If you’ve been struggling with how to decorate your living room, we have put together some living room ideas and tips from the pros to inspire you. The journey starts with understanding your style, how you use your living space and the elements of the room that are important to you.
#1 Ask yourself, how do you want to live in your living room?
Creating useful, liveable and welcoming spaces in our home is a skill that interior designers focus on. In our blog series we speak with interior designers about their work and they often tell us they begin by asking their clients about their lifestyle. Successful interior design is all about creating spaces that work for how you live in your home. So the first pro tip, obvious as it may sound, is to take a moment to really reflect on how you actually use your living room. Not the living room fantasy from a magazine, but your living room for the people in your home.
#2 What sets your heart racing?
We love the work of Sydney interior designer Anna Carin McNamara. Starting with her fascination for what makes a great home Anna-Carin recently began a video series titled “The 4 Pillars of Home Making”. This is a step by step guide to the thinking process of decorating a home you will love. Anna-Carin’s first pillar is to define your style – what creates a reaction in you? What do you love? Maybe it’s a colour, a texture, or a decorating style. Maybe when you visit a shop, a restaurant or a museum you are immediately wowed by something…what is it? If you want to create a living room that you love and will continue to love, it’s worth reflecting on these questions and investing time in collating ideas.
I love furniture of the mid century modern era. I’ll always get stuck on images of rooms with gracious tall ceilings, architectural features and a few iconic pieces of furniture. This image has so many things I love!
Image: @joannalaven, photo @jamesstokesdotnet.
#3 Fill your living room with things you treasure
Anna-Carin’s second pillar is to figure out what to do with what you already have. Anna-Carin uses her experience to quickly assess what a room needs; but how does she do this? Well, yes, there’s a degree of innate style and experience at work. But there’s also a framework behind it. Anna-Carin whittles it down to 3 basic questions that need to be asked about the objects in a room:
Anna-Carin McNamara’s Second Pillar of Home Making
- Should I keep it?
- Can I improve it?
- Can moving it into another position make it better?
This living room looks so inviting! Clearly the owner loves fine objects, art and antiques and has integrated these into a space that can be enjoyed every day. The rich gold velvet sofa is luxurious yet cosy and warm and the cushions in mismatched and contrasting colours keep it on the side of relaxed rather than formal. This is a great example of how traditional elements can nevertheless create a contemporary impression. It comes down to colour, texture and an eclectic mix of objects.
Image: @zoefeldmandesign Photo by @stacyzaringoldberg
#4 Is your living room an inviting space?
When I was growing up we had a formal living room (or lounge room, as we called it). It was a hallowed room – reserved for special occasions and guests. The irony was that, while it was the most attractive room in the house with the most expensive furniture, it was barely used. I never felt particularly comfortable in our lounge room. I much preferred the cosy sofas and fireplace of the ‘family’ room. The family room was a room to hang out in, to chat in, to snooze in, and generally to relax in. Exactly what a living room should be! Every room should be comfortable and welcoming and lived in – it’s all a matter of what we put in the room and how often we use it that makes it inviting…or not.
#5 Cut the formality
We can easily imagine relaxing in this attractive room by Katie Harris Design. The furnishings and decor are each quite lavish yet the overall impression is not imposing. Though it is quite a large room, the rug helps to ground the seating area. The layout is symmetrical but the individual pieces are not – which makes it less formal. Cosy blankets and cushions along with a selection of interesting books and a smattering of bowls, vases and side tables in organic materials complete the welcome.
Image: @katieharrisdesign photo:@haris.kenjar
#6 Focus your efforts on style and comfort
Shea McGee of Studio McGee has turned a small design business as a stay at home mum into a much bigger thing, now with 1.2 million Instagram followers. Studio McGee interiors are so relatable because they are based on a first hand understanding of how families like to live. There are lots of beautiful interiors on the Studio McGee blog – with bright and airy living rooms featuring armchairs and sofas in natural tones and accented with textured rugs and soft furnishings. A neutral base allows the room to be adapted over time as the family needs change. We love this Studio McGee living room because it oozes what we all crave in a living room that is perfect for every day living: both style and comfort!
#7 Don’t be afraid to be unique
The definition of ‘bland’ is “lacking strong features or characteristics and therefore uninteresting…showing no strong emotion”. If what you bring into your home does not create an emotional reaction in you, it’s probably better not to do it. Creating something unique is worth it.
#8 Decorate with intention
The key is intention. Before bringing new things into your home, think about what you already have that is meaningful to you. If you are sitting in your living room wondering why you don’t feel content, first determine what you do like about the room and then strip away what doesn’t work for the space. This will help discover what holds sentimental value, what holds aesthetic value that works and what might have been a mistake that can be parted with. Decorating in this mindful way can help to avoid purchasing things that look great in the shop but that you quickly fall out of love with when you get them home.
“Individual style is not something that is lost and needs to be found, but rather it is developed through desire and intent and it evolves with time.”
#9 Be mindful about what you discard
We love Anna-Carin’s focus on making use of what you already have. Everyone makes purchasing mistakes and in any case our needs change over time. But it’s a great rule of thumb to be more mindful about what we bring into our homes and, also, about what we take out. Homes that are warm and welcoming are not filled entirely with new things. Take a look around your living room. What should you keep? What can be improved by reupholstering or restoring? What could be moved to a better position in your home?
#10 Creating the living room of your dreams takes time
Literally! Take the time to think about what you love and definitely avoid impulse buying when you see something styled up in a home decor shop.
Often the things we draw the most pleasure from are the things that have a story behind them, a significance in why we own them or how we acquired them. We started Two Design Lovers because we love to see interiors that are significant and we want to help people create homes that they feel happy in. If you own something beautiful that no longer works in your home we can help sell it to someone who will appreciate it. And if you are wanting to acquire something special for your home that has a storied past, our design loving community might have just what you’re looking for.
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