Tips for Designing a Beautiful Small Living Room

We start with an imaginary living room. It’s a small room, with less light than it really should have. This fact, naturally, brings to mind the suggestion that the walls and woodwork should be light to counteract this darkness.

Safest Color

And the safest color to use for such a purpose is yellow. (Decorators say—whenever in doubt, use yellow, for it combines well with everything.)

Light and Warmth

Having given light and warmth to the room by painting the walls and woodwork a yellow with a soft gloss finish, we can afford to use darker colors elsewhere.

Informal Room

If, from the chief pieces of furniture, we determine that the room is to be rather informal, we can select for the draperies a glazed chintz with a large floral design in blue-green, rust and soft yellow against a rich brown background. This chintz will be particularly appropriate with the divan upholstered in a small, all-over design in blue-green tapestry.

Large Chair

One large chair may be slip-covered in the same chintz as the over-drapery—or in a plain rust tapestry. The man’s chair would then be upholstered in a tapestry.

Rug and Lamps

Now for the rug—we favor a machine-hooked, room-sized rug with a geometric design in browns, old yellow, deep blue-green and rust. The lamps should have plain bases with plaid chintz shades in brown, tan and yellow. And perhaps the pair on either side of the divan shall have parchment shades over copper bases.

Floor and Finish

If the floor of the room is to be painted, it should be a dark brown. For the finish on the walls and woodwork use a soft gloss, halfway between dull and high gloss. A paint giving this soft gloss finish is much more practical (it can be easily washed) than dull, and its softness combines nicely with other furnishings which today have none of the shiny brilliance of the recent past.

Large Living Room with Mahogany Furniture

A most beautiful and most restful background color for the large or medium-sized living room is pale green. In a formal room of this size, gold damask with dull luster and Celanese glass curtains of the same color complement the painted pale green of the walls most happily.

Less Formal Room

In a less formal room, we would choose a glazed chintz with either a rich plum or old ivory background with the design in deep green, blue-green, wine red and yellow. These colors in a drapery combine well with fine Oriental rugs whose colors are deep wine red, mulberry, tawny gold and blue-green.

Divan and Chairs

The divan can be upholstered in a plum frieze, one chair in golden brown, another in wine red, and the man’s chair in a large pattern carrying all the colors in the room.

Dining Room with Walnut Furniture

First, let us suppose our dining room has walnut furniture. Then, because this wood always demands a warm background to bring out its character, our walls will best be painted a soft peach color or covered with a scenic wallpaper—the background in dull peach, the scene tones of deeper peach, soft rich brown, and beige.


If the room is not paneled one-third of the way up, the paneling may be simulated by adding a four-inch molding and painting the wall below it in the same color as the wallpaper background. The woodwork should also be painted this same color, for the woodwork in any room should usually be the same as the walls.

Rug and Draperies

The rug here may be an Oriental in green, rust and gold or one of the new Wiltons with a small, all-over design in brown, green and rust. Plain sage green draperies and soft beige glass curtains complete a distinctive decorative scheme.

Dining Room with Mahogany Furniture

Here we decide to paint our walls first in a plain white and then “antique” them in blue. This attractive finish is obtained by dipping a soft piece of cheesecloth into a little blue paint and rubbing it into the white-painted walls.


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