The Living Room Style Guide – how to decorate your living room.
So, you’re looking to freshen up your living space but you’re not sure the best way to decorate? We know your pain, so we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to styling your living room with hints and tips on how to best utilise your furnishings, lighting and colours.
Arranging the furniture
Without furniture, your living room is an empty space, void of character and interest. For this reason, it’s imperative you arrange your furniture with careful planning. First off, pick your focal point. This could be a television, the fireplace or the centre coffee table. Without one focus area, living spaces can become cluttered and confusing. Arranging furniture and decorating becomes easier when catering for one area of focus.
Mix large and small items
When you’re arranging the furniture, make sure all large and small items are mixed around the room. There needs to be balance. For example, if you have a large sofa and a larger straight-lined coffee table next to it, it may overpower the room. Instead, think about having a small circular coffee table and add in more side tables to balance the look.
Avoid pushing furniture against the walls
Unless you have a very small living room, pushing furniture against the walls is not advisable. Why? The space between the wall and furniture actually makes the room look larger however small the gap. Yes, furniture against the wall may save a small amount of space, but it compromises the flow and look of the room.
The living room is an area for people to converse and enjoy each other’s’ company. For this reason, creating a conversation area is critical for the makeup of your room. You may have a focal point, but it’s still a good idea to make sure the sofas and chairs are near each other if not facing.
Acknowledge the high-traffic areas
Whether it’s a new home or you’re redecorating an existing living room, you’ll quickly understand where the high-traffic areas are. If there’s a door connecting it to the hallway then around this door needs to be an open space, so people don’t feel constricted as soon as they enter. The first impressions of a room are always the most important.
Add character to your living room
So, you’ve managed to work a plan on how to best arrange your furniture, the next step is to bring your character to the room. This can be done through a number of ways, including carefully positioned rugs, unique accessories and artwork.
Use area rugs
For those with hard wooden floors, an area rug can really bring a living room together. It creates a simple but elegant border around furniture like sofas and coffee tables, while also adding character. You may have a relatively neutral-looking room, but with a splash of colour on the area rug, you can bring the room to life.
Use indoor plants
Indoor plants are brilliant for bringing a natural, homely edge to a room as well as adding a bit of colour. You don’t want to have an indoor garden, but with a subtly colourful plant positioned on a table or window seal, for instance, it can break up the room’s lines. It will make a sterile room feels more authentic and lived in.
Of all the accessories and furnishing which add character to a home, artwork is arguably the most effective. One person’s tastes are always going to be different to the next, so if used in moderation, artwork can add your personality to the room. Whether it’s a piece of art you love or a picture frame, if positioned above the sofa, over the mantelpiece or either side of the window, it will always be in view when using the room.
Use unique accessories
Another way to add your personality to a décor is unique accessories. These can be pieces accumulated over time and ones which if placed on a side table or mantelpiece can add character to the room. It’s based on preference but having a handle of these pieces is better for the overall look as it could become cluttered if too many are used.
One of the most complex aspects of a décor, lighting can make or break a living room. There are certain things that need to be considered, such as which furniture receives the most natural light from the windows and where to place the manmade lighting features. The latter is more important in the darker seasons, while the former is imperative to get right in the summer months.
Use light curtains
For the brighter summer months, having a lighter décor can really give your living room a vibrant feel. Lighter-coloured curtains will stop any excess rays being absorbed while mirrors act as reflective surfaces to beam the light around the room. A well-positioned wall mirror near the window and seating area create a vibrant look.
Use the ‘dark to light’ rule
Similarly, having a light ceiling and floor helps reflect rather than absorb light. If instead you have a dark wooden floor, making sure this is regularly varnished to help reflect the natural lighting coming through the windows. Glass coffee tables also help reflect natural light so a carefully thought out floor plan is well advised.
Combine the three types of lighting
During the darker months and evenings throughout the year, using manmade light is essential for creating the right mood as well as balancing the look of your living room. The main three types of lighting are ambient, accent and task. Ambient is used for the overall lighting of the room, accent lighting is used for mood and drama, while task lighting focuses on specific work areas.
Use floor and ceiling lights
For illuminating the whole room, fixed ceiling lights and larger hanging fixtures like chandeliers excel at evenly distributing the light. Chandeliers also help improve the lighting of the seating area around the sofas, for example. Table and floor lamps are well suited for focusing on a reading area, for instance, then small lamps on side tables help to bring to life any unique accessories.
Positioning your furniture, making sure the lighting is correct and adding in unique accessories all bring a living room to life. But this could all be in vain if the colour scheme doesn’t fit. The living room is likely to be the centre of the home, so it needs to set the precedent for the rest of the home’s décor.
The largest piece dictates the room’s colour
First of all, go with your instinct. Introduce your favourite colours by painting single walls, utilising coloured rugs or by using indoor plants. Often colour schemes follow the largest pattern in the room, so subtly matching the room’s colour with your rug or sofas centrepieces will give balance.
Limit your space to three colours
It’s often the case that starting with darker colours by the floor then getting lighter as you move towards the ceiling is pleasing to the naked eye. We suggest limiting your space to three colours and making sure the darker shades reflect this dark to light pattern.
Stick to the 60, 30, 10 rule
As a general rule, splitting the colours into 60%, 30%, 10% split is the ideal ratio for balance. 60% of colour for the walls, 30% for the upholstery and 10% on the accessories. So if you only have one wall painted in a vibrant colour, then the rest of the furniture and accessories shouldn’t be too colour-intensive. This will lose the room’s overall balance.
Test your samples on the wall
It’s also worth noting that if you’re worried about introducing too much colour and overpowering the room, always test it visually by applying a sample to the walls. Sample cards are useful too but seeing how the paint sits on the wall against other colours is a more authentic test. And never be afraid to use black and white, it’s a timeless mix of shades suitable for all seasons.
When it comes to decorating your living room, you have to think about both balancing the décor style as well as introducing your personality to the look. Thinking about how to arrange the furniture and lighting is imperative for the feel and mood of the whole décor, while artwork and colour schemes give the room personality.
Visit our living room collection for more inspiration.