Room by Room: Design Tips for Living Areas

Each room in your house is unique and has to deliver on specific functions and requirements.  While common elements and color palettes from other rooms carry a consistent look and feel to keep an overall cohesiveness to the home, the purpose of a living room is distinct from the kitchen, and the way you spend time in each of these rooms is just as specific.

This article is the first of an interior design advice series I’m calling “Room by Room.”  I’ll offer a few foundational tips that’ll make a significant impact in each main room in your house, so that by the end of the series, you’ll have a great primer to use when redesigning each space, if not your entire home.

Regardless of the room in which you do the most “living” (media room, living room or den), it’s important to get the interior design in this “hub” just right.  Since this is where you spend both quantity and quality time with family and friends, don’t underestimate how a well-designed space can make your precious time together even more enjoyable.


Here’s a list of tips so you can achieve your perfect living area:

1. Prioritize Comfort

A sleek, square couch with metal arms might be the height of modernity, but it’s a mistake if your family isn’t comfortable sitting on it. When choosing furniture for your living areas, make sure to clearly articulate what you deem comfortable or consider testing them in person so you choose something you know works for everyone’s size. Remember comfort is different for everyone, and you can mix and match items so everyone using the room has a favorite perch.

Great interior design professionals can be immensely helpful in blending different tastes during room design decisions, so don’t be afraid to communicate seemingly “conflicting” ideas during your design process. We can often make them work flawlessly!

2. Make Space for Conversation

These days, a big, flat-screen TV is the focal point of the living area.  However, I really love to angle some seating away from it to keep it from being the most important feature in the room and deterring conversation. I like to make conversation areas within the main space for social gathering.

If you’re working with an open floor plan, or if your room is large enough, match comfortable chairs and a sofa together on one side of the room in it’s own “zone,” away from the path of traffic. Keep the furniture away from the wall, and opt instead to place two chairs facing a couch to form a rectangle where people can chat. Add side tables for resting drinks and snacks plus an ottoman or two for extra seating. Voila! You’ll have the perfect place for family and guests to chat.

3. Choose Warm Lighting

Living areas should be lit precisely so everyone can enjoy a favorite activity.  Add backlighting for your entertainment center to reduce eyestrain while you watch TV, and ensure there is task lighting near seating areas to accommodate readers, knitters, and kids or grandkids with activities like crafts, coloring, or homework.

Candles or lanterns add an additional warm “layer” to lighting.  Their glow adds beautiful depth to a room and often creates a relaxing, serene mood. Finally, ditch CFL bulbs for better LEDs or GE Reveal bulbs.  The color is much more like true daylight and you’ll be amazed how much better every color in your room looks with these bulbs in place.

When you take time up front to consider how you and your family use your living area(s), and allow decisions to be put through those filters, you’ll notice how much smoother every decision during the planning process falls into place.  I guarantee you’ll enjoy your new space much more if you keep these tips in mind as you design your home.

For more specific guidance, consult a professional interior designer to get the very most out of your favorite room.

Next up article in the series: Bedroom design tips!