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Considering the Shape of Your Decor {New Mirror for the Living Room}

by | Apr 23, 2016 | Decorating Inspiration, My Seattle House

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Considering the Shape of Your Decor {New Mirror for the Living Room}New England Home

Well, it was quite a week! I really wanted to post the last two days and life just got away from me. But rest assured, things are moving along with the house and I’m excited to share and keep you in the loop as best I can!

So, all that to say, I missed you. ACTUALLY, now that I’m here I’m wondering IS THIS THING EVEN ON? I know it is Saturday so, you know, if no one is online, I understand and I guess I’m just talking to myself. No biggie. I do that anyway. But if you are here, I hope you’ll comment so I’ll know.

As I’ve been puttering around trying to pull my living room and dining room together it occurred to me that one of the things I notice in a room is the SHAPES I see. Whether you actually notice the shapes like I do, or just feel more comfortable in a room because of them, the shapes in a room matter in so many ways.

Because shapes matter so much to how you actually feel in a room, you should be thinking about them as you design a room, too. And I don’t mean the shape of your furniture as in the condition of it, but rather the literal SHAPE.

Considering the Shape of Your Decor {New Mirror for the Living Room}BHG

One of the ways the right shapes affect the room is that a curved or round shape can soften sharp lines. If your architecture or furniture is more angular, you can balance the feel of the room if you want to by adding curved or rounded shapes.

My fireplace was intentionally designed to be asymmetrical and angular. Without remodeling it, I think I can give it the perception of a new or different shape by essentially tricking the eye. To give it a try, I decided to order a round mirror to hang in the center over the fireplace box to create the illusion of a more of a centered and balanced focal point.

Round will bring a circular pattern to balance some of the angles and add softness to that side of the room, too. Can you picture it? I’ll show it as soon as it’s hung, but you can see the round mirror we chose, below! Oh, also, we painted the fireplace (sorry to those of you who liked it as is) to appear to be a different color of stone (not white) and we like it so much better! Stay tuned for the update.

Considering the Shape of Your Decor {New Mirror for the Living Room}

Montara Mirror from Serena and Lily

I have been thinking about shapes a lot as I make decisions for the dining room, too. Some people might see the light fixture I chose and like it, while others might be unsure about it without seeing it hanging in the space. I like it already because I know it will add something significant that was missing in the room.

Besides just the color or style, the light fixture will add a shape the room needed! In this case, a round table and a round light add circular shapes. Again in this room, we have the asymmetrical window in the dining room AND we are creating an asymmetrical flow to the layout. Furniture and accessories will create the balance, hopefully making it feel both pleasing to be in the room and more interesting than if we just centered everything.

Tricky or crazy? Maybe both.

If you look at the cabinet in our dining room, it has a lot of angular lines (window panes and a rectangular shape). The rattan shelving unit has a lot of angular lines with the Chippendale pattern on the sides and the lines of the rattan. So again, the round table and round light fixture make the right contrasting statement (for my taste and preferences). The curvy shapes of the lamps currently on the cabinet add more softness.

Lastly, our dining room has a lot of hard surfaces (as many dining rooms do), so to add softness and make the room extra inviting (because we want to use it all day long) we chose the Parsons chairs because they are fully upholstered and have the slipcovers nearly to the floor. The shape and fabric of the chairs softens the other lines and hardness in the room to give it a calming feeling. Had we chose something like Chinese Chippendale chairs, the space as a whole would have felt busier than I intended it to feel.

Considering the Shape of Your Decor {New Mirror for the Living Room}BHG

Any room can benefit from considering shapes! Look at the lines, shapes and curves all over your room to decide if they complement the space. Do you feel comfortable in your room? If something feels off, perhaps it’s too much of the same shape, or just the wrong balance!

A coffee table can feel best square, rectangular or round, depending on your furniture arrangement. Some shapes of light fixtures can complement the height or shape of your room, and some can crowd it. If you have lower ceilings or a small room you don’t necessarily have to get a small fixture, but you should consider the shape you choose, so it doesn’t feel awkward or too long, which would lower the impact of the ceilings even further. The shape of the arms on your sofa can crowd the rest of the furniture, or make it feel more streamlined.

