The living room should be a space you look forward to kicking back in at the end of a busy day.
A functional layout with comfortable furniture is essential, according to interior stylist and Dulux ambassador Julia Green.
But, she added, this room could also do with a solid dose of decor that said something about you.
“Make it soulful,” said Ms Green, from Greenhouse Interiors. “Having generic prints on the wall that don’t mean anything feels like you could be in anybody’s house.”
Ms Green said before configuring your living room’s layout, decide how you planned to use the space and what you wanted to look at when sitting on the couch – was it the TV, a beautiful view or artwork? Or perhaps you wanted to encourage conversation by having seats facing one another.
“Sometimes, people set things up in a particular way because they think it looks good or that’s how it looked in the magazine, but if it’s not practical then you’re less likely to use the space,” Ms Green said.
She added some people found it tricky to determine scale and would fall in love with, say, a couch without considering the room size.
“Furniture will feel lost if the scale is not proportionate to the room, so measure everything first,” she advised.
Before choosing a colour scheme, think about the mood you want to create.
Ms Green said don’t overcomplicate it – just ask yourself what you enjoy about particular colours and how they make you feel.
“I think people can become paralysed from too much information. Boil it back to basics: ‘I like green because it reminds me of the ocean and makes me feel calm’ or ‘I have a childhood association with that colour’,” she said.
A thoughtfully selected artwork was her suggested starting point when deciding on a colour scheme. She also recommended choosing a colour palette everyone in the family would enjoy.
“If someone doesn’t like pink, avoid it because this is a space you will all be using and you want to encourage relaxed family get-togethers in that room,” she said.
For those who prefer neutral-coloured walls, Ms Green suggested bringing in pops of colour by painting doors, knobs on a console or even an old fireplace surround, as well as introducing some colourful decorator items.
“People can sometimes get a bit scared of paint because they think the colour will envelop them, but if you introduce it in small amounts you’ll learn to live with it more harmoniously and really enjoy what it brings to the space,” Ms Green said.
Forget slavishly following trends. According to Ms Green, they are there to influence your style, not dictate how your room should look.
“I see people who constantly reinvent their living rooms to reflect what’s in, but I would much prefer to walk into someone’s space that has been styled to their taste,” she said.
“Rooms that copy a look make me wonder, ‘Where do you fit in all this; where do you belong?’ A living room should tell your story and if told authentically, with lots of heart and meaning, it will be truly beautiful.”
Here is some more advice from Ms Green on how to decorate a living room:
• Introduce texture in creative ways. A textured oil painting will add a layer of depth to the room.
• Enliven neutral-coloured sofas with scatter cushions and throws in a mix of shapes and fabrics, such as wool, velvet and silk.
• Go bold with greenery. A big fiddle leaf fig will make a statement and draw nature indoors.
• Use lighting to segment the room. A floor lamp can define a reading nook, table lamps can draw attention to the couch area and wall-sconce lights will soften the mood when watching TV.
• Bring in a rug so single pieces of furniture feel connected and don’t look as though they are floating in a room. The rug should be large enough that the front legs of the sofa or chairs are partly touching it.
• Subtract a coffee table from the equation if you have young kids. It will allow them to move about more freely and play. Instead, have side tables next to the couch. You can always add a coffee table later.