In this post: This week’s reader design consultation looks at adding updated elements to a blue and white living room for a more sophisticated look.⇒
Who doesn’t love blue and white? Its one of the most pleasing color combinations and one that so many people choose to live with in their homes. When I received the photos for this week’s reader design consultation, I could see the owner had so many pretty things to work with. Like many of my readers, her taste clearly favored French Country style, with a bit of farmhouse and shabby chic mixed in.
“CL” was looking to pull everything together. She had collected things she loved but wasn’t sure how to give it a cohesive look. She had touches of pink and was considering adding yellow. She wanted to work around her blue check sofa, but wasn’t sure if it was too cottage-y. Below are the photos she sent me as her starting point.
As is often the case when someone asks me about using more color, my feeling is she instead needs to lighten things up a bit. More whites and creams to work with her blues, and even some grey tones. CL has so many lovely things in the room, from her pretty gingham sofa to her transferware plates and other chinoiserie pieces. I love the blue chest in the entryway and the wonderful floral painting above it.
In the living room itself, however, my suggestion is to go a little more sophisticated and the primary way to do that is with aged patina on the new pieces she adds, from a distressed looking rug to a few chippy painted tables.
But first let’s talk about layout…
In the existing room, the blue check sofa separates the entry from the living room and there’s a table behind it that is too deep to be used as a console table. Across from the gingham sofa is a dark navy sofa which feels too heavy for the other pieces in the room and under the window is a large club chair.
Without the benefit of seeing the room in person, from the photos it appears to me that this layout is not ideal. I would try putting the check sofa under the window and adjacent to it where the navy sofa is, I would consider adding an inexpensive white loveseat. Then, to maintain the separation between the room and the entryway, I’d add a little bench where the sofa currently is and a true console table behind it. Finally I’d add in a coffee table to tie the conversation area together.
You can see the pieces I’ve selected in the design board above. (I’ve provided links below with a few options for the pieces that are either not immediately available or a tiny bit pricey.) Please also note that it’s impossible to show the actual layout on the design board, so to clarify, the bench would be facing the other seating pieces in the living room and the console table would be behind it, so it faces you when you enter the room. If the spacing doesn’t work in real life, CL can simply switch the loveseat and the bench, but still use all the same elements. So let’s explore the specifics.
1. The very first thing I do in any room I approach is remove all the clutter. As we collect things over the years and build our rooms as time goes by, we tend to overlook that some clutter has crept in. One mirror or painting on a wall, perhaps flanked by one simple pair of relating pieces is far more impactful than a wall full of randomly placed pieces.
2. So, on the far wall where the navy couch currently sits, I would place the white love seat with a gilded mirror above it and a simple throw pillow on the seat. If CL wants to use her plates here, I would limit it to just a few, evenly flanking the mirror.
3. In the corner next to the love seat is where I would place the wonderful aged chest with a distressed urn lamp.
4. Under the window I would place CL’s existing blue check sofa. I would select simple white linen drapery panels to update the window coverings.
5. Perhaps the single most important item is an area rug to anchor the conversation area and add more character with aged patina. The distressed wood coffee table adds a nice bit of interest, feminine enough to work with the French look, yet rugged enough to lend sophistication. The roman bowl is another favorite piece that would truly define the character of the space. (I’m thinking of getting this one for myself too!) I would warn against putting too many things on the coffee table. Perhaps a few art books and maybe a candle on top of them and you’re good to go.
6. Opposite the love seat (where the check sofa currently sits) is where I would try the whitewashed bench. A couple of grain sack pillows here help soften the look while the bench provides extra seating. Backing up to the bench, where CL currently has the table with the lamps, I would place the wonderful grey console table, another piece that truly would give the room its defining look. Pretty lavender atop the table is really all it needs.
7. The white hutch that CL owns can stay exactly where it is, opposite the window. CL can use the blue and white plate collection currently on her wall to decorate the hutch. If she’d like to mix in the pink, I would use it more sparingly interspersed with the blue and white.
8. The blue chest in the entryway is perfect as is.
In the end, to me the most important pieces to balance her blue and white living room are the distressed items for adding character and the key item to remove is the navy sofa. CL did mention possibly having it recovered, but it would likely cost less to buy an inexpensive love seat than to invest more in the sofa. Whichever way she chooses to go, she has a lovely base from which she is starting and I know it will look wonderful when she is done!
Blue and White Living Room Source List – Click on the items below for direct links to the products. (This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.)
Console table (back in stock in July)
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