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With brightly colored pottery as the inspiration, this living room showcases a palette that sparkles with lemon yellow walls and spring green on the bookcases, along with coral, sky blue, and eye-popping tangerine as an accent. Fabrics are key to this casual, feminine look, showing up by the dozen in an energetic mix of plaids, checks, florals, even a dragonfly motif in fuzzy chenille. It works because the fabrics share at least one common color. For major upholstered pieces, choose solid colors or subtle, small-scale patterns, making them color-versatile.
To give the living room that sought-after, collected-over-time look, a flea-market table and an old wicker chair mix with new upholstered pieces in the sitting area. An apartment-size sofa, positioned to offer views of both the fireplace and the windows, is small enough to move easily but long enough for napping. An upholstered bench and two chairs, one white wicker and the other a petite but comfy chair upholstered in a subtle check, complete the conversation area.
This fun wall of shelves, cabinets, and a window seat looks like expensive custom built-ins, but it's actually two ready-made bookshelves and an armoire joined with additional wood and moldings. To squeeze even more storage out of the space, the window seat has open cubbies below big enough to hold colorful baskets and boxes. If you're cushioning a window seat, skip the fabric store and go to an automotive center for high-quality foam that won't fall apart but isn't any more expensive.
The fireplace makes a natural focal point for the room, but its position on a short, angled wall meant the furniture couldn't fit around it. Instead, the fireplace is given its own heft with a traditional white surround and gorgeous green tile. Off-season, place potted plants in front of the fireplace to cover up the ashy interior.
The dropleaf table and a pair of dining chairs fit perfectly between the two windows behind the sofa. These unfinished wood pieces were painted white and cushioned with an oversize houndstooth check. An ornate white chandelier over the table adds romance plus additional light for working on crafts or writing letters.
A small table in the living room is a great place for an active display of antique dishware. In this room, colorful place settings invite you to pull up a seat to admire (and use) this functional collection. For your own home, choose pieces based on your existing color palette to make the display look natural in its setting.
Stunning artwork like this sextet of flower prints turns blank wall space above the bench into a conversation piece. To make your own, photograph flowers with a digital camera, have the images blown up and printed on canvas (your local print shop should be able to do this), and frame them without mats in simple white wood frames.
Pillows are the easiest way to add pattern to a room. Go for it with as many fabrics and colors as you want, but make sure each includes at least one of the "big colors" in the room. Sweet flowers show up on this pillow embellished with iridescent shell buttons and ribbon sewn on to look like a pair of alliums. To make, lay out clusters of buttons and lengths of ribbon and sew onto a pillow cover.
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