A Classic Decorating Foundation: One Living Room Styled 3 Different Ways With New Rug + Pillows

Hi Everyone! This is Kristin from Postbox Designs Interior E-Design back with this month’s exclusive Mood Board just for you Remodelaholic readers! As an interior designer I’m always trying to find a mix of classic pieces for my clients while still giving each space a unique style and look. Because for every heart stopping design trend on Pinterest today, there will be a new one tomorrow. So while I want you to have fun with trends, I also don’t want you to have a room that is outdated in just a few years. (Remember how we discussed creating a classic bathroom?)

So how do you follow the latest design trend while still keeping a timeless looking room?

Invest in a few classic pieces. Then know what accessories to layer in.

A classic decorating foundation is key to a beautiful style, no matter what your style may be. Learn how to choose classic foundation pieces and which accessories to change for a new style, on a budget.


You want your main pieces of furniture to have classic lines, durable materials, and typically I suggest solid colored, neutral fabric. For a Living Room, those items would be your sofa, armchairs, coffee table, and possibly side tables. Choose pieces that will hold up to your lifestyle so you can love it as much ten years from now as you to today. Then layer in fun, bright, or whimsical accent pieces that really show off your style and personality.

To prove my point, today I have not one but THREE different Mood Boards to share with you! For each Living Room Mood Board I took seven basic items (sofa, armchair, coffee table, chandelier, side table, white paint, and lamp) and re-used the exact same pieces in each Mood Board. All I switched out was the rug and the pillows for three totally different looks for this Living Room design. I created three different design style Living Rooms:

Modern Farmhouse

Boho Chic

Warm Modern

By investing in these main furniture pieces that can work in a multitude of different design styles, you can swap out a few relatively inexpensive items for an entirely new look. I started off creating a Modern Farmhouse Living Room with seven classic foundation pieces and some rustic accent touches:

1 Room Styled 3 Ways: Modern Farmhouse Living Room by Postbox Designs Interior E-Design

Here are the sources for all 7 Foundation Pieces you will find in all three Mood Boards:

Leather Sofa   Blue Armchair   Coffee Table   Chandelier   Side Table   Lamp   BM: “Simply White” paint

Here are the sources for the Modern Farmhouse Accents:

Sisal Rug   Buffalo Plaid Pillow   Stripe Pillow   Lumbar Pillow

7 Classic Foundation Pieces for your Living Room Design

Sofa: Leather is a really durable material, that is easy to clean and looks even better with time. If you have a very classic, traditional look you can find a leather sofa with rolled arms, nailheads, or even a tufted Chesterfield style. However, if your style is somewhat more modern or transitional, look for one with straight lines and open legs such as this one from Pottery Barn.

Another way to go is with the every more popular “Performance Fabrics”. These fabrics are especially designed to repel dirt and stains, and are easier to clean. Some fabrics are fade resistant and even suitable for outdoor use. Very dark fabrics can actually show just as much as very light colored fabrics so I usually suggest a mid-tone color to most of my clients. A light to mid-gray or tan is a perfect neutral. You can even look for fabrics with a light pattern, such as a herringbone or tweed that show a bit more forgiveness. With young kids I’m the biggest proponent of slipcovers-so you can always keep that option in mind as well! 

Armchair: This West Elm armchair has a bit of a modern look, but this combination of wood arms and a vintage velvet works with all three design styles. Wood chair arms are easy to clean (great if you have kids with sticky fingers!) and this “weathered velvet” fabric has a distressed look that doesn’t require perfection.

Coffee Table: If you have kids or are hard on your furniture, I love pieces that are already a bit weathered and distressed-it hides a multitude of sins. This classic wood and metal combination coffee table can work with a Farmhouse look but it’s straight, open lines works equally as well with a more modern look.

Lamp: No matter what your design style, adding a bit a shine with a polished metal always brings some glam to your space. This gold and marble table lamp may look like a million bucks but it is a Target steal. Plus, it doesn’t have a breakable shade so it will stand up to some friendly pillow fights if that ever happens in your house!

