Whether you have a huge living room or a tiny one, decorating it can feel overwhelming. The living room is the centerpiece of many homes, providing space to entertain guests or simply relax with the family, so you might feel a great deal of pressure to get it “right.” Fortunately, following a few simple design tips can help you achieve the living room of your dreams.
The colors you choose will set the ambience of the room. Do you want to make a bold statement? Choose bright, intense colors. Are you seeking a restful vibe? Select muted tones and darker colors. Stark black and white can give the room an elegant “designer” look, but they can also feel sterile. Spend some time perusing paint chips while thinking through what you want, and then bring home your favorite chips and stick them on the living room wall for a few days. Notice how the colors look at various times of day, under changing lighting conditions.
It’s easy to stick a couch along one wall and a chair or two against another, but true living room design requires a bit more planning. Consider giving a smaller room a singular focal point, or breaking up a large room into conversational areas. Make sure you have at least 18 inches of walking space between furniture pieces, and even more room along major pathways.
Once you have decided how to arrange the room, take detailed measurements and write them down. Measure for everything—area rugs, individual furniture pieces, window treatments, etc. If even a single piece is a few inches too big or small, it can throw off the entire design. If you do fall in love with a piece that is oddly sized for the room, make sure to update your design plan to accommodate it.
Area rugs are an excellent way to break up a room, to add soft texture to a hard floor, and even to add a pop of color or a bit of visual interest. Ideally, all furniture within a designated portion of the room should be sitting on top of the rug, and 10 to 20 inches of bare floor should be visible around each edge of the rug.
There are three basic types of lighting that should be incorporated into your living room: ambient lighting, accent lighting, and task lighting. Ambient lighting contributes to the overall mood of the room, as well as providing general illumination at night. Accent lighting adds drama and highlights specific parts of the room’s décor. Task lighting provides brighter, targeted lighting for specific activities such as reading or eating.
Make sure to place light sources at different levels throughout the room. For example, you might choose an overhead chandelier, a few table lamps, a couple of wall sconces, and a dramatic uplight behind a potted plant.
Accent pieces, including wall art, help make your living room feel finished. Choose high-quality yet inexpensive pieces that you can change out whenever you want to refresh the room. Accents are a particularly nice way to bring in seasonal décor, additional textures, and trends that could quickly become outdated. Let your imagination run free, choosing items that truly fit your unique personality. Be careful not to overdo it, though. Eclectic is not the same as messy. Instead, seek a harmonious blend of items that make sense together.
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