Design plan for Sarah's high-traffic living room

Decorating Dilemmas is a weekly column in which our stylists answer your design questions, so you can tackle your home decorating project with complete confidence.

Hi there!

We live in a beautiful 107 year old house in North Avondale, Cincinnati. Our living room has 2 pocket doors on 2 walls, and 1 glass door & fireplace on the 3rd wall. We currently have 1 sofa, 1 love seat and 1 chair in the room but it is awkward, a little tight, and only provides seating for 6 people at a time. We’re not sure where to place furniture to accommodate more people and not hinder traffic flow. We use both pocket door entrances on a daily basis, so want to keep them open for use.

The room is 15 feet wide (from pocket doors to window) and 14.5 feet long (from the wall with the fireplace to the opposite side).

We love Ballard and have quite a few pieces throughout our house. We’d like to get new sofas – possibly 2 trim sofas that can face each other, flanking the fireplace. Do we have enough room for this? We do watch the TV hung above the fireplace, so we need to allow for that in the room set up.

Thanks for your help,


facing fireplace directly

corner to fireplace left

living facing out

facing front door

Dear Sarah,

Thank you for your Decorating Dilemma. Your home has so much character and is a wonderful space, but we understand the difficulty of working with open walls and doorways. We have a few recommendations that will help open up your space and provide enough seating for entertaining.

Since rearranging your current sofas may allow more flow coming from the base of the staircase, we recommend moving the two cushion sofa across from your three cushion sofa. Now, bring your chair out of the corner and place it across from the fireplace. This placement will allow you to use that door and make it feel less constrained. Once you’ve moved the major pieces, we recommend bringing in the Ananda Serving Table behind your two cushion sofa at the entry of the pocket door. The Ananda table will be the perfect space to set extra lighting and a tray to catch keys and remotes.

Next, consider replacing the tall white side tables with the Olivia Side Table. The Olivia will take up less space than the table you already have, but will still allow for a table lamp. To add additional seating without taking up too much space, we recommend using the Leather Pouf in graphite or mineral by the fireplace. Also, a couple of Courbe Ottomans can be placed under the Ananda table when not being used and then brought out for extra company.

We look forward to seeing photos when you are finished with the project.

Happy Decorating,

The How To Decorate Team

Design plan for Sarah's high-traffic living room

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