Oversize art. If you have a large expanse of brick to cover – a fireplace that reaches all the way to a high ceiling for instance – artwork is a great way to break it up. As long as your brick is not a really bright red most artwork should work with it. If you are unsure try bringing a clear photograph of your fireplace with you when you're looking for art and check if you can bring the piece home on a trial basis before committing to buy it.
Solid neutrals. You can't miss with a pair of armchairs upholstered in natural linen and a light rug. Mixing patterns with the throw pillows brings a bit of interest to the room but keeping them in the neutral range means they will all go effortlessly together.
Stick to one material. Choosing a theme for your mantelpiece display is a helpful way to impose some stylistic order. Try picking items made from the same material. Here glass objects of various sizes look fresh and pretty on this mantel but you could choose to group wooden ceramic silver or brightly painted items.
Natural fibers. Jute coir sisal and sea grass are casual and beachy and go with anything – especially stripes. Try partnering your striped sofa with a jute or sisal rug water hyacinth armchairs and a rope‐framed mirror for a fresh nautical look.
Put some "speed bumps" in your entry. If your front door opens directly into your living room it's all too easy (especially at the end of a long day) to zoom through the entry and plop down on the sofa leaving a trail of bags shoes and mail as you go. Slow the pace of entry by putting in some strategically placed "speed bumps" along the way – a bench to sit on to take off your shoes hooks and floating shelves on the wall a sofa table with storage below and a tray for collecting mail can all help.
Use rolling storage for kids' toys. Keep a variety of your child's favorite toys in storage baskets on wheels. The bins can be wheeled from room to room making it easy to clean up and stow things away when you need a tidy space like now.
Same stripes different color family. Often a fabric pattern comes in several different color groups. If you can track down the fabric an easy way to pick pillows for your striped sofa is to have them made from the same print in a contrasting hue.
Go large. Small knickknacks can look rather lost and insignificant on a mantelpiece. The solution? Choose chunky oversized pieces that are guaranteed to make an impact. Here a kind of gothic‐meets‐pop‐art look gives this mantelpiece masses of original style. The hot‐pink letters add a zingy focal point against the gray backdrop and prevent the skull and statues from looking too intimidating.