Over the summer, I received a request for a room re-design quote from one very busy mom.
The mission: camouflage the big-black-leather sofa!
“My living room is the one room in my house that I’m just having a hard time with,” Amy Maloney told me in an email. “We just bought a massive sectional (because my husband has wanted one forever) and I think that is what’s throwing me. I would love your help to work with the sectional and maybe see how we can redeem the decorating style a bit. I’ll warn you though, it’s big and cumbersome.”
After a home visit, followed by a few emails and some texts back and forth, I felt I had a pretty solid understanding of what my client needed aesthetically, as well as functionally. With three small children running around, it was important to use child-friendly, durable materials. In order to blend seamlessly with the design scheme of the rest of the house, we decided it would be best to proceed with a modern farmhouse design plan, adding a touch of mid-century, and maybe even some bohemian elements mixed in.
In an effort to save money, the Maloneys worked their rear ends off! Erik, who had done some home projects prior to my engagement with this one, demoed and remodeled the fireplace completely by himself! Amy, in the meantime, was selecting pieces from our shared Pinterest board I prepared that best fit the family’s style and personality, and she shopped for each piece, assembling them as soon as they arrived. The couple only needed to hire a contractor for painting the living room and stair railing, which Amy considered doing herself, but quickly realized what a massive undertaking that would be.
After about three months of remodeling and decorating, the Maloney living room refresh project had drawn to a close, and all I could say when I first walked in to the space was, “WOW!” The results were even better in person than they appeared in the pictures Amy had sent me throughout the process.
Tips and Tricks for Camouflaging a Bulky Sofa
1. Draw the eyes up!
This room needed something to carry sight lines up and away from the large sofa. By hanging curtains as close to the ceiling as possible and ensuring they reach all the way down to the floor, we created an easy, soft alternative to break up what appears in someone’s natural line of vision.
2. Create contrast.
The sofa was such a large, dark part of an already somewhat dark room. Since we couldn’t change the sofa, we changed the room! A bright – yet warm – white paint transformed the space and instantly made it feel airy and fresh. Its creamy tone served as just enough contrast against the floor trim and freshly painted stair railing. We chose a soft pop of green for the accent color on the feature wall (where the fireplace is). By replacing the taupey-greige with a creamy white paint, the sofa had a better canvas on which to showcase itself. Rather than somewhat blending in to the dark walls behind it, it now pops and acts almost as a featured piece!
3. Break up the darkness.
We used a mixture of throw pillows – bright, white, textured throw pillows – to toss onto the sofa to break up the chunk of black in the room. Using a combination of knit, woven, leather, and mudcloth pillows, we were able to successfully tie in elements from around the room to tie it all together.
4. Make the unwanted element feel welcome.
Nobody wants to be left out on the playground. Poor Tyrone (what we named the sofa due to his large-and-in-charge presence) was a resented piece of furniture, at least for Amy. Instead of sending him back (it was too late for that anyways), we embraced his unique features and brought in some accents he could be friends with. We pulled black accents into the room by way of some modern black metal vases from Magnolia Home, as well as a large black metal frame holding some fierce-looking breed of cow. By placing black accents throughout the space, the eye is able to travel rather than rest on the only dark piece in the room: the sofa.
5. Bring in natural elements.
Easy-peasy! Swing by the floral aisle in your local grocery store every now and then, and pick up some fresh greenery to bring life and color to your home! Not as obvious: use natural textures such as wood, jute, leather and fur (or faux fur) to give your home a laid-back, earthy vibe. Speaking of wood, as much as they said they’d love to someday install some hardwood floors, the Maloneys do have three little ones. This was why it didn’t make sense at this time to rip out the soft, cushiony floors for those that are hard and slippery. I suggested they layer two area rugs of slightly different sizes, using a natural jute rug as the base so that we could bring in some wood textures that would help tie the other wood elements (such as the coffee and end tables) together. It also breaks up the sometimes undesirable fabric-on-fabric effect you’d get if you were to place a wool or cotton rug directly on top of carpet.
Check out some of the before and after photos, with design mock-ups and links to products used.
(Click on photos to enlarge.)
Lower rug layer: Urban Outfitters – Chunky Fringe Woven Jute Rug
Upper rug layer: Overstock – nuLOOM Geometric Moroccan Trellis Fancy Grey Area Rug
End table: Overstock – Simple Living Emmerson End Table
Curtains: West Elm – Bark Textured Jacquard Curtain
Paint color: Behr – Heavy Cream
Coffee table: Overstock – Emerald Home Denton Rustic Round Cocktail Table
Metal vases: Magnolia Market – Metal Framed Vase
Accent wall paint color: Sherwin Williams – Halcyon Green
Framed art: Urban Outfitters – Amy Carroll Wemmick Art Print
Lamp base: World Market – Glass Terrarium Table Lamp Base
Mudcloth pillows: Etsy – Stitched By Grace NY
Leather pillows: Etsy – San Junipiero
Moroccan leather pouf: Etsy – Moroccan Rooms
Knit pouf: Overstock – Orient Celebration Hand Knitted Pure Cotton Braid Pouf (Beige)
Mid century upholstered bench: Wayfair – Brayden Studio Ronquillo Upholstered Storage Bench (no longer available in color pictured above)