If there’s any room in that you want to be stylish, it is the living room. It’s a given that it needs to be comfortable, but the perfect living room also needs to be attractive because that’s where family and friends will gather. From the furniture to the decor, it needs to reflect your style and be functional. So before you take out your wallet and start shopping, you need some paper and a pencil to make a plan and a budget for what you need. We’ve pulled together the elements that you need for the perfect living room to make your project easier.
Have a plan
As we said up front, you need a plan. This is true whether you are decorating a room from scratch or just redecorating. Make sure that you know what style of decor you want, the size of your room, and the best flow through the space. Is there a window or doorway in an odd location, or do you have other architectural elements that limit your options? Make a list of the furnishings you need to purchase along with any larger accessories or artwork that you want to include. You’ll also need to decide on a budget, and what items would be worth a splurge and which other are less of a priority. If you have a good handle on these issues, you can start shopping.
Create a room that has a welcoming feel
Of course, you want any space in your home to be welcoming but nowhere else is this more important than in the living room. Family members and guests should feel at home the moment they walk in. This will come from the overall vibe of the space. Comforting colors, proper furniture placement and proportional decorating will create a space that feels right, not tight. Often it’s the small touches that help make a space welcoming, so don’t forget this as you decorate. It doesn’t mean that you need lots of clutter or an abundance of accessories. You want the space to reflect your personality and lifestyle and not look like a furniture showroom.
Focus on a tightly edited furniture selection
Less is more when to comes to furniture in the perfect living room, so you will want to tightly edit the pieces you include. Too many occasional tables or chairs will clutter the space. If you can’t walk through the area with ease or have trouble opening any drawers or cabinets, you probably need to remove some furniture. Cozy does not equal crowded and an overload of furnishings will take away from the relaxed feeling that you are trying to achieve. Carefully consider each piece you are adding to the room, its function, positioning and proportions.
Use color to create a mood or add a pop of brightness
Use color in the living room but do it wisely. Are you trying to create a mood? Layering shades of the same color and coordinating them with other hues can create a relaxing mood for the living room. The shade of paint you choose for the walls goes a long way toward creating a certain vibe, but that’s not the only way to incorporate color. Neutral walls and furnishings can be jazzed up with a colorful rug and accessories. In fact, this is a great choice if you like to redecorate frequently because the basic pieces can take on an entirely different look if you swap out the elements that have color.
Make sure you include texture
No matter if a room is neutral or colorful, it needs to have different textures because they help add dimension and a varied tactile feeling. Textural pieces can also help warm up sleek furnishings that might have a less comfy vibe. A rug with a thicker pile, cushions that have embroidery, and accessories like the table lamp whose base is covered in rustic wood pieces – all of these add interest to the room.
Arrange seating properly
The top rookie mistake that people make when decorating is arranging all of the furniture around the periphery of the room. While this might be your only option if your living room is rather small, in most cases it’s best to break the larger area into more than one seating area. The sofa and loveseat or a couple of chairs can be one, and chairs and an occasional table commonly make up a second area. This helps keep the space between the seats close, facilitating conversation and a feeling of intimacy. If everything rings around the room, it can leave too much space between people when they are seated.
Use art but don’t overlook the value of white space
Artwork is an important element for adding personality and a unique vibe to your living room. And, while a gallery wall is a popular way to display lots of images, it’s best to use that concept judiciously. Just as important as the art itself is the amount of white space in the room. Having enough blank wall space around a focal piece of art makes it stand out far more than if it is crowded with numerous pieces of wall art.
No matter how stylish your furnishings and how appealing the decor, if the room is cluttered it will never feel relaxing. The living room is critical to keep clutter free. Having the right storage for the items you want to keep handy in the living room is key to maintaining a clutter-free space. Even a simple basket to hold remotes and current reading material or other small items can corral the clutter and avoid a messy-looking space. Use accent pillows — but not too many — and don’t overload the coffee table with accessories.
Life is boring without a little personality
A stylish and clutter-free living room does not mean that it should be devoid of personality. In fact, one of the elements that will make the space feel more welcoming is something quirky that reflects you and your fun side. Whether it is a whimsical accessory or a funky chair you picked up at an art sale, a unique piece will keep the living room from feeling like the showroom in a furniture store. The last thing you want is a room that feels generic.
