Your living room is the showroom of your home. It is where you place your favourite art and design elements, and where you entertain guests, and so it should be impressive, comfortable, and impressive. You spend a lot of time relaxing in your living room, so it has to be just right. There are plenty of living room décor ideas out there, but are you looking out for the mistakes?
A well-designed living room is a truly beautiful space, but a few wrong design choices can sour the experience. It takes a lot of time, money, and energy to create the perfect living room, so why risk a misstep that will ruin the mood?
So, if you’ve ever wondered how to decorate a living room, we have you covered. Here are 15 common mistakes that people make when designing their living rooms.
Your sofa is the centrepiece of your living room, so it needs to be perfect. The problem? Attractive, high-quality sofas don’t come cheap. Even if you have a relatively new sofa with lots of life left if it’s the wrong style you’ll never get the room you desire. Pay attention to the design, height, and comfort. After all, you don’t want to end up with a sofa that looks great but feels awful!
It’s essential that you do your planning and research before you select your sofa, as it needs to fit the room well. You can grab a side table or plant pot on impulse, but never buy a sofa without doing your research!
Consider the following five points to help you choose the right sofa:
An area rug is an attractive investment that adds depth, warmth, and style to any room. As the Dude famously said in The Big Lebowski, ‘it really ties the room together.’
With that said, far too many people end up with a rug that is too small for their space. Don’t fall prey to ‘small rug syndrome’ – make sure you select a big enough rug to make a statement and fit the proportions of the room. Most living rooms need at least a 2.5 metre by 3.5-metre rug, if not larger. Have you found a rug you love, but it’s just too small for your living room? Use it in a smaller nook, a bedroom, or even in the foyer.
You might walk into a furniture showroom and absolutely love what you see. Should you tell the salesperson to wrap it all up? No way.
If you purchase your entire living room décor from one shop, you run the risk of having a room that looks too homogenous and samey. Ideally, you want to mix and match different elements from a wide variety of decades, styles, cultures, and designs. The result will be a personalised and eclectic room that speaks to your unique point of view.
Push your sofa against the wall, pop your telly opposite, and jam a coffee table in between the two. Done and dusted, right? Wrong.
There is so much more to planning a really great living room layout. Make sure you take the time to create different groupings within your space, especially if your room is an unusual or narrow shape. As you plan your layout, think about the mood you want to set, the feelings you want to evoke, and the functionality that your family needs.
While you might think that you should hang all art at eye level or just above, this isn’t always the case. You can create exciting groupings and place your artwork in unexpected places for a more dynamic impact. Eye-level should also be reconsidered if your ceilings are very low, or if you happen to be of tall stature. Ideally, you should hang your art at the midline of the third quadrant of your wall.
According to interior designer Emily Henderson, “art hung the wrong way on a wall is like a character in a movie wearing a really bad wig. It’s just kinda hard NOT to see it… it doesn’t ruin your experience, but it’s just terribly distracting.”
It should also go without saying that you should use a level and ensure that you hang your art straight!
Loads of people make the mistake of lining up their large furniture pieces around the walls of their room, pushing it to the edge and leaving a big space in the centre. While this might seem practical, it leaves things looking bland and uninspired. Even if your sofa or wingback chairs look great along the walls, try floating them a few inches closer to the centre of the room. This gives your space more visual interest and depth.
So many people make the mistake of keeping their living room design too faithful to one era. The only time you should design a living room in one style or era is if you live in a museum or period hotel! If you feel limited by your home’s distinct architecture or history, you might end up trying to match it too much, resulting in a stuffy feel. Instead, mix and match your design elements for a timeless and approachable feel.
You might love the look of fussy or precious antique furniture, but is it actually comfortable and enjoyable to sit upon? Unless you are designing a formal sitting room that will get very little use, make sure you prioritise comfort. After all, this is where your friends and family will gather to live, laugh, and enjoy socialising. You want people to feel relaxed and happy, not rigid or uncomfortable.
Rather than scrambling to fill your living room with mediocre furniture and accessories, it’s better to save up for investment pieces. One statement piece is always better than a ton of cheaper bits. You’ll end up spending the same amount of money, but the result will be much more elegant and practical.
Continuing from the point above, practicality is just as important as style and comfort. For instance, if you have a television in your living room, does your sofa have a clear line of vision to the screen? Are there places in your living room to set drinks and remotes? If you have a working fireplace, does it have enough space in front for lounging, and have you kept objects that can melt away from the heat? All of these practical considerations need to be addressed.
You’ve got the perfect sofa, lovely art on the walls, and a practical selection of tables, but your room will feel sterile without personal touches. Make sure you leave ample space in your budget for soft furnishings, throw pillows, accessories, and lighting, such as floor lamps and table lamps.
A coffee table makes a more significant impact on your living room than you might think. Sure, you can just grab a cheap coffee table and pop it into place, but it will likely negatively impact the design you’re going for. Again, try to find that sweet spot between practicality, style, and comfort. Also, think about its height and width, and the clearance space needed between your coffee table and sofa.
Ikea and John Lewis have a lot of generic art for sale, but you’ll end up with the same art as everyone else on the block. Not only will this feel cheap, but it also makes your home feel less special. Even if you can’t afford originals, check local galleries and print shops for pieces that really call out to you. And don’t forget sculpture!
Resist the urge to hang your curtain rods too close to the window frame, which can close in the room and make things feel claustrophobic. Make sure you leave a least 10 to 15 cm between the curtain rod and the window, and even higher if you have space. This will make your living room feel open, spacious, and airy.
You might love knickknacks and tchotchkes, but even if they are expensive and look lovely, too much clutter will spoil the room. Rather than spreading your curios throughout the room, place them in pleasing groupings on a shelf, and end table, or above a cabinet.
By implementing these living room décor ideas, you’ll avoid common mistakes and end up with the space of your dreams. Happy decorating!
Frake, D. (2016). Everything You Need to Know About Hanging Curtains. [online] Apartment Therapy. Available at: https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-hang-curtains-227318 [Accessed 22 Jul. 2020].
Heath, O., Murphy, L. and Gilbert, H. (2020). The 5 golden rules for buying a new sofa. [online] House Beautiful. Available at: https://www.housebeautiful.com/uk/decorate/living-room/a85/buy-sofa/ [Accessed 22 Jul. 2020].
Henderson, E. (2015). How to Hang Art Correctly (Emily Henderson). [online] Bloglovin’. Available at: https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/emily-henderson-4760697/how-to-hang-art-correctly-4403201975 [Accessed 22 Jul. 2020].
Henderson, E. (2020). How To Choose The Right Rug Size For Your Living Room – 5 Formulas Guaranteed to Work. [online] Emily Henderson. Available at: https://stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/living-room-rug-size [Accessed 22 Jul. 2020].
Murphy, L. (2019). How to plan your new living room. [online] House Beautiful. Available at: https://www.housebeautiful.com/uk/decorate/living-room/a28744077/living-room-layout/ [Accessed 22 Jul. 2020].
Senior, E. (2018). Living room ideas. [online] House & Garden. Available at: https://www.houseandgarden.co.uk/gallery/living-room-ideas-and-designs [Accessed 22 Jul. 2020].
Edward is the managing director of Sloane & Sons Stylish Chairs. He is an expert in quality, comfortable upholstered chairs.