Q: Because our apartment is not very large, we want to refurnish the living room so that it serves as a place for entertaining as well as for our own relaxation and reading. An informal look is our preference, but at the same time we don't want the room to resemble a den. Can you offer some suggestions for creating a stylish setting?
A: The first step should be to purchase some solid and hefty furniture. Don't get anything with spindly legs, and avoid delicate-looking chairs and tables.
But you'll have to do more than refurnish the room to produce the styling you favor. Attention must be paid to the colors, for example, which need to be neutral on the walls and floor and for the window-coverings. Beiges, whites and putty would be good choices. And if patterns are to put in an appearance, limit the selection to checks, stripes or plaids. Natural sisal can be used as the floor covering. In your own situation, the same material could be installed either as a bound rug or as wall-to-wall carpeting.
White walls and woodwork make an elegant accompaniment to louvered shutters that have been painted in the same color. If a softer window treatment is more to your liking, then you might choose a fabric that can be fashioned into something simple, like Roman blinds or campaign curtains. Even plain fabric panels on a painted wooden pole would be appropriate.
A Milling Road occasional table styled in accordance with a 19th century model cannot be considered formal in appearance because of its weight and detailing, but makes a charming addition to a simply furnished room.
Don't overlook the lamps. Their scale and shade size has to be relatively small, whether they're placed on tables or on the floor. The most stylish lamps are generally outfitted with shades that, at first glance, might seem a bit too small.
Since you enjoy reading, I suggest you finish off the room with a couple of bookcases, which can also contain personal memorabilia. A writing table will also help give the room a more settled feeling. And because it's been made comfortable for your own everyday use, the redone setting will put your guests at ease, too.