How do I decorate a brown sofa and dark flooring? – Interior Design Help Online

I’m renting a new home that came with a great big comfy dark brown sofa (fabric not leather) but the flooring is also dark brown wooden flooring… how can I lighten up the room (without being too boring)? -Jay

One area rug to the rescue! Interior design help online to the rescue! This is the ideal time to bring in an area rug with a lighter background color. Adding a rug will help breakup the effect of the dark sofa meeting the dark floor making each selection look intentional rather than inherited when you rented your apartment.

Area rugs come in all different styles so please choose one that best matches your personal taste and the style of your apartment.

Here is an example of a modern style rug (thank you West Elm) that would work great with a dark sofa and dark floors:

Interior Design Help Online

For a more traditional look you might consider something like this rug from Pottery Barn:

Interior Design Help Online

For any other additional interior design questions or help, please contact me at

Design Question – How do you feel about partially blocking off a pocket door with a piece of furniture?

Today’s online interior design help question:

As an interior designer, how do you feel about partially blocking off a pocket door with a piece of furniture? My girlfriend and I are buying furniture for our second bedroom are deciding between a regular sofa and a sectional.  The latter option will add some extra seating and a better view of the TV but will partially (50%) block the walkway to the attached washroom.  I really dislike the aesthetics and ergonomics of blocking a walkway but do like the idea of more seating area.  My question to the pros is: would you go ahead with the sectional or stick to a regular sofa?

Sometimes in design, I come across this type of dilemma! A decision between two choices needs to be made and neither is option ideal.

In these instances, I tend to choose function over form. What I mean by this is that if in doubt consider selecting the option that will function for your needs best rather than the option that purely looks the best. Crazy answer for a professional interior designer I know! Bottom line, if you house does not function for you correctly than anything beautiful we do will always be a source of frustration.

Now, I state the above only after all other options are considered. No, I do not like to block doorways or windows with any type of furniture as a general rule. In fact, this is one the biggest mistakes I see people making when placing furniture in a room.

Please consider all middle ground solutions prior to moving forward. Is there space for a pair of small scale chairs along with a full size sofa? Another idea to consider is an upholstered coffee table ottoman. While it may not be the most comfortable seating for TV viewing this ottoman would allow you to have another spot to sit.

If you are interested in sending in your own online interior design help question, please feel free to send an email to

Home Accessory Sources – Online Interior Designers List

Bungalow 5 Mason 6-Drawer

You always hear that accessories are the finishing touches that complete a room design but where the heck do you actually find these items? You could go from store to store searching for just the right piece or you could shop online and avoid all the hassle. How about looking where online interior designers find amazing home accessories?

Not sure where to start? We’ve put together a list of the best websites for home accessories. Browse these websites to find the perfect touches to pull together any room design:

Bungalow 5: Hip and extremely cool lamps, wall décor and accessories – many items have a modern influence yet are classically styled.

Global Views: By far, one of the largest collections of home accessories!

Arteriors: One of the best selections of high end lamps and lighting plus a wide array of smaller home accessories. This is a great source to check out!

Ryan Studio: Sometimes sticking with one thing is the right move, and for Ryan Studios it is pillows. Gorgeous design fabrics and the highest quality details makes their throw pillows an online interior designers favorite.

Studio A: With their eclectic and unique collection of accessories and small furniture, Studio A is one of my favorites.

Eastern Accents: If bedding or pillows are what you need to finish your room, look no further than this source. Gorgeous custom made items to give you home a high end look.

Worlds Away: From chandeliers to lamps to mirrors, this is a great source for adding a touch of glamour and sparkle.

Regina Andrew: Cool and modern. Designers look to Regina Andrew for lamps and decorative objects with a clean and fresh look.

Palecek: Once you visit the Palecek website you will not forget it! Palecek not only has an extensive line of furniture but their accessories are even better in my opinion. Here you will find wall décor, lamps and objects all with an earthy, organic flair.

Wildwood: Lots of lamps with a slight traditional kicked up a notch slant plus some well selected art and home accessories.

If you need help with ordering or pricing from any of these amazing sources, please contact me at for assistance.

Design Question: Hi Lisa – What are some ways to make a room feel bigger? Thanks – C.J.

