50 Living Room Decorating Rules You Need To Know

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Dear Laurel,

Please oh please, pretty please do a post about living room decorating rules of thumb and measurements.

I’m going a little crazy because I see contradictory info on the internet. Some of it is seems to be okay and some of it is downright wacky. Even *I* can tell that it’s wrong.

I don’t know where some of these people derive their information. It makes me wonder if they are just making it up?

With appreciation,

Sally Ruler

 

*********

 

Well, Sally, you shall get your wish, to the best of my ability. And yes, I do agree that some of the measurements I see on the internet and even in books are not optimal.

In fact, maybe some of you remember this post that talked about following these decorating rules could get you in some deep doo doo.

I just saw one for a typical coffee table to be 36″ long. Sure, if the other side is also 36″ but 36″ is better for a loveseat, not a full-sized sofa of 84″ or more.

Of course, all good designs should begin with a solid furniture plan

 

While there are many posts in this volume of well over 600 now that state some of these rules, they aren’t all in on place.

 

One important rule of thumb to consider when discussing all of the 30 rules of thumb is to understand that much of the time, that rule can be broken. That’s why they are rules of thumb, not rules set in stone. haha

 

While there is some overlap in many of these decorating rules of thumb, to make things as clear as possible, we are going to go by individual rooms.

 

Time to Begin. Are you ready?

 

LIVING ROOM Decorating Rules You Need To know ( Living room means rooms for living and includes family rooms)

 

These are the rooms where we typically spend the most time. The 21st century living room is no longer the “dead room.” That’s the room that many of us had to endure for most of the 20th century.

The old living room was the room we weren’t allowed in. That is unless our friends and us were first professionally fumigated and dry-cleaned before entering this sacred, hallowed space.

 

Baby boomer parents and later generations revolted and now many living rooms also double as family rooms.

 

While going through the living room decorating rules of thumb, please refer to this post showing one living room with seven different layouts to see these principles in action.

 

Living room furniture (as in upholstery)

 

Sofas

 

  • can be anywhere from 54″ (small loveseat) – 110″ or more! in length. However, the most typical length for a living room sofa is about 84″ (7 feet). That is the over-all measurement, arm-to-arm. For more about the perfect sofa, click here.

 

  • It is vitally important to choose the best length sofa for your space.

 

  • Sofa depth varies from about 34″ – 45″  However, a settee might only be 28″ deep and a sofa-bed (daybed) could be as much as 60″ deep. (click here to see some examples).

 

how to measure a sofa or chair - height - depth - living room decorating rules of thumb

 

And when we say “depth.” We mean the over-all depth which includes the back pitch which usually adds several inches.

 

Sofa height

 

Remember when we talked about “human scale furniture?”

 

I was just talking to a friend who told me about a movie he loves. He said that he’s going to be buying a home in Westchester and this is how he wants to decorate it.

 

via the best picture project - since-you-went-away- 1940s film - human scale furniture

Image via the best picture project from the film, Since You Went Away with Jennifer Jones, Claudette Colbert and Shirley Temple.

 

  • Ahhhhh… those were the days. The back of that chair is not more than 32″ and probably a little lower. The seat height is no more than 17″.1940s club chair dimensions

I found another chair on 1st Dibs from the 1940s. And see? Those are very similar dimensions to my estimate.

 

Well, today’s furniture is mostly larger.

 

  • But, still, for me, my upper limit for a sofa height is 34″. Chairs come in so many styles, so there’s more variation.
  • Arm height = 23″ – 25″
  • A Tuxedo or Chesterfield (arms same height as the back) is generally 28″ – 33″ (I prefer 31″ or below)
  • Seat height – 18″ – 20″ – But, this is difficult to measure because most seat cushions have a “crown,” so to the welting might be 18″ but the crown will add another inch or two.

 

  • Seat depth is usually from 22″ – 25″. However, if there are loose as opposed to a tight back, that affects the depth to some extent. It’s not an exact science. When I custom-made an English Roll arm sofa, with a tight back, I usually specified a depth of 24″. And, especially if the husband was tall. You can always add throw pillows. But sometimes if they weren’t so tall, I specified 23″.