Chandelier: This chandelier runs on the modern side but its black finish is the perfect neutral. If you are going for a more rustic, farmhouse, or cottage style you can make this light fixture more rustic by mixing it with casual fabrics and materials in the rest of the room.

Side Table: This black metal table is simple and neutral enough to fit into just about any design style. Sometimes slender accent tables like this can be a bit fragile. But this one is made of solid metal for long lasting durability and a breeze to clean.

White Paint: Warm white walls are the perfect backdrop for any style of room. You could add wall treatments such as shiplap or board and batten in the Farmhouse look. Or simply paint your walls for a more modern or boho look. I used Benjamin Moore’s “Simply White” in all three design Mood Boards-a perfect, creamy white shade. Click here to read more about choosing the perfect white paint color. 


But what if you wanted a Boho Living Room Look instead?

Keep in all of the main pieces then swap out the rug and the pillows to create this:

1 Room: Styled 3 Ways: Boho Living Room Mood Board by Postbox Designs Interior E-Design

You can find all of the sources for the 7 Foundation Pieces above with the Farmhouse Mood Board. Here are the sources for the Boho Accents:

White Pillow    Indigo Pillow   Kilim Lumbar Pillow   Persian Rug

But finally, how do you turn a Farmhouse Living Room into a Modern Living Room while keeping all of the same furniture? I did the same trick of changing out the area rug and just three pillows while keeping the exact same furniture to create this Warm Modern Living Room:

1 Room Styled 3 Ways: Modern Living Room by Postbox Designs Interior E-Design

You can find the 7 Foundation Pieces sources above with the Farmhouse Mood Board. Here are the sources for the Modern accent pieces:

Black Pillow   Concrete Pillow   Navy Velvet Lumbar Pillow   Geometric Rug

How to Style Up Your Living Room with Accent Pieces

Work in a New Rug Into Your Room

A new rug is a POWERFUL piece in any Living Room design. An area rug will typically be the largest square footage item in your room, therefore it is going to command the most attention. When choosing a rug, bigger is typically better. The perfect area rug size will depend on the size of your room, but as a good rule of thumb try to get the fronts of all of your furniture sitting on your rug. For most rooms that will be a 10×12 minimum. So because this one piece is so large, choosing the right style of rug will make all of the difference in your room!

If you have carpet in your Living Room, you still can (and probably should) use an area rug! It is such a great way to tie all of your furniture together visually and helps ground the room. Unless you have a high pile carpet such as a frise, you can still layer on a rug. I would stay away from thin rugs such as a flatweave and go for a heavier duty rug that won’t curl up.

Farmhouse Style Living Room Rug

I chose a simple, durable jute rug for the Farmhouse Living Room Mood Board. I have this exact rug several places throughout my own home (and I have three young kids and a beast of a dog!). They are inexpensive, hide dirt, and still feel soft under your feet. Other Farmhouse rug options would be sisal, a simple flatweave, or a striped rug. Usually neutral colors work best for this design style. In this Living Room below she used a simple sisal rug and layered on a patterned rug for a pop of color.

1 Room Styled 3 Ways: Modern Farmhouse Living Room by Postbox Designs Interior E-Design
Photo: Sita Montgomery Interiors

Boho Style Living Room Rug

For this style, you want a vintage, eclectic look. I chose a bright, colorful Persian style rug for my Boho Living Room Mood Board. This bold pattern will hide dirt and stains beautifully and brings an ethnic global flair to your room. You can use one large rug, OR go for a layered look. Try adding a large, inexpensive jute or sisal rug on the bottom. Then layer with a smaller, more expensive rug on top like this room below:

1 Room: Styled 3 Ways: Boho Living Room Mood Board by Postbox Designs Interior E-Design
Photo by Amy Bartlam | via Domino

Modern Style Living Room Rug

For this style you could go with a solid colored rug. However, if you have pets or kids I tend to stay away from solid colored rugs as they can show stains or pet hair. Instead I like using a bold graphic pattern such as the one of this Warm Modern Living Room Mood Board. Usually a neutral combination works well, but feel free to use your rug to pull in a pop of color.

