Design Dilemma

Decorating Around a Leather Sofa

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Hey everyone, it’s the start of a new week! Let’s kick it off with a recent reader submission, an email from Kristin who posed a design dilemma many people (*ahem* ladies) face when decorating their living or family rooms, and today’s focus is on that piece that so many dudes love, the leather sofa or sectional. I received this recent email from Kristin:

“Hello! I have been following your blog for years and I share a lot of the same styles but have a dilemma. My husband and I have a decent size house but one living room with a leather furniture set. I love the airy and clean looks of your decorating style, but the leather furniture purchased by my husband is big, dark, and manly.  We don’t have many windows and the walls are a light beige (Latte by SW) and I decorate with a lot of whites, blacks and beiges but I just feel STUCK! Any suggestions for making the room feel more light and feminine?”

Hi Kristin! This is a common dilemma, since many people own leather sofas and sectionals, and pieces upholstered in a traditional dark hide can feel visually heavy in a space. But I think it’s less about making a room feel more feminine and more about creating a room that is balanced with clever layering and accessorizing since (done right) leather sofas can be both attractive and comfortable. Here are five ideas I came up with to decorate around leather sofas.

1.)  Lighten Up.  A traditional leather sofa is dark by nature so the easiest way to balance that out is to accent and/or surround it with plenty of light for desirable contrast. A paler hue on the walls, soft cream or white accent pillows, and/or a light or white coffee table will accomplish just that!

leather sofa painted hive

The Painted Hive

essex leather west elm

West Elm via Apartment Therapy

leather chesterfield white walls

source unknown

leather sofa colorful rugs sfgirlbybay

SF Girl by Bay

   

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Sofa Pillow Styling: Basic Tips

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

In my mind, the best party would be one where I was invited to a city loft filled with a dozen sofas and hundreds of pillows stacked up on shelves and someone hands you a glass of champagne and says “go style some sofas with some of these killer pillows”.  Add of course there would be some design loving friends and bloggers present – call me crazy but that’s my idea of a really good time. 

Nancy from Minnesota wrote to me the other day asking about pillow styling on her neutral sofa and how to go about picking accent pillows that look modern and fresh. Every sofa needs a few toss pillows for comfort but also to give it a finishing touch. I believe in mixing them up so they’re coordinated but not too matchy matchy. 

For any sofas anchored on a rug, that rug should be the first thing you pay attention to – the pillows should complement and not compete. The simplest way to do it is to use a color that’s already present in the rug. Below is a neutral ‘goes with everything’ gray striped rug and a basic white sofa.

Mixed Neutral Palette.  There are four patterns on this sofa and they all work together because they all carry a varying shade of the color in the rug from light gray to charcoal. Include a classic stripe, a geometric or two (notice one is large and one is smaller in scale) and then add a contemporary floral or paisley or block print motif with a pop of color. gray and white rug and pillows on sofa

hampton sofa + striped rug + pillows: graphic gray / mod floral / small chevron / stripe

 

Monochromatic Palette.  Use a similar formula to combine any number of toss pillows in a single color. Below a large scale geometric is paired with a smaller scale floral and combined with a navy border pillow and an embroidered medallion pillow in indigo. Use one or two more of the same patterns on chairs that sit adjacent.

monochromatic pillow styling

manchester sofa + seagrass rug + pillows: trellis + floral + medallion + border

 

Complementary Color Palette. Complementary colors are ones that are opposite each other on the color wheel, the blue and orange, purple and yellow, red and green and their varying shades. Coral and teal are also complements since coral is a version of orange and teal is a blue hue – below you see a combination of the two using a larger scale and medium scale botanical, two solids, and a small scale geometric.

blue and coral pillows

chaise sectional + trellis rug + pillows: coral needlepoint / teal lumbar / coral geometric / spruce solid / russet botanical

 

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