Empty nesters Bob and Karen O’Hern recently downsized to a townhouse in Alexandria and got rid of most of their living room furniture. They have a family room for lounging but need an attractive place for entertaining four to five people and occasionally watching TV. They want to make the most of the fireplace and built-in bookshelves.

(Photos by Leah L. Jones/For The Washington Post)


Designer Amanda Friend flanks the fireplace with sofas and chooses modern pieces that are the right scale for the couple’s new, smaller space, creating a look that is both comforting and visually interesting.

Friend, with Bountiful Interiors (bountifuldecor. com, 410-819-8666), is based in Easton, Md.

(Illustration by Julius Goyanko/for The Washington Post)

(The Washington Post)
Friend’s Suggestions

Go with blue upholstery for the sofas to add much-needed color to the room. Opt for a warmer, deeper neutral for the walls, such as Loggia by Sherwin-Williams, to make the space feel cozier. An area rug under the seating arrangement defines the living space and separates it visually from the adjacent foyer. Drapery panels soften the windows and make the room feel homier. Consider adding wood trim details and painting the backs of the bookcases a darker color to create a dramatic focal point. Choose a complementary area rug for the dining space to tie the rooms together.


Splurge: Classic wool rug ($7,500 for ­8-by-10-foot rug, (

Save: Angel area rug ($679 for 8-by-11-foot rug, (

Splurge: Fang gourd lamp in ivory ($593, (

Save: Wood X table lamp base ($60) and solid off-white accent lamp shade ($10), both from (

Furniture: Atticus 65-inch sofa in Cast Mist Sunbrella fabric ($1,699,; Gideon chair in Serene Beige fabric with Pumice legs ($1,349,; Richards’ 53-by-33-inch trunk coffee table in charcoal ($2,095,; custom Emery console table with Glitz Platinum fabric and antique brass nailhead ($309,; Saxton server in satin sable finish ($703,

Accessories: Currier and Ives 50-by-34-inch Map of the City of Washington with aluminum floated mount ($475,; walnut wood tripod Austin floor lamp base ($100) and solid off-white accent lampshade ($10), both from; Minted for West Elm’s “Cera No. 2” print ($249,; honey rattan interlace table lamp ($101,; Adley hand-knotted rug ($899 for 6-by-8-foot rug,; Terri trellis 84-inch drapery panels in gray and white ($119 each,; 22-inch Tate beige pillow with polyurethane foam ($110) and royal paisley blue rectangular throw pillow ($27), both from

More from Home & Garden:

See answers to frequently asked questions about House Calls here

Tell us about your own design challenge here

See past room makeovers by local designers here