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February 11, 2011 > Real Rooms For Real People

Real Rooms For Real People

Same brown sofa; three different looks

Many of us have neutral-colored furniture such as a brown sofa or chairs. With neutral furnishings, you have a lot of freedom when decorating the rest of your room. Let's assume a living room with a chocolate brown sofa and tan carpeting. What can you do to spice up that space?

First, decide what kind of a look you want. Will your room be sophisticated and modern? Or casual and friendly? Or funky and whimsical? Deciding on an overall look for your space will make selecting the remaining items much easier. Let's look at a few examples:

Brown sofa and tan carpeting with sophisticated and modern styling: stick with a monochromatic color scheme and use tints, tones and shades of brown. Paint the walls a creamy white or taupe. Select a dark wood coffee table and mix in some sleek chrome and glass end tables. Add a lot of texture to the room with throw pillows in a variety of fabrics: linen, silk, even burlap, which is quite popular right now for lamp shades, pillows and other accessories. Stick with tans, browns and creams, but add small touches of color like Raspberry. (What's better than chocolate and raspberry? If you like it for dessert, you'll like it in your room!)

Brown sofa and tan carpeting with casual and friendly styling: pair the chocolate brown with a friendly color like apple green. Paint the wall behind the sofa or the entire room in green. A green paint to look at is Kelly Moore's Jungle Cane. Add an accent chair in a green patterned fabric. Add texture with baskets to corral magazines, remotes, kids' toys. Mix woods-for example a dark coffee table with light wood end tables. Add a variety of throw pillows in greens, browns and a third color like melon.

Brown sofa and tan carpeting with funky and whimsical styling: think fun colors like teal, magenta and orange. Bring in a painted wood accent piece such as an armoire or trunk to use as a coffee table. Mix woods and metals; how about an end table with a wood top and an iron base? Add throw pillows in a variety of colors and fabrics. If you are handy with a needle and thread, make some pillows out of colorful scarves and even table linens. Upholster a bench or an ottoman using a flat woven area rug; this unexpected detail will provide a lot of color, texture and funkiness to your room. Replace your ordinary ceiling light fixture with a pendant fixture or chandelier.

Neutral does not have to be boring. Don't let your brown sofa and tan carpeting stop you from creating a beautiful room that suits your taste and lifestyle.

Anna Jacoby of Anna Jacoby Interiors is a local interior designer. Send your design questions to her at Call or fax her at 510-490-0379 or visit

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