Working in the field of residential interior design, I have a few tricks for making a small space look and feel bigger. Here are my top seven tips:


  • Use a color palette that’s light and neutral, that will enlarge your space visually.
  • Incorporate some furniture in the same color as your walls, that way it basically blends into the walls which helps widen your space.
  • Use multifunctional furniture, such as storage ottomans, which can be used as both a coffee table, extra seating and storage, all at the same time.

CB2 peekaboo-clear-rolling-two-shelf

  • See-through furniture—like glass tables and Lucite chairs—do a great job of tricking the eye into thinking there is more space than there actually is.
  • Resist the temptation to fill up every exposed shelf in a room. Leaving some black spaces will give your small space an airy look.
  • Ignore the old rule that small furniture in a small space is the way to go. Fewer, larger pieces of furniture in a small room will often make it look bigger.
  • Just because a room is small, doesn’t mean it can’t be amazing and dramatic. Big pieces of art can add a ton of a lot of drama to a small space, and make the room seem bigger.

Design Question – How do you approach the task of designing a room?

Moving into a new apartment and for the first time in my post-college life, not furnishing it exclusively with things I find off Craigslist. Any tips on how to approach designing a room? Do I pick a theme first (wood, all-light colors, etc.)? Do I buy one object that “anchors” the room and buy other pieces of furniture that complement it? I’m totally clueless in this arena…


How to start the design of a room is a great question! As a professional interior designer offering online interior design service (, starting a room design has become science for me and I’d love to share my insight.


If you plan to bring in an area rug, this is typically where I suggest starting a design. The reason is twofold. First, area rugs can get expensive and can be an agonizing decision. Therefore, start the rug selection first so you have less constraints to work with. I often tell my clients “there are limitless paint color options but limited rug choices.” Make the hardest decision first and then work the room around the rug.

leather butteryfly chair

interior design service online


No rug – no problem. You would then start with the largest piece of furniture in the room. In a Living Room, this most likely will be your sofa. Select a sofa that you love! It needs to be comfortable, visually appealing and must fit the scale of your room. If you have a blank canvas and find a sofa that meets these criteria, then make the purchase.


As you then proceed to fill in the room, work from larger items to the smallest items. This takes some restraint! It is certainly much easier (and often more fun) to buy some amazing throw pillows before you have anything else such as side tables and accent chairs. Resist the temptation. You don’t want to box yourself in by needing to design an entire room around a $30.00 pillow.


When it comes time to accessorize your room, keep in mind two things. One, find pieces you love. Often I find that it is the smallest items in a design that bring my clients the most joy. Secondly, use accessories to finish the design. Small details can finish the look and make a house feel like a home.


Finally, consider enlisting in a little professional interior design help. Many designers, like me, have online interior design service at a very affordable rates. The cost of a little professional help can far outweigh the cost of design mistakes! If I can help you specifically with your new apartment, please email me at

Arranging Furniture with Multiple Focal Points – Interior Design Help Online

Dueling focal points in a room can create a challenge when placing furniture! Each item you mention (the fireplace, the TV and the exterior view) has its own importance and therefore we need to highlight each in its own way.

Interior design help online is here! Below is an example of a room I recently designed for a client:


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She had room with very similar focal point concerns. In this room, the fireplace took up one entire wall.   Because of the size, the fireplace became the number one focal point. I oriented a sectional sofa to face the fireplace. As well, the fireplace was flanked by a pair of comfortable chairs. While the chairs have their backs to the fireplace, they still visually highlight this architectural element.

The TV was the next focal point. While I would prefer to focus more on the lovely outside view, the reality is the most people use their televisions a lot more often than they actually stare out the window. Thus, we needed to be sure the television had good viewing. I placed a corner TV cabinet adjacent to the fireplace for comfortable viewing.

Finally, we addressed the exterior views. Part of our sectional faces the window. For the second window (and the one with the best view) I used a low bench in the window. Not only does the bench draw attention to the view but it gives another spot to sit and enjoy.

Please follow my blog for answers to other design dilemmas.

Design Question – Need a Rug Suggestion – Online Interior Design Help

Hello Lisa, how are you? I need now an advice of what color of rug should I use.  Thanks a lot I will be waiting for your answer. I will send pictures in the following emails. Thanks, Yoly

Today I received the above design question along with photos of the room in desperate need of a rug. Yoly asked me for some online interior design help with a rug selection, and I am happy help.





This is for a beach apartment in Panama thus the beach inspired interior. I love the blend of the various shades of blue; from aqua to teal to navy the look is amazing. But I do see how selecting an area rug is now a challenge!

