Freshen Your Living Room

Find living room design ideas for furniture, wall color, lighting, and more to take your living room from blah to beautiful.

Incorporate Textures

Change a living room with silky pillows and velvet slipcovers for entertaining and corduroy pillows and denim slipcovers for everyday. Consider adding a woven basket or cozy chenille throw.

Various textures suit any style. Here are a few to consider:

-- Traditional--Hand-tufted rugs, woven wools, tooled silver, cut crystal, gilded frames, silk, china, and polished wood
-- Country--braided rugs, worn wood, rusted metals, chenille spreads, ironstone pottery, and blown glass
-- Romantic--velvet, furry throws, crystal prisms, embroidered fabrics, lace, painted furniture, and hand-hooked rugs
-- Modern--laminated-plywood furniture, plastic, smooth leather, stainless steel, terrazzo flooring, and teak

Make a Color Statement

Wake up a boring room with a bold color statement. If you're shy about commitment but want a quick shot of color, paint one wall; it can provide a color fix and create a dramatic focal point. Then use color throughout the room to keep the look cohesive.

Here, the sunny yellow of the walls is balanced by the vibrant colors in the mirror frames, furniture, and accents so various colors enhance the room.

Change the Lampshades

Give your living room an instant facelift by changing the lampshades--think of these affordable accessories as jewelry for a room. Take your lamp base to a retailer and experiment with the options. There's more than one perfect shade for each base.

Boost a ready-made lampshade's personality with a fast, easy facelift. Cut decorative paper to fit your shade--for this unique two-tier shade, we chose two coordinating papers. Slightly overlap the paper at the back, and glue to secure the ends. Punch evenly spaced holes around the top and bottom; then whipstitch the paper to the shade with a thin cord.

Rearrange the Furniture

For a freebie room transformation, move furniture around. Put some pieces on a diagonal or group them into smaller conversation areas instead of letting them hug the walls. Even swapping artwork from another room can create a refreshing change of pace.

Arrange your living room to reflect the way you and your family like to live, the location of the room, and its traffic patterns. If the room is designed for conversation, gather furniture around a central point and keep it cozy. If it's used as a serene getaway without a television, add a chaise lounge to complement a sofa. Is reading the main activity? Plan for book storage, easy chairs, and adaptable lighting. Be sure to allow for access to furniture and a pathway through the space.

Add Pattern and Texture with Wallpaper

Wallpaper is a sure way to inject character into any space. But if you're not ready to wallpaper an entire room, consider papering just a section.

Wallpapered panels can add instant drama to a wall. They're a surprising way to call attention to a piece of furniture, add architecture to a room, or break up an expanse of neutral wall. Select a pattern that complements the wall color, then paper a section of wall.

Update Your Fireplace Mantel Display

A mantel offers multiple opportunities for style. Experiment with various arrangements on the mantel or update the room's look with a mantel makeover.

Whether you prefer a symmetrical or asymmetrical look, visually balance your mantel display. Take time to arrange your pieces in several different ways, then choose the one that's most pleasing. In this asymmetrical display, the smaller square mirror and the two round mirrors create a little less visual weight than the larger mirror and vase. A stack of books on the left side of the raised hearth brings needed equilibrium.

Solve Problems with Window Treatments

Window treatments can be problem solvers. Fabric treatments can soften angular walls, make windows look taller and wider, save space by tucking inside the window frame, and add visual inches to a low ceiling.

Here, chocolate-brown drapes and soft shades pair up to enhance the casual style of this cottage-inspired living room.

Add Built-In Storage

Built-in cabinetry sets the style for a living room or family room while providing much-needed storage for books, games, and media gear. In fact, built-ins rival fireplaces as a focal point. From floor to vaulted ceiling, bookcases set the style in this family room. Same-size rectangular cubbies keep the bookcases looking organized.

Stretching the bookcases to the vaulted ceiling makes the room look bigger. The furnishings include an inviting mix of classic and modern that feels warm but not stuffy.

Set the Tone with Artwork

Use original artwork to add personality and create a focal point. Here, dramatic art and accessories give the room design attitude. For a cohesive look pair similar colors and shapes.

The lime-green tones and rounded lines in this artwork are a dramatic contrast to the streamlined, neutral-color furnishings. The artworks' curvy lines are echoed in the round shapes of the tabletop accents and ottomans.

Choose Furnishings Wisely

Buy smart when furnishing a living room and you'll be rewarded with years of style and function. Try coordinating styles that complement rather than match. Look for ways to combine curves and rectangles to add interest to a room. Consider pairing a modern boxy sofa with a side table that has curvy legs, for example.

Go neutral with big, expensive items; that's the best way to ensure long-term appeal and versatility. Then splurge on a few other good pieces, such as an elegant side table, to put a fresh face on the decor.

Add Personality with Accent Pillows

Accent pillows let you quickly alter the personality of a room and shift the balance of color. And because pillows are readily available and easy to work with, don't be afraid to experiment. Bring home more than you think you'll need and try out several combinations before settling on a style.

For maximum impact, you'll want to vary the shape, size, and color--perhaps even adding a pattern or additional accent color to the mix. Look for designs that incorporate the room's key colors.

Make a Large Room More Inviting

If you have a large living room or an open floor plan, try arranging the space into separate conversation areas. Pull seating pieces away from the walls and arrange them to face each other in small groups for a more comfortable, intimate feeling. Additional visual cues, such as area rugs and tables, help define conversation areas.

Repeat Elements for Visual Rhythm

Rhythm--the way colors, patterns, and shapes fill a room--keeps a space interesting because it requires constant eye movement.

This living shows how shapes can add rhythm. The key shape is curvy, from the lampshade to the coffee table to the modern vases and even the pattern on the pillow. Spreading like objects around the room keeps the eye moving.

Go for the Unexpected

Energize a blah living room with a few surprises. Add an eye-popping color. Or an unexpected shape. Or an unusual collectible. Whatever your preference, choose elements that will infuse your room with personality.

Here, a sophisticated all-neutral room holds several whimsical surprises, including Kelly green accent pillows, mirrored surfaces, and circle-shape seating.

Use Color to Create a Mood

Your living room's colors can help set the tone for lively or relaxed gatherings.

Use warm colors--yellow, orange, and red--to inspire conversation, fuel appetite, wake up a space, and add heat to a north-facing room. Because of the energy of warm colors, they can make a small space seem larger.

Cool colors--blue, green, and purple--are calming and soothing, perfect for serene retreats. Here, blues and greens pair with brown for a soothing, sophisticated color partnership.

Stay Flexible

Want the secret to a living room that will look good now and into the future? Stay flexible. Choose go-with-anything basics that can change with your style and classic elements that can look casual for everyday living or be dressed up for company. Then add a signature color, pattern, or collection to give the room a little style punch. If you want a change in a few months, swap out the accessories.

Here, bold wall color provides a sunny backdrop for neutral furnishings. Black-framed prints on the wall illustrate how to group small pieces to make a large focal point. Two small tables offer more flexibility than one large coffee table.

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