 

Speaking of throw pillows and living room decorating rules.

 

This is one rule that I see so many unusual measurements and usually it’s for pillows that are too small. In my opinion, it is better to err on the side of too big, than too small and dinky when it comes to throw pillows.

 

  • For an 84″ sofa, my favorite configuration is three different covers.
  • With two pillows at 22″ and two @ 20″ and a rectangular pillow in the middle which can be various sizes. Mine is quite large, but a more typical size is approximately 14″ x 25″. For far more detailed post all about throw pillows, click here.

 

End or side tables

 

  • Generally, I like the height of these tables to be within a couple of inches either higher or lower than the sofa arm. So, that would be from about 23″-27″ for a typical sofa arm.
  • But, if you have a big Chesterfield with a 33″ arm, an end table height of 28″-30″ should be fine.

Measurements for an end or side table.

 

  • Square is usually about 18″ – 28″ square.
  • A rectangular end table can be as narrow as 12″ (to 24″) but I would not have it be more than 28″ deep.
  • The perfect size round end table is from about 24″ – 30″

Here’s a good post about end, side and accent tables.

 

Coffee or Cocktail Tables

 

Let’s begin with height. I’ve talked about this several times.

 

  • For me, no matter how high the sofa seat, my maximum height for a coffee/cocktail table is 18″. However, my preference is for 15″-17″.
  • If a rectangular table, it is usually about one-half (minimum) to not more than two-thirds the length of the sofa. But it should never overlap the arms.
  • So, for an 84″ sofa, the ideal length is about 48″ with a depth of about 24″ – 30″
  • A square coffee table can be a little smaller. But is usually not more than one-half the length and not less than 30″ sq.
  • Round coffee tables that are great looking are so difficult to come by. A good size for an 84″ sofa is 48″. 36″ is a more common size, but that would be better for a sofa 72″ or less. The largest round I have ever done is 54″ but that’s pretty big.

 

  • Most of the time, coffee tables should be about 12″-18″ away from the sofa seat. The most I would recommend is 24″.

 

One of my favorite posts is 20 coffee tables and how to pair with the right sofa.

You might also enjoy how to style a coffee table

 

Other decorating rules of thumb for living rooms.

 

  • Major pathways should be at least 36″. But, if it’s just a few inches of something going into 30″ it should be okay. You wouldn’t want to have to walk the entire length of a sofa with only a 30″ pathway, however. That is, if it’s a major pathway that requires frequent traveling.

 

  • Walking through the room, I very much try to keep all pathways at least 30″.

 

By all means float your sofa if you have the depth and layout to do so. If your room is very deep, you might want to add a sofa (console) table behind the sofa.

 

  • Console tables are usually from two-thirds to three-quarters the length of the sofa.
  • And, from 12″ to 24″ deep.
  • the height should be at least one or two inches below the top of the sofa.
  • If this is not a major pathway behind the sofa and there is only a wall behind it, then 30″ is the minimum I would go between the sofa and wall.

 

  • In the case of a bookcase, then it’s back to a minimum of 36″. However, if there’s not enough room, then leave out the sofa table.
  • Sofa tables are particularly nice when the back of the sofa needs to face directly in front of the opening of the room.

 

Case goods

 

Case goods if you don’t already know are non-built-in cabinetry of any kind. That includes bookcases, chests, armoires, china cabinets, buffets, media cabinets, secretaries and so forth.

Case goods might be used for display and/or storage and can be either tall, medium or short in height.

Most living rooms have at least one kind of case goods in them.

 

The main living room decorating rules of thumb for case goods are:

 

 

Jay-Jeffers-living-room-beach-color-palette

Jay Jeffers

These are built-in, but one time in a bedroom, I did three smallish armoires about the same size, on a long wall. It was pretty cool. One for him. One for her. And One for the TV. haha.

