Decorating & Furniture/Decorating


QUESTION: Hi.  We just received our new leather sofa, love seat and chair for our family room.  It is a dark brown and looks slightly reddish in certain lighting.  Our fireplace is brown & tan fieldstone.  Our woodwork is medium in color.  We are replacing carpeting, tables, lamps, window coverings and will be painting the walls.  Basically, the only things left will be the new pieces and fireplace.  What colors would you suggest to make this room warm without being too dark?  Would it be better to have a lighter carpet or medium in color?

ANSWER: Hi Cindi,

Congratulations on your new leather furniture!  It should provide you and your family with many stylish and comfortable years to come.  With regard to the additional colors to introduce into the room... I would suggest you consider a soft warm golden tone, such as those found in Benjamin Moore's Historical Collection.  The warm golds will bring out the richness of your browns, and provide a neutral backdrop (paint and carpeting) for your furniture and other fabrics (window treatments and pillows, etc.)  You will need additional color in the room, unless you want more of a monotone type of feel.  Soft greens, such a gentle moss color, yellowy sages, etc would be another good color to add to the golden tone.  Adding some pattern would be good as well.  With leather furniture (all one color) and one color on the walls, the room can have a tendency to go 'cold' unless you introduce some pattern AND some texture.  Whether you prefer florals or stripes or plaids, or a combination thereof, layering pattern with contrasting color 'over' the leather will help you achieve the warm look you are looking for.  

The size of your room can also determine the specific hue of a color you should select for the walls AND the carpeting. Other functionality issues such as, do you have children?  If so, how old?  Do you have pets??  What part of the US do you live in?  If you live in the southwest, you may be tracking in a lot of 'clay' sand/dirt on your feet, which could ruin a gold tone carpet.  

Be sure to have sufficient lighting in the room.  High hats are great for ambient (overall) lighting, with lamps being great for 'low'  or 'task' lighting.  Large furniture all in the same color can have a tendency to overpower a room, so good lighting is even more important than usual.  Torchier, or 'up' lighting is also a good way to keep a room feeling light, so the strong color of the furniture doesn't overly dominate the room.

As you can see, there are no 'easy' absolute answers.  There are MANY variables... this is why you may want to consider hiring an interior designer or decorator just for a consultation.  You can still do all of the leg work yourself... but better to spend some money on getting a professional opinion with someone seeing all of your circumstances BEFORE you potentially throw good money after bad is always a good idea!!

Best of luck to you,
Julie Henry
Julie's Interior Designs
Hackettstown, NJ

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QUESTION: Julie, so you suggest that our carpet and walls be similar in color?  

Our room is 12x18 and it has a 5 section bow window. What kind of window treatment would be good? Would it be best to do pleated shades on the windows to open up the room since the furniture is so large?  We have vertical blinds outside the bow now.  Would you suggest a valance?  And what colors would be good?

Also, with the furniture being so dark, what kind / color tables should we look for?  

Thanks so much! You provided a lot of info in your original response!

Hi Cindi,

Most especially in a room the size you state, it is a good idea to keep wall and carpet color similar in tone.  There are many types of window treatments that could be appropriate here... and many variables that determine this:  functionality (sun issues, privacy issues, etc;)budget,and your taste, of course!!  If you can afford it, I would suggest calling in a decorator or designer who specializes in window treatments.... if you can't... well.. one suggestion I would make is NOT to do just a valance, as you need a fair amount of color and texture in your fabric, it will end up looking like a horizontal stripe on the wall if you just do a valance.  You don't have to do drapery panels, either, you can do cascades, etc.  Try looking in a bunch of magazines to see some options.  There are magazines AND loads of books on window treatments... they are good sources.  As for Pleated shades... you could, OR, you may want to consider two inch wood blinds... it depends on your application.  There are SO many variables!!

Best of luck to you,
Julie Henry
Julie's Interior Designs
Hackettstown, NJ

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Julie Henry


In the past 22 years, I have assisted countless residential (and some commercial) clients in the design and decorating of their homes. Within reason, I can assist on ANY question for the interior of your home. From design of a new home or addition, to layout, color, truly custom window treatments or just accessorizing... as our brochure says... from ceiling to floor, windows to walls and EVERYTHING in between... if it is for the Interior of your home, call Julie's Interior Designs. Well... you don't have to call, just write and ask!


With twenty two years of experience, 18 of them self employed with a large showroom/retail store and great staff on my team, there is little I/we haven't encountered. For several years I enjoyed being the on air "Home Editor" of the local cable station and have written a column in several local newspapers for years. Taught Interior Design at the college level. My work has been published in numerous magazines and newspapers. This is the greatest job on earth, and not nearly as easy at it looks...

William Paterson College, NJ, Ramapo College NJ, Continuing Education with trade periodicals, etc.

Awards and Honors
Multiple for custom window treatments, best local business in our county (located in northwestern NJ,) best home furnishing store in our county, etc.

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