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Ask Casa: Help With My New Living Room

Hi Casa,

I recently rented my first apartment and now I have to furnish and make it my own space. Eeek! I feel like I need some serious help. The apartment is not very big and I'm not allowed to paint the walls so they must remain white. Right now I'm focused on the living area. As of right now I have a couch, chair, and an accent table. I'm need of a coffee table, but I was thinking instead of going the table route, of doing a cocktail ottoman. I found one at Target, the Kerry Rectangle Ottoman, I thought might work well. If you could give me some pointers I would be truly grateful. I've included a picture so you can get some idea of what I'm working with. Thanks, xnieves

To hear my suggestions for xnieves,


Hi xnieves,

Thanks for writing in! How fun? Your first apartment! The space looks great. Your parquet floors are gorgeous, and that fireplace nook is great.

It's too bad you can't paint the walls, but you do have some alternatives. If you're allowed to, hang large-scale artwork to instantly bring color to the space. The wall above that fireplace is just begging for a big, bright painting. You can also hang textiles, tapestries, or curtains to bring in color. Another great trick is to wallpaper boards of plywood and just lean them against your walls — see what I mean here.

While I do like the idea of using an ottoman instead of a coffee table, I'm afraid it will be too hefty for this small space, especially in that dark brown color of the Kerry ottoman. If you really want one, I'd recommend getting two small ottoman cubes instead — something more like this. But honestly, I think the space would really benefit from a coffee table that's much lighter visually, such as a glass or Lucite one. For instance, the CB2 Smart Coffee Table ($199) would look great (and let those parquet floors peek through).

The biggest problem I see already here though is that you're headed in a very beige and brown direction, which is not very inspiring or intriguing. You need color in this space. I recommend adding colorful throw pillows to the couch, and maybe a small one to the chair as well. Since you can't paint the walls, your furnishings should take the lead on adding color and personality. You should also dress up that fireplace nook; read my post on Decorating a Nonworking Fireplace for ideas. Bring in color with accessories, too, such a candlesticks, books, vases, etc.

Hope that helps!


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