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How to Decorate a Living Room

It’s time to focus on the room in which you entertain, read, lounge and spend time with family. It’s the living room, and some would say it’s the most lived-in room of the house! Today we explore what it means to decorate a living room by showcasing 5 helpful design tips, illustrating how they play out in a variety of eclectic spaces.

Fancy decorating for your living room

If the images below inspire you as much as they’ve inspired us, you’ll be well on your way to creating a living room that speaks volumes. Rather than making a plan to ditch your belongings and start completely from scratch, think of how you can incorporate your favorite items into a space that reflects your personality. If you love the color, furnishings and decor, chances are the room will work! At the very least, it will work for you, and that’s not a bad place to start…

Consider the Needs of Your Space

If you’re thinking about living room layout, it’s best to start by considering the space you have, as well as what you intend to do with it. If you have a small room and you rarely entertain, perhaps a couch and a coffee table can get the job done. [from Slim]

A very blue living room

If seating is a priority, remember that you don’t have to buy a sectional sofa to accommodate your guests. If your room is spatially challenged, go with a comfy couch, and add a couple of wooden chairs to create a vignette. You can always bring in chairs from other rooms if your guest list grows. [from Room & Board]

A modern living room seating arrangement

In addition to seating, think about storage. While the living room shouldn’t serve the same function as a closet, there are items that you may need a place for, such as books. Luckily, there are stylish bookshelves that can provide plenty of display room while making a fun statement. [from Room & Board]

A living room with a large bookshelf

Even a coffee table can serve a storage function, like the Graham Cocktail Table from Room & Board. This piece has a bottom level–the perfect place to stash magazines, books, candles and other items you’d rather not place on the surface of the table.

A living room with a coffee table that provides storage

Choose a Color Scheme

With layout and storage issues out of the way, it’s time to have fun with color! A color scheme can tie the room together, giving you a sense of focus as you select new items and creating an overall tranquil vibe. Below we see a gray and white living room that proudly displays an assortment of yellow accents. [from Martha O’Hara Interiors via Houzz]

An elegant gray living room

In yet another gray space, vibrant red and orange accents pop against neutral walls and furnishings. [from Leclair Decor + Design via Houzz]

A modern gray living room

There are times when the walls themselves become the greatest canvas for color, thanks to a bold paint choice. The living room below, designed by Eileen Kathyrn Boyd, features a cool palette that includes blue and berry tones, as well as dashes of green. The result is a rich display of color. [from Lonny]

A soothing blue living room

If painting the room is not in the cards, don’t forget that curtains can help set a color scheme in a significant way. Although the space below is a soothing gray tone, it’s the green that really stands out, thanks to dramatic chartreuse draperies that add height as well as color. [from Decorati via The Lennoxx]

Green curtains set a vibrant tone in the living room

As we saw with the blue living room above, welcoming many colors into your space can pay off. Big time. In other words, don’t feel like you must confine your color palette to two or three shades. Pick a wall hue, then weave in other colors through channels like artwork, pillows and tabletop decor. [from Domicile Interior Design via Houzz]

A living room featuring a range of colors

Mix the Old with the New

Resist the temptation to purchase sets of furniture. You know, the couch that goes with the side tables that match the coffee table and the console. It’s much more interesting to incorporate pieces that introduce variety in both style and time period. The living room below showcases vintage and contemporary pieces. We think you’ll agree that the results are stunning! [from Kristen Rivoli Interior Design via Houzz]

A modern living room with new and vintage finds

If you like a vintage look but don’t have the patience to shop at thrift stores, you’re in luck. Many of today’s pieces channel Mid-Century modern style. Hunt down a few vintage finds, then blend them with newer elements for a funky finish. [from The Red Jet via Houzz]

A living room showcasing vintage and new finds

Va-va-voom! The ornate townhome living room below features surprisingly modern seating, which serves as a wonderful, clean-lined contrast to the room’s more intricate details. [from Neuhaus Design Architecture P.C.]

An elegant townhome living room

Don’t Forget the Decorative Elements

For some, decorative accents can take over a room, bringing unwanted clutter. For others, filling tabletop space can feel like a chore. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, remember that small pieces play a very important role in the living room. The coffee table decor below is elegant and interesting, combining art with nature. [from Tiffany Eastman Interiors via Houzz]

Decorative accents in a chic living room

Speaking of nature, natural elements can be ideal decor statements for modern and traditional spaces alike. A clear globe vase full of seashells or a large plant on the coffee table can do wonders for a room, as shown in the next featured space. [from Amoroso Design via Houzz]

Nature-themed decorative accents in a modern living room

If you have a smaller space or your living room feels full, try making a big statement with one or two pieces. The orchid below commands attention without cluttering the room. [from Yummy Scrumptious via Houzz]

A bright living room with an orchid

Don’t forget that the accents you pick can say a lot about your personality. Use this opportunity to showcase your style. Don’t be overwhelmed by the task of hunting down the “right” pieces. Go with what you love! In the next image, vibrant flowers and pillows bring quirky charm to a Copenhagen apartment. [from DigsDigs]

Eye-catching decorative accents

Sometimes Less Is More

When it comes to good design, a little can go a long way. As mentioned in the section above, clutter can be your living room’s enemy. Sometimes it’s best to let a few strong pieces speak for themselves. Below, the Wells Leather Sofa brings clean-lined elegance to a modern living room. [from Room & Board via Houzz]

A contemporary living room

Eye-catching pieces need room to breathe. Which is why the modern sectional sofa in the next space is allowed to steal the show. Note how coffee and side table choices are stylish yet not overpowering. [from Room & Board]

A chic modern living room

In the bright living room below, a clean look dominates, perfectly setting the stage for the striking pendant light that hangs from the ceiling. [photo by Bruce Damonte from CHR DAUER via Houzz]

A modern pendant light in a bright living room

Did anything catch your eye? If a color spoke to you, think of ways to incorporate it into your space. If a specific furnishing made an impact, make a plan to purchase the piece, or a similar item. If you find that you need more decorative accents in your living room, hit the antique malls, thrift shops and yard sales to find some amazing bargain items. Most importantly, remember that truly interesting spaces often incorporate a variety of styles, so don’t worry about buying furniture sets or decorative pieces from only one time period. The more the merrier!


Kate Simmons

Kate Simmons is a freelance writer and design blogger with a love of all things decor. She spent her childhood writing stories and working on interior design-themed DIY projects. Kate’s published writing reflects her special interest in how design has changed through the decades. Her blog Mirror80 ( http://mirror80.com/) explores the fashion and [...]

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