Designing a living room can be both a pleasurable and an onerous task, depending on how you go about it. Here are some guidelines to help you along the way, starting with the most basic question:
Where do I begin?
The first thing you need to do, before you start looking at furniture and colours, is to define the purpose of the room. This will help you with figuring out your seating requirements and the style of furniture and furnishings.
This means asking yourself the following question:
Do I want to use this space to hang out with my family, or to socialise with friends, colleagues, etc?
If you prefer to use the room as a family space, then your design arrangement can follow suit – keeping things cosy, intimate, and the style more on the casual side. If you’re more inclined to use it to host parties, then you’d have to make a larger seating plan, and keep the style a little more formal. It would also help to think about the average number of people you’d be hosting. Do you want to keep it conversational, with the sofas or chairs facing each other, or do you want it more entertainment-driven, with the seating arranged to get a good view of your TV unit?
Organising your layout
Plan your layout in such a way that there is enough space to circulate around your furniture. Keep in mind that the movement has to flow around, and not through, your seating plan.
If you have the space, you can create clustered seating spaces that make for little pockets of intimacy, with enough room to navigate between the clusters.
Choose your theme
And now we come to the fun part! Choose a basic theme which will help you with those smaller decisions and details. Do you want to go traditional? This would mean a slightly more formal space, with some added flourishes in the design. A contemporary design style would be more geometric, stripped down, with solid colours. If neither of these appeal to you, think eclectic, mix and match with colours and styles and patterns. This would be a bold and distinctive look, so go for it if you trust your style sensibilities!
The seating plan
Your seating plan doesn’t necessarily have to tune in to whatever is available in the readymade market. You can try new things, make your own combination. Here are some of the ways in which you can adapt or innovate with your seating plan:
• Try a large, comfortable sofa with a set of two sleek chairs and a peg table between them.
• An L-shaped sofa with a low back chaise, or a backless upholstered bench, or an ottoman, can be great ways to negotiate smaller living rooms, creating a lighter ambience.
• Try large, chunky upholstered sofas with many cushions for a larger living room – this will make it look warm and cosy.
• Add an accent piece to make a distinctive statement – a cosy armchair, an antique mirror, a unique side table – even a chandelier – the choice is yours.
Create a strong focal point
One of the most important aspects of designing a common living space is creating a focal point, that draws the eye towards it. It could be a feature wall, an entertainment unit, even a large mural or painting. You can create a feature wall simply by using a wall panel or screen, or wallpaper, creating a contrast to the remaining walls.
It’s a key element in your living room design, so don’t neglect it! The first priority is, of course, visibility, but don’t go overboard with bright lights. Try a warm white light source instead of pure white, to create a wonderfully cosy and intimate ambience. Use dimmers to set the mood for those special occasions.
Last but not least, your living room should reflect your personality. Use corner spaces to keep those works of art or larger vases, and put your favourite painting up on the wall. Make the space truly and definitively yours!
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