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Living Room Design Basics (10 Must-Know Tips)


The living room is perhaps the room you spend the most time in, apart from your bedroom. It’s effectively the heart of your home.


It’s where you host guests. A place you bond with family members. And where you most likely relax. It’s, therefore, vital to put significant thought and time into your living room design.


Simply following a few tips would work wonders.


Some living room design basics include choosing a fitting color palette and practical flooring, using an area rug, creating a focal point, illuminating the room well, adding character with architectural trims, providing adequate seating space, filling space with art, and ensuring the final result matches your style.


The beautiful thing about these tips is that you can apply them to different living rooms. So, even if you move homes, the principles work a charm every time.


Below, we share ten must-know tips that’ll transform any living room from basic to extraordinary.


1. Choose the appropriate color palette

Picking a color palette is the most important decision when designing your living room. It's, however, also notoriously a difficult decision for most people.


It's the foundation of everything else. Every item you pick from thereon must complement the color scheme.


Factors that affect your choice of color palette


Some factors may affect how much wiggle room you have when choosing a color scheme for your living space.


Size and aspect of the living room


A homeowner with a small living room layout may be more restricted in their choice of colors. You may need to choose bright colors that make the space feel larger than it is.


Additionally, the direction the living room faces could also play a part. For example, a living room facing north receives cool natural light, which may make some colors appear duller than normal.


A room facing south enjoys warm light, which brings even pale colors to life. For west- and- east-facing rooms, it’s half-and-half.


Your personal taste and preferences


What’s the predominant mood you’re going for? Sunny and shining? Warm and inviting? Cool and calm? Cozy and inviting?


The brain makes connections between colors and emotions. For example, red is seen as one of the most influential emotion-inducing colors.


Irrespective of what color psychology says, you must balance it with your personal color preferences. It’s more about how the color makes you feel.


Red supposedly induces feelings of passion and danger, but if it makes you feel relaxed, then feel free to use it in your living room design.


Existing furniture and accessories


Having existing living room furniture and accessories limits your design direction.


If you have green chairs and don’t have a budget for new sofas, there are only a handful of colors you can pair the chair with.


Even the type of window treatments you have can limit your design choices.


How to choose the appropriate color palette


The steps below will help you choose a color palette that works for you.


Identify your peculiarities


Before picking any potential colors, make a list of things or factors that apply to you, such as:

  • Check the room's natural lighting. Is it facing the north, south, east, or west?

  • List the furniture and accessories you currently have, and write their color next to each item.

  • Is there a must-have color? It can be a color that just works for you.

  • Determine the mood you want to achieve in the room.

  • Do you have kids? If yes, some colors may not be a good idea.


Research and get inspiration

Browse through what others have done to get living room design ideas. This process helps you tally what you have imagined and how practical it may be.

Always have the list you made from step one handy. You can make comparisons with the examples you’re seeing.

You may save the designs you like. If you’re working with an interior designer, send these designs to them.

Establish a base color

Settle on the main color that’ll form the basis of your scheme. It doesn’t necessarily mean that this choice will be the color of your living room walls.

Can your must-have color serve as an accent color to your dominant color?

When you pick a color, always weigh how it affects everything. Does it work with a household with many kids? How does it pair with my existing furniture and artworks?

Build on base color


The 60-30-10 color rule is a wise way to see color combinations for your dream living room design. With this rule, the two ascent colors make up 40% of the design, enough to provide contrast.


Of course, you can have above or below three colors. There’s no set-in-stone rule. But too many colors can make the room look chaotic with no predefined style. Too few colors may also make the room feel bleh.

Remember, we’re talking about the whole space, including everything in the room, not just the wall colors.


Create a mood board


Creating a mood board helps you ground your ideas. You can have multiple mood boards before settling for a particular feel.


By visualizing your ideas, you can estimate how you feel about the design and the mood it invokes.


Pick any of the mood boards to drive your living room design.


2. Choose practical living room flooring

Flooring color also affects the mood, tone, and appearance of the living room.


Just like your choice of color palette, your flooring pick will depend on your preferred style, family makeup, budget, and even the prevailing climate of your location.


Beyond aesthetics, your flooring choice must take into account your living condition.


You may want to embrace low-maintenance laminate and vinyl flooring in place of carpets if you have kids.


On another note, solid wood or engineered wood flooring is a popular choice because cool-toned wood floors work with cool and warm colors. So even if you later change other living room features, you can retain the flooring.


The most important factor when choosing hardwood is the shade and tone.


Types of flooring


Below, you can find a summary of properties for each flooring type.

  • Hardwood floors: Dark tones hardwood complements warm and cool colors, durable and long-lasting, copper-tone hardwood is apt for a cheery and welcoming mood, provides warm underfoot, is compatible with floor rugs, is expensive, you can refinish them, is beautiful and stylish, and more.

  • Tiles: Versatile, cools the house in warmer climates, waterproof, durable

  • Luxury vinyl flooring: This is a more affordable substitute for hardwood, waterproof, resistant to scratches, available in multiple colors and designs, easy to install for DIY peeps, easy to maintain, and quiet underfoot.

  • Carpets: Soft underfoot, slip resistance, versatile (multiple colors, textures, and patterns), etc.

  • Laminate flooring: Affordable substitute for wood, tile, and stone; excellent resistance to scratches, denting, and fading; suitable for high-traffic living rooms and homes with pets.

3. Add character with architectural trimwork

Architectural trims can add extra sophistication to already-existing elements. You can incorporate trims with doors, windows, walls, ceilings, and mantels. The options are limitless.

