Reader Question :: Decorating With Bulky Sofas

Did you know that Nesting Place has a Facebook Page?  It’s a place we get to hang out and chat and upload photos and do all sorts of Facebooky stuff.  I’d love to have you join in the fun.

Telisha asked a question at the NP Facebook page that I wanted to answer more at length and more publicly –I think it’s a question that many of us have had and can benefit from thinking about::

I think what Telisha is really asking is where do I start? 

It would be different if I was an extrovert and rich and lived next door to Telisha, then I would just show up at her door with a bunch of new furniture choices.  But since I’m not here’s what I can offer online, without ever stepping foot or even seeing photos.

this is what I’m picturing in my head though, just for vision purposes

1. Are the green couches permanent or temporary (AKA: Do you love them?)

It’s fine if you do and fine if you don’t.  But knowing where you stand on those will help you make decisions about how to go about getting things for your room.  It really doesn’t have much to do with the size of the sofas either.  No matter you will go through the same process of thinking and questions.

If you LOVE them, then maybe you would accent the room with other sage green things–sage green in the rug, sage green in the fabric on the drapes.

If you HATE them but need to keep them for now (we all understand that dilemma) then don’t buy anything specifically because it works with something you hate.  For example, about ten years ago we lived in a 1970 style rental and for some reason I bought dishes to match the outdated kitchen that I hated. I bought minty green and rusty orangey dishes because I could hang them on the wall and they looked good with the fake  wood paneling.  Guess what, as soon as we moved, a year later, I HATED those dishes.  Don’t buy something to go with something you already don’t like.

I wrote an entire post about how to change-up your decor and addressed the “I hate my sofa what should I do” debacle.

Design Crisis,   houzz (ABC Dragoo), Traditional Home


2. Move The Sofas Around

Everyone (including myself) underestimates the power in trying furniture in ever single place in a room.  It will take a few hours but unless you are expecting, this is something you can most likely do by yourself while your husband is at work, that way you don’t have to try to avoid his weird looks when you move the sofa in front of the fire-place “just to see”.  Even if you know it won’t work, try it anyway.  And remember, they don’t have to be at a 90 degree angle to each other–maybe you have them across from each other (I like to call that look dueling sofas it’s great for conversation).

Here’s a post where I made a video of the process of me moving my sofa to a wall where I 100% KNEW it wouldn’t work–guess what, my sofa is still on that wall today.

…and a few more dueling sofas because I cannot get enough of them as you can see, the sofas can be very different in style or exactly the same.


Amy Meier

Urban Grace Interiors

3. Break them Up

Not sure what your couches actually are but I’ll tell you a secret, I have an aversion to love seats.  They are really hard to make work in a normal size room with a sofa.  It’s so much easier to place a few chairs and a sofa in a room than a loveseat and a sofa.  Maybe you can put the loveseat in another room of the house?  Sell it?  Or maybe moving it around will help you find a great spot.


Moving On

Once you know the best place for the sofas and once you’ve decided if you love them and want to decorate a room around them OR if they are holding places for your dream sofa that will be not the same color–then you can move on.

Here’s a post where I tell how I changed my decor from reds and golds to blues and whites and greens over about an 18 month period.  Without buying any brand new furniture.

Evaluate what you have that you can use in the room, maybe that old dresser from the garage can be painted or that wingback chair with laundry on it that sits in the corner of your bedroom would look great in the family room.

See what gaps you have–do you have a rug that the furniture can sit on?  Rugs are like magic pills that pull a room together–a neutral rug will be a hard worker for years to come–Emily A Clark wrote a great post about her “dirt eating natural, neutral rug”.  This rug would look great in any room.

Next I’d look for drapes–either off the rack ( I like Ikea and, Ballard and World Market) or make some Window Mistreatments.

And consider if the walls need a fresh coat of paint.  I always like to have the rug before I make paint choices just so I can play off the undertones of the rug once it’s in the room.

I hope that gives a little starting point.  But even if you hate your current sofas, I really believe that you can still incorporate them into a room that you ultimately love (or at least like a lot better). Once you take the focus off the sofa and add meaningful beauty, some handmade items, layers, risky, quirky, fun art and soften with some drapes and a rug–the sofa won’t have as big as a role in the overall chorus of the room.

And don’t forget to join us by liking the Nesting Place Facebook Page!


