Can This Boring Bland Living Room Be Saved?

Dear Laurel,

I eagerly read your blog and have all of your products, the rolodex and paint collection and pallets.

They’ve helped so much! Plus, I’ve implemented loads of your wonderful tidbits of decorating advice. By using your no-fail color scheme for staging our previous house to sell, we were able to attract loads of interest and get top dollar. Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge!

We’re now in a lovely home with high ceilings, nice trim, gorgeous windows and a modicum of architectural interest. Most of the home is coming together. But I’m at a loss as to how to design the long, bare wall that came from floating my furniture in my living room.

Well, actually, there are some other problems too, but I don’t want to be greedy if that’s too much to tackle for one blog post.


It’s just a boring bland living room.


And, there isn’t a lot of depth to work with on that long wall or it will make the traffic flow too tight.


Well, here it is; the BBLR. I’m a little nervous showing it to you.


That’s the front door coming into the living room.


And the boring, bland living room.


OH! I know exactly what you’re thinking, Laurel. My daughter said it too. That carpeting looks like grandma’s bathrobe.

Hideous, isn’t it?

This is the long wall I was talking about.


And yes, this is a pretty horrible mantel. But it looks so much better since I got the pretty fireplace screen from Horchow that you had in your Hot Sales posts a while back.

And yes, I know about the wires and the cable box. We are working on that one. They are all going bye-bye very soon.

The sofa from the front. See? We got the one that’s your favorite. We love it too! The coffee table is a cheap-y thing we picked up. Don’t know if we should paint or ditch it for something else.

Looking towards the kitchen/dining area.

The kitchen with pinky beige cabinets to go with the horrid pinky-beige trim and coordinating pinky-beige walls. And yes, that’s an engineered wood floor in they-must-be-color-blind-because-it-clashes-horribly-golden-oak.

I’m hoping that you’ll think this one will be interesting to your other readers; if so, I’d love to have at least, your take on dividing and conquering the inevitable swath of blank wall left over after arranging furniture in a floating arrangement.

Thanks for your time. I know you get lots of suggestions for posts so I understand if this isn’t a pressing issue.




Hi Guys,

Well, here it is, another lovely home that has a lot of potential, but with a few problems.

And Anita is again, like last week (you can see that here), a real reader who wrote in.

I don’t know how old Anita is, but she has at least one grown daughter and a grandchild or two. Point is, there aren’t a lot of young’uns under foot all of the time.

Also, some of Anita’s letter was paraphrased and I took a little artistic license, in a couple of places. ;]


Okay, let’s jump in. Before I do… I’m going to do something a little different this week. I’m going to turn this one into a two-parter.


I will do part of it now and you guys can comment and then I’ll do the rest and perhaps incorporate some of your ideas into the post for Tuesday.

This will help me out a lot. I am leaving Monday morning to see my mom, sis and cousin in Wisconsin for a few. My 95-yr-old mommy isn’t doing so well. Her vascular dementia is quite advanced now and they just moved her to memory care because her assisted living home wasn’t meeting her needs which are pretty extreme.

God bless those of you who are caring for elderly parents if they get to this stage. I don’t know how you do it.

So, let’s really jump into our topic.

And it’s not so much that it’s a bland boring living room, but that there are some things that unfortunately are bringing it down. (but not everything)


Here’s my list in no particular order.


The sculpted wall-to-wall carpeting.


We had that back in the 70s. I didn’t realize that they still make this stuff. I would replace it with a hardwood floor to coordinate with the existing kitchen floor. If we can re-stain that, then I would make them a little darker and richer.

Anita didn’t say anything about the entry, but she’s located smack dab in the middle of silicon valley in Cali so we don’t have to worry about snow or snirt. ;] And believe me, after being blessed with a relatively snow-less winter, we’ve got plenty of late winter snirt around. (if you don’t know what snirt is, please open the link. It’s pretty amusing.)

