How To Achieve Furniture and Color Balance in a Room

Hi Everyone,

Wow! We’re winding up June already and I guess gearing up for the holiday week. I say, week because our 4th of July is on Thursday and that means that we need to take this entire week off. :]

And then, we’ll probably need to take the following week off too to recuperate from this week.

Hell, let’s just take the rest of the summer off!




The other day, a kind reader left a comment about wanting to know about achieving color balance in a room.


To tell the truth, I have never really thought that much about it.

I generally think in terms of OVER-ALL balance, including the furnishings; not just color balance. Still, it’s all inter-connected. So, today’s post is focusing on the over-all balance in the room. However, color is a key component.


But, as we’ve discussed before, sometimes something a little out of whack actually is a good thing.


Still, for most rooms, there is ONE color that has the largest percentage.

Usually, it’s the wall color, because most of the time, the wall color is going to be repeated somewhere at least once. And maybe, numerous times.

But, the reality is; there are so many variables.


However, a good rule of thumb is to pick one color to be a “neutral” color and then build from there.


If it’s a cool color, then the room will be over-all cool, but will have warm accents. The opposite may also hold true. We saw that in this post about blue and white rooms and how to keep them from looking too cold.

The one thing to avoid is to have equal concentrations of three colors. I think that equal concentrations of two colors is okay, but then the third will only be an accent.


There are also other things to consider with color balance such as:


The contrast of the colors. Are they close together on the color wheel? (analogous) OR, are the opposite each other like red and green? (complementary)


Other considerations


  • Room size
  • Height of ceiling
  • Amount of light


While I was researching this post on color balance, I was checking out one of my favorite instagram accounts @verandahhouse – I saw IT.


I don’t know why I hadn’t even seen IT before.

But, IT jumped out at me like a dog who should’ve been let out to pee three hours ago!

Okay, that was bad, because in actuality, IT struck me over the head in an extraordinary way. You know… like watching the most beautiful ballet while simultaneously eating the most delectable piece of banana cream pie.


So, what was IT already Laurel! Hurry, please we’re getting ready to go to our beach house.


Well, IT was probably the most beautiful room I’ve ever laid eyes on. In fact, I’ve decided that I’m going to marry and have IT’S babies!

I mean, IT’s THE ONE; absolutely perfect.

In fact, IT IS so perfect, it’s like an entire course in interior design, all in just one room.

What is this magical room and where is it?

Well, it’s not in a home, but it could be.


It’s the Ralph Lauren Showroom in Milan and they call it Palazzo Ralph Lauren.


via @stevecordony instagram - @ralphlaurenhome showroom palazzo Ralph Lauren Milan
@stevecordony instagram – @ralphlaurenhome showroom palazzo Ralph Lauren Milan.


via @filippocirulli on instagram - furniture and color balance Palazzo Ralph Lauren Milano - beautiful table styling

via @filippocirulli on instagram – furniture and color balance Palazzo Ralph Lauren Milano – beautiful table styling


@mirea_debono on instagram furniture and color balance Palazzo Ralph Lauren Milano - beautiful table styling

@mirea_debono on instagram


Does anyone know what those wonderful brass orbs are for?


via @umberto_corrado-furniture and color balance Palazzo Ralph Lauren Milano

via @umberto_corrado on instagram


via @house.blanche - instagram - via @ralphlaurenhome - furniture and color balance Palazzo Ralph Lauren Milano

@house.blanche – instagram


via @stevecordony instagram - @ralphlaurenhome showroom palazzo Ralph Lauren Milan - marble fireplace mantel

via @stevecordony instagram


Steve is immensely talented. I love how he styled this gorgeous marble fireplace mantel.


via @stevecordony on instagram furniture and color balance Palazzo Ralph Lauren Milano

via @stevecordony on instagram


It wasn’t nearly as easy to find the other side of the room, but I love it too! The center hall table is a classic design element for a long living room with two seating areas. We saw it here in this stunning living room by Frank Babb Randolph.


via @pasotto_eleonora_ furniture and color balance Palazzo Ralph Lauren Milano

via @pasotto_eleonora_ on instagram


A question I have is: Why is there a chair  right on top of the the white chair on the right? It’s in every photo I found and you’ll see it again, later on. So, it’s not there because someone happened to put it there one day. That is where that chair lives.


