Home & Design

Designer Laura Hildebrandt of Interiors by LH, LLC, created interest in a Vienna living room with a palette of gray, black and white punctuated by bold citron accents in a Thibaut fabric. “Gone are the days when the living room was for company only,” Hildebrandt declares. “It’s now a space for music, reading or quiet reflection.” Photo: Angela Newton Roy

Common Ground

Designers share tips on making the most of your living room

“With more people working at home, the formal living room is often repurposed as a library/home office. By adding a wall of shelving, a custom desk as a focal point and comfortable seating, a traditional living room can be transformed.”

—Barbara Hawthorn, Barbara Hawthorn Interiors

“Formal living spaces depend on the client. Is the room intended for game night? Cocktails before the fireplace? Displaying art and books? I adjust structural elements—windows, fireplaces, architectural lighting, trim—then add personality through furnishings, finishes, custom cabinetry, decorative lighting and art.”

—Ann Gottlieb, IIDA, LEED AP ID+C, Ann Gottlieb Design PLLC

“The formal living room was always the forbidden space. My clients now want it to be a multi-purpose room where kids can hang or a neighbor can stop by for a glass of wine. It should be practical and functional to fit your life.”

—Laura (Fox) Wolff, Laura Fox Interior Design, LLC

“The stately living room has gone the way of the ladies’ corset. Today, people want rooms that invite daily living—reading, work, conversation, games. When living rooms are small, I will focus on one conversational grouping and avoid a sofa. With more space, I like multiple groupings and a game table for activities.”

—Josh Hildreth, Josh Hildreth Interiors

“The formal living room is not dead. I have clients who prefer an open-concept space, but plenty of people live a more formal life with bigger homes. Even formal should be comfortable; it should invite people in.” 

—Jamie Merida, Jamie Merida Interiors

Cathy Purple Cherry

Purple Cherry Architects


Bonnie Ammon

Bonnie Ammon Interiors


Laura Hildebrandt

Interiors by LH, LLC​


PHOTO: Robert Radifera

Samantha Sopp-Wittwer

Interior Concepts, Inc.


PHOTO: Geoffrey Hodgdon Photography

Sarita Simpson

Interior Matter


Dennese Guadeloupe Rojas

Interiors by Design, LLC


Melanie Whittington

Whittington Design Studio


Kirsten Kaplan

Haus Interior Design



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HOME&DESIGN, published bi-monthly by Homestyles Media Inc., is the premier magazine of architecture and fine interiors for the Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia region.

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