Dear Abby...current and bright

Dear Abby...

How can I make my living room more current and bright?  
Do I need to paint our red stairway in order to add more 
color to my beige living room? M.M.

M.M.'s stairway

My quick answer?  No, you do not need to paint your red accent wall {stairway} to create a more current look.  I would say you can absolutely mix any shade of red together.  They are all part of the same hue so go crazy!  Most feel confident mixing neutrals but this can really be done with any color.
Here is an example:

 But let's take a look at M.M.'s space.
Here are three views of her space now.  Isn't it lovely?  She has a very beautiful and classic home.
Most everything is a shade of brown...rug, sofa,ottoman, walls, and lamp.

Even people with great taste, like this reader, can still use a designer's eye to get a new perspective on their home.

How can I make the room more current by adding color and brightening the room?

Your living room is already current, just traditional.  You can easily brighten your beige room with just a few changes to give it a more layered and finished look.  That alone will
 make it feel more "current".

She has added more white to brighten up the space--which I love.  And the red ticking stripe pillows and boxes are a nice touch.  But overall the room feels dark. 

1) I would move her rug to the dinning room and find a new rug with more white.  They have a baby and a dog so she can't go all white.  A navy and white rug would not only brighten the space but bring in the blue from the rest of the house.

This more graphic rug would also work.  I like that it has both navy and red:

2) I would add a large scale patterned drape on the two front windows.  

3) Switch out the dark side table for white.  Believe it or not you can mix woods in a room.  You don't have to let the dark wall of bookshelves tell you what to do.

4)  Pillows can make all the difference.  If brightening and current are your goals, choose a more modern fabric to mix with your traditional room while continuing to add white.
Here are some examples:


elegant touch

elegant touch

There is a difference between being "current" and being trendy.
M.M.'s classic style is not outdated, but by adding more white, layers of color, and pattern, I think
 she will find herself in a brighter and more delightful living room.

What do you think?  Do you prefer a more monochromatic look or a room with more color?

Thank you for all of your comments on the new house!  Our inspection is today and I'm hoping it is smooth sailing to the closing! Trust me, there will be plenty of "before and after" posts to come. :-)

**If you have a question you would like to submit to the Dear Abby series, email me at adelightfuldesign@gmail.com or click here.  You can also connect with me on Twitter or Facebook! Need help tying your room together, rearranging furniture or choosing paint colors?  A one hour consultation with me can help.  Click here for services!**


  1. When I saw the first picture I immediately thought navy. Great minds think alike!

  2. You know me, I loooove some colour. I think you've made some great suggestions- adding a new rug, curtains and pillows would instantly brighten the space and give it a new look.

  3. I love colour too - think the rugs would be a great addition xo

  4. Abby, I love what you are doing. Fab choices!!! I'm a colour lover too!!!

  5. That apple green, on the bed, in that photo of the mixed reds, really looks great with the red. Good ol' complementary colors. Isn't it funny how just changing the tint of a color can completely update a look? Remember the ol' burgandy and hunter green look? Obviously I'm really digging writing ol'. LOL.

  6. This is such a great series, Abby, I love to see what you say :) LOVE that drapery fabric, the rug suggestion, all of it. You are a talent, my friend xo

  7. This series is so cute. If I had the funds right now I would be all over the navy. U are so clever! I want to be like you when I grow up.


  8. This is so much more fun that "other" Dear Abby, LOL! The navy and red will really punch up this space, and it will be easy to change out to another color scheme later when M.M. is ready for something different.

  9. I love the idea of adding in some navy - would look really great on that brown leather sofa! I actually just picked up a couple of great navy and white pillows at Target the other day.

  10. Abby, This was so great! Love all your suggestions for her room...they were spot on!
    Funny...I just saw that same Ikat on CC's web site...Love it! Your "Dear Abby" is so creative...keep it up!

  11. that blue patterned rug is lovely! hmmmm...fits perfectly in my blue living room!


Abby Manchesky Interiors is a boutique design firm based in Grand Rapids, MI. Combining the new traditional, vintage and a dash of the unexpected is her ideal. Contact Abby Manchesky Interiors for more information on available interior design services for clients near and far. abbyminteriors@gmail.com | 616.719.9400


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