But since she’s not apt to get a lot of ground in dirt and sand, I would just take that hardwood floor straight through the hall and into the entry. And then put down a beautiful rug; maybe sea grass. Then I might do an Oriental runner down the hall.


For the living room, I would do a natural fiber rug.


And I would do either a sea grass rug or the new Serena and Lily beautiful woven abaca rug.


Serena and Lily Fulton_Linen bed Dominica rug Abaca rug interior decorating questions answered

Here it is in this pretty bedroom.

Abaca rug from Serena and LilyAnd another view

Please don’t forget that the S&L upholstery sale is ending at 11:59 PT on March 12th


Sorry, just have to interrupt myself yet again. Did I mention that I got a new rug for my bedroom? I did and I LOVE IT! It’s from Overstock which a lot of the rugs are also from on the rug sale’s page.


Oh, Laurel, you aren’t going to be a tease and not show us, are you?


Yes, I was planning on tormenting you, but okay. ;]

Here it is! It’s an 8 x 10 which is the perfect size for my bedroom. It’s very soft and pale. And it’s hand-knotted. The rugs at Overstock are not overstocked at all. This is a one-of-a-kind and the prices are awesome!


Okay, sorry for the interruption. Back to our regularly scheduled program

The fireplace mantel sucks.


Yes, that is a little blunt and yes, there’s worse, but not by much. And the reason it irks me so is because of the faux bas-relief grapevines like Michelangelo, himself sculpted them by hand? Not.

I have no patience for the ersatz – fake and phony in architecture or home furnishings.

I’d really like to change that one, if possible. It’s the focal point of the room. If we can’t change it, then fine. Let’s paint it AND the walls AND all of that barfy-beige trim a soft warm white like one of these great colors from Benjamin MooreCotton Balls, White Dove, Swiss Coffee, Cloud White or Simply White.

They’re all beautiful! And those are five of the 12 beautiful shades of white in the Laurel Home Essential Paint Collection (which is sold with the Palette and Home Furnishings collection.) You can find out more about that here.


Next up.

Yeah. You already know.


The windows.


God bless the home-builders in the 80s-90s with their post-modern weirdness. What could be better than the ubiquitous poorly scaled Palladian window home-builders favored in the 80s and 90s?

Half of a Palladian Window!


I once had a client whose family room was built over the garage and I guess because of the roof line, they could only get the top part of the half arch.

We ignored it. haha.

For these window treatments, I have two ideas in mind. But I’m going to hold off on that one. I’ll let you guys chime in on your solutions.


Now for the long wall.


We can’t put up a big bookcase because of the vent; well, not without a big expense.

I considered a console table, but I’d like to put one behind the sofa with two lamps. I like doing that when the back of the sofa is out in the open, if there’s room and it looks like there is.

Therefore I decided to do a big art wall!

I forgot that whenever I do an art wall— even virtually, it renders me into a limp rag.

But, here it is!

Artfully walls eclectic art wall for a bland boring living room

No wonder! That’s 26 pieces all framed, hung – lol and put into a particular order which of course I fussed with waaaaay too long!

And below, is a widget of all of the art– from Artfully Walls. The frames and mats, however don’t show up. And they are not scaled as shown. Most of the pieces at Artfully walls come in a number of sizes. It’s fun to play around with their wall planner too.

If you click on the individual pieces, it will take you to their product page on Artfully Walls.



And I just read this great blog post by Amy at Home Glow Designs. She has some great tips for getting your art walls perfect every time.

Hope that you enjoyed that. I will have a lot more for you on Tuesday evening.


But a bit of a preview.

I’ll be going over everything we talked about, plus a few more pillows,(which I can’t wait to show you) window treatments, some furniture ideas, lighting, paint colors, railing, front door. (I would paint it black!)

And a tummy tuck and facelift for the kitchen!

Oh, and I do love the gray chairs in the kitchen. They remind me of mine with an oval back.




PS: Please check out the newly updated hot sales. There are dozens of new items including many vintage pieces. And, all are on sale!


Welcome To Laurel Home!


Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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