What if your living room doesn’t have enough seating?
This is a really common problem. Our living rooms might suit our immediate families – there’s enough for four butts comfortably – but when you’re hosting a party, have out-of-town family visiting, or just have friends over, there’s nowhere to sit. Short of buying a bigger house or using folding chairs (ick!) there actually are things you can do to increase the number of seats in your living room pretty easily.
And yes, it does mean buying new furniture, but it doesn’t have to be as complicated as completely redesigning your living room.
What if your living room doesn’t have enough seating?
Introduce a bench or ottomans.
When a living room doesn’t have enough seating I recommend adding benches or ottomans – or heck, both if you’ve got the space for ’em! In front of the fireplace is a great opportunity to add a bench and have your guests, perch there when they’re over for a party. This space is often underused in a living room, and there might be more room there than you think.
Swap your hard coffee table for a soft surface.
When seating is short in a living room, consider replacing a hard metal or wood coffee table with an upholstered ottoman. For daily use, a large tray on the ottoman will give you that tabletop surface you’re looking for. But when you’re entertaining that tray can come off and you have another place for people to sit and chat in your space.
Rock a console table with stools underneath.
If you happen to have enough space behind your sofa, a sofa table or a console table behind it with a couple of benches or stools tucked underneath is a really chic vignette. And then – spoiler alert! – those little stools come out and you can put them wherever you need when you’re having a party.
There are creative ways to get more seating incorporated in your living room, with small scale furniture – which I don’t always recommend, but in this case if everything else in your space is the right proportion and scale it can be a really nice mix.
Although we’re still somewhat sheltering-in-place, life is starting to open up and entertaining at home is becoming a doable again. (Woohoo!) If your living room doesn’t have enough seating, these tips can help you make space in your home for your favorite peeps.
Who doesn’t love a good before-and-after? Get ready, because all month long I’m sharing a tour of our Texas home, including the living room, master bedroom, kids bedroom, my office, my husband’s office, and the kitchen. First up: our family-friendly living room with a teal sofa.
Disclosure: Some of the products in this before-and-after were sponsored by brands I use and love for myself and for my clients, including Sherwin-Williams and Lamps Plus. Thanks for your support!
If this living room looks vaguely familiar to you, it’s probably because you’ve seen it before. This is the second makeover of my Waco, Texas living room.
Here’s what the room looked like the day we moved in, way back in 2015.
So. Much. Peach. I couldn’t wait to bust this room out of boring and paint the walls one of my favorite neutrals, Sherwin-Williams Relaxed Khaki.
And after I got my designer hands on it, here’s what the space looked like for the first few years we lived in Texas. (You can see the full before-and-after here, if you’d like.)
She’s cute, right? Funky teal sofa, cute gallery wall, graphic area rug, eclectic furnishings. All is well and that’s the end of the story.
OH BUT WAIT.
After our beloved teal sofa died a slow death, it was time to replace it and give a whole new look to our living room. We did our homework and realized that re-upholstering the existing sofa in leather would be the same investment as buying a brand-new sectional, so we opted for the larger Briar sectional from Joybird to gain more seating.
And while I still have a soft spot for a good gallery wall, I was looking forward to a change and making a big-ass statement above the new sectional.
See that oversize framed photo?
No, that is not Elton John (although we’ve had quite a few people ask that!) – that is a picture of my husband Nate when he was about 5 years old. I’m obsessed with everything in this pic: the orange sunglasses, the acid-washed jeans, the stack of VHS tapes in the background, and alllll the 80s goodness. I borrowed the original 3×5 photo from my mother-in-law, scanned it, and blew it up to 60×40 inches. My favorite framer in Waco, Studio Gallery, did a killer job on this oversize brass floating frame.
Nate had no idea I was doing this, by the way. Imagine his shock when he came home to find a giant photo of himself in our living room.
With art, I always say “go big or go home”.
This is how you go big with major personality.
We replaced our cute yellow wing chairs with these beautiful custom cognac leather high-backed accent chairs from Bassett. And I scored that cute footstool on a sourcing trip to Las Vegas. The pair of coffee tables, believe it or not, are from Target! I love to mix high and low in the same room – it gives a more eclectic, collected vibe than if everything came from the same kind of store.
