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How to decorate the living room: expert tips for small, large and difficult rooms

how to decorate the living room

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We outline how to decorate the living room stylishly and affordably, with expert tips to make it individual in clever ways. The beloved place where you can relax after a long day at work and relax with your loved ones: the living room. This is where most people spend a lot of time with family and friends – this is exactly why it is worth putting some work, time and money into decorating this room.

How to decorate the living room: the crucial factors

With this guide of how to decorate living room ideas, we would like to inspire you to dare to try something new, to design your living room according to your taste and to adapt it to your own personal living style with small details.

Start with the layout

A well designed living room starts with a good layout. Because the arrangement of furniture, carpets and lamps influences how comfortable we feel in a room.

Go into the living room (preferably with the whole family) and think about how you will spend your time there. The best thing to do is write down everything you would like to do there. So you know what’s important when arranging furniture. Possible questions you should ask yourself for how to decorate your living room:

  • Who “lives” in the living room – that is, family, friends, visitors, playmates, pets … I need to think about in how to decorate my living room?
  • What do I like to do in my living room? – watch TV, chat, read, play …
  • What does everyone do by themself in the room – what do everyone do together?
  • Can different areas be planned for these activities?

One of the most important factors for positioning your furniture: It is important that you can move freely between the furnishing elements and that they do not form any obstacles. A good width for a main walkway in the living room is about one meter, for smaller ones a width of about 60 centimeters is sufficient.

Tip! Your living room is your home – not that of your guests. Even if you want to entertain (and impress) your visit in the living room, you and your wishes always count first.

Stylish and functional furniture

The furniture that gives your living room structure and individuality is of course characteristic of your interior design style . The central piece of furniture is a comfortable couch or a stylish sofa that you should adapt to your special needs. Sofas with additional storage space are a good option for small apartments because you can do without dressers or baskets.

A chic side table or coffee table made of pallets, a halved wine barrel or fruit crates gives your apartment a unique flair and a little boutique chic. Serve with chairs or stoolsthat you simply cover with your favorite fabric. Perfect for creative people: with a little skill you can mill chairs and stools from rustic tree trunks or make them from old car tires.

Carpets and rugs as a highlight

We are big fans of carpets and rugs that become eye-catchers in the room. Because with the right pattern and a pleasant color, nothing can go wrong here and you can create the absolute highlight with little effort.

When choosing a carpet, you should of course be very targeted. First, think about where a carpet could fit well in the living room. And above all: wherever it is needed. In the example you can see that the carpet is used to separate the sofa area from the rest of the room. You can just as easily create other small areas with your carpet, such as a reading corner. Work with matching colors that fit into the existing style as if by themselves. Also read how to care for carpets properly: 7 things to watch out for

Consider the textiles

Fine home textiles such as tapestries, blankets and pillows ensure cosiness and comfort. Soft plaids made of natural fibers or fleece are suitable as a throw for your sofa. Particularly classy: Ice-gray ceilings bring harmony to a colorful living room and give your apartment timeless elegance.

By the way, matching cushion covers are an interesting DIY project that is also ideal as a gift idea. For example, sew old jute bags or coffee sacks into individual covers. Other simple ingredients for making unique pieces are batik paint or acid.

Present your hobby or passion

In addition, you should not lose sight of your personal interests and, if necessary, make space for them. Large bookshelves can look great if they are neat and spiced up with individual decorative highlights. But records, video games, collectibles or other personal passions can also take up a place in your living room and cause a stir.

Here, too, you should of course think carefully about what fits and how you will implement your project before a decoration campaign. Because if the living room is very crowded with an additional bookshelf, you have none of it and you cannot really relax here.

Highlights in small changes

And sometimes it doesn’t have to be that big of a change. Maybe it’s just a few cushions, a throw rug, or a modern reading lamp, which ensures that you can browse through the hours of your favorite chair on your favorite chair.

The right home accessories make your living room shine, create depth and provide an individual touch. The first consideration when setting up is usually the right color. In addition to classics such as pure white, delicate cream tones or cool light gray are stylish and timeless furnishing colors. Incidentally, the right curtains or drapes are also very important for the effect of the room, as they have a decisive influence on the basic mood of the room.

Tropical turquoise, cool greenor lavender have a balancing effect and create a relaxed atmosphere. Warm tones such as pumpkin, tomato, sun yellow or caramel, on the other hand, make your living room cozy and lift the mood, especially in cloudy weather.

It’s the little things and the subtleties that give your living room a harmonious appearance. When setting up, pay particular attention to details such as candle holders , bowls, and trays . DIY idea: create your own trays using wrapping paper, wallpaper, old newspapers and clear varnish.

