6 Ways to Salvage Your Living Room if Your Furniture Doesn’t Go Together

published Oct 6, 2019
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It happens to the best of us: You bought a coffee table online, only to discover it doesn’t quite work with the living room as you imagined. Or perhaps you took that old couch your aunt gave you from her basement, promising yourself you will replace it once the budget allows. Five years later? Nothing has changed.

Everyone wishes they had a magazine-worthy home, but the reality is more complicated. But just because your furniture doesn’t match doesn’t mean the room can’t be salvaged. Here’s what to do if your furniture doesn’t go together, according to experts.

Find Some Common Ground

While your room might look like a hodge-podge, there is something in common between all of the items. After all, you picked these pieces for one reason or another!

“Find something, and place the objects around the room to create repetition and rhythm,” Interior designer John McClain says. “Spaces are far more interesting when they look curated and collected as opposed to purchased in a set.”

Don’t wrack your brain over connecting the dots! Your room’s common ground can be as simple as all your side tables are round or you picked out various shades of gray.

Create Some Cohesion

In order to downplay multiple pieces that are different, you will need something that ties together the randomness.

“Since mismatched furniture can create a visual train wreck, try bringing in a few key pieces to create a balanced and cohesive look.” Abbe Fenimore, founder and interior designer of Studio Ten 25, says. 

While a fabulous rug is an obvious choice, never underestimate the power of pillows.

“Layer the room with solid pillows in one or two of the furniture’s dominant colors in order to give the room an aesthetically pleasing feel,” Fenimore says.

Credit: Anik Polo

Soothe Your Surroundings

Working with an eclectic array of hand-me-downs, vintage finds, and new buys? Force white space into the room. 

“Provide peace by accessorizing with toss pillows, throw blankets, area rugs and tchotchkes in neutral notes of ivory, gray, khaki or cream,” McClain explains. “By unifying the supporting players you create the white or negative space necessary for soothing surroundings.”

Three’s a Party

If something doesn’t go with your room but you really love it, one way to make it fit is to use what interior designer Breegan Jane calls the “Three Trick Rule.” 

“Group colors into three items,” she says. “For example, say you get a bright coral nightstand and it just doesn’t match anything in the room. Embrace the coral by pairing it with a small photo above the nightstand and decorative pillow that display hints of coral.”

Credit: Sylvie Li

Pick Up a Paint Brush

According to Suzanne Ascher of Waterleaf Interiors, one of the best things you can do for a room that clashes is to paint the walls white. “Start with a neutral backdrop and paint your walls a clean crisp white like Benjamin Moore’s Super White.

If you’re working with heirlooms or flea market finds that you want to meld into the room, try tweaking them by refinishing the wood or changing the upholstery.

“Build a common thread between the pieces using fabrics and wood finishes for starters,” she says. “You can recover the pieces and refinish the wood so that things start working together.” 

Credit: Ben Sandall

Turn Back Time

Do you live in a farmhouse space but own a mid-century lamp that has no business being there? Don’t worry, there’s a solution. Breegan suggests incorporating more of that era.

“Collecting multiple pieces that are clearly from different time eras will allow them to flow seamlessly together without any standing out like a sore thumb,” she says. “Themes don’t have to be so obvious to work well together—our brains want to be stimulated!”