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Style Watch

Redesigning a long, narrow living room in the South End

Homeowners finally decorate an awkward space just before the baby arrives.

Michael J. Lee
Michael J. Lee

The owners of this South End brownstone, a young couple with their first child on the way, waited years to address the decor of the living room. “It’s a kind of an awkward long, narrow space with the main entrance to the home on one wall,” says interior designer Ana Donohue. She worked with the couple to set the aesthetic, which required incorporating divergent tastes. “The husband is very contemporary, and the wife likes worldly, bold, and quirky elements,” says Donohue. The new scheme merges their preferred styles with strategic pops of color, graphic art, and mixed metals. There’s ample seating to accommodate large gatherings, and most of the fabrics and finishes are baby-friendly, too.


1. The walls are painted Benjamin Moore Majestic Mauve, lending softness to the room and allowing the rich hues of the fabrics to stand out.

2. Large-scale crystal sconces are from Restoration Hardware. “Since the room is small, you might think they would be too big for the space, but because the ceilings are so high, they work,” says Donohue.

3. Over the fireplace, a contemporary abstract print from Horchow makes a bold color statement.

4. A Currey & Company ceiling pendant of mercury glass and oil-rubbed bronze suits the wife’s tastes.

5. The chaise is upholstered in Robert Allen off-white velvet fabric. A pink throw pillow adds flair. “All the pillows in a room don’t have to be the same two or three colors,” says Donohue. “Layer pillows of different colors and scale to add interest.”

6. The Bernhardt sofa is upholstered in velvet, which Donohue selected for its pet-friendly nature. “They have cats, so none of the fabrics could have a loose backing. Velvet works well; they can’t dig their claws into it.”

7. Brass geometric tables by Noir can be moved around the room to accommodate different seating configurations.


8. On the opposite side of the room, the dark wood Zuri dining table has simple, straight lines.

9. A Stark indoor/outdoor fabric covers the seats of the stainless steel chairs, allowing spills to be dealt with easily.

10. Function meets form in the banquette upholstery: on the seat, a sturdy Duralee vinyl material; on the back, a fun, geometric Robert Allen fabric.

11. An oversize canvas with a striking green motif is a mass-produced piece by Paragon that is very affordable, says Donohue.