It's ironic, but usually living rooms are the deadest rooms in the house.
But if keeping the living room nice means scrunching six people into a matchbox-size family room, it's time to rethink priorities.
There are ways to actually use the living room and not destroy it. Really.
The key is to create places to do things. These living room ideas can help get you started.
Create little "rooms" within the larger one. Make small intimate areas with furniture placement.
Pull the couches and chairs off the wall, anchor them with an area rug, add a table or two, and you've got a little room within the big room.
Put a couple of chairs over by the fireplace, connect them with another rug, and add a table with a lamp.
You can also visually divide a rom with activity areas. Set up a small table and a couple of chairs in one corner for games, crafts, and puzzles. Put a skirt on the table and you can tuck the games out of sight underneath.
Create a reading corner with a cozy chair, soft throw blanket, table, light and a shelf or drawer for books, papers, and glasses. Create a play area in another corner with a stain-resistant rug under a chest of toys.
Place a cozy overstuffed chair next to the piano and station a book or sewing alongside in a basket. Now you can be an audience for your daughter's daily piano practice. Often kids don't mind practicing as much when they have company (or an audience). You can work on your sewing, reading, or correspondence so you can multitask as usual.
Other tricks? Soft, indirect lighting makes a room feel warmer. Avoid stark white paint on walls; go for warmer tones.
If your kids are past the toddler stage, add some life and more visual settings with large potted plants.
Big fat chairs are cozy, plus they're easier to arrange in small informal groupings. And don't forget that living rooms are real rooms and need all the accessories necessary in other rooms.
Many of us don't have wastebaskets in the living room. If you want to keep the room tidy, encourage, don't discourage, kids to throw away trash.
By the same token, if you've got little ones, hide a roll of paper towels and some wipes somewhere in the room for those inevitable messes.
And if you don't want the dog on the furniture, place a pillow or dog bed on the floor so he can be with the rest of the family.
Ready to get started? Visit the Clean Organized Home Store for living room design ideas and organizing inspiration.