How much time do you spend in your living room, and how do you spend that time? For some people, the living room is where they have meals, read, or entertain, while others mainly use it for TV and video games. The amount of traffic and activity in this area plays a big role in how you design and furnish it, so get a clear idea on exactly what fireplace you intend.
- Draw a sketch to scale
Laying out your living room has different levels. You might be redecorating because your style has gotten stale, making space for newly inherited furniture, or buying a new set of household items. The circumstances surrounding your re-design will affect your decisions and flexibility. Start with a scale drawing of the room, noting the shape and dimensions. Insert scale cut-outs of all furnishings and electronics so that you can move them around and see how they fit best. If you’re getting any new pieces, add them to the sketch as well.
- Make it easy to get in and out
Ease of movement makes your living room seem more comfortable and spacious. There should be a clear, unobstructed pathway to the door. It should be two to four feet wide. ‘Roads’ leading from the living room to other areas of the house don’t need to be as wide, but they do need to be unhindered. This reduces the chances of stubbing toes on furniture or falling over in the dark. It also improves ventilation, heating, and general circulation. Avoid placing sofas over walkways, since you’d have squeeze around them.
- Help your guests get comfortable
In terms of seating, you have lots of options, depending on how many people use your living room. If you have a large family or if you entertain regularly, you need more seats. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need more chairs. You can get ottomans with padded stools, foldable canvas seats, or comfy cushioned benches that can be tucked in and out of sight. You can even get floor cushions and bean bags. They can tastefully accent your colour scheme and can be stacked in a store when not in use. Make sure they have removable covers that can withstand frequent laundering since they’re likely to accumulate a lot of dirt.
- Angles use space
Arranging furniture at an angle is tasteful and attractive. It gives dimension and character to your living room. However, angular positioning uses up more space. So while it works well in a large living room, it can overcrowd a small one. Start with a regular symmetrical pattern before you try angles. You should also consider ease of conversation. You don’t want to drag heavy furniture every time your guests need a cosy chat. Arrange your seats close enough to let the stories flow freely. Try to have 15 to 18 inches between your seats and your coffee table. If you’ll be serving snacks and refreshments, use stools rather than moving the table.
- Pick your centrepiece
Decide on the focal point of your room. Is it the TV or the fireplace? Fireplaces make a good centrepiece, especially if you have a separate TV room. Curl your seating around the fireplace to create a cosy conversational atmosphere. If your wood fireplace is large, your coffee table should be smaller to avoid drawing the eye away from the main focus. If you have both a TV and a fireplace, you could place the TV over the fireplace, but this only works if it’s a flat screen. Ideally, the TV should be 6 to 10 feet away from your sofa or TV-chair. Consider the height of the fireplace too, since putting the TV too high will strain everyone’s neck.
- Colours of the flame
Modern furnaces come with various finishes and colour options, so you should take full advantage of this. Consider the material used in your fireplace and reflect it with accents around the room. A gas heater with a steel finish can be complimented with metallic lamp shades and chrome vases, or with modern abstracts painted using metallic hues. Traditional brick fireplaces could be matched with sunset tones in your rugs and throw pillows. If your furnace is coated with tile, you could lay some new floor tiling to match, or maybe get a vinyl floor mat in the right pattern to complement it.
- Size does matter
If your furnishing allows scope for new furniture, be sure to buy suitable sizes. Small rooms need small furniture to avoid overcrowding, while large rooms should have large statement pieces that won’t get dwarfed. Your taste matters as well. If you like your furnishings petite, you can still fill out a large room by placing multiple pieces at interesting angles. If you prefer to sink into an oversized couch, use a single large piece in your tiny living room, and accompany it with cushions and retractable seats that you can stack in other rooms until they’re needed.
- Think about your fuel
If your furnace runs on gas or electricity, you don’t need to worry, since it passes through cables and gas conduits. But if your fireplace uses logs or wood pellets, you need an easy refuelling trail. The path from your furnace to your wood store should ideally be uncarpeted, because it will wear down, and if the furnace has an open flame, sparks could burn the carpet. Ash and soot from the fireplace can soil the carpet as well. The floor around the fireplace often has the same detailing as the fireplace, so it’s probably attractive enough not to need carpeting. Plus, portable furnaces stand on glass bases, so no rugs needed.