Even something like tile adds lines and shapes to a room. In our old kitchen, we used a slightly darker grout. The darker grout added more lines, so we had to make sure the tile was installed correctly or it would be a glaring mistake. The room would have felt too chaotic. Our floors also had a lot of movement in the wood grain with shapes and lines, too. We chose to simplify the other design elements like the countertops and painted cabinetry to balance the room and added round shapes with some of our light fixtures and hardware to soften the look.

It’s fun to think about the shapes in a room and how you can transform your space with those details! Look around your house today and see what shapes you have. Are you balancing the shapes so that your room feels pleasing and restful as a whole?

Sounds like a fun weekend project to me :)



  1. Darlene

    Little by little it will come together. Looking forward to seeing the mirror hung and the fireplace makeover? Happy weekend!

  2. Millie

    I’m here!
    I really like thinking about what can make my home feel better to my family. I’ve known to try to balance the heights of the furniture and doorways so your eye isn’t bouncing up and down, but I’ve not thought about balancing the shapes. Now that I think about it, my home could use a few more curves. I think when I have shown my husband ideas for things to add to our home that he didn’t like it was because they were overtly feminine. Probably they had curves too, which was the part I was drawn to. Maybe now, realizing it was the circular or curved part that attracted me, I can pick some things we would both like!
    Thanks Melissa!

  3. Carrie Nilsson

    Good morning! Always excited to read your latest blog post. I’m hopeless at decorating on my own, but I know what I like & I love your, and your daughters’, style. Looking forward to reading more about your home improvements.

  4. Gloria W

    Shapes sure do make a difference. We recently built a new home and started from scratch with our living room furniture. I struggled for many months over what coffee table to get. I saw so many round ones that caught my eye and I loved the design, but I just couldn’t see how round would work in our space. I eventually settled on a rectangular that is working out perfectly. We bought a large round clock for the wall in this room which helps to offset the rest of the squares and rectangles some. I’ve been stuck on what to put on the wall over the sofa. Maybe I need to look for something round. I think I just had an aha moment! Thanks so much!

  5. Kat

    Good Morning – great post ?

  6. Gail W.

    Good topic Melissa. Yes, rounded and curved shapes are more feminine while those with straight lines and sharp corners are more masculine. ( Just think of the shapes and lines of cars. Muscle cars v. mini-vans)
    I think this is at least one reason why people like the arched doorways in homes. They feel welcoming. But the balance is certainly important between the two categories of shapes when decorating. Can’t wait to see your updates.

  7. Karen

    Interesting topic!! I’ve been looking for an ottoman to put near an L-shaped sectional and you’ve got me thinking…perhaps a round ottoman would work better than a square one. Would certainly “soften” the space :) Can’t wait to see your changes.

  8. Sandra

    Shapes! Of course! Round shapes to soften the sharpe edges of my fireplace mantle. Thank you so much for helping me with a decorating issue that I have been struggling with for months.

  9. Kathy

    I’m here! Thanks for the info.

  10. Pamela

    I never really thought about the shapes. Now I find myself walking room to room and taking it all in. Thanks for bringing “shape” to light.

  11. Jo Jo

    Oh, Melissa! We ARE kindred spirits! I so agree that one must consider shapes in room design! We’ve done just that with our new home ( We just moved in 3 weeks ago!). It’s newly built, custom designed by us and since it had been in the process of 4 years ( took 9 months to build) we thoughtfully considered every detail, right down to what furniture we were bringing with us and what we’d buy. We shopped over the last 4 years and designed around our choices…as for shapes, that was a high priority! We chose a spherically shaped light fixture over our counter height 54″ X 54″ square table. Oval mirror over our half moon shaped entry console table. Fireplace (mantle painted white – square with 60″ flat screen above) has two rounded topiaries on either side to soften ( really disliked the compromise of tv above fireplace. lol) and it works, plus adds some greenery- life! There are other things we did as well when we considered shapes in our home. No, Mellisa, you are not crazy! I absolutely love your dining room chandelier! It’s elegant ( so pretty!) textural ( love that it has painted wood BEADS) but also lends it self to a casual elegant vibe. Can’t wait to see your finished room. But Indo love seeing your work in progress too! Thanks for sharing your journey with us! ❤️❤️❤️

  12. Dawn

    I’m here! Love the mirror and painting the fireplace is a great idea! Can’t wait to see it.