Shapely vases put your flower decorations in the limelight and can also be combined very well with sculptures to form a still life. A homemade wreath with flowers, twigs , wheat or berries also creates beautiful effects and brings a piece of nature into your home.

Tip: stage a few precious pieces in a selected spot. Too many small objects bring unrest into your living room and distract from the essentials.

Wall designs

A little insight into possible wall designs. How about a patterned wall, a wall hanging or even a stove that creates a cozy atmosphere when you watch TV together? And of course, the right sofa should not be missing in your personal lounge of peace. Design, size and color, as well as the decorative elements, should fit perfectly into the overall picture. Your living room also reflects yourself and should therefore suit you perfectly.

Lighting

Even the most beautiful living room only unfolds its individual charm when you put it in the right light. The possibilities here are diverse and depend on factors such as ceiling height, structural features and the size of the room. Large living rooms in particular can handle opulent ceiling lights , which you can customize with the help of twigs, jars and coffee filters.

Vintage chandeliers from the flea market, which you paint with matt black paint, are also very beautiful. Floor lamps or table lamps are particularly suitable for reading and provide bright, selective light. Upcycling inspiration: simply replace the base or shade of the lamp with branches or driftwood. Or see our guide for how to upcycle a lamp from leftover wood, with step by step instructions.

It is clear that vases and candles look better grouped. But hanging lights also look really great in groups . Buy several (preferably three or five) the same lights and hang them next to each other on the ceiling (for example above your coffee table). This not only provides more light, it also looks really cool. Alternatively, you can buy a lamp with several bundled small lamps.

Plants

In addition, you shouldn’t forget your green thumb when setting up. Because if you have plants in your living room, you will definitely enter this room in your house with a smile more often. What could be nicer than seeing an orchid or other plants in bloom when you walk into your living room?

We recommend that you definitely not forget the green highlights when designing this retreat, because they of course also ensure a good indoor climate and bring a piece of nature into your own home. Or even create a bottle garden to feature on your coffee table or shelves.

How to decorate living room walls

Consider carefully the color scheme with paint or paper that you want as the ‘background’ of your walls. You can use feature colors or papers to designate different areas of the room or to create a visual highlight.

The right wall decoration also plays an important role in the effect of the room. Elongated, large objects in particular make your walls appear higher and the entire room appear more open. In addition to wall paint, stylish wallpapers are an effective way to beautify your living room, particularly when you are looking at how to decorate large living room wall spaces. If you already have wallpaper on the wall, but don’t like it, learn how to paint over wallpaper and give the room a brand new look.

You can also frame wallpaper scraps or wrapping paper and attach it to the wall. Inverted and effective: wallpaper the wall with colorful pattern wallpaper and decorate it with framed, white paper. Halve stylish posters with sharp scissors and attach the two halves slightly offset. And DIY wall clocks made of buttons, cutlery or wine corks add style to your home and are also ecologically acceptable decoration ideas fpr how to decorate a living room walls.

How to decorate small living room spaces

Match the decoration of features to the color scheme of the respective room. If you have lots of tones or colors, the room looks more cluttered and budy — and therefore it looks even smaller, Usually only one or two tones are enought to dominate a room. It is important to pick up on this and apply it to the decoration. The effect: everything looks as if it were made from one piece, and thus gives an impression of more space but is not overworked.

Try white, white and even more white: if you want to furnish your living room in a minimalist way, you can’t do without this restrained color. It also ensures brightness and makes your living room appear larger – a win-win situation! Anyone who likes the minimalist living style should choose clean furniture with straight lines and only have a few selected decorative elements in the living room. By the way, you can learn a lot from the Scandinavian living style to make rooms look larger!

How to decorate large living room spaces

When furnishing a large living room, we often have the feeling that we have all possible freedom, because there is enough space after all. However, that’s only half the story. Because even when setting up a large living room, a well thought-out concept is required, which ensures a harmonious overall picture. Just like the small living room, a large room can quickly appear overloaded or not be optimally used.

  1. Create separate sitting areas

A cozy sitting area is an absolute must in a large living room! But rely on large furniture. The living room sofa acts as a key piece and should be the focus of the furnishings. If you are one of the lucky ones and have a lot of space, then use this! A comfortable corner sofa or sofa landscape is ideal for this. A wall unit or a large sideboard for multimedia are also a must. You can complete the facility with a large coffee table or several side tables. The ambience is then rounded off with a fluffy carpet. This should be around 25 centimeters wider than the sofa on the left and right.

  1. Create a reading nook

As an equivalent to the sofa corner, create a separate area for reading and relaxing. A comfortable armchair that you can simply fall into after a long day at work is perfect for this. Gorgeous! Many pillows, woolen plaids and a sheepskin also look very cozy and invite you to cuddle. If you don’t have a fireplace, you can still bring warmth into the home atmosphere with lots of candles.

