It's ironic, but usually living rooms are the deadest rooms in the house. 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 by making 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 room with activity areas. You can:
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 and large, cozy chairs. 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 while keeping fur relatively confined to his bedding.