  13. Kathy Harris

    It’s maybe a little weird, but I am feeling anxious to see your dreams become reality in your spaces sooner rather than later. I know it’s because as you are “speaking” about your plans, I see it as “done” on my head. I do that with my own as well as client’s projects. I want to wiggle my nose and “poof” ~ there you are! People comment to me that they don’t know how I can do this or that (larger sewing and upholstery, ponds/waterfalls, construction, etc.). It’s not that I like doing these things (even though there’s satisfaction in having accomplished the thing). It all has to do with not having the money to purchase or hire to have things done. I really appreciate your blog for many reasons, but recognize that you, too, have to exercise patience and think outside the box because of budget constraints. There are so many other important priorities, and these projects take their place within limits. Your blog today is one example of how you encourage your readers to consider SHAPES within their spaces. It doesn’t HAVE to cost money, or at least not much to make these changes. You explain things in such a way that everyone can understand ~ you TEACH! A great gift! Thank you for sharing everything that goes on ~ the whole thinking process, not just befores, instructions, and afters.

  14. Angie

    You are not alone this Sat morning! Always enjoy your expertise! My husband (across the breakfast table from me), “can we charge our decorating expenses to her blog?!”

  15. francesca gunn

    I never actively thought about shapes before but as I look at the ideas I like on my Pinterest boards, they definitely include multiple types. I will make a point of paying more attention to that now.

  16. Marianne Hamilton

    Love to read your can lumen over my morning tea. I’ve been struggling over a small corner in my master bedroom. You have opened up a bunch of ideas for me now. I will consider shapes and put what I think is right there. Thanks for always “inspiring” us! Happy Weekend!

    • Marianne Hamilton

      Should read column not can lumen!!

  17. Melinda Young

    I hadn’t thought too much about shapes, but I see it. I see how already I’ve gravitated towards softening shapes with other shapes. You helped me ponder the size of the shape too. Can’t wait to see your updates!!

  18. Robbie Zeller

    This makes great sense! Thank you for fine tuning our eyes!

  19. Rebecca

    Thank you! We are in the process of buying a new to us house and this advice will come in handy.

  20. Michelle Holland

    I check your blog daily for new posts! I love following along and seeing what’s happening with your new adventure, sorry I don’t comment much but know I’m reading and many others are too!
    Good morning blessings,
    Michelle Holland

  21. Diane | An Extraordinary Day

    This was a fun post, Melissa! I think about texture and tone… but not so much shape.

    The new chandy is BOLD. It’s not something I would be brave enough to try… but I cannot wait to see how you make it work. I have a hunch it’s going to be amazing.

    AND it looks like there are a LOT of people online, too. ;)

    Have a great weekend!!

  22. sandyc

    I’m up early, fed the kitties and poured myself a cup of coffee, hoping I find a post from you and I was rewarded. I owe you several responses/comments which are too long for here but life got in the way for me as well. My first comment was on the totally perfect perfection of your decision about your dining room and that will probably come with your next post about it. The other “comment” is an epistle on what’s been going on in my little home since I took your “find your style” quiz shortly after I moved in to my bathrooms “thinking outside the box” activities that took off last Friday night (your Make Room … book arrived Friday afternoon but I hadn’t opened it). What was wild was randomly opening it up Saturday night to page 53 and having my eye go right to the third paragraph Work With What You Have – I smiled and laughed and just wished you could have been here to see my brilliance. The bathrooms won’t be finished for a while yet (have to redo all the floors in the house) but I have a plan. Now for something round – I do have a wonderful and big silvery/chrome thick-framed mirror in my D’office that reflects the 8′-wide view of the greenbelt at the opposite end of my already outside-the-box LR, but a round ottoman that could be a coffee table on occasion is actually in my inspiration files – time to actualize, thanks to you, Melissa..

  23. Teresa

    I’m not the only one reading blogs on this quiet Saturday morning. :) Can’t begin projects until the kids are up and moving! Great topic that many of us instinctually do and don’t realize it. Can’t wait to see the fireplace progress.

  24. Rebekah

    I enjoyed this topic of shapes. We moved into a house with lots of angles, inside and out. I find it very quirky. Now I have a better idea how to create balance in my decor. Thank you!

  25. Barbara

    I certainly agree with you. We have teak parquet floors that are not leaving and are quite bossy..very rectilinear,,, i prefer curve lines in furniture but do liked mid-century lines. I do NOT like geometric shares and in most cases dislike circles but I do like round mirrors/lamps. I like organic flowy curvy lines… so it is a bal;ancing act to bring it all together. Also an art principle for painting is to have one dominant and .one subdominant…. meaning you would not want an equal amount of curved lines and straight.

