Is your living room a place for show, only used when you’re entertaining? Living rooms, as their name suggests, should not only reflect who you are to the outside world, but they should also be lived in. Here are some suggestions for making your living room warm and inviting for guests as well as functional and comfortable for family members.
If your living room is large, divide it into smaller areas through the positioning of furniture. You want the “conversation pit” to be cozy — a couch and loveseat and a couple of chairs around a large cocktail table will seat many people, yet they’ll all be able to hear what the others are saying. A great place for family meetings as well as for entertaining. Make sure all seats are within reach of a table — someplace to set down those drinks and chips!
Face the couch to an architectural focal point, such as a fireplace or a large window that looks out to your garden or the city lights. If you don’t have an architectural element to work with, create one by hanging large pictures or a mural on a wall. This allows people to admire the art and it’s safer than hanging anything heavy right above the seating (especially in areas prone to earthquakes!). Hang cloth wall hangings or small pictures on the wall behind the couch. Don’t, however, hang a mirror where people will see their reflection all the time. Not everyone is thrilled by his or her image.
If you divide your living room in two or three seating and/or dining areas, use rugs to define the conversation grouping, another under the dining table, and another to set off a place to exhibit the Buddha you brought back from Thailand or a wall of bookcases that not only hold your books but also display your collection of antique toys or Bennington pottery. Area rugs work well over waxed hardwood floors or neutral, wall-to-wall Berber-style carpeting.
A decorative room divider, such as Japanese shoji screens, can be used to separate a large room into a living room and a TV room. In a smaller place, face the couch to a wall unit that holds the television — it’s sure to become a favorite gathering spot for the family.
The days of covering the “good” living room furniture with plastic are over! Leather or the new microfiber fabrics are easy to clean, look great, and can survive guests, kids, and pets. If the furniture is in neutral colors, add colorful decorative pillows. Remember to keep a few throw blankets around to stay cozy on cool nights.
If your living room walls are painted in light neutral shades, you’ll be able to change the furniture and decorative touches easily. Other ways to change the look of your living room are by adding tall plants or a silk tree, a permanent flower arrangement in a basket or tall vase, or even a fountain and small pond in a large enough space.
Don’t forget about lighting! Floor lamps, especially in dark corners, can brighten large areas, while table lamps can provide good light for your favorite reading/knitting chair. An arrangement of candles on the mantelpiece or a table adds ambiance to your living room. Now go ahead, live in your living room!