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What makes this living room twice as nice

By introducing bright colors, different textiles, and a sectional sofa, interior designer Ana Donohue transformed the living room of a Newton Victorian into a space for the owners to formally entertain and casually hang out with family.Michael J. Lee
Michael J. Lee

The living room of this Newton Victorian has to do double duty. The homeowners need it to be a formal space where they can entertain. “It also has to be a place where the whole family can gather to relax,” says interior designer Ana Donohue, who was called in to refresh the space.

Previously, brown leather furniture and multiple antiques made the room feel dark and a little too formal. “We incorporated some of the antiques that are sentimental to the owners in the new scheme and enlivened the room by adding lots of color and different textiles,” says Donohue.

A vibrant map with shades of pink, yellow, and green that belonged to the owners was Donohue’s jumping off point for the color palette. She added bold stripe roman shades and wing chairs upholstered in a chartreuse animal hide fabric by Kravet.


The whole family can fit on the new deep blue wool sectional to watch TV. “I like how this one is loungey. It’s really comfortable,” says Donohue. “The room is long and there are two distinct areas, but we didn’t want one section to be cut off from the other.” Part of the sectional’s appeal was that it didn’t have an arm on one side, which contributes to an open, unified feel between the two seating areas.

Fun throw pillows are by Jonathan Adler and two Bernhardt chairs are upholstered with a multi-color cut velvet fabric by S. Harris. Another lively pattern is introduced with the ottoman’s geometric Pindler & Pindler fabric.

“I like to mix up finishes in a room to make the aesthetic feel acquired and not matched up,” says Donohue. The variation includes a gold Jonathan Adler floor lamp and a tree trunk fashioned into a table that has a silver sheen.

When the owners wondered whether new carpet was needed, Donohue encouraged them to use the existing Oriental rugs. “They are colorful and beautiful,” she says. “I love Oriental rugs in rooms where there is heavy traffic. You can spill on them and you don’t see it because of pattern — they are so family friendly.”


Jaci Conry can be reached at