Living rooms work best when they have a focal point. In reality, this is often the TV. Don't arrange furniture in a way that makes viewing awkward, but consider whether the item you are the most proud of displaying to visitors is really a silver box?
If the living room has a fireplace this could be the focal point, so be sure you are happy with the way it looks.
- Brickwork or tiling - if removal is too expensive, consider painting the brickwork and tiles in a tone to contrast with the walls to highlight the feature, or to blend with the wall colour for a subtle effect.
- Mantleshelf - de-clutter. The mantle is a style focal point not a magnet for keys, loose change and post!
- Accessorise - if there is an open fire, then a coal scuttle, log basket, tongs and poker may automatically theme a traditional fireside area. If you have an unused hearth or an electric or gas fire and you're looking for a modern, minimalist look, a collection of large church candles will provide warmth, light and atmosphere. In summer, fresh flowers draw the eye.
- Artwork/mirrors - to reinforce the fireplace as a focal point, hang your best artwork over the hearth or place a mirror in that spot. Be aware of the safety implications of viewing your reflection close to an open fire!
Having chosen your focal point, arrange the furniture to complement it.
Seating arranged around the fireplace automatically creates a comfortable area for gatherings, but make sure that the view from the doorway is not a row of chair backs.
Placing a rug in front of the fireplace is practical and adds a touch of warmth if the room is minimalist and modern.
The sofa is likely to be the largest and most influential piece of furniture in a living room, and it doesn't have to be traded in if you want a change of design.
- Large throws or bedspreads can effectively change its colour and texture.
- A folded throw on the arms or centre back can disguise a dated shape.
- Scatter cushions can complement the room's theme through the colours and textures used, or the amount - single, large pillows are modern and minimalist, whereas several, mixed designs create a cosy feel.
Function and traffic
Living rooms often double as the eating area for a household and occasionally as an office or playroom. If possible, it is best to separate these functions, but if this space has to used as an office or a playroom, try to disguise these areas:
- Plan a dining area in one end or corner of the room and consider screening it off with a partition or curtain, or stylistically with a change of floor covering or piece of boundary furniture.
- If the room is used as an office or play space during the day, remaining clutter will make relaxing in the evening difficult. So consider practical, hidden storage such as lidded seating for toys or files, and screen off workstations. Find out more about de-cluttering.
- If the room is a through lounge, avoid placing furniture in areas used as traffic lanes. A large sofa blocking patio doors will ultimately become an irritant. Centrally placed coffee tables, though frequently featured in magazine designs, may be impractical in reality.
Striking a balance between convenience and designer-style in the living room will create a space that you can be proud to show off and be content to relax in.