 

  • What you don’t want to do is have one long wall with a tall secretary and then a short chest followed by a medium bookcase. It will look like a hodgepodge of furniture.

 

What about tall pieces? Yes, here one needs to be very careful.

 

If there’s a fireplace or sometimes a door or a window on a long wall, there can be identical tall pieces flanking it.

 

Paint Palette Opal - case pieces flanking fireplace

Y’all get that, I’m sure.  This is from the Laurel Home Paint and Palette collection.

 

Please also check out the Ultimate Guide to Fireplace Mantel Decorating

 

  • Most tall pieces should not be higher than the door frame unless it’s not near a door and the ceiling is quite high.
  • Avoid having two tall pieces on perpendicular walls

 

Area rugs

 

The old school of thought is that there should be about one foot of floor showing around the perimeter of the room.

The problem with this is that if there are any case pieces against the wall, most likely they will be half on and half off the rug. (most case pieces are deeper than one foot)

 

  • However, it is fine if your sofa is partially on the rug.
  • I prefer if the rug is only just a little past the legs, if this is the case.
  • The reason is that it’s best to avoid having your end table half on and half off the rug.

 

  • Therefore, for an average size living room of say 14′ x 24′ a two foot margin plus/minus less should be fine.

 

  • Area rug sizes that are possibilities are anywhere from 8 x 10 up to 10 x 14.

 

A 6 x 9 is going to look too dinky. However, it is possible to layer a smaller Oriental over a natural fiber seagrass rug.

 

  • There should be a bare minimum of one foot of seagrass showing, but I prefer a minimum of 18″-24″ for the width. There can be more seagrass showing for the length. It depends how long the room is.
  • If there’s a cut out for the fireplace and hearth, I would suggest not more than 6″-8″ of floor showing.

 

For a much smaller living room, family room, den or library, I have read that it is okay to have a margin of 7″-12″.

 

Again, the issue is furniture half on and half off. Sometimes it’s unavoidable. Try to pick a floor covering that is very low, if this is the case. Pads or levelers can be added to the back legs, if necessary, so that the table or case good will be level.

And, by the way. Floors are sometimes wildly uneven. It is usually not the furniture that’s having an issue. It’s your floor! Uneven floors can create wobbly situations as well as throwing doors and drawers on the case pieces out of alignment. For dozens of my jobs, I had to have a carpenter come over to adjust the doors on case-goods. So stressful to get the call from the client that things arrived out of whack!

 

If a room, like an office or den is super small. That is, eight feet or less for the width. You might want to consider wall-to-wall carpeting if you wish to have a floor covering.

 

My favorite is always seagrass.

 

How to mix area rugs in a semi-open plan

What to do if your area rug is too small

 

Lighting For Living Rooms

 

I’ve written a lot about lighting for living rooms in numerous posts.

 

 

If the ceiling is at least nine feet high, for some rooms a chandelier or semi-flushmount, or ceiling fan.

 

Art Work

 

  • Art can be hung individually or in groups of two or more pieces.
  • For art over the sofa, some have said that it should be far less than the sofa itself.

 

living room layout-Laurel Bern Interiors Bronxville Living room decorating rules of thumb

 

However, these clients put up this painting which is nearly the same size as the sofa and it’s pretty stunning. Should it be a little smaller? Ideally, probably a few inches in all directions would be ideal. But I love the painting so much and I also love that it’s “breaking the rules.” Beauty trumps all.

This post has a lot of great ideas for art walls and sources for free and/or very cheap but great looking art.

 

More rules of thumb for hanging art.

 

  • The center of the piece of art or art grouping should be at about eye-level height which we’ll say on average is between 55″ and 65″. However, there are other factors to consider such as the ceiling height, size of the room, etc.
  • Usually, I do not let the top of the art go past the top of the window and door frames. But, an exception would be over a fireplace. And, also if the ceiling is very high.
  • When doing art walls in groupings, I think the art looks best if the spacing is from one to three inches. But again, there are so many situations.

