It’s been a long day at work or school and you just want to relax when you get home. Unfortunately, your living room is overcrowded and cramped, or is boring and bare – whatever the case, it just doesn’t feel like home. Frustrated, you and the family head for your bedrooms after dinner to go and surf the internet, catch up with a show on your tablet or read a book until it’s time for bed.
The living room is a central part of every home. Like the dining room, it’s the place where the family gets together, spends quality time together, unwinds and catches up with the day. After the bedroom, it’s the room where you’ll spend most of your time at home, so it needs to be welcoming, comfortable and reflecting your personality.
Getting your living room layout and décor right can be a challenge. It rarely turns out like the pages of a magazine, or looking like a movie star’s dream home… but what if you knew how to make it just perfect? Here are seven simple steps to breathe new life into your living room
Everything always starts with measuring, and you need to measure everything. It’s not just about the floor area, it’s about the whole room. Measure the height of the walls as well as the floor area, and measure across the room from corner to corner. Measure how wide and high the doors are to make sure any furniture you buy can get into the room. Also note where the power outlets are and measure their relative positions to each other. And don’t forget the windows! Not just how wide they are, but where they are placed, the distance from window to floor, ceiling, wall and other windows.
Why: You want to get a really thorough, comprehensive breakdown of your room, so you can start understanding your space. We always imagine things differently to how they really are, and this process helps you cement reality in your mind, which helps you furnish and decorate it perfectly.
Make a list of everything you’d like to have in your living room. This is not the time to get realistic – write down everything you’d love to have in your living room and don’t worry about space, style or practicality just yet. Imagine your fantasy living room and make your list. Don’t get too attached to anything, because you’re going to hone and fine-tune the list later, but for now, go crazy. Enjoy the process of fantasizing about what you’d have if you could afford it and fit it in.
Why: Furniture and décor isn’t just about practicality – if it was, we’d all use exactly the same sofas, chairs, TV stands and end tables. Creating a list like this helps you figure out what you really want, and honing it later helps you find the perfect balance between desire and need.
Every family is different, and every living room is unique as a result. Take the time to work out your primary goals for the living room. If you want somewhere to relax and watch TV, put that down. Somewhere to entertain guests? A room that encourages family conversation? You don’t need to stick to just one goal – write down several if you want and then fine-tune the list to what’s really important to you.
Why: Understanding your own goals goes a long way towards creating the right atmosphere and layout. For example, if you want both TV time and conversation time, the sofas and chairs need to be positioned to make both possible with minimal effort.
Consider your track record
It’s great to have a fantasy living room, but in the end, it’s going to need to suit your lifestyle. Take your own track record into consideration. For example, if you have dogs who join you on the sofa and you enjoy that, furnishing your living room with delicate, spindly single-seat chairs is going to make everyone, including the dogs unhappy. Or, if you have a tendency to move house every few years, just because you like a change, buying huge, heavy furniture is going to make your life harder when you do move. Maybe the kinds of parties you like to have tend towards the twenty-people-in-a-room variety, so having enough seating will be important.
Why: While we certainly grow and mature, our personalities are going to remain somewhat constant and if you are already an established family or couple with regular friends, the chances are you’re going to keep doing the things you enjoy. Furnishing and decorating in contrast to that won’t change your life, it will just make it hard to enjoy yourself.
Now that you’ve got a really good understanding of your space, your needs, your desires and your own personality, it’s time to start planning. This is the stage where you start researching the kinds of furniture you want, finding a good vendor, honing that list of desires to a manageable, practical level and using those all-important measurements to work out what’s going to go where. Take your measuring tape with you when you go and look at furniture, carpets, décor items and even TVs, or ask for measurements if looking online. Don’t let yourself be pushed into buying something until you’re sure it’s going to fit and work with your overall scheme. Most good furniture manufacturers will offer delivery and online purchase options, so you don’t have to make any final decisions the first time you go shopping.
Why: This step and measuring are the two most important steps. Impulse buying furniture or décor could end up giving you and uncomfortable, poorly laid out space that you don’t feel comfortable in. Taking the time to plan properly means you will know what to expect and have things the way you want them.
Keeping it interesting
While you’re doing your preliminary shopping, take a moment to consider ways to keep things fun and interesting. Whether that means planning for an over sized bean-bag, or adding an accent table, or mixing and matching different upholstery options, make things interesting for yourself. Consider colors, shapes and sizes that offer an interesting counterpoint.
Why: A room needs to reflect your personality, and at the same time, it needs to hold your interest. When everything is similarly sized, colored, and shaped, it becomes very bland and boring, and eventually you just aren’t interested in spending time there. So have a little fun with it!
Experiment with décor
Yes, you want to have an overall theme to a room to tie things together. If, for example, you get all your furniture in a uniform style, like our Artesa range in the Mission style, you’ll have a solid theme. Then, you can start experimenting with a few interesting décor items, from paintings to throw pillows, carpets to chandeliers. The wonderful thing about decorative items is, you can find beautiful, interesting and fun things that work with just about any theme and style you go with, so once you have a solid furniture foundation that works, you can shake things up with a few inexpensive changes whenever you want.
Why: Keeping things interesting makes a massive difference to making a room comfortable and lasting. By creating a strong working foundation and then focusing your changes on décor, rather than refurnishing each time, you’ll save money while enjoying your living room for many years to come.