Also, if you missed yesterday’s post about Pet Peeves, please do yourself a favor and at least read the comments, they are insane and hilarious and now I have no less than 546 pet peeves to keep track of.


  1. Lol! I totally thought I was the only weirdo who moved my furniture around constantly to find that one space solution that just made me sing! We moved into our current house just 6 months ago and I’ve already moved all our furniture around like 4 times! And I don’t mind doing it in front of my husband since I know he has no designer’s eye. He may look at me funny but ultimately he always thanks me when I get it right.

    • Oh yeah, and I hate love seats too. We recently were given 2 la-z-boy chairs I plan on using and just putting the love seat in the garage for hubby to use. It’ll totally make the space much prettier and flow better. Thanks for all the advice :)

  2. My daughter and my cats are planning an uprising in revolt to my constant shuffling of the furniture. I can’t help myself. By the way, the bed in the living room in the Design Crisis photo reminds me of the grandparent’s bed in Willy Wonka, but I love it. Now I wish I had enough room to put a bed in our living room:)

  3. I have a hunter green leather sofa which 13 years ago was a great buy. Today, not so much. It will soon be making its way into our almost finished basement family room. I bought a slipcover at Target and made a couple pillows out of some beautiful fabric. It’s amazing what new pillows can do for a space. Instead of focusing on the ugly dark shiny green leather, all I see now is a cozy slipcovered sofa with some great pillows to match!

  4. These are great tips I could have used when someone offered me two bulky sofas. I opted to take the chaise lounge only and feel great about that decision. My living room is not large and I needed it to function in many ways. thanks for the tips. I’ll keep them in mind for future reference.

  5. telisha–
    we have a bulky darkish sageish green (sometimes. sometimes it looks brown) couch and chair, too. (which happens to be the most uncomfy couch EVER, plus it has very tall unwelcoming, uncomfy arms, but that’s beside the point!) in spite of dislking the couch and someday wanting a new one, the overall look of the room, i like.

    We’ve had it for 8 years, and when we got them, we painted the walls a color that’s greenish too (chive from one of lowe’s lines–eddie bauer maybe?), and i like how they play off each other. it’s very cozy and warm. we’re working toward white trim (but still have some orangey wood trim that i dont like), and my accessories are mostly white, light greys, blues, yellows with some brown thrown in. (i have some pictures on my blog, but nothing fancy and they’re all mixed in w/ various blog post.,,,but feel free to dig around. If you scroll to the very very bottom of the first page, there’s a tiny pic of our living room.)

    You had me at bulky and green…so i couldn’t not chime in. For your sake, I hope you’re are a LOT more comfortable than mine!

  6. Joanne B. says

    Just wanted to share that I was recently in JC Penney and could not get over the GREAT selelction of nice quaility drapes there! Many that have that Pottery Barn look! I was quite impressed_ check them out in store or online. I know i sound like a plug for JC Penny, but I promise you I am just plain ole simple me always looking for the best for my home for the least amount of cash!

    • I think that’s a great idea–especially if you need a longer length and lining!

      • I can vouch for JC Penney’s window coverings. They are lovely, reasonably priced, and the selection unbeatable. I’ve made more than one purchase and been completely pleased.

  7. I found your blog yesterday (sorry, I forget who I clicked through to find your site!) and I LOOOOVVVEEE it. Thank you for being wonderful :) I’m a newlywed decor hobbyist, currently trying to figure out how to bring together a smallish living room broken up by a T-shaped traffic zone, using my husband’s terrible 80’s puffy black leather sofa set until we can save for a good sectional for our future family. I thought this post was very helpful. I also realized thanks to your posts on decluttering and accessory addictions that I’ve TOTALLY been trying to fix a room brought down by sofas I hate by buying lots of little things that I hope will be quick fixes. I am motivated to purge and buy less, and bigger, and Right-er.

    • amen, Julie!!! We’ve all been there, puffy sofa and all–they are the wonder years in many ways!! plus you can spill salsa on black leather and no one will ever know, once you wipe it off that is.

      So happy you found Nesting Place! Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Dawn Beaver says

    Love the suggestions. I have a sofa and two chairs in my large great room. But, for my smaller living room, I have a loveseat and two chairs. I can rearrange my furniture in the smaller room in so many more ways without having a big sofa to find a spot for! I remember one of my interior design teachers telling us how no one wants to sit in the middle of a sofa…so get a love seat. This is good for a living room, but the family room needs a big sofa for laying on :) Just a thought…

  9. Funny you wrote about moving furniture today – I did too! We always called it PMS – Possessions Moving Syndrome. I have it, and all of my brothers have it, too. It makes the in-laws slightly cross-eyed, but there is nothing to freshen up a room like moving a few things about – and so FREE!

