The living room is generally one of the largest rooms in your home, as well as one of the first that people see when they come over. It can also be one of the trickiest rooms to decorate. Decorating a living room, like decorating any room in your home, requires that you instill balance and harmony between physical objects like furniture and art and key structural features like walls and windows. And while it's certainly a big task, it's worth it to have a living room that you love.
Ready to get to work? Keep reading to learn our seven best tips for decorating a living room.
The best place to start when you're decorating a living room is with a vision. Look at design magazines, blogs, and social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest to start honing in on what you really like, paying attention to spatial layouts, paint colors, and décor. Save the images that really speak to you, and try to define what it is that you like so much about them. This will provide you with a great point of reference as you start decorating your space, and you're guaranteed to come up with some new ideas for what you want to achieve.
Plan Your Layout
Before you get to things like painting and hanging window treatments you're going to want to figure out exactly where all of your furniture is going to go. This can be one of the most difficult parts of decorating a living room, since you're going to be limited by the size of your furniture and the dimensions of your space—but you should still take the time to make smart choices. Start with a focal piece, which in the case of a living room is probably going to be your couch. Once you know where that's going to go, you can start to arrange your other items. Make sure that there's a flow to the space, including a clear way to maneuver within it. And as a general rule of thumb, position your largest items around the perimeter of the room so that you don't create visual or physical blocks.
Paint a Neutral Color
While the paint color that you choose for your living room should of course depend on your personal preferences, it's a good idea to stick to neutrals like sage or gray. There are a few reasons for this. First, you want your living room to be a comfortable, relaxing space. Bold colors like red or orange put our brains on alert and make it difficult to wind down, which might not be welcome all of the time. The living room is also a core space within your home, and sets the tone for how your space is perceived. Neutrals ensure it doesn't come off as too over the top, while also leaving you plenty of opportunity to bring personality to the space with art and accents. For help selecting paint colors, look to color theory as well as the visual inspiration that you've gathered for your decorating project.
To Rug Or Not To Rug
Even a carpeted living room might be able to benefit from an area rug. Rugs add a visual break to your space. They also add texture and color. If you have an open floor plan, a rug can also be a great choice for creating a clearly designated living room area. Just be sure to choose your rug wisely, in terms of both size and style. An area rug that is too small will look unbalanced in your living room and will disrupt from the inherent flow of the space. Likewise, an area rug that is too large will dwarf the rest of the items in the room and make them appear smaller than they really are (though when in doubt, go larger instead of smaller). Look for the sweet spot, taking careful measurements along the way. Here are some tips on how to do it.
Play Around With Texture and Color
There is so much design potential when you're decorating a living room. Go for décor items that speak to your personality and that lend variations in texture and color to the room. For example, layer the textures on your couch with throw pillows and a blanket, and add pops of color throughout, both through wall hanging items and décor items that sit on various surfaces. Just be careful not to overcrowd the space in appearance or actuality, since, again, you want your living room to be cozy—not stressful.
Bring in the Green
Living rooms tend to have lots of natural light, which make them a great place to showcase your green thumb. Plants add dimension and color and have health benefits, too, such as decreasing stress and helping to purify the air. Don't have a knack for plants? Don't worry. Faux greenery and flowers have come a long way, and can add the same great look to your living room without requiring any maintenance aside from an occasional dusting.
When It Comes to Art, Follow Your Heart
The best rule when it comes to art—in your living room or in any other room in your home—is to stick with what you love. Cohesion is important in how you arrange your pieces, but the art itself should be items that speak to you. As for hanging your art, instead of trying to tackle all of your walls at once, you may want to start with a section and work your way out from there. Just like you did with non-hanging décor items, add visual variation through different texture and colors, mixing and matching frames and adding things like shelves or hanging plants to break up the space.
Decorating a living room is a big job, and one that's worth doing right. Whenever you get stuck, go back to the inspirational images that you saved and look for ideas or guidance. You can also use an online design service to get a professional opinion on what you should do with your space. When all that painting, hanging, and furniture arranging (and re-arranging) is done, you'll be left with a space that you love to be in and that was worth putting in all that work.