living room ideas for lively spaces

It's ironic, but usually, living rooms are the deadest rooms in the house. 

The kids are afraid to go in there because Mom will yell at them to be careful of that rug, or not bang up against that table.

Dad doesn't go in there because there's no TV and Mom won't let him prop his feet up on the coffee table. Mom doesn't go in there because she wants to be with the rest of the family, and they are all cowering in the den.

There are ways to use the living room and not destroy it. Really. The key is room decor that creates places to do things. These living room ideas can help get you started bringing life - and living - back into the living room.

Living Room Ideas for Creating a Room Within a Room

Create little "rooms" within the larger one by making small, intimate areas with living room furniture placement.

Pull the couches and chairs off the wall, anchor them with an area rug, add a table or two and voila!

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. Voila! Room number two.

Create Activity Areas

You can also visually divide room decor that creates activity areas. Set up a small table and a couple of chairs in one corner for gems, crafts, and puzzles.

Put a skirt on the table, and you can tuck the games out of sight underneath.

Make a little reading corner with a cozy chair, afghan, 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 and 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.

Add Cozy Chairs and Potted Plants

If your kids are past the toddler stage, add some life and more visual settings with large potted plants

The next time you're buying furniture, consider recliners or swivel rockers instead of couches and loveseats.

Big fat chairs are cozy, plus they're easier to arrange in small informal groupings.

Finally, 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 this room. If you want to keep the place tidy, encourage, don't discourage, kids to throw away the 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 for him so he can be with the rest of the family while keeping his fur relatively confined to his bedding.

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