1. Set the Mood with Color
The colors you choose for your living room will affect how guests feel in the space. Colors can energize or relax the space, depending on how intense they are and how warm or cool they are.
A serene scheme of soft blue and white makes this spacious living room feel calm, cool, and collected--a gracious setting for elegant gatherings. A light tan carpet underfoot warms the space and keeps the cool tones in balance.
2. Finish the Walls and Ceilings
Traditionally, living room walls receive more elaborate or formal treatment than other rooms because the room is a public space. To make it a welcoming room that expresses your personality, choose wallcoverings or treatments that reflect your style.
The walls in this room are wallpapered with a chic print. The effect brings warmth and texture to the walls and gives them a look of antiquity.
3. Add Character with Architectural Trimwork
Trimwork serves practical purposes, covering the seams where floors and ceilings meet walls and supporting the structure around openings. But these elements serve aesthetic purposes too. The style of trimwork helps give your home a distinctive look, whether classical, contemporary, old-world, or regional.
Projecting lintels over the door and windows, a deep cornice, and a paneled and beamed vaulted ceiling combine to give this white-washed living room a sense of place.
4. Choose Stylish, Comfortable Flooring
In keeping with the function of the living room as a public space, choose a floor covering that provides comfort underfoot and makes a design statement as well. This vibrant wall-to-wall carpet lays the foundation for a refined mix of florals and stripes.
If you prefer a less bold floor, choose a solid neutral flooring that allows attention to focus on furniture or art. Hardwood floors with area rugs are one of the most popular choices for living room floors, but ceramic tile, stone tile, and full carpeting work too.
5. Create a Focal Point
A focal point anchors the living room and helps draw you into the space. A fireplace is a natural focal point, symbolizing hearth and home, but in most living spaces, the television is the true center of attention. To keep them from competing, pair them up. A beautiful view or a stunning piece of art can also serve as a room's focal point.
Here a the fireplace becomes the central point in this living room that features a simple and chic look.
6. Arrange Furniture for Conversation
Living rooms are gathering spaces, so use furniture arrangement to promote conversation and interaction. Pull seating pieces away from the walls and arrange them to face each other.
If you have a large living room, break it into two conversational groups for a more comfortable, intimate feeling. Chairs and ottomans that can be pulled into the group as needed allow you to expand the circle and still keep the intimacy.
7. Plan for Inviting Lighting
Lighting in the living room should be geared toward creating a relaxed, comfortable mood. Aim for layers of light, and position light sources so they form roughly a triangle to ensure good distribution of illumination.
Table lamps that focus the light down will encourage people to sit down and relax. The overlapping arcs of light illuminate the seating instead of the upper walls, sending the message to sit.
8. Dress the Windows--or Not
Although heavy window treatments are mostly a thing of the past, living rooms are the place for elaboration and luxury if you're so inclined. This combination of relaxed shades and floor-to-ceiling draperies is understated yet elegant.
The elegance comes from the generous use of fabric in the draperies--they're not fancy, but the thick folds and puddling ends communicate luxury. The shades block light and provide privacy when desired.
9. Design a Media Center
If your living room is also your family room, watching TV may be the main use of the room. Whether you have the newest model or an older one, incorporate it into the room's design so that it's a feature but not dominant.
In this living room, a built in bookcase is the perfect spot to accommodate the television.
10. Accessorize with Art and Collections
Living room walls come alive when you use them to display art or collections that you love. Group items for impact, and hang them low enough to relate to nearby furnishings or architecture. The most common mistake in hanging pictures is putting them too high.
This grouping of four large prints hangs low enough to connect visually to the sofa. The painting on the adjacent wall hangs at standing eye level and relates to the lamp in the corner.