The Washington Post

House Calls: Decorating a living room to make a good first impression

The 14-by-23-foot living room is the first thing guests see in the home of Bryan and Julia Pandya, shown here with son Jacob. (Leah L. Jones/For The Washington Post)

The 14-by-23-foot living room is the first thing guests see in the Arlington County home of Bryan and Julia Pandya (shown with son Jacob), but it’s the last room the couple have decorated. They want the space to be comfortable and child-friendly but also formal enough to entertain adults. They’d like to add a piano down the road.


Designer Charles C. Almonte uses clean lines and a calming color palette to inject fresh, modern style into a lackluster space.

Install simple cove molding to add interest and make the room look more polished.

Candle sconces provide mood lighting; table lamps provide ambient lighting.

Place a bench in front of the fireplace for extra seating that doesn’t block the view.

An easy-to-clean leather ottoman offers more seating and a surface for trays when entertaining.

Hang window treatments for a more finished look. White wood blinds are simple yet elegant.

Paint the walls a warm and sophisticated teal: St. Lucia by Benjamin Moore.

Dark upholstery camouflages spills and stains.

Silhouette sofa in Maya Mist, $1,000 at; Darlington Espresso brown leather ottoman. $222 at (Save)

Furniture: Vejmon side table in black-brown ($100,; Pullman brown leather bench ($300, www.crateandbarrel.
); Twisty stool, short ($165, www.

Lighting: Candice Olson Sahara natural table lamp ($578,

Accessories: Antiqued mirror sconce ($49) and Flowers by the Sea print ($180) from; Chunky hand-knit throw in saffron ($59,; lacquer wood tray in orange ($29,

Almonte (202-492-8494, is based in Silver Spring.

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