Living Room Design: Do's and Dont's
The living room is the most important room in the house. This is where families spend most of their time together and where you will be entertaining your guests. Although you should decorate your home in a way that bests matches your personal taste, there are some common mistakes you should avoid. Knowing what not to do can be just as important as knowing the basic rules of designing and decorating a space.
If you’re passionate about interior design, you will gradually form an eye for colours, textures, shapes and arrangements. You’ll be able to look at a room and immediately spot what elements are clashing and what changes need to be made to create balance. In case you’re not experienced enough yet, let’s look at some common do’s and don’ts of living room décor.
Looking at an empty room and trying to figure out where to place large furniture pieces can seem like a daunting task. Finding the right place for everything isn’t something that just comes naturally. Unless you’re an experienced interior designer, you may have to rearrange a room quite a few times before it looks balanced.
For some reason, most people tend to push furniture against the walls. Most likely, it’s because they think this will make the room look more spacious. It may seem counter intuitive, but pushing the furniture against the walls will not only damage the paint or wallpaper, but it will also make the room look smaller, more cavernous. It’s ok if you want to make room for a dance party. Otherwise, it would be better if you pulled the furniture away from the walls to create conversation areas.
While we’re on conversation areas, keep in mind that you want to make it as easy and comfortable for your guests to talk. They shouldn’t have to twist their necks, lean forward or shout. You want them to be able to talk in a normal voice and make eye contact. This means that your sofas and chairs should be facing each other to some degree. If you have a large living room, you can create several conversation areas that can be adjusted when you’re expecting more guests.
People also tend to put too much furniture on one side of the room, which makes it look out of balance. Rooms don’t have to be perfectly symmetrical, but if you have the sofa on one side, you need to place something of equal visual weight on the other side.
A good strategy to use when decorating your living room is to choose which furniture pieces you’re going to invest the most in and decorate around them. For this particular room, the sofa is one of the key elements. You’ll want to compare offers and choose the best quality sofa you can afford. Remember that you can use a sofa for 10 or 20 years, so it’s worth it. Also, don’t choose style over comfort. There are lots of sofas that look great in the store or magazines, but they’re a pain to sit on. Same for chairs. Make sure you test it before buying it, or if you order it online, don’t hesitate to return it in case you discover it’s not as comfy as you initially thought.
Even for the rest of the furniture pieces, always keep their function in mind and don’t fill the room with useless things no matter how good they look.
Lastly, many people tend to first choose the colour for the walls and then try to find furniture that matches. This is another mistake. Paint comes in thousands of colours. It’s much harder to find quality furniture that matches your taste and your budget. Start with the most important pieces and arrange around them, including the colour of the walls.
No matter how beautifully decorated a room is, clutter can quickly make it look disagreeable. To avoid this, you need to create storage space. Since bookshelves are inexpensive, people tend to rely on them to create storage space. What they don’t realize is that not all their items will look good on display. Although you might think shelves will open up space, they can create a lot of visual clutter so you’ll need to mix them with closed storage. If your living room is small, you can install storage units at the top of your walls, just under the ceiling. On shelves, you can use baskets that you decorate with sash ribbon to store all your little knick-knacks and keep them from becoming visually overwhelming.
You’ll also want to have some covered storage options for quick decluttering when receiving guests or for those nights when you’re just too tired to put everything away neatly. For this, you can use baskets on shelves or larger pieces like ottomans with storage space.
Let’s start with natural light. Usually, the more natural light you can have in a room, the better. It makes everything look brighter and more inviting. If you have floor-to-ceiling windows, you’ll get plenty of light, but then you have another problem: where do you place the furniture? Blocking the light can make the room look smaller and more crowded, so if you have to place furniture in front of the window, make sure you leave some room in between and make use of mirrors to compensate.
Mirrors are also great for smaller living rooms. You can place them opposite of the window to add light, or you can use them to create a focal point and make the room look bigger.
When it comes to artificial lighting, you’ll want to layer it. Don’t rely entirely on overhead lights. They’re good to have, but they’re not particularly flattering. You’ll want to mix overhead lights with task and ambient lights. Overhead lights shouldn’t be too bulky as it will make the ceiling appear lower and make the room feel smaller. If you don’t have much space, consider replacing table laps with wall-mounted ones. Sconces can be used as ambient light to highlight key décor elements in a room.
Lastly, don’t forget about dimmer switches. Every light fixture in your living room should have a dimmer switch. It will help immensely in creating the right atmosphere for the occasion.