  1. Use rugs and room dividers

There are all sorts of options open to you to give your large living room structure. Because you can not only separate individual areas with carpets, room dividers are also perfect. Whether screens, shelves or large plants – different dividers can be used depending on the interior and size of the living room. In order to protect yourself from the prying eyes of the neighbors, curtains as “room dividers to the outside” are simply fabulous. Because these make the large living room look more attractive.

  1. Hang large pictures or group smaller pictures

When it comes to decoration, the walls are often neglected. But they can be stylishly staged with simple means. Because pictures always work! In the large living room, the motifs including the frame should then match the rest of the ambience and not be too small. Large pictures are particularly good if you arrange them in groups on the wall.

  1. Make full use of the space and plan generously.
  • So that the room creates a coherent overall picture, you should absolutely keep the proportions of the room.
  • Who said that a sofa only has to be against the wall? For more comfort, the furniture can also be placed in the middle of the living room.
  • Design individual zones in your large living room, such as the dining area, reading area, sofa / TV corner.
  • Integrate elements that can be found in your entire living room and thus ensure a harmonious connection. That can be decoration, but also color, materials or a uniform interior style.
  • Coziness is the be-all and end-all! You should therefore use soft, warm materials such as wood and (artificial) fur generously.
  • Don’t be too petty and pay attention to the size of your decoration! Because small home accessories can quickly get lost in a large living room.
  • Not only the decoration, but also the lighting is an important aspect to ensure brightness. A large living room can even use up to five lamps. Above all, rely on indirect light sources.
  • Despite the size of the room, keep the perfect distance from the television. This should correspond to around two to three times the screen diagonal.

How to decorate long living room spaces

What to do if the living room is rather long and narrow. In no case despair! Because there are also solutions for such floor plans that get the best out of the room. We show 9 tricks with which you can furnish your narrow living room harmoniously – from color accents and the right furniture placement to optical illusions.

  1. Place wide furniture on the long side of the room

A couch and a cupboard or sideboard are among the widest pieces of furniture that take up the most space in many living rooms. They have to be accommodated somehow even in a long, narrow living room. Place the sofa, shelf, etc. on the long side of the room. They run parallel to the direction of travel and leave enough space for one aisle. This way you can comfortably cross the room without an obstacle course in front of you. Wide furniture on one of the front sides would make the narrow living room appear even more compact.

  1. Creating geometric variations

Rectangular furniture placed in parallel can, however, under certain circumstances appear oppressive in a long, narrow living room and always emphasize the longitudinal direction. Use contrasting shapes for small pieces of furniture and accessories: a round, square or oval coffee table or a rug with an asymmetrical cut loosen up the arrangement.

  1. Rely on minimalism

Less is more . Think about which furniture you really need and which are only decorative accessories. Do you need an extra armchair? Does the bookcase look good in another room?

  1. Choosing furniture with wall mounting

You can gain quite a bit of floor space for indispensable furnishings with clever ideas. A flat-screen TV with a wall bracket, for example, makes a large TV cabinet superfluous. Placed directly opposite the couch, the furniture would take up too much of the already narrow room width.

Instead of a deep bookcase, several shelves hung side by side on the long side are a good alternative. Wall mounting allows books and other items to be stowed away without restricting freedom of movement in the narrow space.

  1. Use niches and built-in furniture

If niches already exist in the room, they should definitely be used. Boards can be installed up to the ceiling, which means that the area is optimally used not only in terms of width, but also in height.

Alternatively, the long wall surface could be provided with a wall-height built-in wardrobe that is not too deep . It is important that it covers the entire wall surface so that you do not perceive its depth. So it does not seem restrictive, nor does it interfere with protruding edges when crossing the room.

  1. Optically separate areas

    By dividing it into individual functional rooms, such as the seating area and dining room, the space is taken away from it. A coat of paint can help to visually separate the areas and create smaller units. Even with carpets, you can combine several pieces of furniture into an ensemble, for example, and thus define sub-areas.
  2. Ensure sufficient lighting

Long, narrow rooms with a window front on the front make the corners at the opposite end disappear in the dark. Sufficient lighting is therefore very important in hose rooms. If you want to divide the room into different zones, you should plan a separate light source for each.

  1. Set accents with wall colors

If you don’t like the character of a cave, choose light tones for a narrow living room that create a feeling of space. A slightly stronger color on the front side lets the short wall move into the room and defuses the impression of the tube shape – but also takes some depth. How about some horizontal stripes on the front? They give the illusion of longer walls and thus visually expand the room.

