Refresh Your Living Room

Follow these tips from Mintwood Home.

A living room tableau by Heloise McKee Mitchell. All items available at

Heloise McKee Mitchell was 23 and working as a special-ed teacher when the stylish apartment she had pulled together on a shoestring budget (a rental unit in the basement of a D.C. row house) was featured in The Washington Post. “I moved up here [after graduating from the University of Alabama] in 2009 with only suitcases—I didn’t have a piece of furniture to my name,” says the designer, who grew up in Memphis. But that empty apartment was quickly filled with trips to flea markets, The Old Lucketts Store, Ikea and the home of her aunt (who owned a design shop in Georgetown) and people took notice. Soon, she had landed a summer internship with D.C.-based designer Sally Steponkus, which turned into a part-time career. In 2014, Mitchell launched Mintwood Home, a website that sells home furnishings and décor. It also offers a popular design-your-own pillow service with seven standard sizes, a custom sizing option and more than 100 fabrics to choose from.

Now based in Arlington, Mintwood Home offers on-site design consultations as well as an online e-design service, where, for $350-$600 per room, Mitchell will put together a design plan for your space that includes a product list, shopping suggestions and a 15 percent discount on anything purchased on her site. Here, she offers nine styling tips for a comfortable living room.

1. Buy flexible pieces (things you can move from current to future home, or from room to room) to increase the longevity of your investment.

2. Combine different textures for warmth and interest—a sheepskin throw and a velvet pillow, a stack of shiny boxes, a woven basket.

3. Choose solids and neutrals for chairs and sofas. Then bring in color and patterns with stools, ottomans and pillows: “This way you don’t have to make over your whole living space when you want to make changes.”

4. Never underestimate the importance of a window treatment. “Roman shades or curtains put the finishing touch on a space, plus they’re a great way to add in pattern.”

5. If there’s one piece to splurge on, it’s the sofa. “You won’t regret spending a little extra on one that’s comfortable and will stand the test of time.”

6. Accessorize with pillows. “I’d recommend at least two stacked on each end of the sofa,” she says. “Put your solid pillows in the back and stack your statement pillows in front.”

7. When it comes to pillow inserts, don’t skimp on quality. “There’s nothing worse than a flat, weak pillow. A bad insert equals a bad pillow.”

8. Coffee tables can serve multiple purposes—desk, dining table, additional seating. So choose something that’s not too precious. Upholstered ottomans and two-tiered tables are practical options.

9. Mirrors can make a small space look bigger. And they’re often more affordable than art if you’re looking to fill wall space.

Related Stories

Categories: Home & Design