How do I make room less formal ?

9 October, 2016
We decorated our living room, new sofas, curtains etc but I think I have done the wrong thing in co-ordinating the sofas and curtains in same fabric. I can't afford to buy anything else, but I'd be grateful for any ideas to make it more relaxed and less formal.

Comments (36)

  • J
    I think your room looks lovely and not too formal. I really like the coordinated curtains and sofa.
    Maybe some photos, a little stack of books and a plant or two will make it feel more lived in. Perhaps smaller lamps and a larger rug that goes under the front of both sofas might add to it, but it's very nice as is.
  • minnie101

    Hi, i agree with the comments above. I would spend just a little money though and add a throw over the arm of the sofa under the stag picture and also some cushions in front of the checked ones. I'd look at either faux fur or knitted patterns so something with lots of texture. If you look at places like George at Asda, matalan, Sainsbury's, Wilko etc you should be able to do this pretty cheaply. I think the clock is competing with the lamp a little but hard to tell from the pics where it could go. The rug and coffee table may also work better if turned 90 degrees. It looks great though

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  • Jen P
    Over time I'm sure you'll add photos and treasures to make it more personal and a bit less formal. I agree it looks great already though
  • Carolina

    It's a lovely room, I agree with everyone above. You could break up the symmetry and add a throw or another cushion. I'd probably move the table lamp to the other side of the sofa and put another lamp on top of the cabinet. And a plant or a fresh bunch of flowers on the coffee table.

    Agree with minnie that perhaps the rug and coffee table should go in the other direction.

  • christinegunning23
    I agree with you but problem is there are two tall speakers in each corner and they are wired under floor so they need to stay put. The rug and table look daft the other way and I have a load of cushions on window seat. I have the furry throw it's in another room just now. The clock was on the wall perfectly positioned but I moved the lamp cos it looked daft elsewhere. Isn't it a bummer when you plan something, pay a lot of money getting it right ...... but it's not !
  • Daisy England
    It's lovely. I don't think anything needs changing.
  • minnie101

    Love the window seat! Can the lamp go in the other corner next to the window? I think changing the sofa will make it more informal. Play around with the cushions you have and try 2 in one corner with the throw draped over the opposite arm. That should automatically help by losing the symmetry as Carolina said. Can you align the sofa and table with the window seat at all? Hard to tell from pics. I think it looks great though, just a couple of tweaks

  • dottymax
    Lovely room. Enjoy.
  • ianthy

    I think it looks fine but if I wanted to make a bit more informal, I would add a sheepskin on the sofa.

  • Jen P
    It's a beautiful room hopefully it will grow on you. I think as well just living in it and using it will make it feel less formal. Magazines, newspapers, a coffee cup, a vase of flowers, throws, cushions a bit disorganised... they all add to the ambience imo (might just be me!)
  • PRO
    Caldicot Kitchen & Bathroom Centre

    I'll happily lend you my kids for an hour - they'll soon make it less formal.... ;-)

  • PRO
    Jilly Lizzy Interiors
    You've done a beautiful job of it. It's grand, stylish, not overly feminine so men will love it too. It needs softening with cushions and throws i think to cosy it up for winter, cable knit cushions and faux fur - sheepskin in Ivory draped over the sofas. Adding texture adds depth and cosiness. I really love it! X
  • Michelle S
    Love your room! I wouldn't make any big changes, live with it for a while. Add blankets or flowers etc and mix it up a bit. You'll find something you love
  • sianember

    Very nice room, it doesn't feel too formal at all. I agree about the tall lamp though, I'd be tempted to move it, especially as it's sitting on your speaker (I think), if you've gone to a lot of expense for a decent sound system why have anything that might cause the slightest of vibrations? A nice wool throw over the arm of the sofa would immediately soften the look as would a bloke sat on the sofa, headphones on, can of beer in his hand & feet up on the coffee table - instantly dismissing any formality - or perhaps that's just my house...

  • strawberry47
    This is a lovely room and I'd suggest as others have done to play around with your cushions and put say three different sizes on the lounge starting in a corner of it.
  • maddiemo
    It does have themed, formal look. If you're not happy with that, I'd change the art work and cushions and go for something more expressive and colourful.
  • ali270
    I think you've done a lovely design scheme on your room . The problem you are having is perhaps over thinking it . I sometimes feel the same about my sitting room , then we go away for a week or so and when we get back I see it with fresh eyes and realise ....actually it's fine !
    The advice you've been given about tweaking here and there should do the trick .
  • bagpuss2
    It's gorgeous. Change nothing- just add in throws, flowers and a mirror. And a cat
  • lsnhmbl

    Hi - it's hard to tell from the photos but could you pull the sofas in from the walls - I think a more informal arrangement would be to have them pulled in closer to the coffee table rather than pushed back against the walls ?

  • craftycountess
    Firstly I think your room is gorgeous but to make it little less formal I would move the lamps to the small sofa table and on suitcases.
    Put trailing plants on speakers (artificial ones which are really good these days and to avoid spilling water on speakers).
    A cream knitted throw or sheepskin on sofa/sofas and then mix up cushions by using the different print and plain ones that are already in the window seat.
    Minimal outlay but slightly less symmetrical - you have done a great job with lovely warm colours.
  • ajtoop51
    I love your sofas and curtains which are the main stay to the room, I have a similar problem in my home trying to get it right,
    One thing I have found is take out all the small things lamps etc and start with the big stuff only bringing back bits at a time, maybe not all of it. The main thing is to get the lighting right and the focal point, I don't see a fireplace, if you don't have one then the tv could be it. Winter months coming on nothing better than a comfy seating arrangement around the tv with family and friends get yourself down to Laura Ashley sale they have everything you need and great bargains. Good luck you have made a great start.


