Take this room for example. This is a sitting room of one of the guest rooms at the Hotel Monaco in Alexandria, Virginia. What I love about this room is how it looks like it could be someone's living room. In addition, the colors of the room are vibrant and the design is elegant. While it is very tasteful it still has enough interest to take it out of the norm.
The key elements in this space are the bold colored sofa and patterned chair. Add in the mix of metals and wood as well as the mis matched lamps and you have the makings of great space.