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We Answer the 5 Most Common Design Questions You Ask Us Again and Again

photo by sara liggoria-tramp | from: a budget and mostly thrifted living room reveal

As part blog, part design company, it’s understandable that our readers would want to tap into that second “part” and ask for our design advice…as much as possible. We get A LOT of questions via email and Instagram, but the thing is, so many of those quandaries and pleas for help start to feel universal. As in, you all seem to have issues in a lot of the same areas. So, putting on our blog hat, we decided it best to boil down what we think are our top five most asked design questions and put the answers we’ve already crafted in one place.

Question 1: How do I lay out a rectangular living room?

photo by sara ligorria-tramp: from: a quick update on the changes I made to my living room

In all fairness, living rooms are usually rectangular in shape anyway, so this isn’t really that specific but given that pretty standard shape, you’d be surprised how many whammies it can pack…weird window or fireplace placement, not enough wall space because of too many room openings/transitions, functionality issues (where to put the sofa in relation to the TV when there’s no real place to actually put said TV)…the list goes on and on. Here’s my very own biggest takeaway from just life: furniture does not always have to go up against a wall. Float that sofa in a room if you can, move it out of a corner, angle some things…do what works best for YOU, not what you think you have to do. To help you along, here are some stories we’ve done in the past that aimed to answer this very popular question:

Question 2: What Color Should I Paint This Room?

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: arlyn’s moody dining room reveal

Picking a paint color has to be one of the most “design paralysis-inducing” things for most people. It feels SO permanent, but guys, it’s totally not. Is prepping and painting a hassle? Yup. Is it reversible if you end up hating it? Also yup. So with that said, go forth and be bold, but if you also just want a tried-and-true white, we also have you covered.

And as an added bonus, here are two paint-related posts that will help you when it comes time to actually picking a color in case you need inspiration or just useful info:

Question 3: What size rug should I use?

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: our light-filled neutral and textural mountain house living room reveal

If I had to rank the question I get myself from family and friends most, aside from paint colors, it’s absolutely about rug size. I’m talking, no exaggeration, maybe one text a week about this. Here’s what I’d advise most people: when in doubt, go larger than you think. Deciding between a 5×8 and an 8×10? If budget allows, always do the 8×10 for an area rug. As much of your furniture as you can place on the actual floorcovering will always be a cleaner look. Anyhow, I pulled all of our “room rules” posts that each have a section on the rug, as well as a great video (vintage Emlando) and design mistakes from the past.

Question 4: What do I do with this blank wall?

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: jess’ small space living room reveal

Ah yes, the every popular “blank wall” conundrum. What is it about a blank space that makes people’s minds go as empty as the wall they’re trying to fill? Show me a room full of stuff and I can tell you 10 things I’d change. But bareness, now that’s daunting. Good news, though: We have plenty of experience and ideas in the art department, from creating gallery walls, to where to buy large-scale art (for cheap) and even unexpected “non-framed art” options for when you want to get a little edgy.

Question 5: Where do I buy lighting & what kind do I need?

photo by geneieve garruppo | from: 120-year-old barn makeover 

This was a particularly popular question for renters because hard-wired lighting is not feasible for most of us on year-to-year leases. We can’t exactly opt to add more can lighting if a room is too dark, you know? Enter all the floor, table and wall lights we can afford to buy. We have some go-to resources, a handful of “power couples” so you can easily know how to pair things and lots of budget picks. Keep in mind some of the links on the shopping-focused posts might be dead which I know is a bummer BUT I thought it was still useful if it helps you find a new brand to check out…I’m sure you’ll discover all kinds of new goodies.

Also, don’t forget to check out our curated lighting section on the Shop page for some of our favorite picks and resources.

I hope that was helpful to have that all in one spot, and I encourage you to keep the questions flowing because we’re here to serve. Xx

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Paige Cassandra Flamm
4 years ago

These are all awesome questions and answers! I’m constantly googling the answer to the rug questions!


Kris C.
4 years ago

Love all the design advice! Here are questions I haven’t found answers to:
1. How to take a traditionally furnished living and dining room and blend in mid-century furniture and accessories for an updated look without replacing everything?
2. How to do minimal decor that looks intentional and warm (vs sparse and cold). How to scale back what’s there to achieve this?
3. Would love to see photos of spaces like coffee or side tables (or the top of my piano or secretary desk!) with real-life “before and after” photos. More styling lessons with these before and afters would be so appreciated. I’d be happy to supply some before photos! 🙂

4 years ago

This is a great post! I could definitely use some help with lighting in my house. This is very helpful information!