  • emilygodding

    I think it's lovely as it is, however adding something like a quirky footstool (I have a knitted sheep one) or a door stop could relax it a bit.

  • Joanna Biddolph

    I think the reason it looks formal is that everything is very neat and deliberately placed. Rough it up a bit! I agree that bringing the sofa out into the room slightly (and therefore also the side tables) will give it a more homey feel. So would lamps that are a softer shape. I LOVE the metallic lamps but they are very rigid. Whatever you do about the lamps, I would not have them (or anything else) on the speakers. They don't seem part of the room - and they are put on something rather than put where you need them. I'd put the tall one on the lower stack of suitcases - it's too high where it is and clashes with the clock. If the corners are dark, what about putting small floor up lighters behind the speakers - they would throw a soft light up the walls. Then a vase of flowers or a plant on side tables, a couple of fun quirky things on the coffee table and something else on the sofas and window seats (more cushions, breaking the hard symmetry) might do the trick.

  • Fun Olo
    I do agree with a number of softening suggestions that have already been made.

    Overall, it's a lovely room with some nicely placed interesting pieces. You do have your unique taste. I think with time as you live in it, ideas on the right changes needed to modify it to your heart's desire will creep in.

    Pls where is your sofa from?
  • PRO
    Pat Oliver Interior Design

    You've created a lovely room, which feels very relaxing. To soften it, I agree with other suggestions about adding a throw. Use one with heavy texture and soft colour like the paler terracotta of your cushion fabric. Don't fold it neatly, but throw it casually over one arm and back so it drapes naturally.

    You may also want to swap your lamps into different positions. The one on the lamp table is very high and may look better on the suitcase pile.

    Eventually you will find a rug in the right colours, perhaps a vintage one so the colours are a little faded and worn, giving you a lived in look. Make sure it's big enough to slide under both sofa front edges.

    Lastly, flowers always bring life to a room and your coffee table is perfect for a casual, low arrangement.

  • PRO
    Proud Interiors Limited

    Hi I think the room looks great and very Autumnal which is our new season. I thing I agree with Pat Oliver Design that flowers will add a much needed colour. Maybe russets and greens..

  • christinegunning23
    Thanks folks, so nice of you to reply !
    I have a fireplace in room with mirror above it and two wall lights. I tried the lamp on the suitcase table but because it would light up the wall light in the corner it didn't look right. The other corner where clock is now too dark ! I have spent a lot of money on this room but it's just too contrived. Putting more cushions on sofas will certainly be an option and I have throws, rug not an option as it was a new addition at £800 ! Will just keep moving things about until I get it right
    Thanks sooo much
  • sarahstar
    Hiya, I love the room. I would swap some of the cushions around from your window seat. The rectangular one and a larger one with one already on your sofa may work and any throw you have in the house. I often borrow knotted throws in my bedroom to make my living room less formal and candles lots of candles help. If you have any lying around a few fairy lights might work. Primark have a great range at the moment (battery operated) which would suit your room. Also move the coffee table a little closer to your sofa and I can't remember but if you don't chuck some magazines on there too. Hope that helps.
  • minnie101

    Try taking the accessories off the cabinet so just leave the lamp on there and then move the lamp by the clock onto the table in front. I'd then take the lantern off the speaker and see how that all works

  • Misha M
    Hi. My advice would be to add one more colour to the mix. The formality perhaps comes from the matching greys and orange. Perhaps a few vibrant pink cushions? You could just get covers inexpensively and use your current cushions to stuff them. Good luck.
  • 2015houseplease
    Your room is fabulous I wouldn't change a thing. It's stunning!!
  • Jane Bateman

    It just needs some mess. Looks lovely. x

  • PRO

    It is quite formal, but by hanging your pictures in a less orderly way, more ramshackle than perfection, might help.

    more paintings, more photo frames, more personal.

    if you always have symmetricallly placed things then it will automatically look formal, try being less symmetrical!

    the room also perhaps lacks some other textures, try something fluffy ( not my normal go to phrase), a couple more cushions in a non- co-ordinated co-ordinate - complicated huh?...something like a woolly burnt orange in a different shape, rectangular or round, even a velvet.

    it is a lovely room and well considered but often when people design a room they miss tiny details. you are a stones throw away from perfection.

    please get in touch if you are in the glasgow area and need a wee help finding the perfect thing - always happy to help

  • Trinity Mack
    I agree with all the comments said. Perhaps you could add some flowers to the tables and a blanket. Don't worry it looks lovely though.
  • mwmb

    A lot of very useful comments above. I think the room looks very nice and styled at the moment. From the later pictures you added throughout the thread it looks like your fireplace wall is quite empty, with only the two wall lamps. I would suggest hanging paintings, pictures, photographs in a random fashion, definitely not orderly.

    And I would also add a couple of BIG green palms of some sort, maybe where the suitcases are at the moment, rather than flowers, which can give the impression of an even more formal look.

  • Polly Putnam
    I like the gentleman's club feel of the room. I think you need a drinks cabinet filled with spirits, cans of tonic an ice bucket. It adds clutter and completes the look. Also watch out for your cushions. You should either have one, three or five- never pairs it looks too symmetrical and adds negative space to any form of display- like everything has been paired up.
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