In my honest opinion, this room lacks character. How do you avoid this look? There are several ways that come to mind.
1. Avoid matching sets.
2. Ditch the pillows that come with the furniture.
image found here
Really and truly, ditch them. I see this all the time where Sally has had the pillows that came with the sofa that was purchased ten years ago. I can almost predict the pillows that come with the sofa: one set made of the same fabric and one set in a tweed with the same colors that get completely lost. The quickest and possibly most economical way to perk up a room is by purchasing a new pair or two of pillows. Think contrast so that they don't disappear. Are you afraid to try something new? Phoebe Howard shared her thoughts on pillow arrangements here. When it comes to purchasing pillows, Etsy is my first stop. Search blue geometric or multi-color floral - basically whatever you are in the market for. Many of the shops will take custom orders if you need a larger size, etc. Just send them a convo. You can most likely find what you are looking for at every price. I use feather inserts from Crate & Barrel or Ikea. I have also had luck with Joss & Main and One King's Lane.
3. Mix old with new.
I'm pretty sure that this image has been shared on the blog before. With good reason. This is a great example of a collected look. Modern chairs with a more rustic table, crystal chandelier, antique sideboard, brass console table, and holy cow at the lamp! There is so much going on here, but it works.
4. Mix metals and finishes.
It really is OK to do this. I know from experience working with home builders that they like for every finish in every room - hardware, lighting, etc. to match. I also understand that doing this simplifies their decision making process and an empty house looks cohesive when the finishes all match. But, when you move into your home and fill it with your stuff, there is no need to obsess about whether everything matches. Think chrome, brass, hammered metal, iron, mercury glass, and copper. You don't need all of it, but a good mix of metals just adds to the character of a room.
5. Personalize with art & collections.
Is there a certain painting style that you like? Hang it on your walls. Even better, enlist your kiddos to paint a canvas like Emily. Do you have a collection? Show it off. Homes are so much more interesting when they say something about the people who live in them. I'm not talking about having chotskies everywhere, but you get my point - items that represent you and tell a story personalize your home.
OK, so those are my thoughts for avoiding the room in a can look. I hope I haven't bored you. What would you add to this?