The living room is usually the first room to furnish because it’s where you’ll be spending most of your family downtime, as well as entertaining houseguests. It’s important that you design this area with both functions in mind and choose your furniture wisely. Here are 10 foolproof pointers to help you get it right.
1. Upcycle old favorites
Before you begin shopping, take a look at the furniture you already have and try to reinvent it to fit your new space. If the fabric is worn but the bones are still good, consider getting a piece reupholstered by a professional or strip it down to its salvagable parts and build something else. If it’s still in working condition but simply doesn’t suit your style preferences or needs anymore, donate it to a local resale store.
2. Make a plan
This is an often overlooked yet critical step to having a functional living room. Once you have a general idea of what kind of pieces you want to include, configure an arrangement on paper. Do you want your sofa in the middle of the room or flush against a wall? Will you use floor lamps for lighting or hang one big statement chandelier from the ceiling? Discuss and answer these questions before you start shopping and keep your color and style selections in mind so they come together flawlessly.
3. Consider your personal needs
It’s important to weigh what looks good against what’s actually practical to use in your day-to-day life. If a smaller sofa looks better but you know you’ll be hosting a lot of friends and family, opt for a larger sectional instead.
4. When to splurge and when to save
Living room furniture can be as expensive or as cheap as your budget allows, but keep quality in mind when you’re scavenging for super-saver sales. For long-term pieces that you expect to have for years to come, allow yourself to splurge a bit to get a high-quality item that will withstand years of wear and tear. Meanwhile, save on smaller items such as throw pillows, since your style preferences might change over time.
5. Make the most out of multipurpose furniture
Having a two-in-one piece can be the space saver you’ve been looking for, especially if you have a small house. Storage ottomans and sleeper sofas are stylish, hardworking solutions for compact rooms.
6. Focus on a focal point
Some living rooms are blessed with grand fireplaces that you can design the rest of the room around. If you don’t get to revel in the view of flickering flames, you can choose your own focal point by shopping for one large piece of furniture or decor that draws the eye in. A big screen TV and media center works great, or consider hanging a large-scale painting flanked by decorative mirrors and accents.
7. Test the sofa
Sturdiness is extremely important when it comes to arguably the biggest and most important piece in the room. Test a sofa’s durability by simply sitting on it and spend some time testing each seat. If it’s at all unstable or wobbly, pass onto the next one. Avoid furniture frames made of cheap wood or any that have glue or staples holding it together. Choose heavier, denser cushions for higher quality and consider going for a single cushion sofa to seat everyone comfortably.
8. Roll out a rug
When choosing warmth underfoot, keep size in mind. Standard rugs start at 5 by 7 feet but can be up to 9 by 12 feet. You can use them to partition space in open floor plans and protect new hardwood floors from dents and scratches. Color, pattern and texture selections are worthwhile details too. Warm and fuzzy rugs are wonderful for winter, but you might want something more refined for spring. Patterned rugs disguise dirt and can tie a whole room together, as seen in this Austin home.
9. Choose the right coffee table
If you don’t want the coffee table to be the focal point in the room, match two or more smaller pieces and opt for a glass top for a barely-there look. Make sure the height is consistent with surrounding seating and consider a lip edge table to prevent drops and spills. Multi-tiered tables double as a footrest or as storage for books and magazines.
10. Light it right
Statement chandeliers are frequently used in a variety of luxe styles and designs, complemented by floor and table lamps that provide gentle task lighting along with a larger range of glow. For a more recessed look, can lights are a great option to scatter across the ceiling. Smaller lighting options such as pendants and sconces can also be used for decorative effect and combine together to make a beautifully layered look.