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Ask Casa: Decorate My New Orleans Living Room!

Hi CasaSugar,
I need your help! I just moved into a one-bedroom in New Orleans, and will be living on my own for the first time. My bedroom is furnished but in my living room, I have a television and TV stand, and that's it. So, I'm basically starting from scratch! Can you offer me some suggestions for my living room?

My style is classy, urban, girlie, and colorful, but not outrageously so. I want comfortable, welcoming furniture, not like "sleek" or anything. And, I want it to look mature! I like dark wood, and maybe dulled blues, greens, reds, or yellows for fabrics, so the space has color but isn't too bright. I also want to get cool New Orleans artwork for walls, so maybe if the color of some of my furniture can bring out some of those colors, that'd be nice. I'd also like a pull-out couch for guests. My budget: as cheap as I can get for good quality furniture; I am a recent grad, after all. Do you have any thoughts? Anything would help!
Thanks,
Brooke

To hear my thoughts and see my suggestions, read more.

Hi Brooke,
Thanks for thinking of me! I love starting from scratch: think of all the possibilities! It's hard for me to get a clear idea of your style, but I am going to try my best. I get the impression that you want a grown-up apartment. The best way to do that is to make conscious decisions about what you bring into your home, so everything looks composed. Beyond that, add original artwork, and invest in at least some good quality furniture.

I built a living room for you from the sofa up. I chose the Macy's Montreal Sofa in pear, which has plush cushions making it refreshingly casual, and warm but not overwhelming in color. It's also on sale, and available as a sleeper if you so choose. Next, an Ikea Ektorop Tullsta Chair is comfortable and classic but inexpensive. Try a Bemz slipcover with it to make it look more polished. Then, the Brocade Home Silhouette Side Table in Coffee is dark wood, as you like, and has nice feminine curves to give your apartment a bit of girliness.

A woven screen from World Market is inexpensive, and will add texture and an architectural element to your apartment. The Soho Bookcase, also from World Market, is also affordable and dark wood, and its clean lines will give your place a mature, urban feel. You can find a wing chair much like the Anthropologie Astrid Chair at a local flea market or antique shop (New Orleans has many) to add comfortable seating; have it reupholstered in a subtle botanical pattern with subdued colors, or a solid fabric with a nice texture. A low, round coffee table like the West Elm Angled Leg Coffee Table is welcoming and cozy.

Next, I chose a coordinating rug with other "dulled" but warm colors and a floral pattern for femininity, the Ballard Designs Calabria Rug. If it's out of your price range, a quick glance at ShopStyle will show you plenty more to coordinate (or check out these). Set a mother-of-pearl table lamp on a clean-lined Parsons side table in dark wood for a girl-y/urban mix. Long, silk or velvet drapes will finish everything off with sophistication. Then, add a mix of glass vases around the room (filled with fresh flowers, of course). Find a nice silver tray, wine bucket, corkscrew, and matching colors to create your very own bar; you do live in New Orleans, after all.

Then, pick up some original artwork. Check out some local antique print shops, and frame a lithograph of old New Orleans. Invest in a George Rodrigue or a James Michalopoulos (or his Jackson Square knock-offs), and a more affordable Simon Hardeveld. Restrain yourself from decorating with Mardi Gras beads and don't go overboard with the fleur-de-lys. For more accents, check out Hazelnut on Magazine Street.

Hope that helps!
Cheers,
Casa

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