’s right in your face as you walk in the door.  I do intend to make a few changes to it.  Namely paint the hearth- white or black?  I’m leaning towards black.  And paint the interior of the firebox (black? Gray?) so that it doesn’t look too dirty.  Other than that, it just needs to be styled.


{my pad}


As I mentioned in Friday’s post, the television may need to go over the fireplace.  I wish I could do a set-up like this below: shelves on either side with a small television next to the fireplace.  I don’t have a problem with an off-center TV, but the walls next to my FP are so narrow that it would require a teeny-tiny television.  Not very practical for a girl who does get down with her TV watching from time to time.


{Wayne Vincent Photography via Desire to Inspire}


Based on purely looks,  find myself most attracted to the styling and colors surrounding this fireplace.  I’ve been listening to the cottage and it’s been telling me it wants some teal and green up in its joint.


{Christopher and Suzanne Sharp / Vogue / photo by Francois Halard}

Oh I wish I could just do an antique mirror over the fireplace!  They are so chic and would do wonders for visually enlarging my wee cottage.  Look how good it looks with this white brick fireplace.  (Similar to mine other than the fact that I don’t have brick everywhere, high ceilings, or wood beams… sigh.)


Another white brick fireplace with cute stying.


If I can’t finagle room for a television to the left of my fireplace, I may put my bar cart there.  I love the set up and styling here…


It’s a shame I can’t just move into this room.  (Note: More teal and green.)



The truth of the matter is that I’m thrilled with my humble cottage and know I can make it look great.  Perhaps I’ll dedicate a post to making televisions looking chic.  Is there a white TV out yet?  That would look so much better.

A colorful Mid Century Gem

One of the rooms I featured yesterday was so delightful, I had to go search for the rest of the home.  Turns out this mid-century gem is home of Kristin Gallipoli and was featured last year in New England Home magazine.  Typically mid century is not my favorite look- I prefer just a piece here and there- but I really love what she’s done with her space.  It’s colorful and vibrant, refined yet playful.  And how about the more subdued bedroom?  Wowzers.

Get the LOOK for your own home!



The Bitter Decorator: Colorful Walls

Ive been thinking about starting an irregular blog series called “The Bitter Decorator,” because I’m a decorator and sometimes peoples design choices make me plain bitter.  In general, I like to keep the blog a positive place, but I also try to keep it really honest too.  So let me know if you like, or don’t like this direction, and based on your response, maybe I’ll tackle more topics.

PAINT COLORS.  I’ve been spending a lot of time in paint stores, which proves to be an excellent place for people watching.  You can tell a lot by a person by how they act in a paint store; they are ambitious, they are frugal, they are bold, they have marital problems, they are boring, they are confused… and so on.  So many times I find myself wanting to step in and shout “STOP you are making a mistake!  You are about to turn your room into a massive blueberry, or that beige has too much green in it, or that pink is WAY too bubblegum or that yellow is so FUG I can’t even name all the reasons its wrong.”  But I don’t step in because I wasn’t asked, and usually these paint stores have their own decorating specialists and frankly, I prefer to be paid for my opinion.  Unless I’m spouting it widely and loosely on my blog, of course.

Last week I watched a young lady merrily purchase a gallon of gloss purple paint in a similar hue to this, and I couldn’t help but think she is in for a Barney-like disaster.  

We all remember Barney the dinosaur, right?

Here’s the thing, I bet she really likes purple.  I bet she wants a colorful room and thinks WOW this purple is FUN.  But there are lot’s of ways to have a fun, colorful room without painting your walls Barney purple.  Now, before I go on further, I should say, that there are certain people that could take this color purple and craft a masterpiece of a room.  A jewel box, a study in rich contrasts, a gorgeous space to turn my whole theory on its head.  But that’s only about 5% of the population.  The other 95% of us (yes I’m including myself in here) will take this wall color and turn a room into a HOT MESS.  So before painting your room Barney Purple (or any other super intense hue) perhaps you should ask yourself if you are a member of the elitist decorator color club.  If the answer is NO, maybe it’s a good idea to take your design scheme and make a few small adjustments.

Take your inspiration purple, and go down a few shades on your fan deck.   Use that for your wall color instead.



 (I bet you are thinking this isn’t purple enough, aren’t you?  Well we aren’t done yet.)



Now take your inspiration purple and find a great rug that picks up that bold shade.  It will ground the space beautifully without overwhelming the room.



Next go find two accent colors.  Maybe one is in your rug.  Use that again somewhere.  Choose a 3rd color that’s a little unexpected.  Use that sparingly in the room as well.



Mix in a little wood to help foster a warm organic feel and bit of metallic for a little spice of glam.  And suddenly, you have yourself a purple room that not’s so overwhelmingly purple.  



So, you are happy because you don’t live in Barney’s magical playhouse.  And I’m no longer a bitter decorator because you are making smarter color choices.  Suddenly the paint store has become just a little less painful.  High Five!  Now, don’t mind me while I go back to eavesdropping on that couple arguing about which shade of hunter green will be less hideous in their bedroom.  

K Thanks Bye.

PS- Purple is my least favorite color and I don’t hate this room.  Who’s bitter now?

Pretty in Pink

Even though I don’t consider myself a girly girl, I find I’m gravitating to so many rooms with pink walls.  Why is it that our society has deemed pink to be girly, anyway?  The majority of these rooms don’t scream “female” to me.  They are chic, subtle, soft and a great backdrop for color or black & white.  I suppose I think of pink as a softer neutral.  Tell me right now a color that clashes with pale pink.

House & Garden as found here

FullHouse/ Christina Brian



I think the key with pink (any color actually) is picking the right hue.  Not many people can pull off a Windsor Smith bubble-gum pink living room.    Electric is very tricky, whereas soft can be a lovely backdrop with other pops in the room.  Usually when I’m picking pinks, I find a shade I like and then select its quieter sister.  Everything looks darker on the wall.  I have yet to paint my own bedroom walls, but I assure you, many samples will be tested out!