The living room tends to set the tone for the rest of the home. It is where friends and family meet, a vibrant space that should reflect its use.
However, because it is utilised so often, the living room can end up being rather underwhelming.
Find your focal point
Every living room has a focal point and the room should be arranged to make the most of it. Because of the way our modern lives have developed, this focal point is quite often the television.
“With the thin and sleek HD screens and equally sleek stands or wall mount options, there’s little need to hide the TV,” says Theresa Leacock-Broderick, director marketing, finance and administration with BrandSource.
However, with beautiful views all around, a window could also be the focal point, as it would be a shame to let an ocean or canal view go to waste. Arranging the furniture in the room to make the most of this focal point is vital. You would never have a sofa with its back facing the television, so try to avoid doing this with a window with a view as well.
Furnish to size
Finding the right furniture for a living room is not only about the style you like, but also about the size of the space that has to be filled. Using small pieces in a big, expansive room can make it feel empty, while a large sofa in a cramped space can make the room seem even smaller. The colour of the furniture should also be tailored to the amount of light available in the room. Dark furniture can work well in a room with a lot of natural light, but the same furniture can have a negative impact on a room that lacks light.
Keep furniture colour neutral
When it comes to the big ticket items in a living room, it is best to purchase them in relatively neutral colours. This will prevent the need to replace everything in the room every time the colour palette is updated. Rather bring in colour with accessories, which are much cheaper and easier to replace.
Don’t fear colour
A living room is a space where you can express your personality and share it with visitors. Consider adding some colour to the room with a focus wall. Putting colour on every wall of the room could be overwhelming, but taking it to one wall and then echoing it in decorative pieces around the room can tie everything together without becoming the dominant feature of a room. A colourful feature wall is also the perfect background for hanging art, either dominated by contrasting colours or event in black and white to offset the colour of the wall.
Define the space
Many homes and apartment follow open plan designs. As much as this improves flow and light, it can lead to one space getting lost in the next.
There are various ways to define a living room space, from using an open-backed book shelf as a room divider to using a rug to define the space.
Another way to define the space is to create different ceiling levels. This creates a subliminal separation between spaces without the placing of any physical barriers, thereby preserving the flow while still creating the separation.
Work with the windows
Window treatments can have a big impact on the atmosphere of a room. Although blinds may be very convenient, the clean look they provide might be ill-suited to a more opulent decorating scheme, while heavy curtains in a clean, modern room could have the same effect. It is also important to keep the function of window treatments in mind – during daytime you want the light to stream into a room while still having some privacy. However, the window treatments that will allow this during daytime will have exactly the opposite effect at night, allowing those outside to see in without you being able to see out.
With a living room playing host to music, television and reading, it is vital to have some storage space available as well. An entertainment unit with room to store DVDs and CDs and a bookshelf or magazine rack for some reading material can make a big difference to the practicality of a room and will also make it easier to keep the room looking clean.
“Media furniture options range from contemporary midnight blacks and mixed metals to varying wood and wood veneers, but the one thing in common is that with today’s technology of thinner screens, entertainment furniture need not be big and bulky,” says Theresa.
“Media furniture is more about housing and, if you wish, concealing the receivers and other home theatre equipment. Such equipment has also become very sleek and thin in design with even wireless surround sound systems available.”