 

For more ideas about how to hang art, you can check out these posts for ideas here, here, here, here, here and here.

 

50 living room decorating rules of thumb

please pin to Pinterest for reference

 

Well, that was quite a bit. I hope that you enjoyed this post about living room decorating rules! I’m sure that I left some things out.  But, I can also go on with other rooms if you like.

Oh, and I realize that I didn’t discuss window treatments, but this post should satisfy most of what you need to know.

There sure is a lot to know!

xo,

 

 

P.S. Two important announcements.

 

gorgeous bouquet from Terrain

gorgeous bouquet from Terrain

 

One) I’ve put together a rockin’ Mom’s Day gift guide with two sources for gorgeous fresh flowers. Not the tacky 1-800 kind. And about 25 other items and best sources if you prefer to shop online.

Of course, please also check out all of the hot sales. There are some beautiful new things to see this weekend.

The second announcement is also important.

 

This coming Wednesday, for those who’ve purchased the Six Figure Income Blogger, you will be receiving a FREE update.

 

I’ve gone over the 150 page guide and am making many changes. The reason is… It’s the internet and as we all know… things change. And/Or I’ve discovered new and better ways to do some things.

The biggest update will be with the Yoast SEO plugin. If you’ve been using the old one, you’re already using the new one. But for anyone getting the guide now, the form that shows up is quite different than how it looked a year ago. Most of the changes are for the better.

They’ve calmed down on some of the more difficult rules. And, added several new things. None of it is difficult. Of course, if you purchase the guide before Wednesday, you will still receive the update.

 

5th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2018 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Michelle - May 29, 2019 - 12:05 AM

    Thank you so much for this, Laurel!ReplyCancel

  • Amyll - May 22, 2019 - 12:44 AM

    I don’t know your television likes or dislikes. My son is also on the spectrum. The very first episode of Parenthood had a dinner episode, (the son was newly diagnosed). I mentioned it to my son’s therapist. I was the fourth mother to mention it. The show was less then a week old. I never watched it again.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 22, 2019 - 1:01 AM

      Hi Amy,

      Ugh. I’ve never watched the show. Sounds like it was pretty triggering. That’s how I felt watching Rainman when my son was very young. He’s far higher functioning in that he can take care of himself as long as he has money.ReplyCancel

  • Susan King - May 8, 2019 - 11:37 PM

    Hi Laurel-

    I wonder if you would do a post on us non-professionals buying fabric, either on line or from one of the few remaining brick & mortar stores.

    Of course we need to check the durability (how many zillion double rubs, etc.), but how do we know if it is good quality? Should we trust the quality of the familiar names only: Robt. Allen, Kravet, Duralee, Fabricut, Braunswig & Fils (for those who can afford it), etc.

    Also, is price necessarily a guide to quality, or are the prices of some of these fabric houses wildly inflated? I see what appear to be (on line) pretty fabrics from unknown manufacturers and wonder if they are of decent quality, especially if they are pretty cheap? We can eye-ball the fabric swatches, but may not be able to judge the quality. Also, are some fabrics circumspect based on country of manufacture? Thanks a lot-

    SusanReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 9, 2019 - 11:01 AM

      Hi Susan,

      This post
      will explain many of the major pitfalls when purchasing any fabric. Price is not a guarantee that it will perform as required.ReplyCancel

  • Wren - May 8, 2019 - 10:22 PM

    Laurel, followed the link to the throw pillow link; just wanted to let you know that I have used interiorlinens.com. They have 50/50 non custom inserts.ReplyCancel

  • Arlene - May 8, 2019 - 1:18 AM

    Where are the murals?ReplyCancel

  • Holly Dumont - May 7, 2019 - 9:36 PM

    The Jay Jeffers job is called the Pacific.
    My ever loving spouse says, darling it’s a trompe l’oeil (darn French spouse, knows everything and can spell in French. But what are the rules for using these? And if you pick a color out of the picture, do you just have the paint company match it? Or stick with something from your favorite whites?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 8, 2019 - 1:36 AM

      Oh Honey, I’m sorry. What are the rules for using a mural? You mean on one wall? Well, the paint needs to coordinate the same as it would if it was tile or a fabric. Make a few samples and see what works best and with the rest of your space, too.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah McGee - May 7, 2019 - 3:39 PM

    I haven’t even got to the pictures yet but as soon as I read that you were going to offer a course I had to say: sign. me. up.

    SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

    okay, now that that’s done…ReplyCancel

  • Salena - May 7, 2019 - 3:31 PM

    Hi Laurel!
    Thank you for another fantastic post! I have avoided so many first time homeowner decorating mistakes (and recognized ones made) because of your blog. Are there guidelines you recommend following when floating furniture (chairs, sofas, settees, etc) around or in front of a fireplace? Thank you for all of your advice!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 8, 2019 - 1:32 AM

      Thanks so much Salena! The guidelines are the same. You need to have enough room to get around– safely.ReplyCancel

  • Kathy - May 6, 2019 - 5:03 PM

    Thank you, thank you Laurel for another fabulous post with such crucial information, and for your generous sharing of it. Since I’ve been reading your blog, I tell my husband something is “Laurel approved”, and he knows it’s going to be good! We recently bought two of the Brooke Sofas by Robin Bruce on super super sale at OKL! I want to get some throw pillows made, and wondering what size. The two pillows which come with the sofa are 19 inches so I’m wondering what size I should make the others? Also, with two sofas facing each other, should the pillows mirror each other? I like this one on Etsy:
    Should that be the center pillow you suggested, since its kind of complicated?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 7, 2019 - 1:56 AM

      Hi Kathy,

      Have you read the pillow post? That should give you a good idea. And also, you don’t have to use their pillows, if the size of them is tripping you up. Or if you want the pattern pillow in the front, have them made at 19″ and use a 21″ coordinating pillow behind it.ReplyCancel

  • Holly - May 6, 2019 - 3:52 PM

    Laurel, I love the Jay Jeffers photo and went to check out his site. He has one room that has an entire scene on it. What are these called? Where do you find them? Please make us a post!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 7, 2019 - 1:51 AM

      Hi Holly,

      I went over there and poked around, but he has 100s of images. Do you know at least which project it is?ReplyCancel

  • Tess - May 6, 2019 - 1:36 PM

    Thank you for everything plus the Erma Bombeck link! Talk about a confidence boost. 😘 Needed that!ReplyCancel

  • Amy - May 6, 2019 - 10:12 AM

    Love this post! How helpful. Would love to see a similar one on bedrooms.ReplyCancel

  • Lily - May 6, 2019 - 8:53 AM

    Laurel, you stumbled on a great tool for children’s mental health. Written out rules means they are fixed and predictable. Rules that aren’t written get forgotten and feel arbitrary and sometimes capricious to children. I remember this feeling. It wasn’t fun. More specifically, when I was young and shall we say inventive, adults often made up rules because I did things they never expected. I learned the injustice of ex post facto at 3.

    Anyway. Yes. Written rules make things predictable and clear for everyone. And predictable is what’s best for all sorts of minds that are learning things.

    You did a great job <3ReplyCancel

  • Sharon - May 6, 2019 - 1:41 AM

    OMGosh….I live in Carmel! Well, actually Carmel Valley, CA. Please everyone come visit this little paradise! For the gal who is on her way, there are a few great stagers/designers who could help her furnish her home I am happy to refer.
    Love Laurel’s blog and her advice is excellent.
    Laurel, please know that we are all with you regarding your son’s autism and I am praying for your family that they find the right answers/path that leads to the best treatment.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 7, 2019 - 1:46 AM

      Hi Sharon,

      Thank you, but my son is now 24. I could write a book about everything we did for him. He’s in God’s hands now.ReplyCancel

  • Holly - May 5, 2019 - 10:24 PM

    Laurel, No one ever sits on our couch. I thought it was the couch, but no, I changed it out and still, every one grabs the chairs.

