Smart Solutions: Couches, and other perplexing home decor questions

By Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

When outfitting a house, decorating dilemmas are inevitable along the way. Now, the newly released title: “But Where Do I Put the Couch? & Answers to 100 Other Home Decorating Questions” by Melissa Michaels and KariAnne Wood (Harvest House Publishers $28) comes to the rescue with suggestions for everything from furniture placement to paint selections.   

The authors take a lighthearted approach when responding to real reader queries from their popular blogs. Some of the hot topics include: What will unite the look of a multipurpose room and can function and beauty work together in a home office? In these cases, their helpful tips include ways to organize and define each space.

Proper space planning and furniture placement can make a space more livable.

Homestyle reached out to the creatives for some background on their book and more design advice.  

Melissa Michaels, creator of the award-winning blog The Inspired Room and author of several bestselling books including “Love the Home You Have,” says they were sold on this concept when they were approached to collaborate. “KariAnne and I both have great communities who love decorating, so it seemed like such a fun way to get readers involved and to answer our readers' most common questions, too!” she says.  

As for the clever title, Michaels says “But Where Do I Put the Couch?” really is one of the most common decorating questions and the answers aren’t always one-size-fits-all. “Couches can feel like the elephant in the room if there isn't an ideal spot for it or if you don't have the ideal couch. Yet, for KariAnne and myself, decorating is all about finding joy in living in your home and sometimes that means letting go of the idea that it all has to be perfect,” she says. 

You don’t have to sacrifice style when trying to create kid-friendly spaces.

When it comes to describing her personal aesthetic, Michaels says, “My style is not really definable by one word, it evolves over time. But I guess you could say it's a mix of coastal, cottage, transitional, bohemian...I guess you could say it's eclectic.”

KariAnne Wood, creator of the award-winning lifestyle blog Thistlewood Farms and the author of “The DIY Style Finder” and “The DIY Home Planner,” has some wisdom for where to begin. “When struggling with a design decision, I think it's a good idea to go back to the basics,” she says.

“Start with an inspiration piece for your room – something you love – and build a design around that. Using the inspiration piece as your starting point, next layer in paint colors, window treatments, furniture and accessories and your room will reflect you and your design.”

This decorating how-to book demonstrates how to make heirlooms feel at home.

Even the experts get better with experience. “In my first house, I bought a couch from a small swatch of fabric. Sometimes a design can look so different on a small swatch and the end result on the couch was a disaster,” says Wood. “I never made the same mistake again.”

When choosing large upholstered pieces for your room, Wood says it's a good idea to stick with neutrals and leave the design and pattern to accessories like pillows and textiles. The collaborative book is filled with more sensible solutions meant to help anyone stuck in a decorating rut carry on with confidence.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at