  1. Use mirrors

One way to give the narrow room more space is to use mirrors. Attached on the long side, they blur the room boundaries. In this house in Sydney two different mirrors were integrated into the wall design. A mirror surface set back in the wall and a mirror with a decorative frame optimize the narrow living room.

How to decorate living room corner spaces

Your living room is so lovely – if it weren’t for this one sad, empty corner? The space next to the couch, the fireplace or in the corner of the room seems predestined as an eternal empty space. But how can you decorate dead corners or use them practically? From built-in shelves to wallpaper, we’ve put together some great ideas for dead corners and unused niches in the living room!

  1. Set up a reading space

Dead corners near the window are ideal as reading corners. An armchair or comfortable chair fills the gap. If the corner is not near the window, a floor lamp should be placed in the corner as a reading light. A small side table serves as a practical shelf and enlivens the empty corner even better.

  1. Place side tables

    This is ideal for unused areas next to the couch. Placed symmetrically on both sides, small tables cut a good figure and bridge the space to the next wall or the next larger piece of furniture. There is also plenty of space for reading lights, remote controls or drinks.
  2. Set up a workplace

In dead corners in the living room – for example next to a closet – you can also set up a small workplace . Custom-fit, for example, with custom-made products But also small folding tables or narrow stools can simply be placed in an unused corner and thus create a homely, slightly hidden workplace. The side of the cabinet can also be designated as a memo board.

  1. Install shelves in the niche

Dead corners and niches in the living room can also be used practically with shelves – ideally when they completely fill the width and depth. Pictures, books or decorations come into their own behind the sofa and are always close at hand. Make sure that the shelves do not protrude too far, especially in the lower area – so that you do not hit your head when you get up.

  1. Custom-fit storage

    Shelves or cupboards are available in a wide variety of widths and depths. With a little luck you will find a piece of furniture for the exact dimensions of the niche. This can easily be pushed into the dead corner and filled with books, decorations or other odds and ends. Alternatively, a carpenter can make a custom-made solution.

If you want to avoid angular edges that are easy to bump into, you should use a triangular base. Installation solutions integrated into the wall look even more elegant. Edges, niches and clogged floor areas due to corner cabinets are a thing of the past.

  1. Beautify corners with wallpaper

Who says that all free corners have to be covered with furniture or decoration? An original wallpaper brings something to look at on the wall and saves the search for objects to upgrade particularly narrow gaps.

  1. Decorate the wall surface with pictures

Dead corners or unused niches can also be embellished with a picture wall in the living room. The view then flickers over the now very interesting area!

  1. Equipping the walls with mirrors

A fireplace gives the living room a homely atmosphere – but it is often responsible for empty niches. If you cover the empty niches next to a chimney with large mirrors, the room looks bigger, the corner is decorated and the reflection of the daylight makes the whole room look brighter.

  1. Illuminate the dark corner

Room corners are usually wrapped in dark shadows. But not with the right lighting. Beautiful lights bring them to life with atmospheric light and set cool accents. Low-hanging pendant lights or floor lamps are equally suitable.

How to decorate living room shelves

  • Decide on 2 to a maximum of 3 shades, because that forms a calming picture. Tip: white is always great.
  • Be sure to place an odd number of objects. This has a more appealing and open effect on people. Three or five decorative objects together create an inviting overall picture.
  • Choose opposing decorative objects for an exciting contrast. Regardless of the material, size or shape – play with opposites. Combine, for example, a vase made of shiny ceramic with a bowl made of rough wood.
  • Caution is advised if you combine a lot of different styles, as the décor can quickly look jumbled and random. Two contrasts are usually sufficient to achieve the desired effect.
  • Loosen up the decoration for the shelf even more. A striking splash of color, for example in the form of flowers, will help you with this.
  • In between, take a step back and look at the overall picture. When decorating the shelf, it is important to see not just the individual compartments, but the entire shelf.
  • Wall shelves usually appear more fragile than standing shelves due to their attachment. For this reason, it is important not to visually overload the shelf.
  • Avoid wall shelf decorations that seem too big or heavy for the shelf. Match the decoration for the wall shelf with its design and material.
  • Many wall shelves are suitable as artistic wall design even without much decoration. For example, choose a metal decorative shelf.
  • If you’re striving for a particularly consistent overall look with bookshelves, sort your books by color. Many interior designers go one step further: books placed with the leaf side forward, the stack of books presents itself in a uniform look. Of course, it makes it a bit hard to find a particular book when you want one!

Summary

You can do a lot for the entire living environment, not only with furniture and colors, but also with home accessories as key methods for how to decorate a living room.

genevieve dumas new Genevieve Dumas is a design, fashion, food and style writer who has worked on major magazines and mastheads in the United States and Europe.