Shannon Kelly wants to update the 13-by-12-foot living room of her Falls Church home, but she needs help coming up with a furniture arrangement that will seat six without making the room feel cluttered. The space is open to adjacent rooms, and none of the elements (fireplace, window, openings) are symmetrical. She prefers primary colors and likes traditional pieces. Ultimately, she would like a room that feels bright and fresh without being fussy.


Designers Lorin Petit and Janet Bertin suggest a sofa and love seat pair to cut down on the number of pieces in the space, and they carry the blues and reds from adjacent rooms (not shown) into the design. They choose neutral upholstery for the large pieces and suggest fewer competing patterns for a less overwhelming room.


For the walls, choose a deeper blue with gray undertones for a more sophisticated look. Try Van Deusen Blue from Benjamin Moore. Minimalize visual clutter by using pairs of items — in this case, a matching sofa and love seat, matching console and coffee table, and matching lamps — instead of a bunch of different pieces. Choose art that reflects your personal style or has meaning. Here, magazine covers offer a creative way to feature a favorite memory, hobby or special date or year. Go with furniture upholstered in a performance fabric, which makes for easy cleanup of messes and spills. In addition to providing lighting, decorative lamps can be beautiful jewelry for a room. Use a console table to balance the asymmetry of the fireplace wall. It also provides space to display decorative objects and books. Add seating with an accent chair in a bold color.

Bertin and Petit, with Bertin’s Decorating Den (703-299-0633,, are based in Alexandria.


SPLURGE: Amelia hand-knotted 8-by-10-foot area rug ($2,998,, left. SAVE: Subtle luxury 8-by-11-foot area rug in blue cream ($1,899,

SPLURGE: Bedford 87-inch sofa ($3,395) and love seat ($2,995) in Sunbrella Performance Canvas, canvas color with standard fill and ebony legs (, left. SAVE: Eton upholstered sofa ($2,669) and love seat ($2,194) in Idol Cloud Sunbrella Performance fabric with black legs (


Accessories: Fluted colored glass table lamps in navy ($550 each,; New Yorker 18-by-24-inch prints with Soho black frames ($319 each,; Tassel trim 20-by-20-inch twill pillows in crimson ($75 each), pieces from the blue and white chinoiserie collection ($99-$189), and 84-inch linen French pleat sheer drapery panels in white ($139 each), all from; Oakview 12-by-21-inch pillow cover in navy and vintage indigo ($158,; Arjuna leaf Viridian pillow in green/blue ($195,

See past room makeovers at Tell us about your design challenge. Send photos, room dimensions and contact information to

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