The Ghents’ living room (Leah L Jones/for The Washington Post)

“When it comes to decorating and arranging our family room, we are clueless,” wrote Margaret Ghent of Silver Spring. She and husband Steven are looking for advice to help them spruce up their 15-by-23-foot space.


Designer Tim Schelfe cleared out the room and started from scratch to give the Ghents a contemporary and comfortable space to hang out with family and friends.

A chest of drawers is functional and versatile. Use one in any room for extra storage and display space.

Margaret Ghent and husband Steven. (Leah L Jones/for The Washington Post)

Replace the bookcases with console tables and mirrors hung above. Both help open up the room and make it feel less cluttered.

Mount the TV above the fireplace; surround it in a wood frame. Add a coffee table and armchair with sleek polished chrome.

A graphic area rug defines the seating area and brings pattern, color and softness into the space.

Paint the walls a warm khaki to provide a subtle backdrop for the new colors in the room. Cork by Benjamin Moore.

A modern sectional will instantly update the room, increase seating and create a cozy space for the whole family.

Colorful accessories, such as lamps, art and vases, will pop against the otherwise neutral color palette.

Schelfe and Associates, Inc. (301-830-2670, is based in Bethesda.


Furniture: Townsend sectional ($3,300,; Wood-tiled three-drawer dresser ($700), Martini side table in persimmon ($130) and Terra console ($300) from

Lighting: Skyscraper table lamp ($470,; Mia table lamp in paprika ($130,

Accessories: Devon mirror ($200) and “The Edge” wall art ($300) from; Iznik dhurrie, 9-by-12 feet ($700,

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