Living room ideas – how to plan a room you’ll love

This post is part of a series of tips on interior design and working with an interior designer.  Today: living room ideas.

One of the key spaces in anyone’s home, the living room – or living area in an open plan space – often has to work hard, particularly in a small house or a flat. It may have to give you space to relax, chat with your friends and family, read, watch films and TV, it may be where your kids play, where you do your yoga, where you use your computer. So how can one space accommodate all these and still make you happy when you walk in?

The key is in good planning, and the beginning of this series walks you through how to plan a space in detail – see Getting Started, Colours and Inspiration, Layout and Sourcing. So, work through those posts with your living room in mind and then come back here to see some more ideas about living rooms and how to make them work for you.


In a long skinny room, consider using a darker colour on the end walls to draw them in. This works even if the colour is only slightly darker than the other walls; it doesn’t have to be high contrast. It could also be your curtains or blinds, if that’s where your window is, or wallpaper. Also, you could put a long mirror on one or both of the side walls to widen the space – this will work particularly well opposite a window.

Love the colours used in this room in House & Garden June 2013

Love the colours used in this room in House & Garden June 2013


Try not to push everything against the walls, even in a small room. It will just draw your eye to the boundary and you’ll immediately see how small the space is.

Create different zones for the different activities you want to carry out in the room, and think through how each activity will work in the space, that you have a side table for your drink, a plug for your laptop, that kind of thing.

Think about creating more than one obvious seating space. Even in a small room, could you have a corner sofa and then a couple of small chairs and a side table near the window, perhaps?

In an open plan space, consider zoning with a large rug.

The bookcase behind the sofa adds depth, texture and interest

The bookcase behind the sofa adds depth, texture and interest.   Architectural Digest, Spain.


You’ll either want everything hidden, everything on display or somewhere between the two. If your living room is also where your kids play, I expect you’ll want hidden toy storage. But you might want your books on show.

Make sure the things you need are right next to where you’ll be for each activity, that there’s somewhere to store your DVDs near the TV, somewhere to store your yoga mat where you’ll practice, your laptop etc.


Think layers. Along with everyone else, I’m sure you have a pendant or spotlights in the ceiling. But as well as being a harsh light to relax in, it’s also not very flattering.

Add table lamps, floor lamps, wall lights, so that you can have pools of light rather than one flat light source. It’s the play of light and shadow that makes the room interesting, relaxing and flattering all at the same time.

If you are wiring from scratch, consider directional spotlights rather than downlights, so that you can aim them at walls, art, anywhere but straight down onto the floor.


Think about the TV rather than pretending it’s not there and planning around it. Do you want to hide it away? Camouflage it in full sight by putting it in front of a dark wall or positioning it amongst art? If you don’t want it to be the focal point, then think what you do want and work around that. A fireplace, a piece of art?

Was this useful?  Let me know in the comments!

If you have any questions you’d like me to answer in this series, leave a comment or send a message via the website – I’d be delighted to help!

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One Response to Living room ideas – how to plan a room you’ll love

  1. Chichi Furniture 11 November 2013 at 11:46 #

    Helpful piece, more and more I’m hearing about zoning and being more creative with furniture placement, this then goes hand in hand with good lighting. I agree that central room lights are fine, but don’t necessarily give off the best light, lamps are fab as they can light up those zones that have been created and dark corners, as well as being beautiful features.

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