September 3, 2020 | Updated: October 20, 2021
Almost every living species has an innate instinct to create a place to call home, whether it be nest, lair or hive.
We are no different and at the heart of the human home is the living room, which is related to the idea of hearth, synonymous with the home. The idea of making a home is different from just inhabiting it, rather it has to do with putting your own individual stamp on a room. In the following article, we look at a number of different ideas for decorating your living room, to customise it and help make it feel more like ‘home’. Ten tips to inspire and get your creative juices flowing.
The open plan living room is ubiquitous nowadays but it’s popular for a reason. Combining different activities in the living room like a dining area, a corner for reading, sitting space etc. means that all the family can occupy the space at the same time.
The room should be considered as a series of interlinked zones. Even a small living room can be divided into separate areas, use furniture and lighting as well as floor and wall finishes to differentiate these areas.
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Traditionally the focal point of the living room would have been the fireplace or the hearth, nowadays however it could be a much loved artwork, a musical instrument or a piece of furniture even.
The fireplace can still be a place of gathering, the choice of non-combustible options is varied, gas and paraffin are popular and highly contemporary choices. But equally a baby grand piano or a favourite piece of furniture can be the element around which the entire living room décor is structured.
For an ever greater impact change the flooring or wall finish around the focal point to frame it.
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The tactile quality of the materials used for decorating the living room should be considered as an integrated whole. Combining hard and soft, rough and smooth all lend greater depth and dimension to the living space.
Upholstery textiles and soft furnishings, wall finishes like wallpaper and claddings and accessories can all be contrasted. Timber or ceramic flooring with a deep pile luxurious rug helps draw the eye to both textures, highlighting the contrast between them.
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Although not always possible to have a panoramic view from the living room certain adjustments can be made to the window area. Firstly by installing good quality blinds and curtains.
Flower boxes and garden maintenance can also help the outside view. Arrange the furniture around the best orientation possible, by avoiding evening sun on screens etc.
Even for dark living rooms the reveals of a window can also help bring the maximum light available into the room.
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Use plants wherever possible in the living room. Freshly cut flowers in vases, potted plants on window ledges, cheese plants (monstera deliciosa) in their own dedicate corner, there can never be too much green in the living room.
Plants improve air quality and have a calming effect on us, so the more the better.
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Even for colour neophytes when it comes to brightening up the living room there are few tools that are more effective. You don’t even have to be too daring to make a bold colour statement, accessories and art works can radically alter the living room décor.
Keep colours within the same family with subtle variations to add depth to a small living room. For a larger space remember ceilings don’t necessarily have to be white. And for unconditional fans of colour use wisely remember sometimes less is more when it comes to colour.
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To reinforce the idea of distinct islands or zones within the living there is no greater method than lighting. Artificial light especially can help create sub-spaces within an overall living room. Task lighting can be used as a focal point, a floor lamp placed near an armchair and a bookshelf creates a reading area.
A hanging fitting over a dining table helps define the area with light, and a cluster of sofas and / or armchairs can become a feature with the help of a sculptural cantilevered lamp.
No longer do we live in an era with a dominant style of interior décor. Today it’s almost more common to see people combining industrial and rustic, modern and antique in the same living room space.
Different style pieces of furniture, light fittings, accessories and objets d’art can all be mixed up together, each piece with a story to tell. It’s more important that they are the right scale and serve a purpose than simply being the same style.
Think of the flooring and the walls as a stage setting for all these styles to be displayed.
Cushions and throws, side tables and magazine racks are all what might be considered accessories or ancillary pieces of furniture in the living room. These elements are a great place to start re-styling the interior design because they are relatively cheap and you can experiment. Put your own stamp on the room with colourful or quirky pieces, or alternatively stick to the classics for a more elegant décor.
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Because we spend so much time there the materials we choose to decorate the living room with should be robust and of good quality. Living room wall cladding finishes like timber or tiles for instance can withstand years of wear and tear.
An engineered timber floor is both hard wearing and beautiful, while ceramic timber effect floors are almost indestructible. The textiles and furniture items should also be of good quality, initial investment for the living room actually saves money in the long term.
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The use of white or off-white together with a pop of strong colour will instantly brighten up a small living room. Scale furniture items according to the size of the room and choose pieces that can double up. Hang curtains as high to the ceiling as possible which can make the ceiling look higher than it is and thus more spacious.
Normally the house or apartment will suggest the most appropriate style, Mid-Century modern works for the standard semi-d or anything built after the 60s. Older buildings with architectural features should be cherished, highlight mouldings and period details for greater effect. An industrial look works for lofts while living rooms in rural homes or Arts & Crafts style houses are best showcased with a ‘maximalist’ approach.
A sofa is generally the item of furniture that takes up most space in the living room. Combine with another sofa, facing one another, or a few armchairs . Arrange around a coffee table, another living room staple. Otherwise a free standing lamp, an ottoman and a rug to protect floors and the basics are in place.