Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A dozen boho brushstrokes on a gray sofa canvas

The gray sofa is here to stay. I don't say that only because I own one. I own one because of its unlimited versatility. Just change out the throw pillows and a few other accessories to a new color palette or style, and voila! You get an instant new look on the cheap.

Whereas, that pink and green toile sofa you absolutely adored when you chose it may wear on your nerves long before you can afford to replace it. Our charcoal gray transitional-style sofa replaced a chippendale camel-back we'd lived with for 20-plus years clad in one print or another. I was sick of everything about it by the time we retired it.

Now when I get the blahs, I just change out my throw pillows. I can save money by making my own covers and reusing inserts, which also simplifies storage of what I'm not using. A gray sofa embellished with beautiful pillows is also a safe way try out bolder colors and patterns--the basis of boho. And grays go warm or cool, so just about any other colorway works with them.

I'll show you what I mean:

1. Basics first...


...This photo is perfect to begin with because the monotone room acts as a blank canvas.The bright, solid pillows really pop, but it's easy to see how taking out one or more colors or substituting prints would create a completely different, but equally engaging, look. I found this photo on Jonathan Rachman's HGTV page. You can check out more of his photos and interiors there or at Jonathan Rachman Design.

2. Black tie optional...

...This living room boasts all the classic features of a tuxedo, don't you think? A mix of neutrals in great prints, with just a little gold in the leopard velvet pillow to connect with the coffee table, makes for an eclectic mix of classic, casual and FUN. To see more photos of this home and a full list of sources, go to The Every Girl.

3. Mad for magenta...

...Talk about luxe! This room registers upscale, boho with its lush, collected look, and the hot pink pillows and ikat throw create a focus. A little bit of that same pink in the elegant, tall flower arrangement makes the whole room pop. I found this photo on one of my favorite blogs, House of Turquoise, but it originally appeared in Lonny. Browse this issue of the magazine for more photos of this home.

4. Stark-raving gorgeous...

...Floor lamps like this I remember from the 1960s, but nothing to compare to this ultra-sleek sectional from French furniture manufacturer Habitat. The sofa seems like an extension of the stone wall it rests against. (I wonder if they market that, too?) Accessories are few but powerful in shades of red, purple and something-berry-in-between. Not colors I'd think to put together, but they work. Check out all available sectional components, but take along a translator and the latest exchange rate for euros!

5. Life's a peach...

...The accented neutral color scheme gets a new twist in this Better Homes & Gardens room. It features ALL the traditional neutrals (white, cream, tans, grays) but holds to just the one accent color: shades of orange. The variation in peachy prints and petals warms my heart like a steaming cup of peach tea. Did someone say, "I'll be in the morning room"? That would be me, and this would be it. Definitely a room with feminine leanings, but the charcoal gray sofa holds it all in balance.

6. Shades of purple bliss...

...This room proves a gray sofa handles cooler hues as well as warmer ones. I once made light blue kitchen counters I was tired of appear gray by changing all my room accents to black. The same thing is going on here, but in reverse. The sofa ALMOST looks lavender! The purple ikat cushions are to die for, and the chinoiserie accents make my heart go pit-a-pat. Even the placement of the sofa draws the eye to the painting and lets it command center stage. Check out more refreshing rooms by Betsy Burnham of Burnham Design here

7. Teal and tea-green rush...

...I remember momma telling me when I was learning how to dress that blues and greens don't mix. Guess she never saw this room! Thanks to that gray sofa, all the teal and tea-green accessories play up the wall of art and what-nots. This photo taken by Virginia photographer Katelyn James is her very own living room. I found it on House of Turquoise, but check out James' blog to read about the space and see every nook and cranny.

8. The Tao te Ching of rooms...

...Lao Tzu himself could have found "Way" in this room by Jennifer Davis Interior Design, The careful mix of lattice patterns calls to mind a garden, with the serene sky of the painting floating overhead and the wonderful suzani "flowers" flanking each corner of the sofa. This is another House of Turquoise find (you gotta check out Erin's blog!!), but go to Jen's Design Blog for more Zeke Ruelas photos of this particular room.

9. Pass the red pen and the yellow highlighter, please...

...Bet you couldn't guess I used to be an English teacher, huh? Here are two more colors momma said didn't mix, but the maps pull it all together, and the flowers say, "So there!" Nature seldom lets us down as an inspiration. If it works in the garden, why not the living room? With a gray sofa, of course. Check out Better Homes & Gardens to "Add Color to Your Living Room."

10. Chartreuse, period...

...The chesterfield sofa, English garden wallpaper and tufted cabriole-leg ottoman play up the distinguished room mouldings, which mark this as a period home. But the accent colors add a modern and playful touch. Call it "High Boho." Because the accessories are on the yellow end of the chartreuse spectrum, purple is opposite on the color wheel and so a perfect complement.

11. Less-is-more-yellow, or is it?...

It's all about the art in this room, found on UTA Home, and the menswear pillows cooperate. But those pillows could easily be switched out if the owner wanted a room change without investing in new, original art. Look to the painting itself for hints--turquoise, teal, royal blue or bright yellow would all work. I think I'd add just one pillow in one of those colors--a smaller round or square one snuggled against one of striped ones. I'm thinking yellow, on the far end.

12. A doll of a brightly feathered nest...

...All the colors in these great patchwork pillows and rug are pulled from the Russian nesting dolls displayed on the wall unit--count 'em, THREE shelves-full, all lined up in descending order. I love how the larger two sets diminish toward the center shelf unit to keep the eye focused from wandering outward to the gorgeous brick walls. (Though who could blame you if yours did?) This gray sofa is a true nesting place for this family, given the games, toys and snacks awaiting their return--one that will continue to serve them through the years as their interests and preferences shift.

13. Baker's dozen tip...

Still not sure you want a gray sofa? Or, you want one but can't afford it right now? 

Start with a slipcover

Today's slipcovers aren't the ones your mother wrestled. Fabrics range from twill to faux suede to damask and come tailored or stretch-to-fit for many sofa styles and sizes.

If you already have a gray sofa, show us how you have it dressed by posting photos in the comments.


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