And Speaking of Furniture….
Collectively, the furniture is the most important element of your living room, however, there are a number of pieces you’ll need. When you make the plan for your living room, you can decide which pieces you can splurge on and which ones can be flea-market finds or bargain pieces.
A sofa is the focal point of a living room so it needs to be attractive and comfortable. Once you’ve decided on a style and color, you also need to consider the size because not all sofas are created equal. The most common sizes are the two- and three-seaters, along with the 2.5-seat models. If you have a large space — or a small one that can’t accommodate a long sofa — a sectional may be the best bet. In any case, measure the space where you want to put the sofa along with any odd characteristics of the entrance to the home and the living room to make sure you can get the sofa into the room. The sofa is also the most likely item for a splurge since it really is an investment piece.
Unless you live in a very tiny home, chairs need to be part of your living room arrangement. These can be plush armchairs or more streamlined options that are easily moved to another area. Ideally, you will want to use two chairs to complete your sofa seating area. If you have the space, additional seating areas can make a large living room feel more intimate. This is particularly true in large, open-plan living rooms that can feel a little undefined without being divided into more than one seating area.
If you have the space, a bench can be a versatile addition to the perfect living room. Not only does it offer extra seating, but the bench can be used as a footstool or even an occasional table with the addition of a tray. You can stash attractive storage bins underneath or stack some of your favorite coffee table books on the top. It’s easy to move around when guests come, or even to another room for other uses.
For some people, the living room rug is almost an afterthought, but it’s actually just as important for making a statement as the sofa. Solid, graphic or wild abstract — the rug can add a bold touch to the living room. It’s important to measure not just the size of the room, but also the dimensions of the floor the rug will need to cover. Any rug you purchase has to be large enough to go under the legs of the sofa and any other seating around the periphery, This will “anchor” the furniture in the room, otherwise, it all seems to float untethered if it is not touching the furniture.
This is truly a must-have piece for the perfect living room. A coffee table is a strong visual element but also a very useful one for setting down a cup, book or snack. Ideally, the table is the same height as your sofa seat and proportional to its size. It used to be that most coffee tables were rectangles or perhaps squares, but that has now changed. In fact, the current trend is to group smaller tables of various sizes, shapes or finishes in place of a standard coffee table. This can be super functional if you often entertain and need more occasional tables and can be helpful in a smaller space. An ottoman can also replace the usual coffee table. Whichever you choose, you need something to anchor the space in front of the sofa.
While a side table — also called an occasional table — is not necessarily a requirement for a stylish living room, it is for a comfortable one. It’s awkward to be nestled into a chair or loveseat and have no place to put a cup or glass. Side tables are also key if you want lighting alongside seating. Whether you choose a basic or artful side table, it should be at a height that is convenient for the chair or sofa paired with it.
It’s the hulking black spot on the living room wall — the television. Situating the TV for optimum viewing means putting it front and center — which also creates an eyesore in the opinion of some people. There are different ways to minimize the visual impact of the TV when it’s not in use. If it’s small, putting it on a shelf or in a media center can de-emphasize the screen. Big screen lovers can use artwork, sliding doors and drapes as a decor element that also serves to camouflage the TV.
Different types of lighting are another “must-have” element in the perfect living room. Task lighting and ambient lighting are both important for a warm yet functional space. A combination of ceiling fixtures, table lighting and floor lamps create the right mood. Your choices will depend on the layout of your space and where you spend the most time reading and how the lighting affects TV viewing.
If you have the space for them, bookshelves can really personalize the living room. Whether it’s a simple, slim tower or a wall full of shelving, a bookshelf allows you to display favorite accessories as well as stash books. Part of the bookshelf can also serve as a make-shift bar for entertaining and discretely hold wireless speakers or voice-control assistants. Small lighting fixtures can also be an attractive addition to a bookshelf.
As you can see, there are plenty of things to consider when creating your idea of the perfect living room. Don’t let the list intimidate you. It all comes down to putting some thought into what you include and how you arrange it. Planning doesn’t have to mean spending an enormous amount of money. Actually, a good plan will save you money in the long run.