8 Tips for the Perfect Living Room
The living room is a special place wherein you can make your guests feel welcome and at home. To create a perfect living room, there are many ideas to choose from. You can work with angles or with focal points. Avoid filling it with clutter to avoid a cramped atmosphere.
Your living room is your first chance at making a good impression. It is always the first thing guests will notice when they come into your house, and often the last thing they forget when they leave. That’s why it’s important to make it as attractive and comfortable as possible. With a well-designed living room, you can be sure your guests will be talking about it long after their visit and eagerly looking forward to the next.
So what makes a good living room? It all starts, as any other room, with a good layout. A floor layout lets you gauge your space and find the best spots for your furnishings. Without it, you’ll most likely end up hauling furniture for hours in search of a good place. Here are eight simple tips to help you plan your living room layout without the hassle.
1. Choose a focal point. A focal point is the first thing you see when you enter a room. It sets the main theme for your room, and all the other elements are arranged around it. To find a natural focal point, step into your room and notice the first thing you lay your eyes on. If you can’t focus on one thing at once, your room may not have a focal point—and now is the perfect time to make one.
Some rooms have a natural focal point: an arched window, a nice fireplace, a rounded corner. If there’s something unique in the way your room was built, that can be a good focal point. Otherwise, look at your furnishings and choose the one that’s most eye-catching. Usually, your biggest piece of furniture can be dressed up to command attention.
2. Keep it balanced. In home design, balance is a key component in a room’s floor plan. A balanced room has no areas that are over- or under-furnished; there should be an equal distribution of decorations and furnishings on every wall. To achieve balance, use the quadrant rule: divide your room onto four parts and place an equal weight of items in each square. Start by placing your furniture in one of the quadrants, then balancing it out with a shelf or any large furnishing on the opposite corner.
Don’t forget to consider the room’s natural features. Your fireplace, build-in cabinets, windows, and drapes all add to the decorative “weight” of an area. When making your floor plan, draw these items in and plan your layout around them.
3. Don’t divide the room. Treat your living room as one unit, even if it’s large. Ideally, there should be an unobstructed path between the opposite corners of the room. Blocking off one section can make it look smaller and less inviting. If there’s a large expanse of bare floor, try breaking it up with an area rug—not with room dividers or any large furniture.
4. Maximize space. Bigger is always better when it comes to living rooms. More space makes it brighter, airier, and generally more welcoming. If you have a small room, make the most of the space you have by using built-in furnishings wherever possible. Keep everything close to the walls to free up space in the middle and create an illusion of size. Put up large mirrors to reflect the incoming light and make the room look bigger.
5. Make space for conversation. A living room must have a conversation space—a space designed for people to sit around and talk. This is usually determined by the arrangement of your furniture. The most efficient layout has a U-shaped conversation space, which allows you to see everyone from wherever you’re sitting. An O-shaped space does the same thing, but it closes off the conversation area, which violates the third rule (don’t divide). Avoid straight lines or L-shaped conversation spaces, as these aren’t conducive to talking.
6. Create a traffic route. People should be able to walk through your living room without having to sidestep or pass any obstacles. Identify the key points in your living room—the couch, the display shelf, the window—and create clear passages from these points to the rest of the room. Make sure they don’t pass through the conversation area, between the couch and the TV, and other commonly used areas.
7. Make a lot of storage space. Living rooms tend to hold a lot of everyday items, from books and magazines to tools and household supplies. Unless you have a very stylish screwdriver, these things aren’t usually for display—but you want to keep them on hand at all times. What you can do is create built-in storage spaces in the room, which are accessible yet inconspicuous. The space under your couch or table is a good place—look for those that have hollow bottoms designed for storage.
8. Work with angles. Your first instinct is usually to place your furniture in a corner, flat against two adjacent walls. This can work, but it poses two problems: one, it creates an L-shaped conversation space, and two, it makes the room look too sleek and square. Instead, try setting your biggest couch at an angle from the corner (forming a right triangle) and arranging the rest around it. This takes attention away from the walls and onto the center of the room, emphasizing the space. You can use the corner space for storage or to hold some other decoration, such as an indoor plant.