For many years, the term living room has been a misnomer in American homes. This was not the place where people actually did any living. Instead it was the home's showpiece; the place with the "good" furniture. The room that was to be kept pristine for those rare visitors who needed to be impressed. Far from being a living room - it was just the opposite - the "don't go in there or you'll get yelled at" room!
Fortunately that is now changing and people are once again decorating their living rooms for comfort and practicality instead of creating a not-to-be touched museum just to the left of the front door. So how do you transform your living room into a friendly spot for entertaining, relaxing and yes, living? We offer three easy steps to help you accomplish this task:
1. Furniture and Furniture Placement
Unless you want to veer dramatically away from traditional room design, you are going to have a couch, sofa and/or love seat in your living room. Obviously this allows for the greatest amount of comfortable seating in the smallest amount of space. So use furniture that looks inviting and doesn't intimidate someone wanting to sit on it! Position the couch so that it is easy to get to and doesn't require traversing an obstacle course to reach. People often mistakenly think a couch serves as a good room divider and actually position the back of it to the entrance way. Not good.
Also, position the furniture so that the room has a focal point. If you use the room for multiple purposes, this becomes a bit of a problem. If this is your TV-watching space, then obviously wherever people are sitting they need to be able to see the screen without performing contortions. A chair with its back to the TV is awkward and you certainly don't want someone to have to constantly move the furniture around when trying to enjoy the room.
If conversations or board games are a major activity for the room, the furniture should face into a central focal area. A low coffee table in front of the couch makes sense in this situation so that there is a place for the game or for people to set down a beverage or plate. Hopefully they will know better than to use the table as a foot rest!
In many traditional living rooms, the fireplace is still a key focal point and there's no reason it shouldn't be in your as well. Just don't make the mistake of mounting a large-screen television above the fireplace. Not only does this place the TV at an awkward angle for viewing, but it's very annoying to try and watch a movie or program with firelight flickering in your face.
2. Make the Room Cozy and Complete
There are lots of simple, inexpensive things you can add to your living room that make it a more comfortable and inviting space. Drapes and pillows are two good examples. They give you a tremendous amount of color-coordination options, but also help soften the room and make it more user-friendly, to use inappropriate jargon. But there is probably nothing more important than the choices you make for lighting the room. A bright overhead light might make the most sense from a pure illumination standpoint, but it is harsh and uninviting. Table lamps give you a lot of design options and are probably best for reading, but it is hard to direct the light from a table lamp to spots that may need it. Recessed and floor lamps can overcome some of these obstacles, but have their own built-in limitations.
So what is the answer? Use a combination of lighting elements. Don't add so many that the room becomes cluttered, but positioning lights where good illumination is necessary is critical to making the room usable. While you're at it, please consider using low-wattage, long-lasing compact fluorescent bulbs in your living room's lamps. You'll save money and natural resources for your effort.
3. Add a Rug
Of course! Almost nothing you place in your living room has as great an overall effect on the overall ambiance as the rug that you place on the floor - or rugs, for that matter. Nothing says you have to only use one. Many professional interior designers actually start their work on decorating a living room from the ground up - and their first design consideration is the area rug. Even if the room already has wall-to-wall carpeting and you don't want to remove it, a rug can serve as the starting point from which all other elements in the room flow.
Try this experiment. The next time you walk into someone's home, be conscious of what you experience first. If you're like most people, it's not the wall color or wallpaper; it's not the woodwork; it's not even the furniture - and it's certainly not the ceiling. It's the floor! And if the floor has a beautiful rug covering it, your likelihood of noticing this first increases dramatically. Try it!
Not only can a rug provide color and texture to the room, but it can also define it. One large, central rug says that the room is to be considered one space. Multiple rugs can be used to break this up into smaller units, each with its own boundaries, and perhaps its own functions. Over here is the gaming area. And here is where we have conversations. And finally, over here is the entertainment section of the room. Rugs give you a versatility that is hard to achieve with any other decorating elements.
So go ahead and turn your home's museum into a practical living area that offers something for everyone in the family. If you decide to start with a new rug, we encourage you to visit Rugs Direct. You'll find well over 60,000 choices all categorized for easy browsing and review. Or if you prefer, use our proprietary search tool, the Rugs DirectoryTM. Simply type in a few key descriptions of the color, size or style of rug for which you are looking, and we'll provide you with recommendations that match your criteria.
To visit Rugs Direct now, please click here.