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Having to raise your voice to be heard by guests sitting in the same room is always a bit unfortunate… especially in a room that’s all about conversation!

This living room suffers from the ‘furniture sprawl’ typical of many big living rooms. The furniture is spread out to line the walls and fill the space, with nothing the right distance from anything. Sadly, intimate conversation… or a feeling of warmth… won’t happen here. 

An over-sized living room needs a tight furniture arrangment so items (and people!) don’t float aimlessly around the room.

If you’ve got a large living room, here’s how to make it work!

 * Pull the furniture into the center of the room. Use the extra space to create a walkway around the furniture rather than in front of it. Or move it to one side and use the other side for a second seating area, game table, grand piano or office area.

 * Place furniture in an  L-shaped or U-shaped seating cluster, with end tables to fill in the corners. A sectional makes a great choice. Use an area rug to anchor, or visually keep the pieces together in the large space.

 * Embrace empty wall space! It’s more appealing in a large space than small pieces of artwork or furniture scattered about. Make the seating area the major focus of attention, with a few large pieces of art or cabinets placed against feature walls.


You don’t need to see ghosts or hear voices to live with a scary room. Scary rooms don’t just  appear at night or at the onset of a serious thunder storm – and they go well beyond creaky  floorboards. In a scary room, something just isn’t right.. objects may be misplaced or simply out of sync with each other. 

See if one of these types of scary rooms are haunting your home… and find out how to avoid them!

The Decomposed Room
Scary rooms often have a dismembered or disjointed quality. Items that are similar in look or function, are spread evenly around a room rather than grouped together. Pictures are hung anywhere rather than closely aligned with furniture. Sofas and chairs are lined up along walls rather than grouped together to create an inviting conversation area.

Decomposition is common in large rooms where there’s pressure to ’fill space’. But it’s just as likely to occur in small rooms where furnishings are scattered too randomly around a room. But the fix is easy. Simply bring furniture closer together and anchor it with rugs, accents and pictures. You can then leave the rest of the room empty and it’ll look just fine!

The Faceless Room
You don’t need to be a headless horseman to suffer an identity crisis. A room without a style, or point of view can be as faceless as a phantom at the Opera or a horse rider from Sleepy Hollow who lost his head.

A faceless room occurs when furnishing styles, colors or patterns are combined without enough regard to compatibility.

Without a definable style or attitude to furnishing selections, a room can feel a bit like a skeleton—all bones with no flesh to fill in the physical features that create differentiation or personality.

The fix? Find a style you like and stick with it! Choose items that share a similar style type, color palette or texture.

The Scaly Room
Rough, dry textures can be irritating enough. But a scaly room has more to do with proportion problems, or too much contrast in size between items. A    coffee table that’s too small for the sofa, a picture that’s too large for the cabinet under it, a window that’s too small for the room… all add up to a sizable issue.

Fixing a scaly room means balancing the objects on either side of it – the same way you’d balance weight on a boat or plane. That doesn’t mean everything has to be the same size… large items can be balanced with a collection of smaller items.

The perceived size of an item can also be adjusted with simple tricks. Long or wide curtains make a too-small window look bigger. A rug makes a too-small table look more substantial. A too-big piece of furniture looks smaller when the wall behind it is painted a similar color.

For examples of scary rooms, and ideas on how to fix them, click on the RoomPlanners issue (left). To receive our free online magazine, subscribe here.

Rooms to Rave About

We’ve got a few problems in this living room! The furniture and colors choices are good – casual, but sophisticated. But the room is disjoint and looks too big for the furniture. Objects are scattered randomly around the room and electrical wall outlets are stealing our attention as much as the fireplace! 

But all can be fixed without spending a lot of money… probably less than $100. Here’s how…

1. Move the two black-framed pictures together over the fireplace mantel. Hang them 2-3 inches apart and 2-3″ above the mantel. This will create a strong feature wall and tie together the room’s white and black features. Take down the vases on the mantel – they’re too tall for the room and push your eye up to the ceiling rather than down to the seating area. The might work on the floor, on either side of the fireplace.

2. Move the end table closest to us to the top right corner. It’s awkward and in-the-way where it is now. If light is needed, add a floor lamp. In its new corner location, pair the table and lamp with an extra armchair or large dining table chair. Or place it between two extra dining chairs; it looks like there’s room. Hang the mirror (currently above the fireplace) with the group at eye level (when seated)  to create a comfortable reading corner.  This will fill the empty corner, cover up the white outlets and balance the sofa on the other side of the room.

3.  Purchase some good quality toss cushions for the sofa. Choose blue cushions that tie in the wall color, or mix blue with the fawn color of the sofa.

4. Add a large tray on top of the ottoman. A black tray would work, as would a woven or bamboo tray that ties into carpet color. Place a few books or some candles inside it. The tray will add interest and create an easy place to put a drink down.

For more home decorating ideas, visit

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