Perhaps more than any other space in the house, the living room is a showcase of your personality and interests. This isn’t simply the place where the whole family congregates to relax; it’s also one of the first areas you take your guests. Here’s how to make sure it’s space worth showing off.
• “One of the most common mistakes people make when planning their living rooms is filling the space with too much clutter,” notes Amanda Walters of Amanda Jane Walters @ Home. “This limits the flow, and restricts access in and around the area. The solution? Adopt a less-is-more approach,” Walters advises. Don’t fall into the trap of keeping furniture because it belonged to your parents and it’s done the job for a long time. Look over your pieces with a fresh eye and throw out anything that’s lost its appeal. If in doubt, ask a friend to give an objective opinion.
• Your first step in arranging the space: decide on the look you want. Are you a fan of modern design, or do you favour classic or contemporary? Next, think about the colours that appeal to you; then the texture and design – stripes versus florals, for example.
• Your furniture choices should be dictated by your lifestyle. For instance, if you have kids, a sharp-cornered coffee table isn’t an option; similarly, light-coloured fabrics are probably not a great choice if you let your dogs sleep on the couch.
• The layout of your furniture will largely be governed by your use of the space. If you do a lot of entertaining, you might prefer a more formal arrangement; on the other hand, if you have young kids, you’ll need to take into account their high activity levels.
• Lighting should be a key part of your planning. Amanda points out that lighting sets the mood and creates ambience. “You can add dimmers to downlights to foster a warm atmosphere. Alternatively, choose warm white globes rather than cool white ones,” she says.
• Don’t forget to accessorise. Scatter cushions are a quick way to introduce a new trend into the room without changing the entire look. Stacey Nel of Volpes says it’s a good idea to layer scatters, using three different designs: one plain, to anchor the look; a simple stripe; and finally, a bold pattern or floral to add interest.
• Curtains add the final touch. Nel says neutrals are a great choice because they blend easily with other fabrics in the room, and can even make a small room appear larger. On the other hand, a bold pattern can make a statement, while florals are always elegant. Before you commit to a particular look, consider how the room is used and whether you need to block out noise and light.