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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Need help with living room - too many browns!

Jeanette HauserFebruary 7, 2013
Brand new house with brand new furniture and rugs. We now realize that our color selection was a little too brown all over. The stone fireplace should be the highlight of the room, but it's just getting lost in all this blandness, I'm afraid.

Yes, we do have bright artwork and will be replacing the pillows with something brighter, but I'm thinking of painting the wall where the fireplace sits. The paint on all the walls is currently Sherwin Williams China Doll.

Any ideas or suggestions? We live in Raleigh, NC.
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find a great print fabric using many colors for floor length window treatments. take your paint color cue from that.it's a very nice room that just needs life pumped in to it so i'm thinking one of the newer nature scene prints with birds and animals.
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 8:45AM
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Here is one example of a neutral based living room with addition of more colorful accessories.

George Street Family Room · More Info
5 Likes    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 8:51AM
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Jeanette Hauser
added photos of the chairs and close up of fireplace stones. The couch is a basic reddish brown leather.
    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 9:53AM
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Nancy Hehmann
So many colors look great with brown. I particularly like blue! Click on the link below and it will take you to a room with beautiful blue cushions on a brown sofa. I would use the color for drapes as well in solid shiny material.


Not sure I like their lifesaving rings in the photo! But, I love the color of blue.

If you need art or throw pillows, try looking on Etsy.com and use their search engine. Just input what you need. Check out my photography shop too on there, nancyhehmann is the name.

You could either use a great piece of photography above the mantel or on one of the walls.

I love your house!
1 Like    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 10:09AM
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Ben Moore's color of the year is Lemon Sorbet - kinda like the little bit of yellow in your chair fabric. I'd take a look at it, as it may give you the pop you need for that wall. Drapery could do it, but I think you need both, and your art, to give a finished look.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 12:16PM
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Blinds Direct Canada
Roman shades would be the perfect option it will give you the light coverage and privacy . It will also give you that pop of color your looking for.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 12:24PM
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LOVE the stone so much! Not a huge fan of the 3 vases. Maybe a large piece of art up there. Maybe some sheers to draw your eye up and add color. Add some pop with pillows, throws, candles, and greenery! Love it though!
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 2:38PM
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Stone around the fireplace looks great. But the different vases disturb the symmetry. I would buy 3 identical turquoise glass-vases. Would make the brown look softer. And take away anything else from the fireplace.
By the way, I would also buy a new coffee-table; a white one out of wood. It looks so fast like if there would be a mess with a glass-table whitout any hided storage place. And add a chair (not a heavy, upholstered one) on the other side of the coffee table, so you still can watch tv (i think there's a tv on the right side...?), but it's more inviting as a seat-area, if you can seat all around the table.
    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 4:37AM
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Deborah Butler, Brickwood Builders
I think your walls actually need to be darkened as they do nothing to help the fireplace right now. I would look at SW Nomadic Desert. I also like the look that Dytecture posted to bring in color through accents.
    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 4:58AM
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Donata S. Griffith
I think if it were my room I would look for linen drapes for your window treatment. Color neutral. I would get a good looking rod to hang them from. Like black iron. Hang them from the very top and go to the floor. I would either get a piece of art with color over your mantle or a sunburst mirror. nothing else on mantel. I would probably move sofa facing mantle and put chairs on either side in front of windowsl Then I would get some color on the sofa in pillows. a plant, a foot stool a floor lamp possibly. Your house is beautiful... happy decorating!!!
4 Likes    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 5:54AM
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Beautiful room. Try a simple fix to start. Remove everything from the mantel and hearth. Hang a bright abstract on the fireplace. (Keep mantel and hearth clear so the art is showcased.) Add throw pillows that echo the colors in the painting. That may be enough.
Abstract art with matching pillows:
Pecos · More Info

