Redecorating a Sitting Room


This sitting room, featured in a popular shelter magazine in Japan, was meant to highlight the Matisse collection of the owner. According to the magazine article, the owner wanted a “House for Matisse”.

The original room in black and red

My simplified 3D model of the original sitting room in black and red. Sofa, table, floor lamp models courtesy of Google 3D Warehouse.

Matisse’s paintings are highly expressive, filled with bright colors and geometric, stylized figures. However, this black-themed interior, despite the paintings, has a depressing, gloomy, even suffocating effect. While accent lights do try to make the art the focal point, the heavy, somber feel of the patent leather upholstery and textured vinyl wallpaper don’t do the paintings any favor, making them look lonely and awkward. The textures offer variety but are overwhelmed by the same dark hue, making the room look smaller than it really is. The overall “feel” of the room is more appropriate for a lounge bar instead of a sitting room.

Excessive use of dark colors often requires more energy from lighting fixtures, and dim lighting may sometimes cause injury especially to children and elderly people. This room could be improved by changing materials to add rhythm, variety, and better ambient and accent lighting.

Sitting room of the singer Sting

A great example of highlighting modern art. Source: Architectural Digest May 2010. Interior Design by Shelton, Mindel & Associates. Photo: Derry Moore.

If the paintings are small, try reframing. Group them together and hang over light-colored, plain wallpaper or fine-grained wood paneling. See example above.

Simple black-and-white frames also work great on modern art, as shown below.

Simple frames work great for modern art

Simple frames work great for modern art. Source: Architectural Digest December 2003. Interior Design by Jennifer Post. Photo: Michael Moran.

Redecorating Plan A

If the owner prefers a black-and-red scheme, change the wallpaper from pitch black to a lighter value such as the grey shown below. This example shows how to emphasize the artwork by picking up the colors and using them on upholstery and accessories.

Redecorating Plan A: Cool Colors

Redecorating Plan A: Cool Colors

Redecorating Plan B

The example below is a color scheme based on natural, earthy colors. The paintings are grouped for unity and framed in a simple, down-to-earth style that complements Matisse’s modern art.

Redecorating Plan B: Natural & Earthy

Redecorating Plan B: Natural & Earthy

Redecorating Plan C

The final example keeps the black walls but balances it with a bright hue–in this case, gold tones. Better ambient and softer accent lighting is added. It must be remembered that while strong accent light on artwork may look good initially, it may cause fading and general deterioration in the long run.

Redecorating Plan B: Dramatic Black & Gold

Redecorating Plan B: Dramatic Black & Gold

Presentation Board

Here’s a look at the presentation board.

Presentation Board: Redecorating a Sitting Room

Presentation Board: Redecorating a Sitting Room

I Would Love to Hear from You!

So what do you think? Please share your thoughts and opinions in the Comments section below. Also, if you’d like the A3 version of the presentation board (in PDF), please leave a comment and I’ll email you the download link. Cheers!

External Link to Source

Architectural Digest – source of the photos of “great example” rooms.



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2 Responses to “Redecorating a Sitting Room”

  1. slf says:

    I like natural best. I guess living as I do makes me assume there is no airconditioning and those dark colors feel stifling.

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