    Oh, and we just moved some trees in our yard, too. Poor baby trees, but they look so much better in their new homes!

  10. Great tips! We’re getting ready to move soon and we have this bulky leather sofa that reclines on both ends. It is sooo not cute, but it is sooo wonderful to sit in. So I make it work. I don’t design around it, but I pull my design into it.

    P.S. I’m an introvert too, so it makes me giggle every time I read your introversion posts. :) I “get” it!

  11. Back in the day, we lived in a tiny 800+ square foot ranch. And there wasn’t a month where I didn’t move the furniture in the living room and bedroom around. Rugs on the carpet {and a healthy back!} made it easy to push and drag sofa, chairs, tables, desks, dressers, etc. all over the place.

    I always LOVED seeing our possessions in a new light, moving not only the big stuff but the small vintage bits and pieces from here to there. I always always ended up appreciating all over again what little we did have.

  12. Leigh Anne says

    I have a large sofa w/ a chaise that I love, and it’s sort of a sage color too. I put it against a wall with a window and put 2 tall (about 7 ft) bookshelves behind it (on either side of the window). I love the way it looks and the bookshelves definitely minimize the size of the sofa. Yes, we lost east access to the lower shelves but my husband (a serious bible scholar who loves his book as much as his children HA!) just moved his least often used books to those shelves. Book/shelf purist can advert their eyes when they come visit ;-)

  13. Good timing! I have this exact problem: I have a sofa and a loveseat (we ordered them when we were 22, okay, we didn’t know anything about furniture selection!) and it’s so hard to make both pieces work in our living room.

    I thought I’d tried every conceivable furniture arrangement for this room, but we just painted last week and moved the furniture around to do it, and tried the sofa directly in front of the fireplace (which we don’t use). I thought that spot was off-limits for furniture arranging, but it turns out it looks fine and I absolute l.ove it there!

    These are great tips–off to read the links now!

    • HAHAH!–the part about buying them when you were 22 made me laugh! it’s so true. if only i knew THEN, what i know NOW (not that i know much more….but what i DO know sure woulda helped!)!

  14. Do you remember my bulky over sized stuff sofas. I think you helped me coin them something really funny, like a early 90’s phrase and now I can’t remember. They’ve seen much love and before we gave them love, they were the Aikens (bought them when they moved to Singapore…haha), and finally, FINALLY, I am investing in something new. I don’t know what yet, but they are my pet peeve. :)

  15. I have a bulky sage green sofa, too! It’s much bulkier than the one you pictured above. I also have a recliner and can never figure out how to place these pieces so they work. I don’t like either piece, but they have to stay for awhile. No one can figure out how to have a conversation in our house, though! With three kids this gets tough. We usually just try to all sit on the couch! So I am very thankful for the couch.

  16. A friend’s MIL cleans like a maniac and rearranges her furniture every single time she does because she doesn’t feel like she’s accomplished anything unless she can see the shine of the newly clean space of floor.

    And whenever I hear about that, I imagine being her husband, walking in to sink into your favorite chair to watch the game, and landing on the floor instead because she’s moved the furniture *again*. : )

    Totally random, but that’s where my brain went.

    Great tips, by the way–especially the advice about moving your furniture to places that you’re sure won’t work!

  17. Such good and helpful advice. I’ve also been guilty of buying something I didn’t like just because it went with something I couldn’t change. So silly of me! Lol

  18. I’m having some couch issues, and I think it can be solved with step 1. I don’t love them :(
    Thanks for the tips!

  19. I know this post is old, hopefully you still see new comments! My husband and I are currently having a debate over what kind of couch to purchase. He wants a big ol’ lay z boy sectional (Griffin model to be exact) while I would much rather have something more contemporary but still comfortable. I’ve looked (briefly) at all of the fabric choices for the Lay Z Boy hoping to find a more modern fabric that might help offset the bulkyness of the sofa. When you open our front door you look right at our couch – no other way to lay out the room. What do you think? Can you make a big huge couch more modern with the right fabric choice????

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