They do want to update the coffee table, window treatment, TV stand - all the accessories that can more easily be repurposed either in the future living room or some other room in the house. So that's what we're going to focus on now.
I just came across this living room on Houzz:
That beige couch is practically the overstuffed fraternal twin of M & J's black couch. But with the graphic painting and the cool lamps, you don't really notice it. Or at least it's not the first thing your eye sees.
Now, my plan for her living room is to have the couch underneath the kitchen pass-through. But we could jazz that wall up - maybe something hanging above the opening? Or maybe having a really cool gallery wall on the long wall will help redirect the eye. Also, if the kitchen is painted a different color from the living room, that will also help draw the eye away from the black hole that is a ginormous leather couch.
I'm also on a big glass coffee table kick right now, but I think a solid or almost-solid one, like in the above picture, would be a good thing. A visual block before you get to the couch. Maybe a cool trunk where they could store afghans and board games.
Hmmmm - I like this idea. Here are a few I found at easy-to-shop places, but this could also be something hunted down at antique shops and Salvation Army.