Even if you're lacking in square footage and surface space, you can get a lot of mileage out of high ceilings. To take advantage of that vertical space, accentuate tall windows with high curtains and a show-stopping wallpaper. Also, curtains hung well above a window add airiness and height to a small room. Keep the curtain design basic but use extra fabric for fullness.

Steven Gambrel, one of America's top-tier interior designers, recently had a chance to consider the question. Although he lives and often works in the most urbane precincts of Manhattan, Steven grew up in Virginia and still has ties there. When the owners of a Middleburg horse farm asked him to convert one of their barns into a place for large, casual parties and just hanging out and watching TV, he took it on with relish—his first barn, and on home turf.
Family photographs instantly add warmth and personality to your home. Take them out of the attic, off your computer, or out of the infrequently viewed albums on your bookshelves, and enjoy them every day. Pick a wall, corner, or entire room. If your chosen spot already has picture molding (found in many older homes), your job will be easy. If not, adding new molding is not that complicated.
When space is lacking, the only option is to get creative and make things multi-purpose. For example, if you don't have room for a separate living room, family room, and home office, combine each concept into one space. This living room and office by Leanne Ford Interiors proves that the right layout and pieces can look great, no matter what shape or size the room.
Crisp whites combined with punches of bright colors immediately transport you to the coast. In this living room, aqua accents in the pillows, throw, and rug mimic the ocean’s dazzling blues, and the pops of bright orange are inspired by the magnificent hues of the setting sun. Whitewashed horizontal shiplap planking evokes the feel of old Gulf-front beach houses.
This Leiper's Fork, Tennessee, home is bursting at the beams with ingenious ideas for all things rustic, reclaimed, and repurposed. In the living room, a panel of salvaged corrugated metal provides the perfect backdrop for the vintage Orley woodstove, while matte gray-black paint is a sophisticated canvas for a casual mix of framed and unframed family silhouettes, oil paintings, and a vintage deer mount. Slipcovers made from drop cloths (sold at home-improvement stores) make for a durable, family- and pet-friendly furniture covering.
Rustic doesn’t have to mean dark. In her family’s Texas ranch house, designer Lisa Hilderbrand created an airy living room with a rustic twist by installing a new stucco fireplace topped with a wood mantel and layering lots of “take-a-beating” materials such as wood-plank laminate flooring, leather furniture, seagrass rugs, and a stone-and-steel coffee table.
There are scads of publications loaded with living room decorating ideas, but unless you have the budget to purchase living room furniture by the set, it would be best to start small. First, we recommend starting with the basics. When picking furniture, take into consideration what purpose it will serve then focus on a few staple items. Find a comfy couch and an inviting coffee table that suits your needs then search for accent furniture that will bring out your vision of home.

Keep a file of your favorite samples and inspirational images even if you can’t afford a makeover yet, or haven’t found the home of your dreams. This homeowner/designer kept all the fabric samples that she loved in a bag until she found the right home to settle in. She'd also been acquiring updated yet traditional pieces for just the kind of collected look she liked.


Chippy and peel-y architectural salvage brings a living room instant age and texture. After all, you do find “rust” in “rustic.” The living room of this grain silo-turned-guest house features numerous reuses of rustic salvage, including weathered sheet metal siding, chippy wood window frames, and even an old Champagne shipping crate that homeowner Amy Kleinwachter topped with a grain sack cushion to make into a footstool.
A black marble fireplace strikes the perfect balance between edgy and timeless. It anchors this living room designed by Arent & Pyke, which get a contemporary lift from the jute rug, modern and bright artwork, and shapely table lamp. And because the armchairs are a classic silhouette, they'll last forever—you can reupholster them with different colors and prints throughout the years as your taste and style changes.
Your rustic living room doesn't have to be dark and dreary, as this room proves. Accents and fabrics in white, cream, and taupe amplify the effects of sunlight streaming in through a large window. But a few notable features give the space its rustic style. Primitive, chipped-paint candlesticks fill the window alcove, rivaling the more traditional fireplace as a focal point. At the center of the room, a natural wood coffee table stands on split logs, still dressed in rugged natural glory.
This homeowner bucked the “matchy, matchy” rule by placing different end tables and lamps on either side of the sofa in her living room. The mismatch works because, even though one table is a white Asian-inspired look and the other is a black step-like design, both tables are the same height. A sleek brass reading lamp pairs nicely with the simple white table, while a large silver-leaf table lamp fits with the more substantial black table.
One of the most fundamental features in a rustic living room is the fireplace. Consider dressing yours in authentic native rock, which brings the rugged beauty of the outdoors inside. A brick border outlines the curve of this fireplace, giving it a graceful note. White, transitional club chairs lighten the look and provide a comfy spot to enjoy the fire.
A hide rug and Edwardian boxer photographic prints lend a sly masculine charm to the casual refinery of this room’s interior layout, without overtly overpowering the more graceful elements. Clean lines and simple color schemes keep the tone cool and laid back, while eye-catching pieces such as the wooden lobster trap-like ceiling lamp and repurposed rolling coffee table, as well glass dome-covered plants, allow guests plenty to admire and inquire about.
These free-form wood slab “canvases” are a striking way to display your favorite prints and portraits, all the while lending a decidedly Pacific Northwest touch to bright, open rooms and hallways. Suspended alone or in multiple rows, these wooden frame mounts work best on lighter walls, where the richness of the wood can truly stand out and draw the eye. Driftwood, glass floats, seashells, and found flea market treasures make the perfect companion pieces, with carefully crafted candles suggesting your personal gallery’s special place in the heart of your home.
×