Your living room is functionally the meeting space of your home. It’s the area you’ll relax in, but it’s also the area you’ll entertain in. This is a space designated to perfectly serve two extraordinarily different purposes. Living rooms in magazines and on film sets seem to have it all figured out. Sometimes, film will demonstrate the real time transformation of a living room from a place of leisure to the backdrop of an active gathering. The perfect living room should easily be able to toggle between family room and entertainment center at a moment’s notice.
These expertly crafted living rooms are created by designers who take form, function, and aesthetic into account simultaneously. If you’re looking to create the perfect living room, approach the process the same way a professional would. Brushing up on the basics will give you the insights you need to make the most of your space.
Creating the Foundation for a Comfortable Space
Think of your living room like a still life oil painting, where your furniture is the fruit in a basket. That fruit looks so vibrant and appealing because it was placed in the right setting. The artist chose the background and created points of light in that painting with the specific purpose of making that fruit look as good as it possibly could.
Your lighting and your background will serve the same purpose for your furniture. It ultimately won’t matter how perfectly your living room furniture set is arranged if it’s clashing with your walls or if the space is poorly lit.
When in doubt, stick with a neutral paint color. Brighter shades and louder patterns can be jarring to people, and will seem especially out of place in a home that is consistently calm in all of its themes. Warm neutral tones will lend a classic and traditional feel to your living room, while cooler neutral tones will make the space feel modern and stylish.
When selecting furniture and accents, you’ll want to consider the lighting in your living room. A lack of natural light and lighting fixtures will always make a room feel dark. If you utilize a lot of dark furniture and accents, especially when it comes to upholstery, side tables, and living room sets in general, your living room can quickly begin to feel like a cave.
You may want to install new lighting features to complement your furniture and switch to sheer window treatments if the area is not well lit. Opting for lighter furniture and accents and strategically placing mirrors can help lower levels of light play better in a dark space.
Integrate a Map of the Surrounding Areas
Depending on the floorplan of your home, your living room may be plainly visible from other rooms. This is something you’ll need to take into account before you begin rearranging the furniture. If your dining room or kitchen looks into your living room, you won’t want to arrange the furniture in a way that the backs of recliners, bookcases, or dressers aren't in your direct line of sight from other vantage points. Perfectly arranged furniture will look appealing from any place you’re standing. The last thing you want is to look at the wall-side of a chaise lounge when you're standing in the entryway of your home.
Additionally, if you have reclining or expanding furniture like sleeper sofas or futons, always ensure there's enough space for the furniture to fully expand. Keep this in mind for furniture that may swivel or rotate, too.
Curate, Add, and Eliminate Pieces
If your living room is large, your first thought may be to fill as much of the space as possible. You want to override this instinct. Large spaces can feel just as cluttered as small spaces, particularly if the pieces you’re using to fill that space don’t serve an apparent purpose. Small decorative items on shelving and tabletop surfaces like console tables or bar carts are better than large decorative items that occupy a substantial footprint, such as superfluous accent chairs or unnecessary accent tables.
Focusing on quality over quantity is even more important when arranging furniture in a small room. You don’t want a single piece of furniture like a large sectional sofa to occupy such a significant footprint in the room that other pieces feel squashed within in the confines. It may be better to opt for two loveseats that can be comfortably placed without crowding out your space.
Starting with Your Largest Pieces
Your largest pieces of furniture will serve as anchor points for the whole room. Sofas and coffee tables should be placed first, allowing you to build the rest of the room around them. Couches will act as the skeleton for your entire living space. A great body is always built around the bones, so it’s important to perfect the structure before you move on to the finer nuances of your home decor.
Seating should be placed around the focal point of a room. That focal point may be a fireplace, a TV stand, a projector screen, or something less conventional. Every living room chair and seat should offer an unobstructed view of whatever is to be seen, even if it's just the accent bar stools . With the seating positioned accordingly, it will be easier to fill in the gaps with your accent pieces like a storage ottoman. Your coffee table should be placed relative to your main seating arrangement, as its function is to be accessible to people who are seated.
Utilizing Your Accent Pieces
With your largest pieces appropriately positioned, it’s time to place your accent pieces in a complementary manner. The first thing to consider is the traffic pattern of the room. In order for people to be able to walk from one side of the room to the other, you need to leave enough space that no one will feel as though they’re squeezing through. Depending on the kind of flooring in your living room, you might want to place rugs on highly trafficked pathways to preserve the floor and make it easier to clean the area.
Large patterned area rugs will draw attention to central seating areas or designated activity spaces. Make sure that the rugs you choose for conversation areas are large enough that all of the upholstered furniture can fit comfortably on top of them. If your rug is not large enough or your space is small, make sure that the front feet of the furniture sit comfortably on top of the edge of the rug. This will give the illusion that the rug is providing full coverage of your seating space.
End tables can provide additional functional or decorative surfaces near chairs or lounges. When choosing end tables, try to select a table that is as close as possible to the height of the arms of the chair it will accompany. This will make it easy and intuitive to pick things up or set things down. If you’re unable to find an ideal height match, it’s better to go slightly lower than slightly higher. If the table is slightly higher than the seated person expects, he or she might inadvertently smash their glass against the table.
Polishing Off the Space with Small Touches
With the furniture positioned, the last thing to do is add embellishments. Table lamps, wall art, and decorative pieces come last. Be sure that table decorations or lamps do not monopolize so much of a surface that it’s no longer useful as a place to set drinks or snacks. With small surfaces, it sometimes helps to choose decorative pieces that also hold a function, like coasters or ornate trays that double as remote or controller organizers (think of the stylish but practical trays people often use on their nightstands or next to daybeds).
When adding small touches, keep in mind that you’re being presented with the perfect opportunity to add small contrasting pops of color. Throw pillows, candles, and wall art are far less of a significant commitment than a paint job or a piece of furniture. Small touches can be rotated out seasonally, or even on a whim, and work well to complement other pieces in the house, too, such as going for the same finish as the sofa or dining chairs and dining tables.
Very neutral rooms may benefit from small decorative nuances in bright reds, sunny yellows, or bold blues. While pastel shades may complement a room, they may not necessarily add the “wow” factor you desire, as these shades have a tendency to slip into the background, being more suited for a home office or the bedroom.
In order to prevent a clash of hues, match decorative accents to your wall art. Pick shades from your wall art that play well with the main shades of your living room, and opt for accents that bring those shades forward. It’s a simple way to make an impact without overwhelming the space.
With creativity comes experimentation. You might want to set aside a day to move around the furniture and experiment with layouts. If you’re more of a “measure twice, cut once” type of person, you might want to create a blueprint floorplan on grid paper that will allow you to play with several layouts before making a labor driven commitment.
It’s also important to note that revamping your living space does not necessarily need to be an expensive venture. Sometimes, re-envisioning what you already have and adding a new coat of paint is enough to make all the difference in the world.
When you aren’t sure what direction you want to go, you can always turn to the internet for inspiration. At Whom, we have no shortage of design inspiration and beautiful pieces that will transform your living space into the perfect room for relaxation and entertainment.