(Leah L. Jones, left; Richman Studio, right/for The Washington Post)

Lisa Magerl is struggling to figure out the best way to furnish the awkwardly shaped 20-foot-long living room of her 110-year-old farmhouse in the Palisades neighborhood of the District. She and her teenage daughter use the space for entertaining, watching television and relaxing in front of the fire with their two cats. Magerl likes her custom sofa from Restoration Hardware, but she thinks it is too small for the space and is hesitant to commit to other pieces without expert advice.

(Leah L. Jones/For The Washington Post)

Designer Barbara Margolis makes sense of the long, narrow room by dividing it into three zones. She suggests flexible furniture that creates an intimate retreat for Magerl and her daughter but can easily be rearranged when guests come over.

(Interior rendering by Richman Studio/For The Washington Post)

Add color by painting the walls a soft blue. Try Yarmouth Blue from Benjamin Moore. A narrow coffee table is the perfect size to complement the small sofa without overwhelming it. A round table next to the bay window with the two existing chairs creates a place to share a meal, have coffee or work on a laptop. A tall bookshelf helps draw attention away from the door. A comfortable high-backed chair in front of the bookshelf completes a cozy corner. Round tables in different sizes, placed at opposite ends of the room, help unify the space. A simple table behind the sofa fills in the space next to the column to even out the back wall. A lamp on the table provides additional light when needed. Pull-up chairs are easy to move around as needed for conversation or watching television.

(Courtesy of Barbara Margolis)

Margolis, with Barbara Margolis Interiors (301-384-7667, barbaramargolisinteriors.com), is based in Silver Spring.


(Photos courtesy of retailers)

SPLURGE: St. Clair entryway console ($499, potterybarn.com), left. SAVE: Liatorp table, white with glass top insert ($199, ikea.com).

(Photos courtesy of retailers)

SPLURGE: Bryn wing chair in linen/Aegean fabric with weathered finish and small black nailhead trim ($1,129.99, havertys.com) , left. SAVE: Canterburry wingback chair in teal ($283.49, hayneedle.com).


Furniture: Haynes chairs in Idol Frost Sunbrella performance fabric ($959 each) and Delano iron door console table in greige ($1,899), both from ballarddesigns.com; Delaney rectangular coffee table ($299) and Euclid round and oval accent tables ($129-$199), both from potterybarn.com; 20th-century chrysanthemum 40-inch brasserie table ($995, restorationhardware.com); Tremont 45-inch bookcase in dry branch natural finish ($1,999, arhaus.com).

Accessories: Custom-color bound sea grass 8-by-13-foot area rug in natural ($728) and Tola paisley pillow covers ($39.50-$45.50 each), both from potterybarn.com; Shaye blue table lamp ($299, crateandbarrel.com); functional modern adjustable floor lamp in brass ($329, shadesoflight.com).

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