I'm glad that you all enjoyed my accounting of my Top 50 Living Rooms. I figured that since the last couple of posts were all photos - I'd give you a run down of why these Top 20 living rooms are my favorite. Each of the rooms check more than one box for me, but for the sake of time and ease in posting, I'll do one piece per room. Here we go:
20. Victoria Hagan
Face to Face Sofas: If I had the room, I'd definitely do face to face sofas flanking our fireplace. There's something about this classical, traditional layout that just turns up the intimacy of a room, and takes a formal approach and makes it livable.
19. James Michael Howard
Custom Upholstery: Nothing is more beautiful than custom upholstery, and now more than ever it's incredibly easy for custom upholstery to be a part of your room on even the smallest of budgets. PierOne, BallardDesigns, even HomeDecorators all have furniture that can be customized with a selection of fabrics to fit your look.
18. Ruthie Sommers
Clutter: To me, a room just isn't personal without some clutter. Sure, there's a difference between clutter and "Call Hoarders" ... some of us have learned to call clutter, vignettes or displays or collections ... but it's clutter, and it's ok. Every room should have some!
17. Richard Hallberg
Texture: I think that texture is important in any room, and the combination of leather and upholstery adds to the juxtaposition of feminine and masculine that any good room should have. Just as no room should be made up of all leather, no room should be without some leather, or at the very least, multiple textures in upholstery ... linen, velvet, cotton, suede ... you get the idea.
16. Miles Redd
Mirrors: Whether they're over a fireplace, part of an art display, above a bar or a console table ... the reflection of a mirror in a living room is a must. I particularly love them when they're gilded or have elaborate frames.
15. Bunny Williams
Books: What's a living room for if not to live? There are few things more enjoyable than having a quiet day at home, in a clean and beautiful living room, candle of your favorite scent, maybe a little light music, a fire in the fireplace, and your favorite book. My suggestion, take them out of the shelves, lay them on a chair, the floor, an ottoman ... make them part of the clutter in your room, use them as art.
14. Markham Roberts
Color: Don't get me wrong, I appreciate a neutral room, whether it be all white or gray or taupe or tan. But if you really want to express yourself, and have your living room (and your home) say something about you, you've gotta have some color. Whether you're bold enough to cover camel back sofas (face to face by the way) in apple green velvet, or you plop a bright yellow pillow on your white sofa ... every living room should have color.
13. Vicente Wolf
Gilt: Nothing makes my heart go pitter-pat faster than a fine piece of gilded furniture. There's just something so regal about it, it takes what might otherwise be quite ordinary, and makes it extraordinary! If you can't afford the old stuff, do your own! Just about every craft store sells DIY gold leaf - a couple of bucks and a day in your garage - and voila, gilt! Ottomans, chairs, side tables - all perfect choices for gilding.
12. Albert Hadley
Lamps: It might seem obvious, but I can't tell you how many people I know with no lamps in their living rooms. It's as if they think that the builder-provided overhead light fixture is ample, so there is no need for lamps. WRONG! Lamps, both shaded and not (think Sconces, Art Lights, or Pharmacy Lamps) add to the romance of a room. Go get yourself some lamps!
11. Stephen Sills
Plants: Whether it's a potted tree, ivy, succulent tray, orchid, or simply some cat tails in a vase, plants (and flowers) are important and inexpensive ways to breath life into a space. Plus, the time spent watering them gives you a reason to spend time in a room that so many of us simply walk past on our way to the kitchen or family room.
10. Bunny Williams
Animal Print: The easiest way to pull this off in any space is to plop a pillow on your sofa or a chair. Zebra, Leopard, Cheetah - it depends on the room, but if you're looking for a way to add some character to an otherwise lack-luster piece of furniture or room - nothing is cheaper or faster, than introducing a little animal print!
9. Jeffrey Bilhuber
Art: Art is not easy to define. Everyone sees "art" differently, and as it most certainly should, art speaks to each person in a unique way. No matter your taste, you can't have a beautiful, personal living room without some art - even if it's Abraham Lincoln on olive green paper.
8. Suzanne Rheinstein
Ottomans: Quite possibly the most useful piece of furniture in a living room - an ottoman can be a seat for unexpected guests, a respite for tired legs and feet, the perfect stand for a tray outfitted for drinks, or a side table for those books! They fit most anywhere, tucked under a coffee table, next to a chair, in a corner - if you're looking for an inexpensive way to add more seating when you need it, get yourself an ottoman. Then gild it!
7. Rose Tarlow
Candles: Whether they're scented or not, candles are just as important to setting the mood of a room as the ambient lighting of a lamp. You can fill the inside of a fireplace with candles, clutter up a mantle with matching or varied candlesticks, or a lone pillar candle on a copper candle tray - candles are the easiest and cheapest way to add a little ambiance to your room.
6. John Saladino
Custom Slipcovers: Chairs, Tables, Sofas - if you're looking to dress your pieces up (or down) - look no further than custom slips/tablecloths. A fraction of the price you'd pay for re-upholstery, a slipcover can be a budget conscious decorator's best friend.
5. Mary McDonald
Blue and White: Blue and White Asian porcelains are, in my opinion, the perfect accessory. They look great on top of a bureau or cabinet, on a coffee table, console table, side table ... you name it! Designed for storage, they are beautiful pieces of functional art!
4. Vicente Wolf
Curtains: I love fabric. I won't admit to how much I have just laying around the studio, waiting for the right project - even projects I know will never come! And one way for fabric lovers like me to get a big dose is to invest in curtains. A lot of people think if they have a great view, or unlimited privacy, the don't need curtains. WRONG! Curtains frame a beautiful view, they don't take away from it, and they add a softness to the linear lines of a window - making a room more intimate and personal.
3. Nathan Turner
Pillows: Depending on your fabric, pillows are a second to candles on cheap ways to add to a room. On a chair, on a sofa, on the floor - pillows can be changed easily with the seasons, and add a high-end look to a mid-range piece of upholstery. So if your budget pushes you to ikea for your sofa, don't be ashamed! Get yourself some scrap pieces of high end designer fabrics from the house of Scalamandre or Schumacher, and make a few pillows!
2. Jeff Woosley
Rugs: Nothing makes me happier than a room with layered rugs. Zebra over seagrass, oriental over seagrass, cowhide over oriental, oriental over oriental - you get the point. Just as curtains add softness to a window and frame the perfect view, a rug anchors and softens a seating arrangement, and adds to the overall design aesthetic. Can't afford a custom rug, or one big enough to fit your room? Layer smaller rugs over inexpensive sisal or broadloom!
1. Miles Redd
Personality: By far, the most important piece to what makes up my top must-haves in the perfect living room, is personality. Just about every magazine on the shelves right now is featuring rooms that look like they could have fallen off a Restoration Hardware truck, or are a study in white on white on white. There's nothing wrong with that - I mean, they wouldn't be publishing them if we didn't all find them beautiful - but if you want to be at the top of my list, you'll follow the beat of a different drum, and add as much personality to the space as you can! Color, quirk, whimsy, pattern play, maybe even a bit of the unusual - it all adds to the personality of a space, and although it costs you nothing - it's the hardest thing to get right.
So there you go. Now, how about we do this for dining rooms, bedrooms, foyers ... what do you think?