Real Life Rooms: Neutral Living Room with a Burgundy Couch

Decorate a neutral living while keeping your existing sofas -- and make a burgundy couch look stylish instead of dated

Hey there Remodelaholic readers! Dawn here, from AD Aesthetic, and I’m back this month with another reader question mockup to hopefully inspire some creative ideas for your space. If you’ve missed any of my previous reader question mockups, you can always see all my posts here.

If you follow Remodelaholic on Facebook, you’ve probably seen several of the reader questions that are submitted every month. Well each month here on Remodelaholic, I choose one reader submitted photo to offer my two cents on, and I create a Photoshop mock up of what I would do if I were in your shoes! (Pssssst— you can submit your reader questions by messaging Remodelaholic on Facebook!)

First though, my standard disclaimer: While I can recommend ideas that I think look nice, I have never seen this house in real life and don’t have accurate measurements. I am also not an architect or landscaper and do not know the planting recommendations for your area- I just like to make things look nice. I can’t guarantee that any of the items I put in my ‘virtual’ design will actually work in real life (or that they’ll fit your design style for that matter), and this is not intended to be a professional design consultation. So think of this as a just-for-fun rendering that hopefully gets your wheels turning and provides some inspiration!

On to the fun!

READER QUESTION from Rebecca —
I’m ready to update this living room from dark colors to lighter ones and I could use ideas and suggestions. I want to get get rid of the red accent wall and paint the fireplace. I’d also like a new area rug. The couches have to stay for now. Any thoughts?


I love the challenge of this room. Replacing a red wall is easy, but working around burgundy furniture? Not quite as easy. To get some ideas for a new color palette for Rebecca, I headed to the internet:

Decorating a neutral living room, with a burgundy couch
Image Source: Urban Outfitters 
Decorating a neutral living room, with a burgundy couch
Image Source: Pella Hedeby for Ikea 
Decorating a neutral living room, with a burgundy couch
Image Source: Apartment Therapy | Photo Credit: Small Cool 2015
Decorating a neutral living room, with a maroon couch
Image Source: Preciously Me | Photo Credit: Nuevo Estilo
Decorating a neutral living room, with a maroon couch
Image Source: Urban Outfitters 
Decorating a neutral living room, with a maroon couch
Image Source: limaonagua 
Decorating a neutral living room, with a maroon couch
Image Source: Domino | Photo Credit: Shannon McGrath
Decorating a neutral living room, with a maroon couch
Image Source: Mark D. Sikes 

I bet you’re impressed with how great a maroon couch can look now, right? Some key things I picked up on in these shots- cool neutrals to balance out the warmth, and not trying to ‘match’ the decor to the furniture so much as finding pieces that work together. With those rules in mind, here is what I came up with for Rebecca’s formerly red room:


Sources for this Mockup:

Valspar Sheer Light

 click each photo to see the source for each item

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Bamboo Blinds

Coffee Table

Cream Knit Pillows

Burgundy Throw

Faux Succulent

Floor  Pouf


Burgundy Knit Pillow

Chevron Burgundy Pillow

Gray Pillow

Serving Tray

Decorating a Neutral Living Room

using existing furniture

If you’re going for a refreshed look, but have some older pieces to work around, here are my suggestions:

Neutrals are your friend: Especially in a case like this where you have a large piece that needs to stay, but maybe not forever. It would be the worst to try to pick colors just to work with the burgundy couch, and then feel like you could never replace the couch without redoing the whole room again. With a primarily neutral color palette like this though, you could basically swap out the couches for pretty much any color and the room would still work. The secret is layering the neutrals so that the room doesn’t feel too flat. For example, the gray walls, white fireplace and trim, wood toned blinds, and gold metallic accents.

Add pops of color: On the flip side, you also probably don’t want a brightly colored couch with no other decor that color in the room to make it feel cohesive. A few subtle pops of color here and there will make the space feel connected, but not staged. The nice thing is that these accents can be small things that are easy to swap out if you do update that couch later on – a few throw pillows, a blanket, some books on the mantle.

Space planning: In this space, even though the room was mostly bare to start out with, it felt oddly crowded. The abundance of overstuffed seating, combined with a rug that was too small for the space, and bare walls and windows just gave it an unfinished look. To balance things out, I removed one of the chairs and a side table, but added in additional seating/storage on either side of the fireplace. Not only does it balance things out and make the fireplace the focal point of the room, but the sleeker style makes the space feel less crowded and more streamlined. I also added a coffee table and floor pouf. The pouf can be moved around and used as seating, a side table, or a foot rest, while the coffee table makes the room feel more finished and pulled together, in addition to providing a handy place to set a drink.

Add living elements: I’m a firm believer that adding plant life to any room instantly makes it feel more welcoming. The plants in this space add a cool element and bring some life into the space that was lacking in the before shot.

Featured Image

So what do you think? What would you do if this were your home?

As always, thank you to Cassity and the Remodelaholic team for having me back each month. If you like this post, and have a design dilemma you’d like me to mock up some ideas for, you can ask your questions by sending Remodelaholic a message over on Facebook, or checkout my mockup design services over on my site And be sure to follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram and say hello! Have a great day, friends!


More neutral decorating ideas:

Neutral mudrooms & entryways

Beautiful neutral backsplashes

Tips for decorating with neutrals

The “new neutrals” paint color palette

2015 favorite paint color trends. The new neutrals. The Creativity Exchange for Remodelaholic

Neutral southwest curb appeal ideas

neutral southwest curb appeal

Website | + posts

Dawn is one half of the team behind the creative blog, AD Aesthetic. By day she works as the VP of Creative for a design and marketing company (getting paid to make things look good!), while by night she renovates her Midwest home, refinishes thrift-store furniture for fun, and works with her husband on raising two tiny humans. Dawn believes in the potential to design your surroundings and your life one day at a time, and lives by the motto, 'Make everything beautiful.' Get to know her better by visiting her blog,, or following along on Facebook and Instagram.

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  1. Love this update similar to what I’m working with, except I have a brown leather couch. Only suggestion I have is buy a reallly good paint with primer. The previous home owner painted a feature wall maroon then painted over it when the house would not sell. I’ve painted once since then & if the wall gets a scratch it does come through some. I didn’t cheap out on paint I think they didn’t either on the maroon paint

  2. I also have a burgundy sectional in my great room….love it. I have a Karastan area rug with a gold, teal, navy and burgundy pattern. We added a round glass top coffee
    Table with a bronze frame and 4 gold sun medallion inserts on the perimeter. The table is still a favorite after 20 years ownership. I have dark wood floors and light tan
    walls. The sectional faces a 26 ft stone fireplace with a heavy wood beam trimmed in metal .we have several wood beams and a 1/2 ceiling in wood. The room is a ski lodge motif as we live within 20 minutes of a ski area. I love your make over of this room…turned out beautiful! The textures are warm and inviting…a very comfortable room to cozy up in. Great job! Thanks for sharing!!!