But, no matter. Actually, I think that this is their best work.


Whadaya think? I see some slightly confused looking faces.


Well, what do you think about the heavy dark green velvet draperies, Laurel? Is the color balance really balanced? And what about what you said about the draperies matching the wall color.




Okay. Here’s the deal. This is not a normal room. This is the Miss Universe of rooms– even without any furnishings.


However, if per chance, anyone actually has a room like this, I’m going to have to come over and kill you. So, if you do. I don’t want to hear about it. ;]

But, based on the photos, it looks like the draperies are on opposite sides of the room. On the opposite side to the French doors are coordinating arched doorways. I don’t think there are doors on that side. But wait. There probably are, in case they need to close the room off, completely.

And then, the fireplace wall is quite dramatic with the floor to ceiling gorgeous bookcases. And the fireplace area is absolute perfection.

The back wall behind the four chairs is quite dark.


So, yes, I believe the furniture and color balance, to be perfect.

In further examination, the main color is the cream color of the walls and furniture. The secondary color is green. The rug might have green in it, not sure. But because so much furniture is covering it, it is more of an accent. And then pops of red and the brown tones serve as the accent colors.


The furniture has both elements of light and dark.


And then the floor is anchored with the large and definitely dark Oriental rug.

The other thing is the soaring ceiling.

The room can handle the dark draperies. I think that if this were only an eight foot ceiling, it would feel too heavy, unless it was just one window.

As for it not being the wall color. That is also fine. This is a case when it works to have a contrasting color. And, I can’t be bothered to check, lol, but I believe I also said that is sometimes an option.


But, why are the drapes green?  Why not dark blue?


Well, I suppose that a dark blue would’ve been fine, however, Mr. Lauren has dark green velvet draperies in his home in Katonah, NY (which is mistakenly called Bedford, but I don’t feel like getting into it.)


However, I too, was thinking that I’d love to see this room with white or off-white drapes.

Well, in my stalking research every freaking hashtag I could think of on instagram,  I hit pay dirt.


Apparently, the Palazzo Ralph Lauren showroom has a summer look as well.


via @charlotte_abbigliamento instagram - furniture and color balance Palazzo Ralph Lauren Milano - Ralphlaurenhome

via @charlotte_abbigliamento instagram

Hold the phone, Loretta! That’s stunning! Absolutely sublime! I love this room both ways! And, please note that out went the heavy oriental rug and they brought out a big beautiful seagrass rug! AND, do I spy linen slipcovers on the chairs?


via @carloemmepi Ralph Lauren Showroom Milan - furniture and color balance Palazzo Ralph Lauren Milano

via @carloemmepi on instagram


Yes, those are indeed slipcovers. I don’t know about the sofas.

Maybe since they are light, they left them as is. But, as you can see, there is also no longer the strong red plaid pillow behind Carlo!


And the color balance now?


Yes! I think that it is still perfect because the rug changed along with the window treatments. However, even if they had left the heavy oriental rug, I would still like the pale curtains. And, I think the balance would still be wonderful because of the pale furniture.


Okay, of course. I just had to put together a lower-end version of Mr. Lauren’s opulent room.


The same idea as this other favorite room of his. At least most of this is. And I added a few pieces that are in the Hot Sales Widgets.

Oh, and late this afternoon, I noticed on OKL that their all of their Visual Comfort, Aerin, Ralph Lauren (total coincidence) lighting is on sale. No double dipping, but those lines are rarely on sale. Therefore, I’ve added a few of my favorites to the widgets which you can access on the Hot Sales page.

Please enjoy my collection that’s in the manner of a long-time design crush, Ralph Lauren.

To find out more about any of these items, just click on any image and it will take you directly to that product page.






Please check out the newly updated Hot Sales pages


48 Responses

  1. This really IS a gorgeous room! But the ottoman hit me between the eyes, because I know what it is: That’s not tapestry, it’s a 19th-century paisley shawl. Mid-19th century at the latest. (Rule of thumb is the earlier the shawl, the bigger the solid area in the center.) So it’s custom upholstery, but a decent antique shawl isn’t hard to find, even without a ton of moth damage. (I would have a hard time cutting up one in such good condition, but that’s me!)

