As the place you go to unwind, chat with friends and family, and entertain, the living room has to walk the line between great style and utter comfort—not always such an easy task. Whether your living room just needs that finishing touch to bring everything together or a bit more help, these 15 decorating ideas can create a space you will be proud to show off and happy to come home to.
Get the right-size rug. A plush rug underfoot feels comfortable and welcoming—and when it comes to living room rugs, bigger is definitely better. A rug that all your furniture can sit on is ideal, but at least the front feet of each main piece of furniture should be on the rug.
Customize your shelving. A wall of shelving, whether custom-built or free-standing, is useful and makes a design statement. Floor-to-ceiling shelving also works surprisingly well in a small space since one large, perfectly fitting piece makes a room look more spacious and less cluttered than multiple smaller pieces would.
Hang a low pendant. An oversize pendant light makes a welcome change from the usual mix of floor lamps and flush-mount ceiling fixtures. Hanging the light low over the coffee table creates a warm and convivial conversation area that beckons people to sit and stay awhile.
Style up surfaces. A mix of three elements—flat, vertical and organic—is what you need to create arrangements that go above and beyond the usual stack of books.
Try a new sofa shape. The shape of your sofa sets the tone for the living room. Higher, more structured sofas (like the chesterfield) are generally more formal, while lower, squishier sofas tend to give a more laid-back vibe. Low modular sofas (like the one shown here) are perfect for lounging and can be reconfigured to suit the activity. You could face them all one direction for movie night, for example, but turn them to create multiple conversation areas for a party.
Give your old couch a new look. Instead of splashing out on an all-new sofa, you could give your old couch a makeover instead. Check with the manufacturer to see if any slipcovers are made for it; if not, you can hire someone locally to create a custom slipcover for you. Or, for a really quick change, take a gorgeous textile (like a Moroccan wedding blanket) and drape and tuck it over the back of your couch.
Save floor space with sconces. Actually, sconces do more than save floor space: During a party, when you want to create a moodier atmosphere, direct the sconces to shine on your artwork and bump up the light elsewhere with candles.
Tighten up the color palette. A well-defined color scheme can make your living room look cleaner, more organized and intentionally designed. Decide on one background neutral color, one feature color and a smaller accent hue, then get to work ridding your space of any items that don’t fit within your selections.
Trick out your console table. A console table is good on its own, but it can be even better with a few smart additions: a pair of stools below for extra seating, drawers (with drawer dividers) to stash mail and other necessities, an art wall and pottery for visual interest, and a light to shine down on it all.
Reinvent your bar cart. Just because it’s called a bar cart doesn’t mean it must hold a bar! Swap out the glassware and bottles for a lamp, art and books. Or turn yours into a tea trolley or a spot for your record player and a stack of your favorite vinyl. Use your creativity, and put your cart to work for whatever little odds and ends need a home.
Go to the dark side. One charcoal or black wall is enough to bring your room into focus, without overwhelming the space. Bonus: If you paint the wall behind your flat screen a really dark hue, it will make your TV do a disappearing act.
Layer textures. Adding in layers of texture is often what gives a room that livable, comfortable feeling. Mix and match from these textures to complete your living room: soft, natural, shiny, rough and smooth.
Pull up a window seat. If you have a window in your living room that doesn’t have any furniture near it, consider this an opportunity for a decorating moment. Pull an armchair, settee or daybed up to the window, then add a potted plant, cozy throw and a spot to set a drink. Your neglected corner may just become your new favorite seat!
Expand the space with a massive mirror. A large mirror is, in essence, like adding another window to your room, making your living room feel lighter and more spacious. Boost the effect even more by positioning plants or a lamp in front of the mirror to reflect greenery and amplify the light.
Take the focus off the TV. If your room has a beautiful fireplace, let that be the focal point. And if your living room is the only space where you can put the flat screen, position it to the side on a swivel mount, rather than above the mantel. That way you can still comfortably watch TV when you want, but when it’s not in use, the screen can step back from center stage.