6 Keys to Designing Your Ideal Living Room

Last updated on November 16, 2020

Tried designing your living room? After all your design and decor choices, is it your ideal version? If not, read on to find out how to fix that.

The living room is one of the most important spaces in a home. It’s a room that can serve many purposes and where we spend a lot of time, so it’s essential that it is properly thought out and planned. 

Before you start designing your living room, there are several things you may need to consider, just like with any other space. What is the color palette you wish to utilize in this space? Are you looking for bright, vibrant colors, or more muted, calming shades? Is white too impersonal? Do you have kids? Should you go for something more practical?

Use is also important – what will you be doing in this space? Will it be a room you receive guests in a few times a year? Or is it a space where you will be spending time in every day? How much traffic will this room see? What kind of activities will be taking place here? All of that informs the creative choices you will be making for the space, including the type of seating, the fabrics you use, the lighting, heating, etc. 

What's Inside

Color Palette

earthy green color palette

First thing’s first – we can’t start decorating our home without a color palette. That is going to serve as the basis for all the other design decisions you make afterwards. When choosing your colors, there are a few things to think about. 

Do you care about practicality? If you have children or pets or you will be using this room heavily, you may not want to pick out white carpets, for example. Or a very light-colored sofa, or easily stained walls. However, if you’re an adult-only household or you’re very tidy, light colors can also give a very fresh, clean vibe. 

Otherwise, you can choose calming colors that are easier to maintain, like a palette of mid-blues or greens, or even shades of brown and tan. Grey is also very fashionable at the moment, for a Scandi vibe. 

Whatever you choose, just make sure it’s something that you won’t hate in a couple of months and that all the shades you choose work harmoniously with each other. That will give it the cohesive, pulled-together look of a professionally designed home.

Shown above: an earthy green pallet with an accent wall and statement furniture. Greenery play a big part in this theme too.

Fabrics

fabric sofa

Fabric choices are also informed by the activities that will be taking place in this space and how much time you plan to spend here. There’s an array of beautiful materials to choose from. 

Leather sofas are always “in”, and they come in many natural colors, including black, brown, and cream. However, leather can lack the “cozy” or comfortable look and feel of a richer, softer material. On the bright side, it’s extremely easy to clean and maintain, and it’s quite durable. 

Velvet sofas are very popular at the moment, in a variety of rich, beautiful jewel tones – blue, green, mustard, but also pink (the so-called “Millennial Pink” has been very in ever since Pantone named Rose Quartz one of the Colors of the Year in 2016). The look is certainly rich, gorgeous, and decadent, but be warned – it is easily stained, and it needs more maintenance in order to retain the look for a longer period of time.

For other pieces, such as curtains or cushions, you can choose a fabric that is more delicate, because they are less likely to get heavily used. The rug should be thick, plushy and comfortable – you want your feet to rest on something that feels amazing.

Decor tip: use a faux fur throw blanket to increase the coziness factor of the room. It’s one of the keys to make a living room more inviting.

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Seating

living room chair

Seating is one of the most important parts of your living room design and general arrangement. The sofa is where everyone gathers to spend time together, play games, entertain guests, or watch TV, so you need to think about this one long and hard. 

Obviously, the most important characteristic is comfort. Your sofa should be, above all, comfortable for everyone so that you can lounge around for hours. 

You also need to consider the size and the overall model of the couch. Do you want a sectional sofa? A smaller one? Something that comes with footrests?

What about chairs? You can sometimes get comfortable chairs made from the same fabric and in the same overall design as your sofa, so you have a matching set. Especially if you tend to entertain often, this can be a great option. 

Decor tip: don’t be afraid to mix and match. Choose chairs that are different from the couch (not a set). If you can get a vintage accent chair – all the better!

Lighting

living room lighting

You may have not thought of this aspect before, but lighting is extremely important in establishing the atmosphere of a space. So, you have some decisions to make regarding the type of light you want in this room. How much natural light does it get? How can you take advantage of that? It’s something to think about when you’re placing the furniture in this space.

In addition, you also need to think about your artificial lighting – do you want overhead lights, pendant lights, or perhaps table lamps? Lamps tend to cast a cozier, more intimate light and you can place several around the room in order to create a beautiful, relaxing atmosphere. 

Overhead lights are also a fine idea, especially if you will be entertaining in this space, and not just hanging out with the family. Keep in mind that overhead lights can sometimes feel “formal” or they may cast a harsher light than other options, like sconces or lamps.

Lighting tip: think about setting up the lighting in layers. You need at least three – overhead, task (table lamps), and spotlight (decorative).

TV Size and Placement

living room tv

Let’s be honest – most living rooms are going to have a TV. As much as we try to reduce our screen time and pledge to have one of those TV-less living rooms, there is no better way to unwind in the evening than watching some mindless TV show. Plus, where else are you going to be screening those family movie nights?

Now, the size of your TV very much depends on the size of your space, and how far away your seating is. A lot of people make the mistake of just buying the biggest size available. But that is not the best choice, and here’s why – with the ultra HD flat screens we have nowadays, you actually need to be at a certain distance in order to be able to enjoy an image that is crisp and high-quality. If you’re too close to the TV, you’ll be able to see the pixels, and that’s exactly what you don’t want. Exercise restraint and pick a TV that fits your space, even if it means going smaller. 

Fireplace

fireplace

Every good living room needs a fireplace, right? It may not need it, but everyone wants one. It’s just such a statement piece and a focal point of a space, and it comes in handy on those cold winter nights when you just want to be warm and cozy. 

But even with a fireplace, there are things you can change or choose to modify or design. There are choices you can make in terms of material, for example. Your fireplace can be made of exposed brick or stone, or it can have a beautiful, decorative design featuring tiles.

The choice of design relies entirely on what the rest of your living room looks like. Exposed brick gives that warm, cozy, hearty vibe so many want this space to have. But you can also go for something classic and dignified, with beautiful, elegant carvings that will elevate any space. 

You may not realize but putting your living room together is actually a more elaborate process than it seems. It’s tempting to just pick out some furniture and get it over with, but if you give each step the proper consideration, the result will be worth it. 

Each part of creating this space, from the colors to the fabrics to the general layout of the room, contribute to the overall feeling, the comfort, and the enjoyment you will have here. It all needs to work together harmoniously, while still fulfilling its primary purpose. 

You can achieve the look and atmosphere you want by carefully selecting each piece and thinking about the way it’s going to fit into your space. 

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