How to Create the Perfect Living Room
It's the heart of your home, a place to relax in one day and to host guests in the next. Here's how to give your living room the special touch it deserves.
The place you go to kick back and relax at the end of a long day; the place you host family and friends on weekends, and more often than not, the first room you see when you come in – the living room is perhaps the most important room in the house. Here at Plum Guide, we’ve got the lowdown on what makes a perfect living room, from focal points and lighting to stylish furniture and the ultimate comfort chairs.
Style and layout
The most important thing to think about first is what you want from your living room. Are you a single resident, or do you have a family and children? Do you have any pets? Do you want a comfortable room, with lots of cosy corners and soft seating, or will your living room double as an office space? All of these things are key when considering the style and layout of the room. In the initial stages of designing the perfect living room, it can be easy to fuse clashing ideas of what you want if you don’t have any clarity. Sit down with a pen and paper and sketch out a vague layout of how you’d like the room to look, and make a note of key features, colours and items that are important to you. That way, when it comes to shopping, you won’t be as tempted by things that don’t fit naturally into your dream plan.
Having a focal point is a good starting place. This will bring a sense of purpose and cohesion to the room, giving you something to centre your design around. Most people primarily use their living room for watching TV, so having the television as the key focal point is a good idea. If you’d rather a tech-free room, you could consider centering the room around items such as a fireplace (like our Notting Hill home, Parisian Elegance), favourite artwork, or even a window if the view offers something special.
In a similar way mentioned in our What Makes a Perfect Bedroom piece, colour scheme is crucial when designing your dream living room. It is typically best to keep the room neutral, allowing for change in style in future. The famous 60:30:10 rule (60% for the dominant colour, complemented by a secondary colour for 30% and an accent shade for the final 10%) can again come in handy here. The perfect living room should be homely and inviting, so be sure to use lots of warm colour palettes. Pillows, artwork, throws and even curtains are useful for splashes of colour, livening up the room and giving it more personality. Take inspiration from our home, The Western Perchoir. Our Plum Guide expert top tip: make sure the floors are slightly darker than the walls. This centres and grounds the room, bringing balance to the space and making the room appear slightly bigger.
Once the colour scheme has been set, the next big decision is the seating. This largely depends on who the room is being catered to; larger families may prefer longer sofas to fit everyone in for film nights, whereas flatmates may prefer separate armchairs when watching TV. Whatever your preference on size, there are a few important things to consider. First, the colour. The sofa should ideally slot into the secondary colour section of your design, and complement the room’s tonal palette. Secondly, the comfort of the chair is obviously key; make sure you test the sofa out to ensure the material and cushions suit your preferences. Consider wear and tear: how long will it last? Will it be looked after, or is there potential for spillage and quick weathering? Naturally, this will depend on budget, but there are plenty of good quality sofas and chairs out there. The Loveseat chair from Maker & Son has caught our eye, but this statement green velvet sofa from The Conran Shop is a dealbreaker.
If the room doubles up as a work space during the day or on weekends, make sure there are plenty of windows for natural light, as well a few bright working lamps dotted around the room. However, the primary use for living rooms is often as cosy spots to wind down in the evening. Therefore it is essential to make sure the room sets a calm, soothing ambience come nightfall. Overhead lights can often be garish and unpleasant, so buying the right lamps is important. At Plum Guide, we love the polished brass lamps available from Tom Dixon or the clerks' reading lamp from Soho Home for something a bit more industrial.
For movie nights and cosy evenings in, the right technology is key. The model and style of television is entirely down to preference and budget, but there are a few tips and tricks to make sure you get the most bang for your buck. Again, the size will differ based on whether you’re buying for small or large households, but the average TV screen is typically between 55 and 65 inches. Always look for sets with no lower than 4K resolution and higher than a 60 Hz refresh rate; this guarantees high quality, smoother viewing (particularly when watching live shows). Plenty of expensive, high-quality televisions often have poor sound. Investing in a soundbar or surround sound speakers is worth the money.
Once the main body of the room has been settled, you can begin to think about other items that can add personality and utility to the room. Coffee tables are essential, but size and style can vary on use. For drinks and snacks, a small, decorative coffee table would work perfectly, or alternatively a larger table could do the trick for larger groups and TV dinners. They can also be used as a feature piece in the room; consider decorating them with flowers, plants and artbooks. Similarly, never underestimate the power of artwork, mirrors and wall hangings. Bringing colour and life into the space, these are useful tools – but remember to be sparing, too many can look garish and affronting. Avoid clutter at all costs, but a few ornaments are a great way to add personal touches to the perfect living room.