Decorating a large living room that is both luxurious and a cosy place for the family to curl up in at the end of the day can feel daunting.
You might have lots of living room ideas but no clue where to start. An interior designer can help but maybe you don’t have the budget?
If you ever felt like you needed a step-by-step guide to decorate your living room, look no further.
These 11 simple living room ideas will show you how to create a cosy and luxurious living room that reflects your style, without the help of an interior designer.
Consider the entire living room
A good starting point is to consider the entire living room. Before you add a focal point or buy all the furniture you should consider your room’s layout and what you want to use it for.
How much space do you have? A family room layout will differ from a formal living room and if you have a small living room it’s a good idea to measure the entire living space to ensure you have enough space to create your perfect living room.
If you’re trying to create spaces that seem bigger than they are a coffered ceiling could work wonders.
An accurate floor plan will help you create balance by picking the right living room furniture, floor lamps, window treatments and furniture layout.
Is your dream living room compatible with your lifestyle?
A key part of the decorating process is knowing how you want to use your living room. If you have lots of living room ideas but struggle to settle on a theme it’s worth taking stock of how you’ll use the room on a daily basis.
Your living room scheme should reflect your personal style but also take your lifestyle into account.
For example, does your dream living room feel contemporary or cosy? Ambient lighting and throw pillows will create a snug atmosphere while contemporary art brings a modern edge.
Living rooms are multifunctional and highly individual. Do you need a living space to act as a functional family room or do you dream of an adults only space, complete with cocktail table and vintage sofas?
If you have small children an antique Persian rug might not be the best option, and table lamps instead of floor lamps will help avoid tripping accidents. Likewise, a white sofa will be a magnet for grubby hands!
The seating area for a living room that prioritises deep conversation over binge-watching Netflix will also require a different furniture layout.
Consider the whole room and remember that you’re the creative director of your living room. How do you want to feel every time you walk into your living room? The best living room design is one that prioritises personal style and functionality in equal measure.
Gather your favourite living room ideas
One of our best tips to decorate a living room is to gather all your living room ideas in one place. A Pinterest board is a great way to find a cohesive style and you can share it with your interior designer.
Pinterest boards or mood boards will help you pick out common themes. Are you leaning towards a neutral space or a bold, contemporary design?
If you feel overwhelmed by all the living room design ideas on Pinterest try to edit your board down to one or two styles you truly love and that would suit your lifestyle. Organising your board around elements of your room’s layout is another option, such as paint colors and leather chairs or create a board specifically for gallery wall inspiration.
If you’re still stuck, analyse your Pinterest boards to find one focal point that could pull the whole room’s layout together. This could be an accent wall, large patterned rug or stylish coffee table.
One of the key advantages of using a Pinterest board to collate living room ideas is the money and time saved. Before you even start to decorate living room you’ll know whether you’re aiming for a family room or something smaller, which paint colors to pick, which side table suits your theme and furniture you need to source.
Don’t leave curtains and window drapes out of your living room ideas! These ‘finishing touches’ are an integral part of a cohesive living room.
Start shopping your living space ideas
Now it’s time to bring your living room ideas to life!
It’s usually best to place living room furniture first as it takes up the most space. This is where measuring your space at the start of our step-by-step guide comes in handy.
All about sofas
Sofas are the all-important feature of your living room. Here a few tips to bear in mind:
Living room furniture and the rule of thirds
A sofa that’s the same length as the wall it’s in front of will dominate a room. It will make the space feel cramped and dragged down.
Instead, aim for a sofa that’s two-thirds of the wall-length. With a bespoke sofa you’ll be able to tailor your measurements precisely.
Contemporary furniture often comes with deep seats, but this can look overbearing in a small living room. Traditional furniture styles often incorporate slimmer designs that don’t engulf a space. A classic sofa will also add a touch of considered luxury to any living room.
If your living room ideas need to incorporate a low ceiling, consider a sofa with a low back. A low-backed sofa that is congruent with the living room’s height will be more visually appealing.
Curved sofa arms will look more feminine whereas sharp-edged sofas with brass hardware will evoke a contemporary, masculine vibe.
The shape of your sofa’s arms will also dictate what kind of side tables you need. A safe bet for visual harmony is to ensure that a side table is of equal height or just below the height of the sofa arms.
Sectional or L shaped sofas
To make a space feel like your own, pick a sofa purpose-built for your lifestyle.
An l shaped sofa is perfect for a family room because it can act as a divider to create different ‘zones’ within one space. A sectional sofa is also a good choice for a small living room because it saves space.
Just remember that the chaise part of the l shaped sofa shouldn’t take up more than two-thirds of the wall it’s parallel to.
How to introduce pattern and colour
Your living room furniture is a great place to experiment with pattern and colour. A striking sofa against a neutral backdrop will command attention without looking garish.
Our favourite tip is find one fabric design you love, however bold and use it as a base for designing the rest. It could be a busy floral or scene type design which you only use for one scatter cushion or lampshade in the room, but it’s a base to start taking your colours style from.