1 Room Styled 3 Ways: Modern Living Room by Postbox Designs Interior E-Design
Photo: Studio McGee

Accent Throw Pillows for Your Living Room

Throw Pillows are by far the easiest, and most inexpensive way to change the look of your room. I personally almost always recommend pillow covers and inserts for my clients. With pillow covers you can take them off to clean, or swap them out without completely starting over. Keep your insert (an 18×18 size is a great one to start with) then change out the cover only. With all three design Mood Boards I created for you today I used a combination of (2) 18×18 pillows and (1) lumbar pillow for a sofa, with (1) 18×18 accent pillow for the armchair. With this combination you have enough pillows to create some color and texture, but without getting out of control.

If you need some more ideas with different ways to style your sofa with pillow combinations, check out this How to Style a Sofa Guide I created to help you solve that very problem:

1 Room Styled 3 Ways: Modern Farmhouse

Farmhouse Style Pillows: Fabrics such as a ticking stripe, grain sack stripe, and buffalo plaid all are rustic fabrics that work really well with this style.

Boho Style Pillows: Look for words such as mudcloth, global, or kilim for pillows that have that global flair. You can go completely neutral or use a really colorful pattern. Other patterns such as banana leaf, solid weaves, pompoms, and ikat also work beautifully.

Modern Style Pillows: I like to use a mix of simple graphic patterns and solid pillows for a modern design. You can introduce some fun colors with accent pillows while keeping your main pieces neutral. In the Modern Living Room Mood Board I created I had some fun with this concrete pattern and a simple blue velvet lumbar pillow.

Mixing Patterns for Pillows

I have a lot of clients that are unsure of how to mix pillows in their room-it can look a bit stale and boring OR be too cluttered looking. A good rule of thumb is to mix:

Solid + Large Pattern + Small Pattern

I’m a symmetrical kind of girl so I typically will do two of the same patterned pillows on opposite sides of a sofa with one special accent pillow in the middle. But play around and have some fun with it. Throw pillows are NOT serious business. But if you need some extra help I created this Perfect Pillow Combination Guide. You can find it along with the Shopping List in my FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY. This Library is full of all kinds of design freebies: Free Mood Boards, Shopping Lists, Guides and more that will get you started on your next design project. No matter your design style or budget you can find something in there that will help you turn your Pinterest dreams into a reality. Because I know if you are a Remodelaholic reader you already love your home but are just looking for some ideas to take it to the next level!

1 Room Styled 3 Ways: Modern Farmhou


A huge thanks to the entire Remodelaholic team for letting me share with you all today. If you want to see more design Freebies, you can find them over on FACEBOOK and INSTAGRAM where I’m sharing latest client projects, “befores” and “afters”, and design ideas. Or if you are just looking for some design inspiration I have a board dedicated to every room in your house over on PINTEREST. Find a favorite board and start pinning away.

And finally, if you can find out all about how Interior E-Design works come hang with me on my BLOG!

Thanks guys, and I’ll see you again next month,


More decorating guides and ideas: 

Find the right sofa for your budget and style

Sofa Round Up by Postbox Designs E-Design

One dining room, decorated three ways: eclectic, cottage farmhouse, and boho

high-low farmhouse dining room decor

Website | + posts

Kristin is an interior designer, wife, and mom to three cuties. She started Postbox Designs E-Design so she could be at home with her kids while still doing what she loves. She is obsessed with wingback chairs, gray walls, and anything herringbone. When she's not chasing around her kids or her Labradoodle pup Jasper she's sharing budget friendly designs at postboxdesigns.com (instagram.com/postboxdesigns, instagram.com/postboxdesigns).

We love hearing from fellow Remodelaholics, so let us know what you like about this and leave any questions below in the comments. If you've followed a tutorial or been inspired by something you've seen here, we'd love to see pictures! Submit pictures here or by messaging us over on Facebook.

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