Once your guests have cleared the ‘security’ stop point of your foyer/entry area of your home, it’ time to introduce them to a more personal you. Invite them into your ‘Living Room,’ the one space where family and friends always seem to meet!
I suppose the name was assigned to this room because of the amount of time we plan to spend in it! What a tall order; to create a room, a single room, where an entire family can live in it and guests can feel welcome too.
Let’s do it!
First, measure your wall space and make note of window placement. Write it down; sketch a layout of the room, including doors and windows and their proximity to one another!
Before you decide what furniture will be included in this particular masterpiece of a room, think about it! Make a note about how it will be used in your family, what things are vital and nonnegotiable and what things can go if there is a pinch for space or design.
Next, decide on a color to set the tone and mood you want to achieve in this space. Remember there are shades and hues of every color; find the one that best suits you and your family, and your plan. You need only to determine what you want this room to feel like before selecting your color.
Find your focal point; then begin arranging your furnishings in a manner that will allow the space to be lived in comfortably while traffic moves freely about the room. This is typically a fireplace, a great view or some area of the room that will hold the most used items like the TV.
If you have a ‘cookie cutter’ style home, consider adding an electric fireplace (found at your local home improvement stores inexpensively) to create a personalized warm and inviting focal point. Seating should be grouped around your focal point; it should also be arranged to promote conversations between the people in the room.
Change the fans and chandeliers for replacement fans and lighting that suit your décor. Once the room is completed, you can add lighting on tables to compliment your design choices. Remember, it matters little what it appears to be when you start, your goal is to make it work for your family and your design style, affordably.
Measure the pieces you intend to keep in the room. If you can locate a roll of painter’s tape you will be able to measure the pieces of furniture and place them with the tape to see exactly how the floor space and traffic pattern responds to your ideas. This saves back breaking labor for plans that simply won’t work! Invest in a set of ‘moving coasters.’ These are available at Dollar Stores, discount department stores and all home improvement stores. The most difficult part of arranging a room will become a breeze with these coasters.
If your space is large enough, establish two focal points; combining two points of interest in the space will make it more inviting. This allows for the primary focal point and a secondary point of interest that typically includes a quiet time space to read, a desk or some other special area you want to create in the room. This area should be at the furthest distance from the hub of activity in the room.
If you are using a TV set as your focal point, place it in an attractive setting such as a wall unit, hanging above a media cabinet or in a hanging media cabinet that can be closed off when not being used while providing yet another conversation piece to enhance your décor. In other words, make it earn the cherished position of the focal point of your room. The largest of your art pieces should be placed with the largest furniture pieces; something that says I’m special! If you don’t see the perfect piece, head to thrift shops, yard and garage sales and Flea Markets. You know what to do!
Avoid overly large pieces of furniture; your goal is to make the space compliment your furniture and design ideas and make your furniture comfortable in the space.
Place your sofa in the area with the largest blank space open that also allows the people in the room to enjoy the focal point. Leave at least two feet between sofas, chairs and love seats and the coffee table. Anything less is uncomfortable, feels crowded and causes knee injuries and a painful experience in your home.
Avoid the matching sofa, love seat, chair settings. Choose the sofa as your primary piece and then complement it with different colors or patterns that allow all of the pieces to show off. One matching chair or even a matching love seat can be overcome by adding a contrasting piece to the grouping. Add complimentary throw pillows that introduce your secondary color choices into the space.
Consider adding a sofa table (even if it is a buffet in disguise that will add valuable space for storage, games, etc. that your family uses. When placed at the back of the sofa or love seat it frees up wall space, adds wood tones and a place to add lighting or candles and display space. Cut the legs off of an older buffet and create a special seating area by adding a pillow to the top!
Reject the idea of placing your sofa against the wall, in front of the window. So help me that look is the basis of the ‘House of Commons.’ It says, “I did not know what to do with anything so I just pushed it against the white walls and lined everything up!” That is not an original idea!
Pull pieces into your grouping; leave the walls for spectacular wall hangings and accessories. Don’t be afraid to pull the chairs in and angle them to achieve a conversation area. It is uncomfortable and uninviting to have to bend your neck to make conversation with others in the room.
Place the pieces and sit down, have a ‘mock’ conversation and gently ‘live’ in the space before selecting the right grouping. You will be a force to be reckoned with if you achieve a comfortable seating arrangement!
People will enjoy their time spent in your home and leave not quite knowing why it was such a good experience. It is called being ‘comfortable.’
Personally, I am uncomfortable in spaces where there are no tables; no coffee tables, no end tables, nothing! Just sit right down, hold your coffee and tough it out!
I don’t understand this mentality; it inspires people to leave the space quickly.
Carefully examine the rest of your pieces of furniture. Make sure they do not overwhelm the space by excessive height or girth. Every piece beyond the primary sitting area is an accessory. Make them count!
Hang your pictures and wall decorations at eye level. This places the center of the picture at somewhere between 5′ and 5’6,” Hanging pictures with the center of the picture at 60″ is most desirable to create a warm and inviting space. Find one place in the room to place your largest wall hanging that will allow it to shine for you. If you look around your friends’ homes you are likely to discover that someone measured about a foot or a foot and a half down the wall from the ceiling and hung everything. It is impossible to balance a room with those kinds of heights. Eye Level, always!
If you want to visually tie a space together, like the seating arrangement, find a rug that is two feet wider than the conversation arrangement and center it on the rug underneath.
If you have a sofa that looks perfect against a wall, look for something that balances the size of the sofa with the room. As unlikely as it may seem, a single oversized piece will attract attention not only to your prized sofa but also to the entire room as it becomes the focal point.
Eliminate clutter, place only large items on the floor as a part of your décor get rid of ‘foo foo’ pieces that collect dust (a nice curio cabinet is good for these to be displayed).
Add candles in at least one area of your living room. When things are quieter in the house candles are very comforting to relax with. Display it attractively! Add a plant, tree or other accessory beside the areas that still feel austere to further designate it as your focal point. Whatever your plan, execute it with pride.
Create a special corner in any area and let the lighting, mirrors and candles set a special mood! You are ready now to ‘strut your stuff’ in your living room! Invite your friends and enjoy!