In many homes, the living room is the heart of the home, a space where the family gathers to spend time together and relax. While interior spaces like bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens have clear, defined purposes, the definition of a living room is a bit more malleable. Some people use their living rooms for relaxing and watching TV, while other homes have formal living rooms for entertaining. No matter what kind of living space you want to create, these nine steps will ensure the space is welcoming and well-appointed.
STEP 1: Take measurements and sketch the room.
The first step in any decorating project is to assess the fixed elements of the space. Take measurements and create a sketch of the room, either by hand or digitally using home design software. The conventions for decorating a small living room differ from those for designing a larger space. Consider flooring, wall coverings, fireplaces, windows and doors to determine if renovations need to take place before the project begins.
This is also the time to assess furnishings you already own, such as furniture, window treatments, and accessories, and decide if they fit into the updated design or 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 decide on a design aesthetic. The decoration of modern living rooms is elegant and neutral, while traditional living rooms are more sumptuous and eclectic. Some interior designers may already have a vision for how the space will ultimately look, while others may need help finding inspiration. Either way, it’s best to compile a collection of images that feature colors, patterns, furniture styles, and an overall design aesthetic that you like. These images can simply be used to guide you in 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, wallpaper or cover the walls.
One of the most important elements of any interior design project is the treatment of the walls. Choosing the right living room paint color is key to setting the mood of the space. The color you choose should match the aesthetic you have chosen. Colors evoke emotion, and generally speaking, cool hues, like blue, gray and purple, tend to be more relaxing, while warm hues, like cream, yellow and red , are more invigorating.
While paint is the most popular and long-lasting choice, other wall treatments, like wallpaper and paneling, are coming back into vogue. While these styles can have a major visual impact, it’s important to remember that changing them will take a lot more than a can of paint, so pick a style you know you’ll love 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 visually dominate space and get the most use, many designers recommend choosing a sofa before committing to other furniture. A high-quality sofa is a major investment, but it’s worth buying the best sofa you can afford to ensure its comfort and longevity. If properly cared for, a well-made sofa will last for many years before it needs to be replaced.
STEP 5: Add a rug.
Rugs serve to bring 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 set a visual boundary for the main seating area, acting as an anchored presence in the room.
Since 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 all four legs of your furniture rest on the rug or none of them do. In smaller living rooms, a 5ft by 8ft rug should suffice, while an 8ft by 10ft rug is more appropriate in a larger space.
STEP 6: Select support furniture that provides storage.
Preventing clutter buildup is a key consideration in any room of the house. In the living room, it is important to have furniture that offers storage so that each object has a designated place. Exposed electrical wires and cords from televisions and audio systems can cause visual clutter in a living room, so opt for a TV stand designed to accommodate and hide those unsightly cords. Look for a coffee table that has drawers so remotes and other handy accessories can be tucked away when not in use.
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STEP 7: Light up the living room.
One of the most underrated elements of interior design is light. Finding the right balance between natural and artificial light is key in creating a comfortable living space. Control the amount of natural light entering the space with window treatments like curtains and shades. Blackout window treatments provide added privacy, while sheer curtains allow natural light to flood in.
Create a warm and inviting atmosphere for the evening by mixing ambient lighting with task lighting in a living room. Consider switching to dimmers or investing in smart bulbs so you have more control over light levels to create a comfortable environment.
STEP 8: Decorate the walls.
Once all of these key elements are in place, it’s time to add visual interest with decorations. For maximum impact, cover empty spaces on the walls with artwork you love. Buying art can be daunting, but there are many resources online today that help buyers find affordable, beautiful, and unique pieces. Commit to a larger room or create a gallery wall for a more eclectic look. For larger empty walls, consider adding shelves or bookcases to display novels, small framed photos, and other decorative items.
STEP 9: Display handpicked accessories and plants.
The final step in decorating any space is to add texture and complexity with accessories. Decorations for living rooms take different forms, ranging from practical to purely aesthetic. In a living room, opt for cushions and blankets with soft, natural textures that are both comfortable and visually appealing. In a largely 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 major commitment when decorating a living room.
Plants bring life to any indoor space, and since living rooms often get plenty of natural light, they’re the perfect place to display thriving houseplants. You don’t have to have a green thumb to keep plants alive – there are plenty of options for low-maintenance houseplants that require virtually no attention.
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After reviewing these living room decorating ideas, I hope you feel equipped to embark on your own living room decorating project. By following these steps, you will ensure that your living room is comfortable, stylish and inviting.