  2. Hi laurel,
    I’m a HUGE student of your’s and I have to say this blog was a breakthrough. I have lots of lovely things but they weren’t quite jelling. I took the recommendation of two neutrals to heart and switched out the green sofa in my living room with the taupe sofa in my library. Moved a blue chair to the library and TADA its all working. Living room now ivory and taupe with accents of olive, spring green and spa blue. Library now deep green, olive and robin’s egg blue. Not a penny was spent and it is verging on a miracle. Of course I couldn’t not spend a penny and the He Tu cub chair you linked to in the post is now on the way. Elsie de Wolfe said “I am going to make everything around me beautiful. That will be my life. “. You’ve done her one better You have made everything around ME beautiful and we have never met.

  3. You, my friend, are Crazy!!! The good kind!😳😂😂😂half the time I’m sitting here going “what in the crud is she talking about??!!” Haha! Don’t give up on me though cuz 1 of these days maybe I’ll learn! I love design and love your feisty attitude

  4. Hi Laurel,

    You are hilarious! You made my day! I appreciate all your info and great stories. Thanks!!!!

  5. Hi Laurel,

    Love this post. I was surprised when you said the curtains are green because they looked navy to me. Maybe they are a dark blue green. I have the regal blue velvet curtains from west elm and they look very similar. Sort of a dark teal navy. Not the worn velvet ones. Thanks for all the other sources. Those are great.

    1. Hi Amy,

      I’m on a macbook but for years, I used a PC and didn’t realize until I got my back, that the PC skewed everything blue. So, if you’re looking on a PC, that might be it.

  6. Laurel, your blog is so informative and so much fun. I love clicking on links to go back to your earlier posts, so much inspiration! I’m excited that you adore this Ralph room as much as I do. It is absolutely to die for. As for the brass orbs, I’d love to know where to find them, dust catcher or not.

  7. Hi Laurel,
    This is another post you’ve written that has got me thinking about how I can improve my decor & color situation in my home.
    All of the rooms in my home are done in white, aqua, teal, & navy. I have no warm colors! (Unless you count the warmth of my wood floors & seagrass rugs. I need to get busy & start adding some warm accents!

  8. I love this room Laurel! Thanks for sharing it. My sofa and rug are similar to this but my rug has no blue in it. Would the blue pillows and accessories work anyway or do I need to highlight the green of my rug?

  9. Somewhat shockingly, IKEA has a dark green cotton velvet curtain that’s really not bad. I’m an admitted fabric snob, and I bought these. They come in 118” for $70 – a steal. Obviously there is a lot more to this amazing room than just the curtains, but it could be the start of a pretty room for mere mortals like us.

    As usual, thank you for the wonderful post. You and Joni (CDT) are my favorites!

    1. Thank you so much Amanda! I have great admiration for Joni and her beautiful blog that’s been going for far longer than mine. And, great find on the Ikea velvet curtains!

  10. Laurel, what an exquisite example. The balance of neutral and color tones! It looks like a place I could visit and feel comfortable. The very large plants do make me think of dust, bug habitat, and needing a green thumb.

    However, I would overlook that for the chance to sit on one of those comfy chairs and play games on my phone too.

    Thank you for your awesome blog. I ran into my living room to check how the wall color is repeated in the other elements, and your influence is all over the place!

  11. While I love the fireplace wall I find the rest of the room heavy. I much prefer the summer look with neutral drapes and a seagrass rug. But then, I’m a less is more kinda gal!

    1. Hi Joanna,

      I prefer the lighter look as well. But, how fun to be able to change it up for the seasons! I could see this room looking particularly festive for the Christmas season. They wouldn’t have to do much.

  12. Holy Sherlock! Great detective work. How fabulous is it to see the same room re-decorated? Castle Ralphie is spectacular but I’m also gaga about the room in the email. The walls look like suede, and again, we have dark green velvet but on the couch instead of the drapes. I know “sofa” is so much more de rigueur but I’m a workin’-class Canadian girl so I have a couch. Thanks for the great read and happy birthday USA. Ours is tomorrow.

