Ideas for Decorating My Living & Dining Area?

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Q: I just moved with my husband, Matt, and our 2 little kids from a small condo into this west-facing Cape Cod style townhouse and don't know what to do with the main floor living areas. Since the kitchen remodel will require more cash than we have at the moment, I'm trying to figure out how to decorate the living room first. I want to keep the kitchen in mind, though, since they sort of flow together--the kitchen will be white and glass cabinets, B&W checked linoleum floor, white farm sink, basically sort of a farmhouse look overall.

We had planned to have the dining table in the kitchen, but because we'd rather use the eat-in space for cabinets instead, the dining set needs to be in the "dining area" of the living room.

Here are some thoughts/ideas I've already had but I am really open to anything.

The living room is currently painted "Vanilla Custard" (Behr) but I don't love it. Sometimes I like it, like at the sunniest part of the day, but at night it looks way too yellow. I'd love suggestions about paint color. I know I'll hear "boos" but I kind of find myself leaning toward more of a "realtor's beige" with Vanilla Custard for trim. Originally I wanted light gray or light aqua. I'm not sure what will work best with the brown couches.

The much-debated rug... I've included a Polyvore collage of examples of what I'm thinking and this will also give you an idea of the palette I'm aiming for. Something 8x10ish, probably with a coffee table on top. The rugs on the top row are unfortunately totally out of my budget (I want to stay way under $1000...like $500 max...my husband would prefer closer to $100 :) but I included them anyway.

The dining set I have now is temporary--it's completely mismatched in style, color, and size, and not in a good way. I need a table with a leaf (it will almost always be set up without the leaf), and I want to find smaller chairs. I think I might go dark. I'm thinking of the Tuscan Leaf Table from World Market maybe with some bent wood chairs like these at Overstock, in wenge. I also love the Sophia chairs at World Market but they may be too big, too expensive, and more color than I want.

I am going to replace the overhead lighting--maybe a pendant lamp over the dining table but maybe that would be too much for the space.

I want to ditch the floor lamps and get end tables with table lamps. Also need a coffee table and would love recommendations on any of those.

We have a red Ikea Leksvik buffet and matching hanging wall cabinet which we used in our old condo. I can't decide whether to sell these or if they'll work in our new place. I do need something to hold table linens. I would love something a little less Ikea-y but I am also trying not to spend too much money.

I'm not sure if the blue armchair is going to work. We plan to buy a piano and I'm not sure where it will fit but I really don't think it will fit with that chair in there.

I plan to get cordless cellular blinds for the windows for privacy at night and couch protection in the afternoon, and/or maybe some drapes?

Also I think I may repaint the front door Saffron by Martha Stewart, which is a little bit orangier red. Or maybe another color entirely. I keep the door open throughout the day so it is basically part of the living room.

Any help is much appreciated!

Sent by Eliza

Editor: Please share your feedback and advice with Eliza in the comments below - thanks!

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Janel Laban is the Executive Editor of Apartment Therapy and has been working here, at the dreamiest of dream jobs, since March 2006.