Even though I LOVE color and pattern, I’m a big fan of interiors that feel clean, spacious, and uncluttered. (Physical clutter stresses me out. Seriously.) After posting this photo of my living room on Instagram recently I was asked to give some tips on how to achieve this clean look. What my followers want, my followers get! Here are my top 5 tips to design a clean and colorful living room.
1. Neutrals are your friend. Take away the sofa, pillows, and art from the photo above and you’ll see a lot of…neutrals. Light-toned flooring, beige walls, and reclaimed wood furniture form the foundation of the design. From there it’s easy to add in selected elements that bring personality.
2. Beige walls are where it’s at. I’m a fan of light-colored walls in a living room, unless you’re going for a super dramatic look like this glam living room I styled for 55 Downing Street. Straight-up white can look unfinished unless your walls have cool architectural detail like applied molding, or you live in Scandinavia. (Which I don’t.) I’m all about beige walls to add a little “oomph” that basic white can’t always bring. The right beige is not boring, people! I repeat: the RIGHT beige is not boring!
The walls in my Pasadena apartment were painted Sherwin Williams Relaxed Khaki, and I was freakin’ in love with it. So in love, actually, that I’m going to paint the living room walls in the new house the same color. It had just enough green in it to complement our teal sofa and make it look suh-weet, but wasn’t enough of a “color” to be distracting.
3. Black and white are awesome. I love the Ikea Stockholm rug (who doesn’t?) and it was the perfect anchor for the conversation area. The vintage hostess chair in the foreground is upholstered in a small-scale black and white houndstooth.
You might be thinking, “TWO black and white patterned things? Have you lost your MIND, woman? How is this going to feel clean and uncluttered?” It’s all about scale. The large scale of the rug pattern and the small scale of the chair pattern play well together. Contrast in size is key to layering pattern in a chic, not crazy way.
4. Make color intentional. A brightly-colored sofa might not be everyone’s choice, but it is definitely mine. I love this stupid thing so much I’ve named it – she’s Sophia the Baroness Von Teal – and I’m pretty sure I’d rescue her in a fire after my husband and kid were safe. I love color, but too much can make a room feel cluttered or juvenile. Don’t be afraid to make a selective statement with color. Whether it’s a sofa (I LOVE YOU BARONESS!) and a couple of accent pillows, an oversize piece of art, or a rug, be intentional when including color you love and make it the centerpiece of your living room.
5. Include lots of fur. And white. And metallics. When in doubt and you’re trying to get a designer look, throw a sheepskin on something. The Ikea Rens sheepskin is just $30 and I have a bunch all over my house. And I include one in just about every design project I do. Because they’re awesome. A fuzzy white sheepskin draped over the back of a chair or layered on top of an area rug brings texture and interest without being distracting (it’s more of that good neutral stuff). Plus, fur makes you look super fancy.
White and metallic accents also bring texture to a space, but their unobtrusiveness feels clean and welcoming. See the white succulent pot and hammered brass tray on coffee table? You probably didn’t even notice them. AND THAT’S THE POINT. They just help create an overall feeling of awesome in the room.
There you go! My 5 tips to design a clean and colorful living room. Thanks to all the thoughtful peeps leaving Instagram comments and questions – I love hearing what you have to say and will happily answer your burning design questions! If you’re not already following Lesley Myrick Art + Design on Instagram, I’d love for you to come join me. I blog here about once a week, but Instagram is totally my jam and I’m posting new stuff there daily. (And with my upcoming trip to England, Scotland, and France, you can expect some awesome design inspiration from across the pond.)