In many households, the living room is the heart of the home, a space where the family gathers to spend time together and relax. While interior spaces such as bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens have clear and defined purposes, the definition of a living room is a bit more malleable. Some people use their living rooms to kick back and watch TV, while other homes have formal living rooms set aside for entertaining. No matter what kind of living space you’re hoping to create, these nine steps will ensure that the space is welcoming and well-appointed.
STEP 1: Measure the dimensions and make a sketch of the room.
The first step in any decorating project is to assess the fixed elements of the room. Take measurements and sketch the room, either by hand or digitally using home furnishing software. The conventions for decorating a small living room differ from those for designing a larger space. Consider floors, wall treatments, fireplaces, windows and doorways to determine if any renovations are needed before the project begins.
This is also the time to evaluate furnishings you already own, such as furnishings, window treatments, and accessories, and decide if they have a place in the updated design or if they need to be replaced.
STEP 2: Determine the aesthetic of your living room.
Once you have a better idea of the size and layout of the living room, it’s time to choose a design aesthetic. Modern living room decor is sleek and neutral, while traditional living rooms are more luxurious and eclectic. Some home decorators may already have a vision for the final look of the room, while others may need help finding inspiration. In either situation, it’s best to put together a collection of images that include colors, patterns, furniture styles, and general design aesthetics that you love. These images can simply serve to keep you on track when choosing the different elements of the space, but they can also potentially be shared with professionals to help them understand your vision.
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STEP 3: Paint, paper or panel the walls.
One of the most important elements in any home furnishing project is wall treatments. Choosing the right paint color in the living room is essential for determining the atmosphere in the room. The color you choose should match the aesthetic you’ve chosen. Colors evoke emotion and generally cool tones, such as blue, gray and purple, are more relaxing, while warm tones, such as cream, yellow and red, are more invigorating.
While paint is the most popular and perennial choice, other wall treatments, such as wallpaper and paneling, are coming back into fashion. While these styles can make a big visual impact, it’s important to remember that changing them costs a lot more than a can of paint, so choose a style that you know you’ll enjoy for years to come.
STEP 4: Start with the largest piece of furniture.
The largest and most expensive piece of furniture in a living room is usually the sofa. Since sofas tend to both visually dominate the space and make the most use of it, many designers recommend choosing a sofa before committing to other pieces of furniture. A quality sofa is a major investment, but it pays to buy the best sofa you can afford to ensure comfort and longevity. If properly cared for, a well-made sofa will last for many years before needing to be replaced.
STEP 5: Add a rug.
Rugs serve to provide comfort and add style to any living space. In a living room, rugs can add a splash of color or pattern to an otherwise neutral space. They can also form a visual boundary for the main seating area and act as a grounding presence in the room.
Because area rugs come in so many sizes, it can be difficult to choose the right one for your space. In general, it’s best to make sure that all four legs of your furniture rest on the carpet or none of them do. In small living rooms, a 5-by-8-foot rug should suffice, while an 8-by-10-foot rug is more appropriate in a larger room.
STEP 6: Select supportive furniture that provides storage space.
Preventing clutter buildup is an important consideration in any room of the home. In the living room it is important to have furniture that provides storage space so that each item has its own place. Exposed wires and electrical cords from televisions and sound systems can create visual clutter in a living room, so opt for a TV stand built to capture and hide those unsightly cords. Look for a coffee table with drawers so that remote controls and other practical accessories can be stored out of sight when not in use.
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STEP 7: Light up the living room.
One of the most underrated elements in home furnishings is light. Finding the right balance between natural and artificial light is an important part of creating a comfortable living space. Control the amount of natural light entering the room with window treatments such as curtains and blinds. Opaque window coverings provide more privacy, while translucent curtains allow natural light to flood in.
Create a warm and inviting atmosphere for the evening by combining mood lighting with task lighting in a living room. Consider upgrading to dimmer switches or investing in smart bulbs to have more control over light levels to create a cozy environment.
STEP 8: Decorate the walls.
Once all these important elements are in place, it’s time to add visual interest with decorations. For the greatest impact, cover empty spaces on the walls with art you love. Buying art can be intimidating, but today there are plenty of online resources that help shoppers find affordable pieces that are beautiful and unique. Go for one larger piece or create a gallery wall for a more eclectic look. For larger blank walls, consider adding shelves or bookcases to display novels, small framed photos, and other decorative objects.
STEP 9: Display carefully selected accessories and plants.
The final step in decorating any space is to add texture and complexity with accessories. Decorations for living rooms can take different forms, from practical to purely aesthetic. In a living room, opt for throw pillows and blankets in soft, natural textures that are both comfortable and visually appealing. In a mostly neutral room, add contrast with dark or bold colored accessories. Accessories are a great way to try out color and pattern trends without making a big commitment to decorating a living room.
Plants bring life to any indoor space, and because living rooms often receive a lot of natural light, they are the perfect place to display flowering indoor plants. You don’t have to have a green thumb to keep plants alive – there are plenty of options for low-maintenance houseplants that require little attention.
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After reviewing these living room decorating ideas, you will hopefully feel equipped to embark on your own home decorating project. Following these steps will ensure that your living room is comfortable, stylish and inviting.