10 living room decorating tips

Even the most beautiful living room furniture won't work together if not arranged in a way that beckons you to come in and sit a spell. 

And decorative objects that are poorly placed or lost amid neighboring items often look extraneous rather than ornamental.

When it comes to interior design, the number one rule is that the arrangement of a room's contents is as important as the contents themselves.

Chances are your seemingly stale room already contains all the right elements to make it warm and vibrant. These 10 living room decorating tips can help bring this room back to life.

1.  Reconsider Your Living Room Furniture Placement

How do you know if your furniture placement needs some professional polish?

Take a look around your living room - is your furniture flush against the walls?

To create a sense of depth and softness, you should position furniture at an angle or floating away from the wall.

This makes the room feel less boxy, more intimate and inviting.

2.   Decorate Around the Room's Focal Point

Start by placing the most significant piece, usually the sofa, so it faces the room's main focal point, such as a window with a view or a fireplace.

Next, group the rest of the seating a maximum of 10 feet (3m) from the sofa - farther away makes conversations while seated difficult. 

3.  Balance Furnishings of Similar Size

Balance pieces of similar size by placing them across from each other. For example, a pair of upholstered chairs placed opposite the sofa will provide a better balance than would a pair of delicate wooden chairs.

Within your conversational circle, allow 3 feet (1m) between pieces for natural traffic flow into and out of the seating area. 

4.  Place Major Elements on Separate Walls

Balance the room by putting major elements on separate walls; the television armoire will be more prominent if it isn't right next to the fireplace.

Place darker pieces where they'll get the most light, by a window or floor lamp - a dark cabinet will disappear in a dimly lit corner. 

5.  Decorating Tips for Large and Small Living Rooms

If the room is large, set up a secondary area to make the room feel cozier and do double duty, add a desk and chair to a window corner, or create a family game area with a small table and a few chairs.

To create the illusion of more space in a smaller room, place the furniture, starting with the sofa, on a corner diagonal. This prominent placement takes the focus off the room size and puts it on the furnishings instead.

Resist the urge to fill up the room with every stick of furniture you own. Bare areas imply spaciousness. 

6.  Make Your Living Room Livable

Whatever your living room's size, you should arrange its furniture in a way that makes living comfortable.

If you plan to use it for entertaining, are there enough places where guests can set down glasses and plates? If a coffee table is out of reach from some chairs, place small tables beside them. 

Will you be watching Humphrey Bogart classics from your sofa? If so, make sure there's a shelf or cabinet nearby with space to store your videotapes of Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon.

7.  Carefully Consider Placement of Your Decorative Objects

Now that you've got the foundation - your furniture - in place, it's time to consider the placement of your decorative objects. Your collections, artwork, and photographs are the elements that project your personality into a room.

Why not show them off as a designer would, making the most of each piece of furniture?

A multitude of tiny treasures spread about a room may seem homey, but the overall effect is usually unfocused rather than appealing. 

Instead, group items that have a similar texture, shape, or theme together on shelves, on a coffee table or end table, atop the armoire - and leave a hand's breadth or more of space between each grouping for maximum effect. 

8.  On the Wall: Picture Pizzaz

Is your picture arrangement boring? Consider rehanging your wall treasures in asymmetrical groupings rather than in straightforward rows; this creates a sense of drama.

Place the bottom edge of the lowest piece 6 to 8 inches (15-20cm) above the top of the furniture; work upward from there, going as high as you like. 

Hang small groupings behind an elegant table or chair, a large picture behind your ample sofa.

If your room is dark, here's a simple way to lighten it up: Purchase a trio of inexpensive ready-made mirrors and add ornate or exciting frames. 

The frames should have a common element, such as a similar shape, finish, or theme. If you're going Victorian, choose a trio of similarly ornate, perhaps gilded frames; if you're after an Art Deco feel, three floral motifs will work nicely together.

Mirrors bring light and depth to a room. For the most significant benefit, hang your mirrors with their horizontal center just a bit higher than eye level on the wall opposite or adjacent to a window.

As an alternative, install several small wall-mounted spotlights positioned to shine down on your favorite pictures of your beautiful shell collection. 

9.  Proper Plant Placement

Consider your plant placement. If you've stashed that lovely ficus or palm tree in the corner, bring it out! Ideally, plants should enhance something nearby, such as a chair or a lamp, instead of looking like an afterthought. 

10.  Go For A Designer Finish

Finally, take a tip from home-design magazines and designers themselves: Any room quickly becomes both brighter and more inviting when you add a cozy throw blanket, a sparkling crystal vase or sculpture, or polished brass or gilded picture frame.

By adding a few of these, and by making the most of what you already have inside the room, you can give your home professional design polish.

You might like these:

  • Home Decorating Tips & Techniques

    Home decorating tips and ideas. Nesting - that most pleasurable business of making a house a home - is easier with these designer inspired tips and ideas.

  • Teens Bedroom Ideas

    They're a tough lot to please, teenagers. These teens bedroom ideas can help you help them design a room you both can live with.

  • Rearranging Furniture: Everything Old is New Again

    Is your living room less than lively? Your family room boring? Rearranging furniture may be all you need to do to liven things up.

  • Making Your Home Party Friendly

    What makes a party friendly home? How your home is arranged and where you place the food and drinks also play a crucial role.

  • A Party Friendly Home

    What ingredients are essential for a party friendly home? Being a good hostess is not just about having people over (though it is about that, too).

  • Party Decorating Ideas for Success

    Party decorating ideas for creating a festive theme that delights your guests' senses. How to take a them and make it festive throughout your home.

  • Living Room Ideas for Lively Spaces

    It's ironic, but usually living rooms are the deadest rooms in the house. The key is to create places to do things. These living room ideas can help.

  • Living Room Furniture Ideas

    You don't have to wait until your youngest goes off to college to have stylish furniture. These living room furniture ideas can help.

  • Living Room Decorating

    Living room decorating can be a challenge. You've got great things inside - yet how do arrange them all so that each gets its share of the design spotlight?

  1. Clean Home
  2. Easy Home Decorating
  3. Living Room Decorating Ideas


Have your say about what you just read!