    • Barbara

      sorry for the typos… new contacts and I can’t see what I am typing clearly enough..

  26. Barb

    Of course we are all here, even on a Saturday! ;)

  27. Caroline

    Yes, I’m here, and I have to say that I’m always really sad on days that you DON’T post!

    And yes, again, shapes definitely play a big part. I had noticed just the other day when changing some drapes, for example, that a rectangular picture hung between two very rectangular windows was just too many edges, so I’m looking for a round or an oval mirror instead. I like to vary shapes not only in the room’s furnishings, but even in accessories, to add interest, balance, and variety. Perhaps as you said, some don’t realize the different shapes but I think you’re right, we “feel” the difference shapes make in a room even if we can’t put a finger on why. Great post, and along with many others, I can’t wait to see what your fireplace looks like!

  28. Ann C

    Loved this post. Not sure I ever considered shapes, but the pictures you chose made it so obvious once I started looking. I was wondering if you considered putting the credenza with the glass doors under the window and putting the table across where the credenza or what ever you called it is now? It seems it would create a more natural walkway. Now that I say this it seems to me that wall or doorway may be going with the new kitchen. Loving your process and your sharing. Have your books and enjoy them also.

  29. Sandy

    Yes, I’m hear, you are always the first blog I check out on an almost daily basis. It’s not that I have no life, it’s just that I can’t wait to see the progress in your new home. Can’t wait to see the fireplace and the updates in your dining room. Great post as usual!


  30. Mary

    I love the mirror you’ll be placing above your fireplace! I do tend to notice shapes in a room, and I agree with what you said. If a room has mostly hard angles I like to add some round elements or vice versa. I look forward to seeing your fireplace reveal!

  31. Kathy

    Your posts are noticed by many, even on the weekend. Thanks for sharing a great topic today. I love to check in to see the he progress on your new home. Loved your master bedroom and the mirror. Keep inspiring us.

  32. Lisa D

    Hi. Yes I too am reading your post on Saturday! Great post on shapes and food for thought.
    I also meant to comment the other day about your bedroom paint. What a fantastic color!! I’m trying to figure out a spot for something like that in my house although we have a pretty dark house with limited natural light. I haven’t been following your blog long – just since you moved to Seattle – but I am having a great time watching you make your newest house your home! Thanks

  33. Barbara

    I so enjoy your ideas and posts. I went back and have now read ALL your posts! Truly you inspire me. Oh! I received your new book yesterday and have been enjoying reading it. I’m pretty sure I’ll pass it along to my daughter ?

  34. Christie

    I love how your house is teaching you — and so, us — new things about good design. I think the round mirror over the asymmetrical fireplace is fab.

  35. Amy Contreras

    Thank you for sharing this. My living room is similar and seeing this with the mirror, brings it to light for me. I love it!

  36. Lucille

    Very interesting post. I have read about balancing the shape of things in decorating before, but this was more detailed and informative. My house is a Queen Anne so it is very asymmetrical outside and INSIDE! We have a round table in the kitchen and Windsor chairs that really help take the edge off all the sharp corners, angles, and asymmetry. There isn’t one thing symmetrical about our parlor. I guess I was wrong. I just noticed there are two doors directly across from each other! This room is really a decorating CHALLENGE! There is a bay window that juts out in one corner. Between a doorway and an archway is a fireplace. I just realized I think the chandelier is centered in the room minus the bay window that sticks out! We can’t center the coffee table under the light because then the coffee table wouldn’t be centered in front of the couch. I do have some round shapes and curves in here, but maybe not enough! The coffee table is square. Maybe I need an asymmetrical coffee table. Besides all of these challenges, the parlor is small. Maybe I can get some inspiration when I see your finished living room and dining room!

  37. Joanne Taggart

    Hi Melissa! I hope someone was listening when you were on. But don’t worry, I talk to myself all the time! Now I am starting to rub off on others who are picking up the habit! Your post about shapes is spot on. I am looking to the photos of your round mirror over the fireplace. It’s a great idea because all straight lines and angles can be overwhelming. My home and I are in a learning curve. Like I am a late bloomer and didn’t quite know how to do things and now that I am 57 I’m starting. But reading your books and posts are very helpful. Helping me to see all the details. Thanks!

  38. Inalco

    Great options.

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