I didn’t get rid of the gallery wall entirely –
And every reading nook needs a great lamp. I love the cherry wood and brass surveyor-style floor lamp from Lamps Plus.
You’ve probably noticed some things have remained from before, including the wall color and the retro bar cabinet. But I’m psyched to have a new rug that’s actually big enough for the room! This pretty vintage-inspired area rug is from Loloi.
I hope you enjoyed taking a tour of my family-friendly living room with a teal sofa – like you expected anything other than teal in my house.
You know I love a beautiful, non-boring sofa. And with so many great deals on sofas out there, why buy the more expensive sofa when there’s a cheaper lookalike?
Here’s a little #realtalk from your designer friend Lesley.
Cheap sofas are cheaply made, and being cheap always ends up being expensive in the long run!
Quality is about so much more than looks, and what’s inside a sofa is what determines the price. That’s why two nearly identical-looking sofas (in photos, at least) can vary so much in cost. They might look the same in photos, but trust me, your butt and back can tell the difference.
I recently saw an Instagram post from a major home shelter magazine that featured two beautiful velvet sofas that looked quite similar. The question posed to their followers was, “Which is more expensive?“
So which sofa is more expensive?
The big reveal was, in fact, that one of the sofas only looked expensive but actually cost less than $1000. And the underlying message was clearly intended to imply that there’s no need to pay more when a lower-priced sofa looks exactly the same.
You guysssss. While yes, these two sofas may look comparable in photos, you cannot possibly tell from a photo how good the quality is! And your poor butt is NOT going to like sitting on a sofa that is cheaply made overseas from poor-quality materials in mass quantities. It’s easy to make something look good in a picture, but let me tell you a “sit test” will reveal how great (or rather, terrible) the construction and quality are.
What should you look for in a sofa?
I’m the first to tell you that choosing a sofa that feels awesome to you is the most important factor. Go shopping. Sit on a lot of couches. Get to know what you like – tight back, or loose back cushions? Firm foam cushions, or squishy down and feather wrap? Three individual seat cushions, or one long bench-style cushion?
If you wanna get technical about sofa stuff,
here are 3 important things to learn about before you go shopping (and impress the heck out of your friends and family!):
- The Frame. The best quality sofas have frames constructed of kiln-dried hardwood, which retains its shape and remains stable for a long time. The joints are glued, dowelled, and screwed with reinforced corners. If a sofa is made of plywood or particleboard and is held together with staples, be wary.
- The Seating Support. Eight-way hand-tied springs and sinuous springs are the bomb-diggity for comfort and support. Web suspension isn’t as strong or sturdy on its own, and isn’t what I recommend.
- The Filling. You’ll likely notice most sofa cushions are filled with high-density polyurethane. (FYI, this is the good stuff you want to look out for! The higher the density, the firmer the cushion will be.) This foam can be wrapped in other materials like cotton, Dacron, or even super plush down feathers.
So, when it comes to sofas and upholstered seating,
When should you splurge and when should you save?
On upholstered furniture you’ll use often like your sofa, desk chair, and dining chairs, pony up and invest in the best quality you can afford. When you sit somewhere daily, you want it to be well-made, comfortable, and built to last.
And where to save? On upholstered furniture you won’t sit on frequently, like the bench at the foot of your bed, a chair in the entryway, or a living room accent chair that doesn’t see much action.
Don’t get duped by pretty sofa photos! Put your butt on that sofa and really put it to the test before you purchase. Suddenly, that cheap $1000 sofa doesn’t seem like such a great value any more.
How much does it cost to decorate a living room?
It seems like one of those well-guarded secrets: how much does it cost to decorate a living room? Whenever I have a consultation call with a potential new client, I always ask what they’ve set aside to invest in their design project.
And nine times out of ten, the answer is, “I have absolutely no idea.“
You know what? I don’t blame them! Unless you’ve sat down to make an itemized list of every single item that goes into a typical room, it’s such an abstract concept to come up with a budget. I mean, $10,000 sounds like a lot of money and you can probably decorate a living room for $10k, right?