Tranquil Eclectic Residence · More Info

Chelsea Apartment · More Info

Carlyle Penthouse · More Info
3 Likes    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 6:09AM
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Jayme H.
One colorful pic above the fireplace will make a difference. Do you have any lamps? Pull colors from the rug for accent colors...what colors r in the rug? I cannot tell from pic.
    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 6:14AM
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Donata S Griffith has expressed my thoughts when I looked at the room. The room is great has all the right things a little tweaking with color, accessory and furniture placement is all it needs.
    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 6:40AM
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Tumble Creek Interior Design
I too agree with the direction donata is taking you. I would put woven woods in your windows for texture and interest. I would recover you accent chair and get another one in maybe wicker - something with texture. I would get a square oversized fabric tufted ottoman to use as your coffee table and bring in some softness. Finally I would accent a large oversized rectangular mirror on your mantle. I don't think the problem is your wall color. And I don't think you need bright color to infuse the space. Just layering and texture and accessorizing. Maybe a big tall pot with sticks and definitely some greenery for softness. If you like the basic direction and want some visuals for pillows, ottoman, mirror, etc., let me know and I will gather some up for you. :)
    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 6:53PM
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Tumble Creek Interior Design
Whoops sorry! Ignore that pillow pic!
    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 6:54PM
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Tumble Creek Interior Design
My minds eye is picturing a fabric ottoman such as this or one that pulls tones out of your rug if the rug must stay. Then just gather am eclectic mixture of throw pillows that include tones in the ottoman. Making the ottoman be the most playful piece. A great side chair would be this simple design from crate & barrel. Good luck! Great room... :) it will transform i promise!
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 7:07PM
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Wanda Harding
Paint the walls green. I did it in a similar room and added teal throw pillows and t looks great!
1 Like    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 4:45PM
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Jean Tuck
Im thinking medium taupe colored curtains should set the fireplace right out there.
Just my 2 cents worth.
    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 4:51PM
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This is such a pretty room. I would consider painting the walls a shade darker in a taupe and cotton or linen drapes in the blue of the chair just on the exterior side of the windows with art pulling from the colors of your rug over the fireplace and walls. Really like what you've done so far!
    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 5:36PM
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Sometimes I look at nature for ideas - your browns remind me of the mountains in the fall. There are pops of golden grasses, yellow lichen and yellow ochre trees. Introduce this unusual but on trend colour to make the greys/beige/taupes pop
1 Like    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 2:59AM
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Love it, but think a lighter colour lounge suite look better :)
    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 5:23AM
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I think removing everything on the fire place and putting up a nice big piece of artwork would look great. Choose the color you like the most and get curtains to match along with pillows just to add an accent. And maybe a different rug. There is much beautiful brown and stone work that it won't be too much color
    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 6:11AM
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The Creative Man
I don't think the problem lies in that there is too much brown. Your accessories on the fireplace are lost. Try to find a great mirror for the fireplace first, then work on accessories. Add color the enhance the overall brown. The wall area is so small around the fireplace, changing the color would not enhance firplace. Maybe change the ceiling molding to a rich color.
    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 6:21AM
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Blinds Direct Canada
I would actually recommend Shutters. I think they would really brighten up the space and give a more finished look.
    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 6:44AM
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Blinds Direct Canada
It will also cut that glare your getting from the sun and make it easier to watch tv :)
    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 6:45AM
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Liza Jane Interiors
I would paint the wall a grey/blue. Then pull out the grey/blue with fabric/pillows.
3 Likes    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 7:03AM
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Jeanette Hauser
Not AWOL - just reading all these different ideas and doing some cruising on the internet looking at other ideas. Thank you - everyone.

I never intended to leave that stuff on the mantle - I just needed to put it someplace safe while we unpacked. I'm sorry I didn't mention that.

I'm thinking of doing the wall in a green (SW artichoke or green sprout, maybe? should I go lighter? Can someone point me in the direction of what AVSInteriors referred to as "golden grasses"?)

All the furniture is brand new, as is the rug. I did consider getting rid of the rug, but it's growing on me. It also has a touch of moss green color in it. Bright pillows are a great idea. Also considering moving one of the side chairs and filling up a corner with one of those ladder display things. Our artwork and knick knacks are VERY eclectic, mostly collected from our extensive travels. And some additional rocks and fossils (notice the two large geode's on the fireplace hearth could also be displayed on that ladder thingy.

