In many households, the living room is the heart of the home – a space where the family gathers to spend time and relax together. While interior spaces such as bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens have clear and defined goals, the definition of a living room is a little more malleable. Some people use their living room to sit back and watch TV, while other homes have a formal living room set aside for entertaining. No matter what kind of living space you hope to create, these nine steps will ensure 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 solid elements of the room. Take measurements and sketch the room, either by hand or digitally using home design software. The conventions for decorating a small living room are different from those for designing a larger space. Consider floors, wall treatments, fireplaces, windows and doorways to determine if renovations need to be done before the project begins.
This is also the time to evaluate furniture you already own, such as furniture, window treatments, and accessories, and decide whether to include them 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 living room size and layout, it’s time to decide on a design aesthetic. The decor of a modern living room 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 space, 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 in choosing the different elements of the space, but they can also potentially be shared with professionals to help them understand your vision.
RELATED: 11 Retro Living Room Ideas We Almost Forgot
STEP 3: Paint, paper or panel the walls.
One of the most important elements in any home decorating project is wall treatments. Choosing the right paint color for the living room is essential in determining the atmosphere of the room. The color you choose should match the aesthetic you have chosen. Colors evoke emotion and in general, cool tones, such as blue, gray and purple, are more relaxing, while warm tones, such as cream, yellow and red, are more stimulating.
While paint is the most popular and perennial choice, other wall treatments, such as wallpaper and paneling, are back in vogue. While these styles can have 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 of it, many designers recommend choosing a sofa before committing to other furniture pieces. A high-quality sofa is a big investment, but it’s worth it 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 pop of color or pattern to an otherwise neutral space. They can also create 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. As a general rule, it’s best to make sure that either all four legs of your furniture rest on the rug or none of them do. In small living rooms, a 5-by-8-foot area rug should suffice, while an 8-by-3-foot area rug is more appropriate in a larger space.
STEP 6: Choose supportive furniture that offers storage space.
Preventing clutter is an important consideration in every room of the house. In the living room, it is important to have furniture that provides storage space so that each item has a designated 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 accommodate and hide those unsightly cords. Find a coffee table with drawers so remote controls and other practical accessories can be kept out of sight when not in use.
RELATED: 14 Smart Layout Tricks to Maximize Your Living Space
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 that enters the room with window treatments such as curtains and blinds. Opaque window treatments provide more privacy, while sheer 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 dimmers or investing in smart light 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. Opt 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 photographs, and other decorative objects.
STEP 9: Display carefully selected accessories and plants.
The final step in decorating any space is adding texture and complexity with accessories. Decorations for living rooms come in various forms, from practical to purely aesthetic. In a living room, choose pillows and blankets in soft, natural textures that are both comfortable and visually appealing. In a mostly neutral space, 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 since living rooms often receive a lot of natural light, they are the perfect place to display flowering house plants. You don’t have to be a green thumb to keep plants alive. There are plenty of options for low-maintenance houseplants that require very little attention.
RELATED: Shop Your Own Home: 10 Brilliant Ways to Fix Up for $0
Hopefully, after reviewing these living room decor ideas, you’ll feel rested to get started on your own home decorating project. By following these steps, you will ensure that your living room is comfortable, stylish and inviting.