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Here we go with the first edition of Ask Your Friendly Neighbourhood Decorator! This question comes from Lindsay, who writes:
“My living room is at a standstill. We have just added the book cases flanking the doors, but I’d love your opinion on a rug, and what to do with the huge wall of white that you see right when you walk in. Love to know your thoughts!” – Lindsay
Well first off I have to tell you Lindsay – GREAT JOB! You room is looking fantastic and definitely has a classic, sophisticated air. You’ve made some really solid choices as the building blocks of your room and that means that you can really add any kind of accent and have it work. I especially love the book shelves (Bonus points for running all the way up to the ceiling) because they really add an authentic, lived-in layer to the space.
The wall opposite the opening of the room (which I assume is right off the front hall) is the first thing you and any guests see when entering your space. So you’re right to want to dress this wall and not leave it too blank. I would suggest a narrow console along this wall – one that won’t eat into the square footage of the room, but will add some depth by breaking up the span of wall. Then I’d tuck two upholstered benches (maybe with an x-base?) under the console. These will give you extra seating for parties and will dress the wall nicely without adding a big bulky credenza that could seem to heavy. You may have to sacrifice the larger side table on the side of the sofa nearest the console, but you can do a floor lamp on that side of the sofa instead of matching table lamps and the console will still give you a surface for drinks. Style-wise I’d break up the traditional furniture with something clean and lacquered like the Parson’s console from West Elm (also well-priced) in black or white.
For the rug I could see three options. Option A) A traditional Persian carpet or Kilim with lots of warm jewel tones. This would continue the classic, traditional vibe going on in your space and won’t feel too heavy because you’ve got a fresh white canvas. Elte in Toronto has great examples, but you can also find affordable versions (new and antique) at smaller stores, online and at auctions and antique shops.
Option B) Keep it simple with the tried and true sisal, seagrass or jute. This will NEVER go out of style, goes with every piece of furniture you can think of and adds a nice earthy layer to balance off traditional chairs and bookcases. It ups the casual factor and is always fresh. I use them all the time. Try Pottery Barn, West Elm, Crate & Barrel or Ikea for options.
Option C) The modern statement rug. You’ll see these everywhere, and again because you have a clean slate you can afford to go wild. Graphic stripes are a favourite of mine as are the block printed ones that have a global or African feel. West Elm has some good examples as does Elte. For stripes you can try Dash & Albert online which are also sold through individual stores like Angus & Co in Toronto and Elte again.
Other notes: Above your console you’ll want either one large (almost as wide as the console) piece or art (maybe something modern?) or a pair of prints maybe with a narrow gilded frame. You could also do a grid of something but either way make sure they are substantial enough in scale to balance off the weight of the console and stools.
Try to find some fantastic cushions in a fabric you love for the two cained chairs. It will add softness and make their backs less transparent. And if you add a coffee table, I’d suggest something with a narrow metal frame (black or gilded maybe) but most importantly with a glass or mirrored top so it doesn’t visually compete with the console and benches.
Hope that helps Lindsay! You’re definitely on your way!!
Michael – Your Friendly Neighbourhood Decorator