Dear Debbie: We are downsizing to a condo, and my old living-room furniture feels too big and lumpy to work. After 30 years, it’s time for a new look. What styles work well and are still comfortable in smaller rooms? I love your columns. - Jacky
Dear Jacky: It’s time to go shopping. After 30 years, you have earned it. The style you are after is sleeker and less frilly than you previously had. Start with a new sofa such as the one shown in this contemporary living room. The seat is unbroken, so it’s easier to accommodate three people if you are entertaining. The arms stop halfway out, which makes it feel open and inviting. The sofa doesn’t crowd you. The simple pattern in the upholstery and plush back cushion are an elegant contrast to the lustrous texture of the silver shag carpet. One or two side chairs with a similarly minimal build would fit nicely.
Think lightweight for tables. You can create the look with pale wood or clear surfaces. This tiered glass coffee table and nesting end table afford plenty of space for accessorizing with plants, books and candles, as well as a spot to place a tray of drinks and nibbles. Floor-to-ceiling sheers unify the window wall with a delicate creamy color that blends with the neutral palette of the room. Finish off with an accent color such as citrus yellow or green, or electric blue. You will discover that this fresh style is easy to live with and has a touch of glam that makes it exciting.
Dear Debbie: My house is 100 years old and tiny. The living room is basically the entire downstairs except for the kitchen. The carpet is inlaid squares of beige and various shades of brown, and the walls are beige. Drapes are green toile; wood furniture is dark; burgundy leather sofa. I originally did the floors and walls the same, as I was under the impression that was the thing to do. Now I’m hoping to paint the walls a color and need your help. – Linda
Dear Linda: These are beautiful, traditional colors, but can be a bit drab without some contrast to set them up. I would be tempted to brighten up the room with a touch of teal blue somewhere, either on the walls or in fabric for cushions or a throw. This will bring everything alive.
Dear Debbie: I am wondering if it is possible, and perhaps advisable, to paint over oak furniture. I have a stacked hutch with glass inserts, a pedestal-type table with inserts, and six spindle chairs. I would like to achieve a dark black/brown color. – Penny
Dear Penny: I wouldn’t say it’s advisable to paint over your oak dining set. Why not sand and darken the tabletop with a thin coat of dark stain? Slipcover your chairs with white canvas, and you will have a new look.
Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. You can follow Debbie on Twitter at www.twitter.com/debbie_travis. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.