Unless you’re shopping exclusively at IKEA and garage sales, a dreamy living room for $10,000 isn’t going to happen. Think about it: you likely need a sofa, and two accent chairs, and a coffee table, and two end tables, and an area rug, and a couple of table lamps, and a light fixture…oh, and did I mention window treatments, accent pillows, wall art, maybe a mirror, and accessories?
There’s some interior design #realtalk for you – it’s probably going to cost more than you think to furnish your living room.
While you probably haven’t made an itemized list of things you’ll need for your living room, I have! Here’s a quick breakdown of what you can expect to invest in a living room at a Good, Better, and Best price point.
One of the best indicators I’ve found for helping clients establish a project budget…
…is discovering what they’re comfortable spending on a sofa. For some people, $1000 is a lot; for others, $10,000 is starting to reach the end of their comfort zone. Having real numbers to work with – not just intangible language like affordable or expensive – means I can get a sense quickly of what vendors to source from and at what price point.
So, now what?
I’ve created a handy-dandy FREE guide for you called How Much Does It Cost to Decorate a House? In it you’ll find real room-by-room budgets to help you plan your design investment – at a price point you’re comfortable with – to take the guesswork and uncertainty out of the financial side of decorating.
Get ready to kickstart your interior design project and plan your budget like a boss! Download our super helpful guide with room-by-room furnishing budgets and printable worksheets right here.
I’ve been so excited to share this before and after of a fresh and cozy Waco living room with you! This client loves farmhouse vibes but wanted more color, pattern, and energy than just white, grey, and shiplap can bring to a space.
This living room was a total snooze-fest before, and didn’t reflect the client’s vibrant personality at all. With three kids and two dogs, this young family was craving a home with more function and waaaay more style. And I seriouly couldn’t wait to rip down that awful ceiling fan.
Here’s the living room, before:
The moodboard, to give the client an idea of what the finished space would feel like:
And of course, the living room after:
We intentionally kept the main furnishings neutral, so if the client ever wanted to change things up, new pillows and
Oh yeah. And just for fun, we designed this client’s stairwell too. It’s away from the main living area in the home, so we had a lot of fun choosing wallpaper and lighting for this “secret” space! These 20′ ceilings used to just be painted grey. NOT ANYMORE, KIDS.
For the view coming downstairs, we snuck in a couple of cool mirrors since there was so much height to work with. You should’ve seen the scaffolding our wallpaper installer had to build to make this happen.
Should you reupholster – or not? A couple of years ago I chose to reupholster a loveseat for my master bedroom, thinking it would be a delightfully inexpensive way to transform a basic piece of furniture into something badass. Well, that loveseat definitely got a badass transformation – but it wasn’t inexpensive!
There’s a lot I’ve learned about design choices whether it’s been in design school, while working for other designers, while running my own interior design firm, and while designing my own home. Here’s what I’ve learned (and what I wish I’d known) about deciding whether or not to reupholster a piece of furniture:
Can’t view the embedded video above? Click here. Prefer to read? Transcript is below.
Hey everyone, Lesley Myrick here – interior stylist and owner of Lesley Myrick Art + Design where we create some pretty awesome interiors with an offbeat edge.
I want to talk to you today about reupholstering,
and whether or not it’s a good idea to reupholster an existing chair, sofa, loveseat, whatever it might be. So here’s the thing with reupholstering. People often think it’s gonna be less expensive than just getting a new piece.
Sometimes it is, but not always.
I encountered this in my own home working on a project. We bought this cool vintage loveseat and thought it would be a fairly affordable project to reupholster it. What blew me away is that by the time we paid for the loveseat, we bought fabric for it, bought foam, paid an upholsterer to do a great job, all these things started to add up and before I knew it my “inexpensive” loveseat project cost more than a new one probably would have.
