The Graham family: Karen and Gordon with daughters Cecilia, Caitlin and Mia. (Leah L. Jones/For The Washington Post)

Karen and Gordon Graham and daughters Cecilia, Caitlin and Mia are stumped by the living room in their Kensington home. The front door opens directly into the 32-by-14-foot space, making furniture placement a challenge.


Designer Teresa Buchanan uses a new wall color, an improved floor plan and more lighting to make a long entry room feel warm and inviting. Buchanan, of Designline (410-266-9240) is based in Annapolis.

Here’s what she planned for the Graham’s living room:

Visually shorten the length of the room by adding height with tall bookcases.

Rizzy Rug, Volare 815, in light blue, 8 by 10 feet ($700,; French storage ottoman ($230, (SPLURGE)

Hang curtain panels above the windows to allow the most natural light into the room.

Add interest with layers of texture, such as patterned fabrics and bamboo shades.

Opt for washable and child-friendly slipcovers for the the sofa and club chair.

Paint the walls a smoky blue, likeParadiso from Benjamin Moore, to bring warmth to the large space.

A foyer table and storage benches will welcome guests.

Add a natural element, and color, with plants.

Do you have a design challenge? Send photos, room dimensions and contact information to


Achieve a similar look with these product suggestions:


·PB basic sofa ($1,400,

·PB basic armchair in brushed canvas, jute ($950,

·Marchella dining table ($370,

·Surrey cupboard in distressed white — no longer available ($599,

·Louis XVI oval back armchair in nomad, walnut ($501,

·Parrish coffee table ($350,


·Bamboo floor lamp ($170,

·Pharmacy floor lamp ($143,


·Textured cotton panel drape in white, 50 by 96 inches ($49 per panel,

·Standard woven wood shade (priced according to size,

·Italian white-footed serving bowl ($69,

·Black scroll-top plant stand ($25,