    Any rules that say you MUST have a couch? Will the couch police come and cart me away?

    I have 1 wingback, 1 club chair, 2 overstuffs alll from the 40’s.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 5, 2019 - 11:14 PM

      Hi Holly,

      Actually, there’s a post here somewhere. Hang on. John Jay Homestead

      Back in the day. 18th century, at least in this old home belonging to the first supreme court justice, John Jay. The parlors only had chairs. Chairs we would use for dining and maybe two or three around a small round tea table.ReplyCancel

  • JeanFB - May 5, 2019 - 6:59 PM

    Just popping in to say thank you for such a fantastic resource. Fabulous tips here, and great to have both this advice and the more in-depth articles linked for easy access. This is a resource I will come back to time and again.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah | Homenourish - May 5, 2019 - 1:50 PM

    Hi Laurel, I am commenting on your blog for the first time and I found your article living room decorating ideas very helpful. Thank you for the share.ReplyCancel

  • Parnassus - May 5, 2019 - 11:34 AM

    Hello again, Yes, we had household rules too, even if unwritten ones. Most I still adhere to. For example, food is to be kept in proper eating areas only, not in bedrooms (I do make an exception for coffee by the computer!). Also, when we sat down for a family meal, off went the television. This was not too hard for me as I never was a big fan of TV, but it shows respect for those at the table. I recall much later at a dinner party, one person kept getting up to check that TV that was going in another room, and after that, our respect for that person dropped considerably–our company was the minor attraction that evening. So yes, rules both keep us civilized and keep our living rooms looking good. –JimReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 5, 2019 - 11:41 AM

      So bad, so bad your friend doing that. Tres tacky. Ditto for folks glued to their cell phones while out to dinner with friends. ugh. Unless one is out and has a sick child at home, turn the ringer OFF and put the damned thing away!ReplyCancel

  • Chris Irizarry - May 5, 2019 - 10:15 AM

    Thoroughly enjoyed this post and appreciate the link to draperies. My living room has a 2 piece crown molding that extends out into the room over the windows and doors. The extensions are the exact width of said windows and doors (36”).

    I had drapes at one time but they made the room so dark. The last 10 years the windows have been bare and the room looks strange because the crowns jut out over them. Redoing the crowns is not an option per hubby.

    There is a need for shade in the early AM as the sun hits the eyes while drinking morning coffee. (The kitchen/dining rooms are north facing in constant shade so it’s like night all the time. Not a great way to wake up so we go to the sunniest room in the house for coffee.) I’m thinking about faux Roman shade valances with a bamboo type roll-up underneath.

    The door will be tricky as it is frequently used. My living room is 18’ x 21’ but I have to float all the furniture because of multiple windows/entrances/doors on 3 walls and built-in cabinets/shelves on the fourth wall. The rug is 11’ x 14’ and serves as the footprint for furniture placement. I recently purchased two 60” loveseats facing each other in front of the fireplace with a 45” round coffee table in the middle and round chandelier centered overhead.

    I also bought two chairs to flank the fireplace but they look too bulky. Will probably put them in hubby’s office instead. The biggest challenge has been finding narrow end tables that will fit on the rug. I have resorted to vintage stores and have found one so far that is perfect for the room. Still hunting for a few more. I did place a game table behind one loveseat on the wall so we can get at least one lamp in the room.

    The rest of the light comes from recessed cans. The chandelier has 9 LED bulbs that provide ample light if someone needs to read. That fixture is on a dimmer. I did not realize the limitations of the living room when we bought the house. The owners had already moved out and all I saw was the marvelous details and storage. Reality quickly set in on day one of owning it, LOL. Laurel, you really have helped me figure it out. A million thanks! (Sorry for the stream of consciousness ramble.)ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 5, 2019 - 11:37 AM

      Any time, Chris. It’s difficult to visualize all of that, but I’m glad that my advice has been helpful!

