Downsized Living Room Style

Jam-packed with bulky furniture, this living room couldn’t breathe. See how HGTV Magazine gave it some style CPR.
By: Kathleen Renda, Jennifer Berno DeCleene, and Matthew Gleason
family on blue sofa

Family in Made-Over Living Room

Orange and Eial Girtz with, from left, Ethan, 10, and Indigio, 8.

Photo by: David A. Land

David A. Land

Comfort was the top priority when Orange and Eial Girtz decorated the compact living room of their 1938 home in Port Washington, NY, seven years ago. Wanting the space to be a veg-out zone for TV watching and lounging, Orange crowded it with a supersized sofa, a mammoth chair-and-a-half, and a hulking coffee table. While the nap-ready pieces encouraged relaxing, they swallowed up the room—and occasionally guests. “I once had to save a pregnant friend who got trapped in the sofa,” admits Orange.

An overstuffed sofa with an eight-pillow pileup: too much!  A side table this gargantuan needs its own zip code. The chair is extra wide to fit two—but who wants to share a chair?

before makeover living toom

Living Room With Bukly Furniture

This before photo captures what a living room looked like before its HGTV Magazine makeover.

Photo by: Alison Gootee/Studio D

Alison Gootee/Studio D

Eager to transition the space into a sophisticated entertaining spot (TV viewing is now done in the family room and basement), Orange was ready for smaller-scale furniture, patterns, and colors. The bold results have wowed visitors—“They can’t believe it’s the same room,” she says—and made weekend socializing easier. “No one is falling into the couch anymore.”

contemporary living room

Living Room Makeover

This after photo of a living room makeover was featured in HGTV Magazine.

Photo by: David A. Land

David A. Land


Longer than love seats but shorter than traditional sofas, the 68-inch couches from Apt2B are a better fit for the room. Upholstered in a blue poly blend and arranged for cozy chats, they’re convo starters in more ways than one.

Rug and Lamps

With bold blooms in pink, coral, and yellow, the wool rug from Rugs USA “has all my favorite colors,” says Orange. A pair of long, lean floor lamps from Ballard Designs don’t overwhelm the space.

Pillows and Curtains

Tart apple green pillows from Linum Inc. plus four patterned ones from Pehr Designs energize the sofas without obscuring them. Drapes sewn from striped Pindler fabric replaced Orange’s too-wispy sheer panels.


The honking old tables gobbled up more than their fair share of the room. Taking their place: an elegant glass coffee table with a gold-leafed finish from Bed Bath & Beyond and two slim Room & Board walnut accent tables—one beside each sofa.

Art and Sconces

A rustic metal flower used to dominate the fireplace. Now an abstract landscape from and simple candleholder sconces from keep the focus on the original 1930s mantel, newly painted gray.

Chest and Mirror

Petite but still storage-rich, a weathered blue-gray cabinet stashes clutter behind closed doors. At 3 feet high, the Ballard Designs silvery-framed mirror reflects a lot of the room, which makes the space seem larger than it is.

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