My suggestion is to pull the navy blue from the adjacent dining chairs. The deeper blue will help ground the other colors and the seating area. While the room is visually interesting it needs the depth and warmth of the deeper color. The area rug is just the right location for this color saturation.

My suggestion is a geometric fringed rug from Surya:

blue surya rug

This rug pulls together both the living and dining areas and introduces a bit more color to this fabulous room.

If you are interested in purchasing this rug or sending me your own design question, please feel free to message me on Facebook or send an email to!

“Reupholster or replace?” Online Interior Design Help

Today’s online interior design help question is “Hi Lisa, I really like my current sofa but it is in sad shape. My wife thinks I should we should get something new but I really love this sofa. How do we decide if we should upholster it or get a new sofa? –Nolan.”

My tips for making the reupholster or replace decision are below.

sofa-326824_1920Reupholster your current sofa if you can answer yes to all of the following:

Your existing sofa fits your space

You and your family find the sofa comfortable

The sofa has the correct style for the look of your room


If you answered yes, then let’s take about the next steps:

  • Select a new fabric (the cost of the new fabric is often a surprise)
  • Find a good upholsterer (ask for a referral from a friend or neighbor)
  • Ask your upholsterer to quote you the amount of yardage needed
  • Carefully rethink the design details of the sofa
    • For example, do you want a skirt?
    • Welting?
    • Add a nail head trim?
  • Arrange for the delivery of the sofa
  • Be without a sofa for 2-4 weeks while it’s getting worked on
  • Bring your newly upholstered sofa home!

When the process is complete you can be confident that you sofa will look new yet will still have that great comfort you have come to love.

new sofa

Buy a new sofa if the following are true:

Your sofa is uncomfortable

The size and scale of the sofa looks wrong in your room

The sofa style no longer works with your style

Or, you simply do not want to undertake the reupholstery steps mentioned above!



How does the cost compare?

Surprising to many, re-upholstering a sofa ends up costing close to what it would cost to purchase something new. Therefore the cost should really not be the determining factor in your decision.  I suggest that you go through the pro and con list outlined above. After you this, I am confident that you and your wife will land on the same page (sitting side by side on your new or old sofa).

Online Interior Design Help – Gray Walls

Ever wish you could ask an interior designer a question? Now you can! You ask the question and I will do my best to answer your question in my weekly blog.

Let’s start with a request I received for some online interior design help this week:
Hey Lisa – I just moved into a new construction home. Our builder painted every wall gray (which I love) but it just isn’t working with my furniture (everything looks dull). Any ideas to liven up the look? FYI – I am on a tight budget. Thanks – Jessie
Gray is everywhere right now so I am not surprised to hear that it is the color used in your new home. There are lots of ways to work with the gray walls without feeling like your home is boring and drab. Here are a few budget friendly suggestions:


Image West Elm:

Blend in the Gray

There are many colors that look lovely with gray. For example, you can go for something soft and calm yet still introduce color. Pale blue or aqua blue mixed with white can be incredibly sophisticated on the backdrop of gray walls.

Decide which direction you want to take you color palette. You can then repeat these colors in different saturations, variations and portions throughout your home.

There are creative ways to tie the gray back to your selected colors. Something simple such as throw pillows in a multi-color pattern can marry the gray to other colors in your furnishings. An area rug that blends gray with your other colors can pull together the scheme.

Warm up the Gray

Think outside the box and use a color palette that adds warmth to the gray. I have used gray walls with a camel leather sofa and brass light fixtures. You can’t get much warmer and richer looking!

Liven up the Gray

One of my favorite is indigo blue and coral mixed with gray. This creates a bold and vibrant look!

Lighten up the Gray

As the color of shadow, gray can sometimes look dark and drab. Solves this by adding multiple light sources to avoid a shadow look. Overhead fixtures will give lots of clear lighting. Adding lamps to the overhead lighting creates a layered look and lightens the feel.

Enjoy the Trend

Yes, I do believe that gray is a trend and just as it came in it will go out. Therefore, I suggest that you think long term. If you invest in something like a new sofa, consider a light neutral color that works with gray but can also work with another color scheme. This way, when the trend goes, your sofa does not need to go with it.

Please feel free to submit your design questions just like Jessie did! You can read more about my online interior design help and services: Interior Design Service Online.