      In light of the weird moulding over the windows that really MUST come down, this is my recommendation on how to make that happen:

      First, make your DH the chocolate cake.

      While he’s having his second helping, because it IS just that good… Have him read my comment and then give him this little presie from me for being such a darling husband.

      Please let us know how it goes… :]ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth Scruggs - May 5, 2019 - 9:59 AM

    SO much good info here Laurel-
    this is another post to bookmark, print, highlight, put in a Laurel binder…
    (what? everyone doesn’t have one??)
    thank you for always sharing your wisdom- it is truly a gift!
    and the little mention about the course in the fall?
    that is SO big!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 5, 2019 - 11:19 AM

      Thanks so much Elizabeth. Like *you* need the course? Hardly. But then, we all learn from each other. Nobody knows everything.ReplyCancel

  • Jill Gabbe - May 5, 2019 - 8:45 AM

    Hi Laurel,
    LOVE your blog and this one came at the most opportune time. Heading out to Carmel, CA and need to furnish an entire house in three weeks! Feels overwhelming! Definitely interested in your new course too. Thank you for all of your generous – and humorous – advice! JillReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 5, 2019 - 11:18 AM

      Hi Jill,

      Thank you too. Love Carmel! My brother lived there for a few years and I used to love to visit which I did a few times. Soooo beautiful. Good luck with your decorating!ReplyCancel

  • Margaret Vant Erve - May 5, 2019 - 8:45 AM

    Great guidelines Laurel. So exciting that you are developing a course! I am sure it will be awesome.ReplyCancel

  • susie - May 5, 2019 - 8:41 AM

    love the idea of chairs gathered around a circular coffee table (or ottoman)ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 5, 2019 - 11:15 AM

      I’ve done that a couple of times. So great for a conversation grouping!ReplyCancel

  • Parnassus - May 5, 2019 - 7:33 AM

    Hello Laurel, Wow, 50 rules, and so many tips to consider. However, I am starting to feel sorry for your kids growing up–how many rules did you have for them? Also, your friend who wants the old-fashioned living room. Does Laurel’s Rolodex contain sources for famous actresses to decorate his living room with? (Not so impossible at that–I was just reading about art dealer Robert Ellsworth, who shared a Manhattan townhouse with Claudette Colbert until 1977–the article didn’t say whether their accommodations were combined or separate. Apparently the art business was good–he then moved to a 22-room apartment on 5th Avenue.) Actually, I may be able to ‘upstage’ your friend. I just bought a group of 96 photos of actors and actresses from around 1900. They only had one picture of the entire pile, but on top were Chauncey Olcott and May Vokes, both quite famous, so I can’t wait to test myself on the other 94.

    Seriously, your article came with perfect timing, as I am considering the arrangement of my living room. I have looked at numerous photos on the internet, and I now realize that many that I instinctively disliked were those that broke your rules. Perhaps the most important one is wide pathways–the worst effect is for a room to be squeezed and claustrophobic. I need a double U-shaped circulation path, so that takes up a lot of the width of the room, but as you point out, lining up the furniture along the walls is not a good solution. Time to check out those previous linked-to posts.
    –JimReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 5, 2019 - 11:15 AM

      Well, Jim, I know that you’re joking, but I used to actually write some of the rules out, especially concerning dinner. This was mostly for my son with autism. (no worries, no chance he will see this) and, a technique highly recommended by a neuropsychologist we were seeing to help us. Having a child with special needs taught me many lessons about life and dealing with people that I would never have learned otherwise.

      BTW, the dinner rules, written out worked! The children came when they were called and the one with autism stopped screaming his head off. If he did, his dinner was removed and he was sent away. Then, he would be given another chance 90 minutes later. Actually, once the rules were written out, he stopped screaming. But one time, they did not come when they were called and yes, they missed dinner and had to wait 90 minutes for another crack at it.

      Please enjoy one of my favorite pieces written by Erma Bombeck about how God selects mothers for children with special needs.

      Oh, we could have a forum about this topic for sure!ReplyCancel