I sincerely appreciate the suggestions from everyone, and would love to hear more.
    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 3:36PM
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Love your geodes by the way. Can one of them fit on the mantle?
    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 11:05AM
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Jeanette Hauser
I have some smaller, lighter colored ones that I think may end up on the mantle. These ones are way too large and heavy. But thank you for the compliment. They were gifts from my father, who founded and operated a rock and mineral museum.
    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 1:43PM
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Very cool. I have seen some amazing specimens at rock shops in Sedona when I was last in Arizona .
1 Like    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 4:41PM
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just spotted a cool ladder accent table @ zin home. item #zutmo-119. it can go against the wall or stand alone. thought of your artsy and eclectic room when i saw it.

paint color: i lived with a beautiful soft sage green for years. it's a very easy color to live with and one of the most neutral colors you'll ever find. having said that,it's also very much a background color. it won't have a great deal more impact than the color you have now. it would be fine but a deeper, rich tone would bring out the beauty of the stone. from a medium taupe to charcoal.
    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 7:08AM
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Jeanette Hauser
Medium taupe? That's pretty close to the colors of the stone in the fireplace. And charcoal just seems dark, dark, dark to me. (though if I had a bright sunny NYC loft, I'd think it would be great!)
    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 3:21PM
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Aqua or red accents. (or green like your mantle vases) Maybe change the sofa to a cream/ivory color and add aqua pillows and drapes to the windows. Brown/aqua are a nice look. Keep the rug. Change the chair.
    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 3:33PM
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Kevin Retired Decorator
I would use the yellow or red color in the chair and use that for solid color floor to ceiling drapes on the windows covering all the wall too. But keep the drapes open to frame the windows. You won't even see the wall color. Then add the same color accent pillows repeating the red and yellow on the sofa and one pillow on the chair. I do think you need a larger piece of art possibly a colorful abstract over the mantel use a couple of the vases on the coffee table. Then just keep repeating the 2 colors thru out the room adding a bit of the other colors in the chair fabric. You might be able to get more of the fabric that's on the chair to make a couple of pillows for the sofa. Ending up with 3-5 pillows on the sofa. Or 3 pillows and a throw in the drape color on the sofa. I would add a 2nd chair for seating and to round out the conversation area around the room. That could a bold wide stripe with the red and yellow too. Match the stripe to the chair then pick out the solid red or yellow you like for the drapes. Also a table lamp will add a lot to the room. Possibly a floor lamp next to the chair you already have. The lamps will add more color and a finished look to the room. Don't forget large plants to will bring a natural green in that would compliment the green in the rug.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 4:17PM
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Trisha Bourgeois-Lowthers
The trend this year is blue so I would use turquoise drapes!
    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 4:42PM
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Tres McKinney Design
This is an inviting room. I agree that you might consider a deeper taupe/gray on the walls, a mid range color found in the stone on the fireplace. It will flow better than green walls with the adjacent entry area wall color. I agree that plantation shutters painted in the same off white as the trim would be a great window treatment. I would consider adding coral colored pillows on the sofa and possibly recovering the chair in a coral colored print which would really play off the neutral colors. You also could add a large scaled ceramic table lamp with an interesting glaze on the table next to the sofa. It appears from the photo you posted that the TV is on a cabinet across from the sofa. You might consider having a cabinet built with shelving on each side of the TV to house your geode collection, possibly with lighting. Ladder shelving might look too flimsy displaying the larger geodes. A round or sunburst mirror would be striking over the mantle.
    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 4:51PM
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Arbutus Interiors
Yes you have enough brown. It would be very easy to bring this room alive but you just need to add a few accessories to make it pop but they must be bold. Love Dytectures comments and photo. Some bold solid drapes in red, one red cushion on chair and paint the fireplace in navy. Edit the vases and other details a little and your room will look fab. You have enough soft neutrals and soft patterns that adding anymore will just turn the room to mush. Think of clean bold strokes of navy and red to make it come alive.
    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 4:53PM
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I would add a large piece of art something bright! With those colors I would add to the room bright pillows, a throw on the couch, maybe a pouff for extra seating, and don't forget candles to set the mood.
    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 5:17PM
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I would also add bright colorful drapes to draw your eye up. Just side panels to add interest to your lovely windows. I think your wall color is great. You need art on it. Find some art, colorful art. You have enough neutrals.
    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 5:21PM
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What about a coral color, a dull one not bright, of accents like pillows and a throw blanket. . There is a photo above of a soft coral pillow that is in the Carlyle penthouse pic. Blue was pretty also. I see artwork above sofa and on mantle. Fabric ottomon great. I have one and love it. Window treatment like a heavier fabric of either just a simple boxy valance or pleated treatment that has a nubby fabric with a touch of your accent color. Walls could be painted. I see a soft green or light taupe. Very nice room!
    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 5:23PM
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