Through the heat of the summer, you’ve taken refuge with your family in a cool, air-conditioned or fan-filled home. Take a moment to stop and think about where you spend many of your waking hours. You might call it a living room, or it could be what your gang has dubbed the family room, den or even home theater. Whatever its title, lofty or lowly, it’s where the action is.
And, if you think about it, you take it for granted — that blissful place where you gather to watch your favorite shows, stretch out with a book or play board games with the kids. If your knickknacks are starting to gather dust and that throw pillow is still sporting a red wine stain from three Thanksgivings past, it’s time to update.
Start with a fresh coat of paint, then take a look through some home decor magazines and see what makes you smile. If you love to travel, do the brilliant colors and bold patterns of countries in Africa, India or South America appeal? Or are you drawn to more muted shades and classic lines?
“Statement pieces like our Barclay bowl add a traditional, glamorous feel to a living room,” says Gordon Andahl, spokesman for Z Gallerie. The store — which specializes in affordable furniture, art, lamps and other home decor — has locations across the nation.
Aimee Beatty, in-house stylist for Pier 1 Imports, says a few small accent pieces can make a big statement, whether you’re looking to update the room for a new season, or you’re just ready for a change.
“Give your room an inexpensive makeover by incorporating a few key pieces and accessories,” Beatty says. “Add patterned pillows in bold colors to a neutral sofa for an affordable way to transform a living room.”
We offer a few of our favorite picks to update that well-loved room, and give it the respect it deserves:
• Faux driftwood Buddha ($44.95, zgallerie.com): The peaceful expression on this Buddha’s face will bring a bit of “Zen” into your favorite room.
• Chevron stripe textured rug ($19.96, pier1.com): Brighten up any space with a bold, hand-woven rug from India. “A stylish rug is our secret to creating a warm, welcoming room,” Beatty says.
• Glass knots in black, clear, white or gold ($19.95, zgallerie.com): We like knickknacks that are conversation pieces, or art objects people can’t resist picking up. These artistic hand-tied knots, each unique, can be used as paperweights or grouped for eye-catching decor. “Small, colorful decorative accessories like our glass knots add whimsy to a room,” Andahl says.
• Kisii soapstone figurines ($7.99-$23.96, worldmarket.com): We loved the colorful, whimsical figurines of giraffes, elephants, cats and birds, all hand-crafted in Kenya by the Kisii people. Kisii Arts and Crafts is a fair trade company, which means when you purchase these fun figures at Cost Plus World Market, the artists will receive fair living wages.
• Agate coasters in aubergine or terra ($39.80 for a set of four, zgallerie.com): There’s no reason useful has to be boring. These brilliant little banded slices will have guests pausing to admire the coaster before setting a glass down.
• Martha Stewart decorative pillow ($50, macys.com) or Sari elephant embroidered pillow ($34.95, pier1.com): It’s time to replace those stained, worn out throw pillows. If your decor says classic lines, the sheer accents and soft hues of the Martha Stewart pillows will please you. If your tastes run to the exotic, check out the colorful pillows at Pier 1 Imports. Beaded embellishments and intricate embroidery make each Indian pillow unique.
• Barclay bowl ($34.95, zgallerie.com): Greek Revival is in style, and if you love the look, the Barclay bowl will add a touch of simple sophistication to any room. The clear glass bowl, supported by a silver pedestal, can hold everything from fruit to potpourri or ornamental bulbs during the holidays.
• Pavone platter ($30, pier1.com): This Italian-made platter multitasks. Sure, it’s perfect for serving appetizers, but don’t be afraid to use it as an eye-catching coffee table piece. “Choose stunning decor pieces and striking accents that make a statement,” Beatty says.
• Oversized glass curve vase ($50, pier1.com). Larger decor objects, like a striking red vase, create an instant focal point to a room. This hand-painted piece from Pier 1, made in Spain, was created from recycled glass.
• Martha Stewart Collection 5-by-7 colored enamel picture frame ($43, macys.com) or red Capiz frame ($19.95, pier1.com). There’s a home for that family portrait in your living room, whether your decor is classic and you’re a fan of Martha, or whimsical and exotic, and the brilliant frame from the Philippines grabs you.