    1. Hi Gail,

      At 3:00PM, I was planning on using the room in the email. By 9:00PM, I knew that would be impossible. But, the visual balance is super well-done, IMO. And yes, RL has a sueded paint collection in addition to their others. BTW, we also used “couch” growing up in the 60s in southern Indiana. However, I learned in design school that a couch is actually an armless sofa. Oh, I could look it up. But, I haven’t had coffee yet. haha!

  13. I love this post! I’ve seen so many Instagram pictures of would-be gorgeous rooms but they are done in all gray and white. No accent color and not a drop of warmth – it’s like a giant spoonful of sugar you want to spit out. One of my biggest design pet peeves! Anyway thanks for the great post and love all the items you show for sale. Happy fourth!

  14. Laurel, this is a gorgeous room – but who could ever dispute that Mr Ralph Lauren/Polo could ever not have a gorgeous showroom!?!
    There are a few things I notice:
    – this room looks lived in, I mean it doesn’t look staged for photos — which of course we know it was super staged with many late night meetings on where exactly each item should go and at what angle!
    – this room is there to sell the RL brand. Which it does, because I need those pillows!
    – this room is huge! Most of my clients don’t have this kind of space, but it is filled to the brim!
    – this room does not embrace Minimalism! refer to point #2

    So, my takeaway is that I totally agree with you: color does balance a room! Especially important in large rooms! White and gray does not have to prevail, although there is a good point about those light drapes!

    Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hi Susan,

      Actually, some of these are photos that are not staged, as far as I know. They were just taken by folks visiting. I’m not sure what it takes to get in, however, since this is a private showroom, apparently.

  15. Hi Laurel,

    It is a beautiful room – how can it not be with those amazing windows and built in shelving. I am not a fan of the plaid cushions though. I think I associate plaid a lot with country (sorry, can’t help doing that) so I would have done a nice chintz, ikat or jacquard fabric. Love the center table styling though.

    1. Hi Margaret,

      You know… plaids are not my favorite either. But the whole idea began as this kind of United Kingdom old-world-aristocratic hunting party kind of thing. It certainly makes sense, as Ralph Lauren (né Ralph Lifshitz) was born and raised in the Bronx part of New York City! lol

      All good because his estimated worth is estimated to be over 7 billion now.

      However, tartan plaids are a part of that horse-y look and they are definitely always a signature fabric in their collections. They also have chintz and ikat and all the rest too.

  16. I see the summer room’s flowers are green to balance the light drapes and rug; opposite the winter rooms light flowers on the round table, dark drapes and rug.
    Thank you Laurel for another great post! And thanks to the person who asked the question!

  17. Thank you Laurel for this stunning post! I am suffering from some serious coveting. That room! Of course, the room itself could be naked and still gorgeous.
    That aside I appreciate the points you made on color balance. I have forced myself to pause and put together a plan for my LR/DR that will start with some color choices.
    Will spend some fun time this afternoon adding to my idea board from the awesome lower-end version of the RL room you put together.
    Thanks to you I am more confident of the direction I would like the rooms to take.
    Best Regards, Pam

  18. If you have any idea which Ralph Lauren Paint color the wall and trim colors are of this room are I would really appreciate it!

  19. I’d marry this room too!!! That’s exquisite!!! Please note a massive HVAC in the photo. And it’s gorgeous, it looks amazing with the interior architecture! One completely off question: what marble Mark D Sikes used for his kitchen countertops? It looks greyish. What is it, any thoughts? please don’t hate me!

  20. I share your admiration for this, Laurel. It’s brilliant. One thing I notice is that in the dark-curtain version, you can just see the floor at the edge of the doors leading into the courtyard, and it’s a dark slate grey-blue-green, much the same at the curtains. Whereas the summer version has the seagrass right up to the walls, and into what seems to be the entrance to another room rather than the back wall, semi-blocked by a huge piece of artwork.
    I think this room is successful because of the repetition, such as the bookcase and mirror wall whose elements are repeated in the paintings and frames on the adjacent wall. It’s richly layered but restrained at the same time. Perfect, except for the photos where the blue and white jar is filled with pink orchids, horrid!

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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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