You just got your keys to your brand new first house. You must be delighted to start furnishing and decorating your kitchen, your bedroom and of course your living room where most probably people will spend the most amount of time there. Here are 8 steps that you can implement to help design your living room which align with your lifestyle and personality.
WHERE TO PLACE THE FURNITURE?
If you have the space, arrange furniture to create purposeful zones. Create a defined reading space by putting an armchair next to a window or table lamp. Assign a dedicated workspace to a corner with a console table or a desk. Separate a children's play space from the rest of the room with open shelving.
Consider too, what you really need in your living room, and what you can live without. At the very least, you'll need enough seating, side and/or coffee tables, a TV unit, and storage for everything from gaming equipment to toys and books. If this is starting to overload the room, what could go elsewhere?
DECIDE ON A LIVING ROOM STYLE
Once you’ve planned your living room's furniture placement you can move on to the fun stuff – choosing the style of your living room. It's where you will spend much of your time. So, while the style of your living room will be largely dictated by the age of your property, its inherent architectural feature and the style of the rest of your rooms or existing living room furniture, it's got to suit your lifestyle, too. In other words, if your house is full of kids, choosing a living room filled with antiques probably isn’t practical and a modern living room style might be more your scene.
COLOUR SCHEME FOR YOUR LIVING ROOM
When you’ve nailed down your aesthetic, decide on the main colour for your living room. Think about its size and the height of its ceiling when you are making this decision. If you are looking for design ideas for small living rooms to make yours look larger and brighter, you will need to opt for lighter colours; or, perhaps, since you only use your living room in the evening, you'd rather it felt cosy and intimate with darker colours. If you are blessed with a larger living room, you can be more adventurous with colour: try experimenting with a darker decorating palette, add a striking feature wall or get creative with bold paint colours. Bear in mind, too, that the natural light your living room receives should affect your colour choice.
WALLPAPER OR PAINT FOR A LIVING ROOM?
Whether you choose wallpaper or paint colours for your living room is largely down to taste, but here's what you need to know:
- Feature walls defined by wallpaper on one wall matched into a paint colour on the rest of the walls are somewhat out of fashion. Put the wallpaper on a more unexpected wall – behind the sofa perhaps.
- Large prints will overwhelm small living rooms if on all four walls. Only consider them if one wall is taken up by a large window to provide relief; otherwise, go for a subtle design.
- You can use wallpaper patterns to exaggerate your room's proportions. A subtle vertical stripe can make a room feel taller; horizontal stripes make it feel wider, for example.
- Paint can be used for colour blocking to create interest and is a cheaper, easier-to-update option for living room walls.
HOW TO CHOOSE PRACTICAL LIVING ROOM FLOORING
Choosing the best flooring is key. A carpet may look lovely, to begin with, but light colours should be avoided in favour of darker shades, contemporary patterns or a stain-resistant carpet. Natural flooring, such as sisal, is another option, but these can be tricky to maintain, so opt for a rug in these materials over a hard floor.
Alternatively, go for hard-wearing wood or laminate flooring – you can always add cosiness and comfort with a living room rug. Pet owners might want to consider a carpet that is going to disguise pet hair – otherwise, invest in a vacuum cleaner specifically for pet hair.
CHOOSE THE BEST LIVING ROOM FURNITURE
Moving on to choosing living room furniture. This is probably going to be the most pricey aspect of your living room revamp, so really think about what you do and don’t need (which may mean giving up on using your coffee table as anything other than a footrest and replacing it with an ottoman that can be used as extra seating instead). Start with the basics and assess what furniture your living room really can’t do without and how you might make it more versatile, with hidden storage for example.
And be sure to choose furniture that will stand the test of time, not just in a practical sense but in a style sense too. Don’t go with styles, shapes, colours or patterns that will date too quickly.
PICK THE PERFECT SOFA FOR YOUR SPACE
It’s easy to get caught up in colours and sofa fabric choices when choosing a sofa, but ignore it to begin with, and focus on the more practical aspects. Start by thinking about the size and shape of your room, how many people you need to seat, where in the room the sofa will go and whether a sofa bed might be a more useful purchase; then move on to whether you need removable covers.
That done, you can consider your sofa's style, shape and colour. Most of us pick a neutral shade for the covers because it's easier to redecorate around. Our advice? Bright or boldly patterned sofas make fabulous focal points but be sure you'll love them for the long term. As for your sofa's shape, low-backed pieces look more informal and take up less visual space than more traditional-looking, more formal high-backed sofas.
If your square footage is limited, it’s also worth considering if you even need such a huge piece of furniture taking up lots of valuable space. A love seat or a more slim-line sofa might be much more practical, giving you more floor space, and perhaps even room for another seating option.
GET THE LIVING ROOM LIGHTING RIGHT
Lighting your living room well is vital because we spend so much time there in the evenings. The right lighting can transform your living room into a cosy, inviting space.
Start to think about the different zones of your living room and choose light sources accordingly: you'll need task lighting, such as a standing or table lamp over an armchair for reading; a dimmable central pendant light for those occasions when you want the room brightly lit; and plenty of accent lighting in the form of low-level table lights, picture lights and even lighting hidden within alcove shelving.
You can use lighting to create effects, too. Uplighters on walls can make a ceiling feel taller; downlighters will make the room feel more intimate; spotlights can highlight a feature, such as large house plants you want to show off; warmly-tinted lightbulbs will make the room feel cosier; daylight-mimicking bulbs will make it feel brighter.
PICK THE BEST LIVING ROOM WINDOW DRESSINGS
Window dressings are all-important in your living room – they offer pattern, colour, a feeling of comfort, privacy, light control, insulation and chosen well, can pull your whole room scheme together.
What you choose will largely come down to your taste and budget. If you want to add a touch of luxury to the living room, shutters or Roman blinds layered over with lined living room curtains are a good choice. In a contemporary living room, shutters only are an easy-to co-ordinate option that offers plenty of kerb appeal too. Plus, if you're on a tight budget, DIY-fit options are a much more affordable option than ones that are fitted for you.
ADD PERSONALITY WITH ACCESSORIES
We all love a clean aesthetic, but to stop your room from looking like it’s been picked straight from a catalogue, injecting plenty of personal touches is a must-do. You can easily accessorise your soft furnishing with rugs, cushions and throws and add colour with well-displayed artwork and photos or a gallery wall. Oh and let’s not forget house plants; they are a really easy way to add a splash of colour and liven up a room.
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