If you love a natural look go for a fabric sofa in grey or cream linen to add an airiness freshness to your living room. You can always mix leather chairs for contrast but be aware how different fabrics will alter the look and feel of your space.
Be sure to pick a colour and pattern you love!
Sofas are usually expensive items and it’s easier to change the colour of a wall than a sofa. If you’re afraid of colour stick to a neutral palette and accessorise with sumptuous scatter cushions or a large, textured wool rug.
Where to place furniture
Perhaps one of the biggest headaches when planning a living room is where to place all the furniture!
Luckily our interior designers have expert tips on where to best place furniture in a living room.
Our first tip is to consider the largest piece of furniture alongside the room’s focal point. In a family room this might be an l shaped sofa and the TV. In a formal living room, the seating area could focus around the fireplace or a statement coffee table.
Secondly, even in a smaller living room it’s a good idea to pull furniture back from the walls. This will create an illusion of space and help a room feel more open.
If you plan to place your sofa and coffee table on top of a rug, ensure that all the furniture fits on top of the rug.
Remember to decorate your living room walls
The walls are an integral part of any living room design.
How you decorate your living room walls is down to personal taste but try not to leave them blank. This is where you can inject personality into your living room, particularly if you’ve chosen white walls or a neutral palette.
Not sure where to start? Wall sconces are a decorative way to mix light and add visual interest to your walls.
If wall sconces aren’t your thing you can’t go wrong with a gallery wall. A curated selection of the art you love adds a personal touch to your living room design.
A large painting or a mirror are two options for big rooms. Mirrors will reflect sunlight through the room and are best hung on the wall opposite a window to maximise natural light. Mirrors also suit smaller rooms, making them appear larger.
Living room window treatments
Window treatments might be one of the final touches but can add lots of personality and style. They should be considered an integral part of dressing any space.
If you’re not sure which treatments are right for your window here’s some room tips:
Drapes hang from a rod attached to the wall. They are generally floor look and look formal.
Curtains also hang from a rod but are less stiff and formal than drapes. They will move in a light breeze unlike stiff drapes.
Shades are made of soft fabric. Shades are drawn up and rolled down by a spring device or cord. By selecting the shade’s opacity you can control how much filters into your room.
Blinds are hard window coverings typically made of wood or metal. Bamboo options are possible and add a beautiful natural finish to a living room. You can adjust the angle of hard blinds for complete privacy and to control the light.
Living room accessories
Now it’s time to add the final touches to your living room with accessories!
A neutral rug made from strong, natural fibre is a good option for high traffic areas like living rooms. Sheepskin can add a sumptuous texture to a feminine, romantic room.
End tables are another final touch that can showcase your personality, whether by displaying family photos or interesting art pieces picked up from your travels.
Don’t have the budget to invest in expensive accessories? Curate your space with a couple of well-chosen vintage pieces.
All living rooms have a story to tell. Taking the time to track down antiques at auction or scouring vintage boutiques is effort well-spent and money saved.
Coffee table styling
Coffee tables can become living room centrepieces so deserve extra care and attention.
For a sociable space a circular table will encourage conversation. Don’t be tempted to use your coffee table as a dumping ground! According to Kit Kemp, “It is the surface of these generously proportioned tables that make them interesting.”
A coffee table can also double up as sumptuous footstool when you need to be economical with space. A beautiful wooden coffee tray makes for a homely and practical accessory but keep things tidy. Clutter is even more visually disruptive in a small space.
Perhaps one of your living room ideas included a minibar area with a cocktail table?
A cocktail table is a chic alternative to a coffee table that will add an unexpected twist to a living space!
The cocktail table came into existence in the roaring twenties so can add a touch of old-world glamour to your space. Cocktail tables are trendy now and there are many designs to choose from midcentury bamboo or natural rattan to glamorous gold.
A final living room tip
Our last living room styling tip is to add greenery to your space.
Plants are perfect for rental properties or those on a budget. If you’re worried about small children knocking over a priceless piece of art a sturdy rubber plant or Kentia Palm is an alternative.
Greenery adds vibrancy and life to any living room, regardless of style.
Houseplants are inexpensive and come with added health benefits. For a start plants help purify the air and reduce toxins. Plants also contribute to a calm environment. This makes them ideal for living rooms, which is where you unwind after a stressful day.
Choosing a plant for your living room
Choosing a plant for your living room will depend on the available light. South-facing rooms will get most direct sunlight.
If your living room is north-facing or doesn’t get much direct sunlight there are a few indoor plants that can still thrive in darker rooms.
Peace lily, rubber trees and spider plants all thrives in medium or low light.
An asparagus fern is particularly well-suited to gloomy living rooms, as is snake plant and English ivy.
If your living room is ablaze with sunlight try succulents, cacti, a bamboo palm or dracaena.
We our tips help you create a cosy, comfortable living room that reflects your unique personal style and becomes a room you want to curl up and relax in for years to come.