The six biggest challenges of living room decorating, and how to move beyond them.
Designing your living room can be tough. You have to balance function and style, integrate large pieces of furniture, and create a space that is appealing to guests and practical for your family. Here are some of the biggest challenges homeowners face when tackling living room decorating and suggestions on how best to overcome them.
1. Being afraid of color.
We have enough muted, neutral living rooms in the world. Live a little and try some color. If you’re worried about going overboard, keep it simple: Either stick with neutral walls and integrate colorful furniture, or keep your furniture muted and put color on the walls. Worried about matching a color to your woodwork or other items in the room? Slightly desaturated blues like a deep navy or grayish blue work with almost anything while still giving you a break from the norm. Have an open living space and unsure of where to end the color? Terminate it on an inside corner, even if that means wrapping the color into the first wall of an adjacent room.
2. No art, wrong art, weird art.
Artwork can be one of the most intimidating (and costly) aspects to living room decorating. But have no fear, the Internet is here! A living room without artwork will never feel complete, but undersized or weirdly placed art can be just as troublesome. Thankfully, there are dozens of great online sources for original work and affordable limited-run prints by skilled artists. Worried about making the wrong decision? Start with abstract watercolors or pencil sketches. Bigger is almost always better, but remember that the price of the art is only the first component – you also have to frame it. If you’re on a budget, try putting together an art wall with a mixture of smaller pieces – vary the type of art and even the frames to keep it interesting. Instead of hanging a small piece of art on every wall in the room, gather them all in one spot to make an impact and avoid a cluttered look. And don’t hang art too high! It doesn’t make the ceilings look taller; in fact, it does the opposite.
3. Rookie furniture layouts.
Look around your living room. Is every piece of furniture pushed against a wall? If so, job one is to figure out how to pull a piece or two towards the center. Look at photos of professionally-designed living rooms and you will notice that seating areas are almost always floating in the center of the room. This creates a more intimate conversation area and opens up pathways around the room. Blocking a window view with a sofa is rarely a good idea. Is your furniture so big that it can’t be moved away from the walls? Look at mistake number four…
4. Ignoring scale.
Huge rooms call for huge furniture. Smaller rooms do not. While it’s tempting to get the very biggest sofa (or sectional) that you can, remember that stubbing your toe on furniture that intrudes into walkways is never fun. If you’re already stuck with a huge sofa, restore some balance with a smaller armchair or two. You can go too small as well – this is seen most often with area rugs. A 5×8 area rug is too small for almost any furniture arrangement. Your area rug should be large enough to extend at least partly under the sofa. If you already have a small rug, try pairing it with a second one or angling it diagonally to give it a bit more visual size.
5. Insufficient and unflattering lighting.
Nothing good comes from relying on overhead lighting in a living room. It’s unflattering, unappealing, and cold. Integrate lamp-level lighting to illuminate targeted areas. You can also consider art lighting and inexpensive up-lighting to call attention to points of interest and reduce your reliance on overheads.
6. Getting locked in to one color, style, or brand.
This isn’t the 1950s. Not everything has to match. While working with a defined color palette can make the selection of furniture and accessories easier, mix in some variety to keep the look fresh. The same goes for style – try including a vintage piece or something modern for a more sophisticated style. And avoiding matched sets is a wise move – you wouldn’t want anyone to think you got your furniture on sale.
There are lots of decisions to make when decorating your home. Yes, it can be overwhelming. But sticking to these tips and – even more importantly – having fun will ensure that your living room is stylish and welcoming for family and guests alike.