How to Create the Perfect Living Room

Creating the Ideal Living Room 

Building and designing your perfect living room can be challenging, so we’ve pulled together our top tips to help you create your dream space! Whether you’re developing your home with an architect for the first time or are updating a room that has been well loved and lived in for years, we’ll walk you through everything to keep in mind as you put together your living room.

Once you’ve read all the practical advice, be sure to check out our kitchen design tips for a total kitchen-to-living room refresh!

HOW TO ARRANGE THE FURNITURE

Determining the layout is the first step in designing the living room. We’ve found that most of our clients want to arrange their furniture around the TV. Whether you have a small space or a large room with a lot of flexibility for furniture placement, the TV ends up being the focal point. 

We suggest creating ‘purposeful zones’ for the living room. This way, you have some areas for activities other than watching TV, to keep the living room from turning into ‘the TV room.’ Feel free to include a sofa or sectional for the TV watchers, especially if you want to have separate areas for other activities. We’ve found that armchairs, poofs, and other seating options will inevitably be dragged to face the TV, so plan ahead by setting up a couch and coffee table in advance. 

If there are readers in your household, we recommend including a designated reading nook with armchairs. And now that so many of us are working from home, we’ve started including specific workspaces in our clients’ living rooms. We love to utilize space-efficient options like fold-out desks that can be tucked away when not in use, but creating a whole corner for your home office is a great option if space allows.  

Top tip: If you don’t know where to start with your living room layout, use a painter’s tape measure to size up the room. From there, you can sketch out a floor plan and draw a few different ways your furniture could be arranged. If you’re still trying to figure out how to balance between TV vs. no TV, we recommend The Frame TV from Samsung. It looks like a gorgeous piece of art when not in use and comes with a library of over 1,200 pieces of artwork from world-renowned institutions. It instantly becomes a TV when you want it to, and then can be switched back to displaying art when you’re done. 

ADDING YOUR PERSONAL STYLE TO YOUR LIVING ROOM DESIGN

Once you’ve planned your furniture placement, you can move on to the fun stuff – choosing the style of your living room! This is a room you will spend a lot of your time and should be a mixture of your personal style and the comfort level you desire. A formal living room can be a great option, but if this will be the room to kick off your shoes and enjoy a glass of wine each night, we recommend prioritizing comfort over formality. 

Your living room design style may be somewhat dictated by your property’s age, your home’s inherent architectural features, or the style of the rest of your home. However, the space needs to fit your lifestyle, too! In other words, if you have a house full of kids, decorating a living room with ornate antiques might not be practical. A modern living room might be more fitting. 

At Susan Currie Design, we love to experiment with pops of color. Living rooms can be a great place to do this, because you can tie in elements from across your home. Don’t be afraid to mix and match. Doing so will create a less constructed, more relaxed feel, and, after all, it’s the room you unwind in at night, so it should be a true expression of your taste. That said, we love a gorgeous neutral space as well. If you opt for a neutral palette, you have a great opportunity to play with different textures in similar colors. A variety of textures helps create a soothing space without it becoming boring.

CHOOSING A COLOR SCHEME 

We touched on this a bit in the previous paragraph, but before you start purchasing items for your living room, decide on the color scheme you’re going to use. Think about the room’s size and the height of the ceiling when you are making this decision. These tips may be Interior Design 101, but use lighter colors for smaller living rooms to create the illusion of more space and darker colors for larger rooms – especially on ceilings – to create a more intimate, cozy vibe.

If you are lucky enough to have a larger living room, you can be more adventurous with color. Try experimenting with a darker decorating palette, add a striking feature wall, or get creative with wallpaper or a bold paint color.

Bear in mind that the natural light your living room receives should affect your color choice. North- and east-facing rooms tend to get cooler, less radiant light, so warmer shades of all colors, including anything from white to blue to grey, will make them feel more welcoming. South- and west-facing rooms usually get lots of sunlight, so you may want to choose cooler colors to keep them feeling restful. Avoid using dark fabrics if they will be in direct sunlight, as they may get hot and/or fade in the sun. 

FLOORING FOR YOUR LIVING ROOM

The living room floor can be a high-traffic area. Be ready for dirt, water damage, spills, and other stains. If you’re going with a light-colored carpet, make sure it’s a durable fabric that’s easy to clean. All white, monochromatic looks are possible with kids, but the magic is all in the fabrics you choose. We recommend wool and nylon rugs and carpets. Or, if you’re willing to try a pattern, rugs with bold prints can excellent choices for spaces prone to spills. A pattern can disguise minor mishaps because there’s so much more happening on the floor!

If you have hardwood flooring, consider adding a coating to protect the wood, or opt for an area rug. Natural floor covering materials, such as sisal or jute, are another option that looks great on a hardwood floor and can add a layer of protection from scuffs and scratches.

If you’re an apartment dweller, it’s a good idea to add a thick rug pad beneath your living room rug. This adds an extra level of noise protection between you and your downstairs neighbor, as well as a little extra cushion when you’re walking around barefoot. Pet owners might want to consider a carpet that will disguise pet hair (and maybe a robotic vacuum, too!). 

HOW TO CHOOSE FURNITURE

Selecting your furniture can be one of the most challenging steps when designing a living room, but since you’ve already decided on a color scheme and measured your space, determining what works should be considerably more manageable! Furniture will probably be the most expensive aspect of your living room redesign, so be picky about what you need. Start with the basics and assess what furniture your living room really can’t do without – and how you might make it more versatile with hidden storage, for example. 

Also, think about how durable each piece needs to be and what’s worth investing in – soft furnishings get the most wear, so get the highest quality you can within your budget or opt for removable slipcovers that can be thrown in the washing machine. 

Be sure to choose furniture that will stand the test of time, not just in terms of physical durability but stylistically, too. Don’t go with shapes, colors, or patterns that will become dated or that you will tire of too quickly. 

WINDOW DRESSINGS TO ACCENT THE ROOM

Window dressings are important – they offer a feeling of comfort, privacy, light control, insulation, and, if chosen well, can pull your whole room together. 

What you choose will primarily come down to your taste and budget. If you want to add a touch of luxury to the living room, shutters or roman shades beneath lined curtains are a great combination. In a contemporary living room, shutters are an easy-to-coordinate option with plenty of curb appeal. Plus, if you’re on a tight budget, adjustable shade options are a much more affordable option than custom. 

BRING THE OUTSIDE IN 

Plants and flowers to brighten up any space. A few of our favorites for new plant owners are Snake Plant, Monstera Deliciosa, ZZ Plant, Rubber Tree, and Pothos. These are easy to take care of and have also been shown to filter out nasty chemicals in the air, like benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene! You will breathe easier with these potted pals in your home! 

We’d love to help you design your ideal living room space. Email us at susan@susancurriedesign.com with any questions, comments, or tips you think we should share!