So here’s my thoughts on whether or not to reupholster something:
If you have a piece of furniture that is quality-made, you love the form, it’s comfortable, it’s beautiful – it’s probably going to be worth the investment to you to have it reupholstered versus letting it go and trying to find something comparable brand-new.
If you have a piece of furniture that has a story to it, that has history, or there’s something about it you connect with whether it’s just how it looks or how it feels to you, I think that is a great opportunity to take something existing and to give it new life with new fabric.
However if you think reupholstery is just going to be the less expensive option, it isn’t always. On something simple like a dining chair where you’re reupholstering the seat, that’s an easy, affordable project and that’s one I recommend my clients do a lot if they already have great dining chairs and the fabric just needs a little refresh.
But when it comes to a larger piece of upholstery like a sofa, loveseat, or big chair,
don’t do it because you think it’s going to be affordable. Do it because you love the piece and you want to transform it and give it new life.
So there you go. A few quick thoughts about reupholstering – or not!
Remember those matching furniture sets from the 80s and 90s that came with an identical sofa, loveseat, and chair? I wish I could forget them too. It’s time for a breakup – no more matching furniture sets! Here’s what to do with a matching furniture set to update it and make it your own.
Can’t view the embedded video above? Click here. Prefer to read? Transcript is below.
Hey everyone, Lesley Myrick here – I’m an interior stylist and I transform boring beige spaces into kickass colorful homes with an offbeat edge that are livable, delightful, and unexpected.
Today, we’re going to talk about break ups. I’m not talking romantic break ups – I am talking breaking up that matchy-matchy set of living room furniture with a sofa, and loveseat, and chair that all matches and coordinates perfectly. These were super popular in the 80s and 90s and even a little bit into the 2000s, and I’m sad to say that I still see them today, and they are not a good idea.
It’s a total no-no to do too much matching in your home.
Sure, you want things to make sense, have something visual that ties them together and have a cohesive look – but, I think that’s better accomplished through mixing and matching the right pieces than just sticking with a pre-made set that some retailer has decided goes together.
So, if you have one of those living room sets, you’ve invested good money in it, what do you do? Well, friend, it’s time for a breakup. The pieces on their own are probably great. It’s together when they’re all matching, that’s when things get a little bit stale.
So why not repurpose some of those pieces in other parts of your home?
A loveseat or a settee can be a great fit in a master bedroom, and I love the idea of using an accent chair in an office or on a landing – somewhere where you want a little somewhere to perch, sit, maybe read a book, but you don’t need a full living room setup.
Alternatively, if the pieces have good bones, but it’s just the fact that they’re all upholstered in the same boring fabric that’s kind of becoming a snoozefest, you could look at re-upholstering one or more of the pieces. The fact that the frames tend to be similar and the proportions are good together means that with some change of fabrics you could totally transform the look without buying all new pieces of furniture.
If you do decide to keep your matching set together all in one room, there are a lot of little ways you can make each piece feel unique, even though they are all the same. Different pillows, throws, slipcovers. You can mix and match different soft textiles and decorative accessories to really give each piece its own personality but still have it work together as a whole.
So, never fear if you are stuck in the 80s with your matching sofa, chair, and loveseat set – there is hope for you.
If you do like it all as a set, you can personalize each piece and make it work in one space. However, if you’re kind of over the matching look, break it up, spread it throughout your home, and give each piece new life.
If you liked this video, be sure to share it with a friend and spread the love. And if you want more inspiration to help transform your home, hop on over to my website at lesleymyrick.com where you can download my free guide, Bring Personality to a Boring Space.
First things first, since I know you’re gonna notice as soon as you watch the video – I cut my hair! Bye bye, bun. 💇
Now, let’s get to the good stuff: a design project tour of the colorful, family-friendly great room I recently completed here in Waco, Texas. I’ve shared the progress and the after photos previously but dive a little deeper in today’s video:
Can’t view the embedded video above? Click here. Prefer to read? Transcript is below.
Hey everyone, Lesley Myrick here. I’m an interior stylist, and I transform boring beige spaces into pretty kickass colorful homes with an offbeat edge that are livable, delightful, and unexpected. Today I’m going to walk you through one of my recently completed design projects from start to finish.
