Living Room Decorating And Decor Ideas

These living room decorating ideas will help you create an impressive space. Whether a formal or casual living area, these tips will keep you on track regardless of your design style or direction.


Depending on your home's layout, the living room may be the first room that people see or enter. You want it to set the stage for "what's to come" throughout the rest of your home. Each room in your home may have its own feel but you still want to achieve a cohesive flow. This could be through the use of paint colors that compliment each other well, which is one of the easiest to implement for a unified design style. Consider your living room decorating options carefully and the other rooms may simply "fall into place".


The Layout

When it comes to living rooms you are typically dealing with some large furniture pieces. One of them being the sofa or couch. Find the best location for the sofa first and then work your other pieces into the room. Play around with arrangements before committing to a layout. Choose a focal wall for the sofa if one is available. This may include spanning across a bay or picture window. Try centering the sofa to achieve balance if your living room allows for this. Watch for awkward placements that restrict normal foot traffic, such as near entries to other rooms.

If you are dealing with an especially large room, consider floating your sofa away from walls rather than anchoring it. Create an intimate seating area by placing the chairs and sofa toward each other on a space-defining area rug.

You may also want to float the sofa when you are dealing with awkward room arrangements that have short, choppy wall space or undefined, open living areas, such as one large living/dining room. In this case, use the sofa as a divide to separate these spaces. If your main entry opens right into the living room and has no clear foyer or hall, consider using the sofa, coupled with a rear console table, as a divide. This establishes a more formal entry. It's important to establish a good furniture layout in your living room decorating plan.

Here are some of the previously discussed sofa arrangements.


Wall Anchored Sofa
Centered and anchored to a focal wall provides balance.

Floating Sofa

An intimate seating area is established by floating a sofa, in this case a settee, away from the walls. A vintage, wool rug helps define the area and anchors the furniture nicely.

If you float your furniture in this manner, be sure there is ample space to comfortably walk around the perimeter of the seating area.


Sofa As Room Divide
An awkward room layout warrants a creative solution. A floated sofa finds duty as a divider to help establish two, separate living areas in one large space.

Tip: Use rugs to define areas and anchor furniture.

Place rugs and furniture on an angle to
change the feel and dynamic of the room.

A Living Room Transformation

Dark and gloomy described the interior of this bank owned home. The pine flooring was deeply scratched up and marred, carpets were stained, walls were buckling from water damage. Sometimes I think I should have shut the door and never returned but I'm always up for a challenge and inevitably always see the hidden potential in properties. Wonderful architectural details, built-in shelving and hutches, and large vaulted rooms had my mind swimming with ideas.

I knew I had to tackle the "not-so-fun" stuff before I could begin implementing my living room decorating plan.


View From Entry
A lighter accent color helped brighten up this room. Seagrass mats provided more brightness to the dark colored wood flooring and introduced some texture and pattern.

View From Living Room
Carpet was removed to expose pine flooring, wallpaper was removed, and fresh paint colors brightened up the space.

Frugal Tip This room required minimal cosmetic work to get it ready for decorating. The carpet and wallpaper removal was free (sweat equity) and the materials were a pint of floor stain, a few pieces of sandpaper and a couple gallons of paint.

Wood floors add instant charm and character, even when in rough shape. These floors were quite a mess. I spent days removing carpet padding staples that were imbedded in the wood. To quickly and easily unify worn areas on wood floors, lightly sand the worn area, clean and apply Minwax Gel Stain of the appropriate color.


Designing A Cohesive Room


Living Room

Living Room

Living Room

Want to create this look in your home?
Follow these living room decorating tips.

  • Choose an accent color and search for similarly colored decor. Use this accent color on a wall to build further cohesion. In this room, a sage green accent color is used on wainscoting and casually repeated through the decor and artwork.

  • Choose materials and repeat them throughout the space. Weathered woods and rusted metals are utilized in this room.

  • Add interest with various textures. The roughness of the seagrass mat provides a nice contrast to the smoothness of the leather pieces. Pillows in canvas, woven cotton and soft chenille work in harmony.

  • Repeat a pattern or design motif. In this room, diamond and triangle shapes are repeated; from the inset pattern on the coffeetable, to that in the floor mats, to that of the decorative pieces of natural slate.

Living Room Decorating Accents and Design Elements
Look at your items and how they relate to one another. This living room decorating plan utilizes muted, understated colors and materials. Dull surfaces and finishes add to its rustic, organic styling and charm.

No matter what design style you choose, follow the basic principles above to create a thoughtfully decorated room. Relate your colors and materials in some manner. Add interest by layering textures and decorative items. Repeat a pattern, a motif or an element, such as stone, to emphasize cohesion.

Don't be too concerned with building an "instant look" in your newly decorated space. Add or "layer" items as you find them. Over time you will have created a remarkable space that you will be quite proud to display.


Good Design Doesn't Have To Cost A Fortune

I make this point in the introduction on the homepage. This room is one of many I've created that proves this point. I typically elect to splurge on key "must have" items in a space and then carefully select my accessories by more "frugal" means.

Frugal Tip The coffeetable was one of the "splurge" items I had to have. It, alone, could make an impressive statement. The leather couch was on clearance. The leather chair was found at a flea market. The seagrass mats and window console were purchased at the well-priced IKEA®. The iron pieces were found at estate sales and sold at reasonable amounts. Many of the pottery pieces were found at second-hand stores and yard sales. These vintage pieces have more character than most new items. Learn to mix and match new with old to create a unique look.

Determine what your living room decorating requirements are. What do you already have? What do you need?

The pieces in my living room were added bit by bit over time. This is how you develop an interesting space. So, work on yours. Perhaps you will find most of the items you want and need right away. I hope that is the case. If not, don't fret. It's more satisfying to acquire the perfect pieces as you discover them.

Look in magazines or online to assist with your living room decorating style. Perhaps you already have a style in mind. Perhaps I've inspired you with some of my own decorating ideas. If so, I'd love to see some photos of your finished project.

Sometimes you need some color inspiration.
Visit my Paint Color Picks to get some ideas.

Additional Living Room Decorating Ideas and Tips

  • Don't get overwhelmed with picking a color for your walls. A white room can be very interesting. It lets all of your chosen accents sing. You can always add a paint color, if you choose, once you begin seeing a color story take shape with your furniture and decor.

  • You don't have to follow "tradition". Who says all living rooms require a sofa or couch? Create an intimate conversation area with four chairs instead. Separate the two pairs with a coffeetable. Choose two different chair styles to add interest or keep all four the same for a more modern approach. Consider a long wooden bench in place of two chairs.

  • Speaking of wooden benches, use one as a coffeetable. It can be a fitting touch for a rustic cottage or can add some sleek style to a modern living room with its long, narrow shape. Paint it gloss black if wood is not your thing.

  • Not all coffeetables have to be, well, coffeetables. As mentioned above, use a bench. Clothing chests and steamer trunks are some of my favorites. Even a reclaimed wooden door can add a shabby-cool touch when "repurposed" as a coffeetable top.

  • Dealing with a small space, use glass topped tables instead. They provide a sense of openness.

  • If your living room is also your family room, consider some of the following living room decorating tips. Purchase furniture that provides storage. Look for pieces with doors that can be closed to hide your equipment and drawers or baskets to house your DVD collection. Consider storage cube ottomans to quickly tuck away those comfy blankets and remote controls. Storage ottomans can play multiple roles too. Move them around for extra seating or place them together to create a coffeetable. Talk about functionality!

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