Photo by Cathy Mortensen Design

Is there a big brown cow in your family room? It seems we all have them — those large, brown, leather sectional sofas that sit like overstuffed, worn in, comfy friends in our family rooms. We buy them because they’re indestructible for family living, and try to make them stylish, but they seem to resist all attempts. It seems we can’t live with them, but can’t live without them either.

My Family Rm, coral1

In my line of work, I’ve seen them all — and they all moo for attention. Since we can’t hide or ignore them, why not distract attention away from their negative attributes (size, color, shape) and direct the eye to the positive?

Yes, I have one, too. It’s tan and has seen better days. But like most of us, we live with them because they are just so forgiving (and the husband says it stays). So, I decided to see what a little sofa sprucing up could do. Here are a few ideas on the art of sofa sectional distraction:

1. Add some exciting color and pattern. This does a great job of distracting the eye off of the sofa and onto the accessories in the room. Bold pillows are the accessory that make a statement and directs the eye to them, instead of the background sofa.


2. Add a colorful throw over the back or to one side of the sofa. More color and texture, more distraction.

3. Add some interesting art or wall decoration to lead the eye up and away.


4. Add something interesting to look at on or under the coffee table or ottoman.

5. Add good lighting to brighten and lighten up rooms with large, dark sofas.


6. Add a lighter, textured area rug for contrast to a dark sofa and introduce some pattern to the space. Or use a bold patterned rug to pull the eye away from the sofa.


This second look is a little more subtle, but still directs the eye to interesting pieces and disguises the sofa’s faults.


The same add-ons apply as above, but here are a few more to consider…


7. The art is more subtle, but connects to the color and feel of the room.

8. Something organic is eye-catching, such as plants, a tree or vase of branches.


9. Instead of just a plain coffee table or ottoman, add one other small table, stool or large basket or tray to style a composition and take the eye away from the sofa.


10. Add some interesting or colorful chairs to the grouping, so the big sectional doesn’t seem to overtake or dominate the room.


I must confess, both of these rooms, mostly furnished with HomeGoods accessories, are for two of my clients. I had some fun seeing how my old sofa would look with all of these great pieces. I may have to go back to HomeGoods and take my own advice! Hopefully I can post their rooms once they’re complete.

So, there’s hope for that big, brown cow grazing peacefully in your family room. Give it a little attention and love, and it will not only look better, but you won’t have to send it out to pasture for much longer.

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