So, this space was a great room for a family here in Waco, Texas. They have young kids, and they needed a space that felt grown up, they could relax in together, and hang out as a family.
Everything had to be stylish and colorful and accessible, but nothing so precious that a toddler could ruin it.
Here’s a peek at the space before. It totally has good bones, great high ceilings, cool architecture – but really stuck in the 60s and not at all in line with the rest of the couple’s home. They had a mix of French traditional, and kind of a softer, more contemporary look, so this really hard retro style was totally not them. They wanted to merge their tastes but still respect the architecture of the home.
Here’s a look at the Pinterest board I put together with design selections initially, and a moodboard showing what the space was going to look like completed. This is my favorite part – to get to pull this together visually and show a client what we’re going to create. But even cooler than that is seeing the end result!
I am so thrilled with how this room turned out. I think it works perfectly for the couple and for their young family. There’s a really adorable play space for their daughter; everything feels chic and grown-up and colorful; there’s some Mid-Century elements to tie in the retro feel of the room; but there’s also some prettier, more feminine elements that work really, really well with the rest of the couple’s home. I love being able to transform spaces from something nobody really wanted to spend time in into a place that the family cannot wait to be together in.
That’s why I do what I do – to empower homeowners to make confident design decisions and create homes that they love.
Whether or not you’re in Waco I would love to work with you on your design project. If you’re looking for a rad “design partner in crime” reach out to me – you can get in touch via my website.
If you liked this video, I’d so appreciate if you’d share it with someone who would find value in it. And leave a comment on YouTube below this video – I would love to hear from you.
Woohoo for a new project reveal!
I’m digging how this colorful Mid-Century Modern living room with a touch of French flair turned out. The main goal for this room was to keep the room true to the home’s 1960s architecture while incorporating French-traditional inspired decor that the homeowners love.
If that wasn’t enough of a challenge in itself, the space also needed to be toddler-proof. (Which, as the mom of a three year-old I’m basically an expert at. 😂)
By brightening up the ceiling beams, sourcing furniture that fit the scale of the room, and revamping the built-in, this room transformed from orange and dingy to light, bright, and totally livable.
Check out the before post of this space to see how a rad concept comes to life.
How lucky is the little girl that gets to play at this stylish marble table with adorable (and comfy) poufs surrounding it?
Sometimes (okay, ALL THE TIME),
a designer’s gotta get creative when styling a space.
This “tray” isn’t a tray at all – it’s a wall hanging that was the perfect size and style to offset the chunky white coffee table.
The details and scale of this piece were so made for this space, it ended up feeling like it was a custom-designed centerpiece.
Here’s the moodboard that inspired it all:
And one last look at the final product:
I loved sourcing items of such a large scale to give the furniture in this room the oomph it desperately needed.
Giving a sweet family the colorful and kid-proof space they deserve is all part of the job (which SO rocks).
In case you’re curious, here is the Pinterest board where most of the items in this room can be found. If you’re interested in working with us on your own design project, get in touch! We’d love to help you make your home more livable, delightful, and unexpected.
When your client tells you, “I love teal, aqua, and coral” you listen. Because you love those colors too. And then you create a dreamy living room moodboard that makes you want to move in and curl up on a peacock-blue wing chair with a fuzzy pillow and read a book and savor a cup of tea.
What’s funny about creating moodboards like these is that sometimes we follow the plan exactly and the final space ends up looking so much like the two-dimensional mockup it’s almost uncanny. (The chic and badass realtor’s office is a perfect example. You’ll get a kick out of how close the actual space looks to the moodboard now!) Other times, the client will pick and choose elements she loves – or that currently fit in budget – and move forward in phases with a few select pieces. In this case, the finished room won’t look exactly as pictured, but the moodboard helps guide decision-making for the space as it evolves.
If you’re curious where any of these pieces are from, I’ve got you covered right here. And if you’ve been wanting design guidance for your home, I’ve got flat-rate room design packages (that include a moodboard!) that you’ll totally dig. Get in touch for details and rates and we’re happy to hook you up.