A living room is a place where people can relax together. For some, it may be the centre of family life, for others, a more formal place to entertain guests. Regardless of how much time one spends in the room (personally, I am more of a ‘living in the kitchen’ type of person), it should still be a well thought-through, inviting space to enjoy. Before renovating and/or redecorating, you have to decide what your living room is for. Will you go in there mainly to watch TV and relax, play with your kids, entertain guests or do a bit of everything? When you’re clear about how you’ll use it, you can then really start thinking about how you want the interior to look.
If you have a fireplace and enjoy watching TV, the big question is always what direction your sofa should face. My trick is to have a combination of armchairs and sofas. You can then have one set facing one focal point and another set facing a different point. If you are able to split your living room in two or have a separate TV room, it makes the decision on how to arrange the furniture a bit easier.
In our last residential property, we put an Ottoman in front of the beautiful suede Attpynta sofa that faces the TV, so the family can all lie next to each other with their feet up. On the other side of the room, we put a sofa from the Conran shop and two antique armchairs from Gallery25, perfect for the family’s reading and fireplace moments.
The ugly elephant in the room is, of course, the TV. There are many ways around it. I personally love how earlier generations tended to hide it away in a cupboard, although with standard TV sizes now, it would have to be a big cupboard! While I am not a massive fan of the current high-tech secret compartments (I would much rather spend the money on an antique chandelier), if a TV is really going to bother you, it may be worth investing in a hide-away compartment. Nowadays, with the super thin screens available and the ability to transform them into paintings, I like to hang the screen on a wall and hide the cables inside the wall. This can actually be done quite easily – check out the great blog Smart Aerials to find out how to do it. The trick is then to make sure you keep your cables clean and rolled up in the same place you have your TV Box, Sky and Apple TV.
Next, the details to decorate the room to your taste. Good lighting, which you can adapt for different atmospheres, is an important feature. I love dimmers and old-fashioned yellow halogen lights, although as they’re being phased out. I’m not a fan of downlights or the bright white LEDs; they feel cold to me and, in my opinion, don’t add anything positive to the space. I prefer a mixture of wall lights and hanging lights and, of course, I love them to be antiques! If you would like an antique feel, but don’t quite feel up to the challenge of finding lightbulbs or having to rewire a lamp, I have just discovered the brilliant Hector Finch. Their Sophie Chandelier with emerald stones hanging from it is especially pretty and unique.
I don’t know if you have ever considered a glass coffee table, but there is an amazing artist right here in London who makes these pieces. She’s called Victoria Stainow and has this perfect coffee table where you can have display special keepsakes or memories.
I think striking or important works of art are perfectly suited for the living room. Rise Art is a wonderful online site with a vast collection of quality artwork – at a range of prices. It has a really clever ‘art personality’ test to discover your taste in art, so it can then recommend pieces to suit you. Good art doesn’t have to be expensive or a certain style. The most important thing is that you like it and that it fits in your home.
After sofas, tables, lighting and art come the soft furnishings that make your living room cosy and warm. I always have one or two blankets in my living room; it’s important to really be able to snuggle up on chilly nights. Rose Uniacke has some wonderful blankets – and they’re a great way of having a little something from her amazing store!
The living room really is a place where your personal touch makes the room. Without the little details that showcase your style, it is just another beautifully decorated room, so take the time to make it your own perfectly imperfect space.