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A large, brown sectional provides comfort and seating for a crowd in this neutral living area. A leather ottoman adds a hint of color, while a small end table cozies up to the sofa.

Furnishing a living room with a nearby staircase can present a traffic flow obstacle. Similar to hallways, it's best to think of staircases as high-traffic areas requiring at least 36 inches of clearance. Rather than outfitting the walls around a staircase with heavy furniture, try using them to showcase art or accent pieces, such as sculptural chairs or occasional seating in the form of ottomans or lightweight benches.