It can’t be denied – decorating can be very tiring, even if you focus on just one room. The easy answer is to hire a designer to help you, but that isn’t always on the card, especially if you have a limited budget. But do you know what is free? Ask one or two design friends for advice, and that’s what I’m doing here for those of us out there who just want a cute living room that doesn’t cost a million dollars or takes five years to complete. Because the most practical way to decorate a room is by sharpening five or more large pieces to set the scene.
“When designing your living room, it’s very important to get the ‘big’ parts right the first time,” said designer Maggie Griffin of Maggie Griffin Design. “We always tell our clients, cry once, and buy quality goods.” As someone who cries for shards of pottery and poor paint color choices (or three), I’d say that’s a good suggestion. Honestly, if you lay a strong foundation for a room, you can worry about adding the last layer of personality later, just by gathering the things you like when you experience life.
So here’s what some designers say about what you should buy now so that you can check the “living room” from the list of jobs that you have to do.
1. Start From the Floor Up With an Area Rug
Once upon a time I assumed the carpet was really there to prevent cold feet. And of course, it is a place where you can add a touch of pattern and color, if you like those things. But it turns out the carpet works much harder, thoughtful design in a large scheme of the room.
“They installed the floor of the room, helped define the room, helped the noise level, and made the room feel comfortable,” said designer Ashley Moore of Moore House Interiors. Whatever type of carpet now. You can find something super graphic and patterned if that is your style (as Emily Henderson did in the room above), or use textured pieces that are more colorful.
Whatever it is, carpet will determine the atmosphere of your space, said Griffin. His favorite? Thick woven burlap that is tied with oushak.
2. The Seating Comes Second
“You have to decide how you will live in space and whether you are sectional or sofa type,” Moore said. “Your seat will be your biggest investment in this room, and rightfully so.” Comfort may be the most important thing to you, so a dirty section might be right. Or maybe you want something slimmer or designed because you entertain a lot and want a more formal arrangement.
Whatever happens, you want something that “fits the room, is comfortable, and has the right shape,” said designer Abbe Fenimore of Studio Ten 25. Griffin recommends high-performance fabrics for upholstery, and in general, it’s safer to use a solid sofa and mix it with a pattern for your side chair. Don’t skimp here. These pieces must last several years and what people will notice first when they enter your room.
3. A Good Coffee Table Is the Third Must-Have
Obviously, we all need a surface for our snacks and drinks, so a coffee table is a choice. “A practical coffee table, helps manage your distance, and adds style, especially when you decorate with books and coffee table decorations,” Moore said. Bigger is not always better.
If you have a small space, consider alternatives to traditional coffee tables such as a pair of drum chairs or a small vintage suitcase. Know your limits. If you can’t stand the water ring, marble isn’t for you. Wood or glass is always a safe bet.
4. Don’t Forget Window Treatments
“Soften the appearance of the room with curtains,” Moore said. You may not have the time or money for special curtains, but there are many basic colors and curtains that will unite your room and make it feel finished.
You just want something that will block a little light and give you privacy, especially if you live on a busy road. Bonus points if you can find prints that don’t fill the room.
5. Finally, Let There Be Light
“The lights provide soft lighting instead of sharp highlights from overhead lighting,” Moore said. “They also add character and dimension to the room.” You’ll want a mix here – a chandelier or a chandelier, a table lamp, a floor lamp, even one or two wall-mounted lamps as seen here at Emily Henderson’s house.
“Many light sources can take you through the changing seasons and entertain guests,” Griffin said. “A small can lamp can be directed towards extraordinary art, while a chunky lamp at the end of the table creates an atmosphere.”
If you start with these parts, you will immediately head to the beautiful and functional living room. The key is not to worry about the little things or get stuck in the details before you lay the right foundation.