One of the things making historic houses stand out is their architectural details. The best use of trims in your living room is to cover the space between two dissimilar materials.

For example, you can add a trim to the area where the wall meets the floor or the ceiling meets the wall. Trims will add more character and distinct personality to your space.

When guests enter your living room, the defining qualities of architectural trims are unmissable. It transforms plain surfaces into bold and appealing canvasses.

The primary consideration when installing trims is to weigh the scale against the size of the living room. Bigger rooms will need larger and more elaborate trims, while smaller rooms may require less ornate designs.


4. Create a focal point


Your living room needs a focal point. See it as the crown jewel of the space. A masterpiece to attract the eyes of your guest. A conversation starter. A center of attraction for guests to drool over.


In your case, your living room may already be blessed with features that are focal point candidates.


For example, the outdoor view from your living room may be mind-blowing, making it a natural focal point. Perhaps it’s overlooking a lake. Your living room space may also have a fireplace, a large window, or a built-in bookcase.


If your room has an obvious architectural feature, designate it as your focal point and build from there. For instance, you can place a bold artwork above the fireplace or arrange furniture around it.


If the space doesn’t have any outstanding architectural features, you can use any of the following as a focal point:

  • Artwork or gallery wall

  • Mirrors

  • Furniture

  • Decor

You may need to supplement any of the items above with others. For example, you can amplify a mirror with a console or flank a breakfast nook with two large bookcases.


5. Use an area rug

Rather than using carpets as flooring, you may opt for an area rug. This alternative offers many advantages, such as being easier to clean and change.


Here are a few best practices for using an area rug:

  • Choose a rug big enough to make an impression in the room. Smaller rugs, like 5' by 8', work for small living rooms. A big rug, like an 8' by 10', will work well in a mid-sized living room. And a larger rug, like a 9' by 13', works for a spacious room.

  • Ensure the rug extends under the furniture, even if it's just under the front legs of the seats. Pieces like the coffee table should have all its legs on the rug.

  • Ensure the space around the rug is the same on all sides.

  • Avoid placing area rugs where it's touched by direct sunlight.

6. Create plenty of seating space with sofas and ottomans

What’s the point of the perfect living room if there’s no seating space to entertain guests or space for you to spread out?

Whether you have a large or small space, you can create ample seating space without upsetting the room’s mood or design.

The first thought about seating arrangement or space is ensuring you and your guests are comfortable.

That is, not squeezing visitors into a single sofa or having seats in only one corner of the room. It also means providing multiple seating options across the room.

One way to do this and maximize space is to take advantage of empty corners. You may even swap items like house plants or floor lamps for accent chairs, provided there are other places to put the former.

You can adopt other tricks, such as replacing a coffee table with an ottoman since the latter can serve the same purpose as the former and still serve as another option for seating.

You can also add an ottoman footstool into the equation. It’ll serve a double role of footstool and chair, if necessary.

For personal use, make sure there’s a large sofa thrown into the mix where you can cuddle with your partner or simply snuggle when you’re alone.


7. Factor in living room storage

Having a living room storage will help you declutter your space.

These days, the living room is a multipurpose room; for entertainment, a workspace, a lounge, and much more.

Providing storage makes it easy to use the living room for whatever purpose per time.

Storage can be anything from shelves, cupboards, or open cabinets. You can also turn existing alcoves into built-in storage. You may also add secret storage to pieces like side tables or an ottoman.


8. Get the living room lighting right

What does it mean to get the living room lighting right?

It means having lighting that works for different moods and needs. It means having sufficient natural light and artificial light. It’s about form, function, and decoration.

There are three types of lighting you should know about.

1. Ambient lighting such as natural light, wall-mounted fixtures, ceiling light fitting, etc. They are also called general lighting because they provide the general illumination for the room.

2. Accent lighting, such as under-cabinet lighting, picture lights, and most niche lighting. They are typically used to highlight a particular feature in a room.

3. Decorative lighting, such as table lamps and chandeliers. You use them to personalize and add extra oomph to a space.


9. Decorate with wall art and accessories

Wall art and accessories are cheat codes to cover blank walls. There’s no limit to the scale and how or where you place artwork and accessories.

You can go for oversized or large-scale wall art. Other options include:

  • A themed wall art collection

  • A gallery wall

  • A wall art ledge

  • Wall art as a focal point

In terms of accessories, you can use any of the following:

  • Plants

  • Something personal

  • Bold drapes

  • Candles

  • Comfy decorative and throw pillows

  • Cozy blankets

  • Coffee table books

  • Geometric tray

  • Well-crafted board games


10. Make sure the overall design matches your style


Ultimately, it’s always important to remember you’re designing the living room primarily for yourself.


So, ensure the living room is distinctly you, irrespective of what the gurus and expert interior designers say.


There’s every chance you won’t love staying in that space if it doesn’t align with your style and personality.



Takeaway: 10 Essential design tips for a stunning living room space!


Say bye-bye to a simple and boring living room and say hello to a stunning place you’ll love spending time in with these easy-to-follow design tips.


The primary takeaways include:

  • Letting your style and personality shine through

  • Choosing a color scheme that works well with existing furniture and pieces

  • Filling empty spaces with artwork and architectural trimming

  • Illuminating the space well

  • Ensuring your living room space can serve multiple purposes

  • Having a clear vision: thinking of the end before beginning

If you need assistance with your home renovations plans, the expert team at Westward Renovation can give you a helping hand. You can schedule a 30-minute meeting to discuss your project in detail.

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