The golden rules of living room decoration

The golden rules of living room decoration

Some call it the living room, others the sitting room, family room or lounge. No matter what you call it or whether you go there to watch TV, read, play video games or to just hang out with the rest of your household. It’s probably your first port of call to go unwind and enjoy yourself in the evenings after a long day at work.

But, how can you get your living room looking its tip-top best? Well, no matter your tastes or the size or shape of the room, there are a few simple golden rules which will help you style the room to perfection. Making it a welcoming and comfortable space fit for any occasion.  

 

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Identify the room’s focus

When redesigning the living room it’s best to start by finding what will be the room’s focal point, this could be anything from a fireplace, work of art, window or even just the television. Now, this doesn’t mean you want to direct every single piece of furniture so it’s pointing in that direction. The focal point is merely the point of the room with that extra bit of ‘wow-factor’ that sets the room off, which you want eyes to be drawn towards.

With objects that are moveable such as artworks you will want to position them so they are one of the first things people will see as they enter the door. With objects that are immovable such as fireplaces or windows, it can be a good idea to direct the largest piece of furniture (usually the sofa) so they face towards it, or in the case of an object that hangs on the wall such as a painting or mirror, placing it directly above the largest piece of furniture. 

 

Proportions

Keeping your furniture and other items in proportion to the size of the room is vital, you don’t want the room to feel Spartan nor like it’s dominated by over-sized furniture. There are a few measurements that give a good rule of thumb when it comes to choosing furniture of the right size. For example, you’ll want to ensure that you can place any furniture pointed towards the television at least twice the TVs diagonal screen size away from it, any closer than that and it will dominate the room and it will be difficult to actually watch. For particularly small living rooms opt for multi-functional furnishings, Ottomans can be used as both side tables and additional seating.  

 

living room with coffee table and rug

Stick to the classics and centre the room with a coffee table and rug.

Some may say that centring the living room with a coffee table and rug is a design cliché, but we feel that’s a bit like saying that putting the hob in the kitchen is a cliché. Ideally you want to leave about a 40 to 50 centimetre gap between your coffee table and the seating, that’s just the right size to allow people to be able to easily move through the space without having to clamber over anything, and for you to still be able to easily reach for drinks, books or remote controls from the coffee table while seated.  

 

Lighting

Living room lighting should generally be broken up into distinct zones, this helps give the room a comfortable ambiance. Ideally you will want to use desk and floor lamps to light up three corners of the room, which you can use to draw attention to various features such as paintings and pictures or interesting ornaments. Your overhead lighting should be used as ‘task lighting’ which is the brighter lighting you use for activities such as when cleaning or hoovering the room or perhaps when doing yoga or another physical activity.

Photo by Robert Daly/OJO Images / Getty Images

Art and décor

When it comes to ornaments and what you put on the walls there is generally two schools of thought, some opt for symmetry and ‘the rule of odd numbers’ while others prefer a more eclectic chic-but-cluttered style. The former approach works well for rooms in which you want to have a more contemporary or minimalist appeal, to achieve this look you want to position objects in symmetrical patterns, such as paintings on a wall at the same height equally distanced. However, to prevent this looking forced objects should always be grouped in odd numbers, which makes it looks natural while still drawing interest.  

These previous rules are somewhat thrown out the window by the chic-cut-cluttered approach, in which objects and artworks are more eclectically thrown together (think Dumbledore’s office in Harry Potter) this works best to create quirky more old fashioned looking rooms and is definitely harder to pull off well, but when you do it can be aesthetically stunning. A good way to try and achieve it is to hang pictures on the walls at varying heights, and with no regard for their spacing or position, the general idea is to make it seem as if everything was thrown together with no uniformity – rather than the room drawing focus to a selection of specific items of interest, every object works together to make the room itself the thing of interest. What you want to avoid is one particular area of the room being sparser than the rest, or this void will look out of place and all attention will be drawn to it. 

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