15 Decorating Ideas to Take Your Living Room to the Next Level
These tricks with furniture, lighting, colour and accessories will help to make you living space both stylish and comfortable
A plush rug underfoot feels comfortable and welcoming – and when it comes to living room rugs, bigger is definitely better. A rug that all your furniture can sit on is ideal, but at least the front feet of each main piece of furniture should be on the rug. If you already have a too-small rug, you can always layer it on top of a bigger (less expensive) solid colour or natural fibre rug in a neutral hue.
Tip Most standard-size living rooms can handle an 240cm x 300cm rug, so unless your room is especially tiny, consider springing for a rug of at least this size for a really comfortable, finished look. Larger living rooms (like the one shown here) may need something like a 300cm x 360cm or even larger rug to properly fill the space.
Read expert advice on choosing the right rug for your space
A wall of shelving, whether custom-built or freestanding, is useful and makes a design statement. Floor-to-ceiling shelving also works surprisingly well in a small space, since one large, perfectly fitting piece makes a room look more spacious and less cluttered than multiple smaller units would.
An oversized pendant light makes a welcome change from the usual mix of floor lamps and flush-mounted ceiling fixtures. Hanging the light low over the coffee table creates a warm and convivial conversation area that beckons people to sit and stay awhile.
Tip If you like to frequently rearrange your living room furniture, a low-hanging pendant light is probably not the best choice. No one wants to run into a random light fixture while trying to traverse the room!
A mix of three elements – flat, vertical and organic – is what you need to create arrangements that go above and beyond the usual stack of books. Try this formula to style surfaces such as console tables, shelves and coffee tables.
- Flat Books, trays, platters, textiles
- Vertical Framed art, vases, sculptures
- Organic Flowers, plants, driftwood, stones, shells
The shape of your sofa sets the tone for the living room. Higher, more structured designs (such as the chesterfield) are generally more formal, while lower, squishier sofas tend to give a more laid-back vibe.
Low modular sofas (like the one shown here) are perfect for lounging and can be reconfigured to suit the activity. You could face them all in one direction for movie night, for example, but turn them to create multiple conversation areas for a party.
Instead of splashing out on an all-new sofa, you could give your old one a makeover instead. Check with the manufacturer to see whether any slipcovers are made for it; if not, you can hire someone locally to create a custom slipcover for you. Or, for a really quick change, take a gorgeous textile (such as a Moroccan wedding blanket) and drape and tuck it over the back of your sofa.
Save floor space with wall lights
Actually, wall lights do more than save floor space: during a party, when you want to create a moodier atmosphere, direct the beam to shine on your artwork and bump up the light elsewhere with candles.
A well-defined colour scheme can make your living room look cleaner, more organised and intentionally designed. Decide on one background neutral shade, one feature colour and a smaller accent hue, then get to work ridding your space of any items that don’t fit within your selection.
Tip Take a photo of your living room to get a fresh perspective. When you look at the photo, the colours present in the space will be more apparent.
A console table is good on its own, but it can be even better with a few smart additions: a pair of stools below for extra seating, drawers (with drawer dividers) to stash post and other necessities, an art wall and ceramics for visual interest, and a light to shine down on it all.
Tip If your front door opens into the living room, you can adopt the console as a stand-in hallway. Just swap the stools for storage cubes that can double as shoe storage and extra seating.
Just because it’s called a drinks trolley doesn’t mean it must hold drinks! Swap the glassware and bottles for a lamp, art and books. Or turn yours into a tea trolley or a spot for your record player and a stack of your favourite vinyl. Use your creativity, and put your trolley to work for whatever little odds and ends need a home.
One charcoal or black wall is enough to bring your room into focus without overwhelming the space. Bonus: If you paint the wall behind your TV a really dark hue, it will make the screen do a disappearing act.
Tip True black can look too stark, but a deep charcoal grey “reads” as black without quite the same intensity. And if your black accent wall still looks a little too dark, put a bulkier piece of furniture in front of it to offset the drama.
If your living room still just doesn’t feel quite finished, texture could be the issue. Adding in layers of different materials is often what gives a room that liveable, comfortable feeling. Mix and match from these textures to complete your living room:
- Soft Knitted throw or pouffe, cashmere blanket, mohair throw, velvet cushion covers, faux fur
- Natural Handmade ceramics, driftwood, stones, raw wood, burl wood
- Shiny Glass vases, mirrored surfaces, shiny metal, Lucite
- Rough Linen, burlap, natural fibre rugs such as jute or sisal, seagrass or wicker furniture
- Smooth Leather pouffe, leather sofa or chair, polished wood
If you have a window in your living room that doesn’t have any furniture near it, consider this an opportunity for a decorating moment.
Pull an armchair, sofa or daybed up to the window, then add a potted plant, cosy throw and a spot to set a drink. Your neglected corner may just become your new favourite seat!
A large mirror is, in essence, like adding another window to your room, making your living room feel lighter and more spacious. Boost the effect even more by positioning plants or a lamp in front of the mirror to reflect greenery and amplify the light.
If your living room has a beautiful fireplace, let that be the focal point. If this is the only room in which you can put the TV, position it to the side on a swivel mount, rather than above the mantel. That way you can still comfortably watch TV when you want to, but when it’s not in use, the screen can step back from centre stage.
What do you think of these living room ideas? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.